Escape from Pain Turns to Prison

Tara was 12 years old when she found her father on the living room floor, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Tara remembers, “I started trying to look back and see why this would happen. Was I living a delusional life thinking that we were a happy family?  Because, I mean, we had fun together.  We did stuff.  We laughed and we had a good time.  I questioned his love for me and just for all of us.  I mean, it destroyed our family.  He didn't just take away take my dad away, he destroyed who my mom was.”  

Her mother became withdrawn and distant.  And as Tara entered her teen years, she was left to face her own brokenness alone.

She says, “I always felt so sad for her.  I never really was angry at her.  I needed somebody to pay attention, somebody to care about me.  I guess I wanted somebody that we could laugh and smile again because it was sad.”  

Tara became sexually active and started experimenting with drugs.  Then at 15 she ran away and started living with a guy who supplied her with cocaine, in return for sex.

She explains, “I was getting drugs and I was getting attention.  That’s I liked about it because all of my hurt and pain was numbed.  I didn't feel any sadness or hurt.”  

Tara was eventually picked up by police. She was sent to a mental hospital where she got clean, and was then sent home.   But the anger and bitterness she had for her father would plague her for years to come.  By the time she was 25, she had been married, divorced, and lost custody of her two children.

She says, “I was just so distraught, so heartbroken and like my whole life was over and ended, and I was like, ‘I can't – without my kids, I can't even live.’”

She started using meth to cope, and it soon became an addiction that would last 8 years.  

Tara says, “The depression would get so bad every time that I'd come down and I just missed my kids.  And I would get so depressed finally I was like, ‘I can't keep living like this.’  And I said, ‘I'm just never going to come down.’  And that's what I did.  I stayed high.  I started doing meth every day.  And it was – it kept me high and I didn't cry over my children every day.”

During this time she had a third child, a daughter.  But because Tara was in jail so often for drug-related charges her mom took custody of her daughter.  It was then she was locked up and started the long process of withdrawal.

She recalls, “I went through a lot of withdrawals, a lot of sickness, a lot of pain and-and then the emotions came through.  All the emotions that I have never dealt with.  And then that's when someone gave me a Bible.  She began to tell me it didn't matter who I was or the things that I've done, that-that God still loved me.  And I read that salvation prayer and then I read it again and I was like, ‘I don't feel different.’  I didn't know if it was some magic potion or something, but uh I didn't feel any different.  But I kept the Bible.

After her release, Tara continued reading the bible and got involved in a church.  But she still couldn’t forgive her father.

Tara says, “I opened it again and I saw the word "forgiveness" in there, and that was pretty powerful. And I had so much unforgiveness and so much pain in my life and in my heart.  And that was the beginning.  So that was the first word that really meant something to me in the Bible.  I can't even tell you where it was ‘cause I just had opened it, and it was ‘forgiveness.’  And I knew then that uh I've got to – I've got to get through some things.”

Months later she was back in court and sentenced to 10 years for parole violation.  Then, during a four- day lockdown, Tara told her cellmate, a Christian, about her life.  Her friend helped her realize the only way to healing was to forgive her dad.

She says, “I was never going to be able to get to where I needed to be as long as I was holding on to all that pain.  And we just prayed and prayed and prayed.  It was the prayer that saved me.  It was my salvation prayer. It was the prayer that released uh me from all of the trap and bondages of everything that I have been in for so long.  To where I felt like I was going to be okay.   I felt lighter, I felt...I felt some joy, some actual joy in prison.”

Tara’s sentence was reduced for good behavior and she served only 6 months.  She reconciled with two of her children, and went to work for a law firm.  Today she’s a paralegal and loves cheering on her daughter’s basketball team.  

Tara says, “I’m new.  I've been made new in Him.  I'm not who I used to be.  And I love who I am now and I love who God wants me to be because uh He's not finished.” 

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