Welcome to another year in the journey of 25 years in business and my life. If you had chance to read the earlier post, you will see I have had many ups and downs in my life. In 1992, Karla and I had been married for 10 years with 2 young kids and started a business. Karla graduated from nursing school and we were trying to build our lives back financially. Read the earlier post to learn about these items.
We had an exciting year in 1991, won our first business award and had been invited to attended an award event at the White House, and had won some nice new projects. 1992 was starting off on a high, little did I know a storm had been brewing for 26 years and about to change my life forever.
In the beginning of 1992, Karla and I found out someone we knew had been sexually molested, and for some reason after 26 years I finally said the words out loud to someone, that I too had been sexually molested as a child by a male babysitter. I never realized by saying those words how my life would change forever. For 26 years I had buried that trauma and never allowed it to even pop up in my mind. I stayed busy so it never popped up in my mind, and I believe God had allowed me to keep it buried until I had gotten certain things completed, because the effect on my mind and body from saying what happened to me as a child was going to be life changing.
After I said those words to my wife, everything seemed ok and I thought, whew! I finally said it and I am ok. Over the next few months, I started saying I don’t feel like I am in control anymore of my life, and just felt out of sorts. I remember it like yesterday, even though it has been 20 years since it happened. I was driving down Rockbridge road in Pine Lake, talking on the cell phone and headed to the gym. All of a sudden it happened. I couldn’t breathe, I hung up the phone, and tried to call Karla, because I knew I was about to die. I couldn’t reach her to say good bye, and I called 911 for an ambulance. As I waited for the ambulance to arrive, I couldn’t catch my breath and all I could think about, was I am going to check out at 36 years old and never see my kids grow up or grow old with my wife. The ambulance came and checked everything out and said I was fine. I caught up with Karla and she took me to the doctor. My doctor just said I was under stress and just needed some rest. I no longer have that doctor . Anyway, I was relieved and started back on my regular routine and thought everything was behind me. I thought I was just stressed and tired. About a month later after that first episode I went out town to Sea Island to become a member of the1992 Regional Leadership class. This was a one week class of intense training. Spouses didn’t attend so you could focus 100% on the class. The first night at the welcome dinner it happened again. I got up from the table and started loosening my tie, and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t catch my breath. A fellow leadership classmate and Morehouse brother Kent Matlock was in this class. He rushed me to the emergency room, once again I was told everything was ok, but this time the 26 years of holding the horror of sexual abuse had become more than I could stand at that time. I went back to my hotel room, and I couldn’t stop shaking or crying, I knew something was horribly wrong, but what was it? I was no longer in control of anything. I couldn’t sleep that night and I know Karla was worried sick about me and so was I. I had never been sick besides a cold or the flu. I was always in control of everything. That morning I told the class leader, I was leaving and started to drive back the 5 hours to Atlanta. That was the longest 5 hours of my life, being all alone, body trembling uncontrollably and fear had made me believe that I was seriously ill, and that I must be dying
I finally made it home and got in the bed and prayed, asking God what is wrong with me, and help me. I immediately went to the hospital and started having every test you could think of done over the next two weeks, trying to find out what is wrong. I couldn’t sit still for very long, my mind wandered aimlessly and fear and worry just took over. All while this is going on, my wife’s mother was dying of a brain tumor in Michigan,and we were trying to raise a family. We had just bought a new piece a property to move the business to, and I am still trying to build the business. All this was happening at the same time.
Finally one Sunday at church I was telling a psychiatrist friend at church what was going on and she said I was having panic attacks. Some people call them anxiety attacks. I called my cousin, Dr Sarah Moody-Thomas, in New Orleans who is a psychologist and told her what was happening. She spent a few hours over the next few days talking with me and helping me understand what was happening. I was still not telling anyone yet beside Karla, my brothers, a few close friends and my parents I had been sexually abused as a child.
After 26 years of holding it in, once I finally said it out loud, my body and mind unwound from being so tight, and I didn’t know what to do or how I would make it.
It is so hard to even describe what it is was like and the journey we took to recovery. Before I tell you more about how I started my journey of healing, I want to say, this was one of those times, when you know there is a God, even though I was hanging on by a thread, emotionally and physically. God would give me the strength and courage to take care of the key business things I needed to handle. How I did it, could only be explained that God carried me. I could barely sit in my office very long, before I would start worrying about having panic attacks. I had some of the worst panic attacks you could have, and after much counseling it was determined I also had post traumatic stress syndrome from my sexual abuse. Once we knew the problem, we knew what we had to focus on how to get well.
Now I was one those people that suffered really bad panic attacks, muscle tremors, nervousness and fear consumed me. I had the fear of having panic attacks again in front of people, people thinking I was weak, people thinking I was tarnished form the sexual abuse and having panic attacks, and I would now lose my business. Also because I had had a panic attack driving and out of town in a crowd, I avoided all of those items out of fear of them happening again. I would just be sitting at home and they would start happening. I hated being alone for fear of having them and dying, it was just horrible. My wife Karla is a angel, and I can never repay her for the work, love and care she put in to bring me back from the brink of despair. She did all these while her mother was dying. Her mom died a few months after I started my panic attacks and I was no help at all to her at this time. She was trying to hold me together and grieve her mother. I couldn’t help and it will always bother me, in her worst time and when she needed me to be there, I was only at 25% of the man I am today and the man she had married 10 years earlier. I was always the rock and now I was putty and trying to clear the fog from my head. I was tired often because every night I woke up at 3:30 am, scared to sleep for fear of dying.
I started getting some really good counseling and my desire to get better finally took over. I want to mention a few people that really were there for me at this time, one is my friend Ernesto Caesar, he would come by and sit with me. He would act like he just happened to be in the neighborhood, but I knew he had come by to relieve Karla and just sit by my side. I will be forever grateful to him. My brother Corey checked on me often and kept the office running. My bank stuck with me and so did my clients and joint venture partners. Many people had no idea this was going on, because I could gather the strength to make it through a meeting or still make good business decisions. After a meeting or a presentation, I would be exhausted and have muscle tremors from worrying I would have another panic attack. I took a lot of time in 1992 trying to restart my pilot light of happiness and get back on the road of recovery. My lowest point in 1992, I was in my kitchen crying because I wanted this to stop and I couldn’t make it stop. I remember saying God, I don’t know why this is happening to me, but regardless, I will not lose my faith or stop believing in you.
This is also the time, I teamed up with Beers and H J Russell and we chased the new Olympic Stadium and converting the Olympic Stadium to Turner Field after the Olympics. They had no idea I had bad my panic attacks. The only person I confided in was Larry Gellerstedt, the CEO of Beers. We had developed a friendship and I trusted him. He really made me feel at ease. At this time I really didn’t know Mr Russell, now he and I are very close and he is a mentor to me today.
We were having meetings and presentations chasing the Olympic Stadium. I was able to perform at 100%, then go home and rest. We won the project. Yes, the Olympic Stadium would be built by Beers, Russell and Moody a joint venture, and we won the project all while this was going on in my life.
I also started renovating the property we bought to move our business to and we would own our own property.
We finished 1992 strong as a business, and I was slowly starting to get my engine running on 4 cylinders and working back up to 12 cylinders. I know this may sound strange, but I wouldn’t change the challenge that I have been through one bit.
I know there are some people who might say, I would never share this part of their life publicly. I do it because if I can help one person that has been abused as a child or adult in anyway, or anyone that has suffered from panic attacks, or PSTD, or lived in fear get better, get inspired, help them relight that pilot light of joy, keep their faith in God, then my telling of this story is worth sharing.
As I wrote this post, I reflected on what life was like for me 20 years ago. I am so thankful for the most incredible wife, kids, friends and family I have in my life. I am so thankful for my faith and my God that carries me when I don’t even know it. I learned to let go of my past hurts, and start my journey of being at peace and free of the burden of my past. I learned I was never in control in the past. God just allowed me to keep buried being sexually abused until God knew I had everything I needed around me to carry me through the darkness to the light of freedom from my past.
I stared slowly being able to sleep again and I started to work out again.
My cousin Tony Hawkins came to visit me and got me out the house to walk, I will always be very thankful to him. I had my line brother Alfred Ford checking on me and my old roommate and frat brother Chuck Cherry checked on me all the time and lifting me up. I had a number of people really helping me. Forgive me if I didn’t mention you, it is not because it wasn’t important, just that 1992 is still a blur.
Something I found very important for me, I was never depressed to where I didn’t want to move, I never gave up the joy of living. I knew I was somewhere dark, but I wanted everyday to get better. I have been blessed with a fire in me to survive, help others, a happy heart and desire to live. As I have healed over these last 20 years, my motto now is “ if I worry about dying, I will miss living”.
I love life, my family, my friends, and the challenges of life and the victories. I love fighting through my fears, but most importantly I love my God that carries me and gives me all of the things I just mentioned that make me enjoy living everyday.
The other thing I know, regardless of how bad my situation might seem to me, there are others whose situations are much worse than mine, so I don’t feel sorry for myself, I say to myself, it could have been much worse.
As you read this post, Karla and I are celebrating 30 years of marriage on November 27, 2012. I am a very blessed and a thankful man. I say thank you to God everyday, and throughout the day.
I pray this post has been helpful to someone out here in the internet world. Life is great and don’t ever give up hope, we will make it through the tough times and be stronger than when we started.
I know I will live with this trauma all of my life, I now understand it and how to manage it, and I will not let what happened to me as child consume 100% of my time and my thoughts as it once did. I will not let the abuser win anymore in my life.
I love you all and thanks for reading moodyspeaks.