December 15, 2010
I left an abusive Amish family and lived in Joe and Esther Keim’s apartment for a while before moving in with my now, ex-boyfriend. Based on my abusive childhood, I picked a guy who became verbally and emotionally abusive during my pregnancy. After we moved in together in 2008, he became physically abusive, always blaming me for his abuse. Before I took the Life Skills classes, I thought I needed to have a guy in my life to be happy. All my Amish girlfriends had boyfriends, so I was competing with them.
Joe kept in touch with me after I left the abusive relationship in 2009. He set me up with a mentor for the ABC Bible Study and told me about the Life Skills classes. It so happened that my mentor was the facilitator for the women’s classes. She explained what the Life Skills classes entailed and encouraged me to take them. I was unable to afford the classes, but with financial support from the M.A.P. ministry, I was able to participate.
During the initial class intake, I made goals of what I wanted to accomplish through this program. My three goals were: 1) How to be more loving and easier to get along with; 2) Not to be taken advantage of by the opposite sex; 3) To be able to make it on my own without depending on a man.
There were many things I learned from Life Skills and I will highlight a few. I learned to take advice from those who genuinely cared about me without becoming defensive. Before the classes I would have thought to myself, “There is nothing wrong with me.” A number of people from the outside world would tell me that my ex was bad for me, but I would deny it and think they were trying to break us up. In Life Skills, I learned to attack the problem or issue instead of the person, and not to take everything so personal, thereby becoming defensive.
I learned to set boundaries and to recognize warning signs of a guy who is arrested in development (stopped growing emotionally), who has power and control issues and unrealistic expectations. I learned steps to develop healthy relationships. There are many unhealthy characteristics, which if I see in a man, will be the determining factors to not pursue a deeper relationship. Some of the warning signs are: does he have a job, is he independent or live with his parents, how does he handle his money, does he have a relationship with God and attend church, were there other relationships of which he blamed the woman for the break up, does he take responsibility for his own actions or does he blame others, does he have problems with drugs, alcohol, or gambling, does he like children, has he ever been married and fathered a child, and does he have anger problems.
I look back and can see where I went wrong and know I have the ability and tools to make wise decisions and not duplicate past mistakes. Through the classes and with the help of the facilitator, I secured a part-time job at Wendy’s. I have my own apartment and a reliable vehicle. Thanks to a later shift at Wendy’s, I’m more available for my daughter who has special health needs.
I’ve had many opportunities to practice my new tools at work and with my ex-boyfriend. At work, a co-worker was skimping on her job in order to clock out on time. I would stay longer to complete my job the right way. My Supervisor got on me for taking longer to do my job. Normally I would have stuffed my emotions and think all kinds of things, but I was assertive saying, “I could rush through it and do half the job, or stay longer and complete the job right.” One evening, the Supervisor followed me around and watched me work and realized that I did my job thoroughly. The Supervisor made the statement, “Lydia does such a good job that I don’t have to worry about the dining area not being done right.” In another work related incident, my hours were being cut and I thought the supervisor was upset with my job performance—I struggled with self-esteem issues. I was challenged in class to address my concerns in an assertive manner with my supervisor instead of using so much energy fretting and worrying. I gathered my courage and spoke to her and she said everyone’s hours were being cut. I felt so relieved that it wasn’t about my job performance and proud that I stood up for myself. It felt so empowering and liberating.
I have used my new tools to address my ex-boyfriend. When he calls and starts harassing or threatening me, I tell him, “if you have problems with me not wanting to go back with you or issues about your new girlfriend, I don’t want to hear it. I’ll listen if it involves our daughter, otherwise, don’t call me.” If he keeps nagging and complaining I hang up. His harassing calls, manipulative behavior, threats and accusations have subsided considerably.
Every day new things come to mind and I look within and ask, what would my decisions had been had I not taken the Life Skills classes? My faith in God is stronger than ever and I rely on God’s direction each day. My hearts desire is to get a job where I don’t have to work on Sundays, so I can attend church. In the fall, once my daughter goes to pre-school, I’m either going to get my GED or find a first-shift job, possibly both.
My sincere appreciation to those who contributed money that allowed me to take the Life Skills classes. I could not have done it without your assistance. I enjoyed going through the classes and the comrade, feedback, and support within the group was awesome. I urge everyone to take the classes because it was such a life changing experience for me. --Lydia Shrock
This testimony has been published with permission from the owner.
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