First I owe you a little background on me. How can you trust my advice or example if I don't have the life lessons to back me? You can't. You shouldn't. Which is why I will share my background now.
Let's just jump right in, shall we? My biological father disappeared when I was three years old. Family sources say we were very close and that he loved me dearly. Growing up with his ghost made it very hard to believe that he ever loved me at all, especially when I found out at 18 years old that he had another family that he chose over us all those years ago.
Now, I can't totally blame him for choosing that other family. Not many can turn down a life of fortune and power over snotty nosed kids and bills piling up. My father worked for Momar Qaddafi back in the 70s & 80s. He was involved in helping Qaddafi escape the US bombings on Libya. It is rumored that he was given a wife and therefore turned his back on his children by numerous marriages here in the States. All I know for sure is that he and his new wife married and had two daughters, and one of them is only a few months younger than I am (you do the math.)
On the flip side, I grew up in my mother's family. A wonderful family, but a family with a lot of dark secrets that were swept under the rug and we were taught to pretend they never existed. In short, my mother was taught that she couldn't live without a man in her home and so we endured failed marriage after failed marriage. My first step-father was a horrible man. I watched for years as he beat my mother right in front of me. I know the sound of her ribs breaking. I know what it's like to see a gun to her head and hear the "click" when he pulled the trigger. He knew it was unloaded, but as a 6 year old child I did not. I know what it's like to never allow friends over to your home because you never knew what they would see or hear. At school, I was just a normal kid with normal parents. But if they ever knew the horrors that went on in my home that would all change and the only normal moments in my life would be gone.
I also grew up with a few family members that suffered from mental illnesses that were constantly causing turmoil in our family. One family member made me the target of her insults and devious actions. Growing up with a nightmare for a father and a nightmare for a sister was almost too much for a little girl to bear. And I'll be the first to admit that somewhere along the way I lost it for a moment.
There was a time when I had no self esteem, no confidence in who I was, and I craved the love of a man and hated men all at the same time. That combination will get you into a lot of trouble! I had a mother that became addicted to fixing others because she felt so out of control in her own life, and so much so that she even resorted to causing drama in order to then swoop in and fix it all. I had a sister that hated and resented me for years, insulted my looks, my talents, my existence over the entire course of my childhood, but would always apologize and tell me that no one loved me as much as she did. I had a slew of fathers that failed me, abandoning me, beating my mother and my beloved family pets in front of me, coming into my life for 6 months then leaving again. I had a first husband that married me to get us both out of our strict parents' home and then cheated on me with numerous women. When I went off the deep end, finally cracking after years of enduring all of this, I put myself into a situation where I was badly sexually assaulted and then eventually raped. Even after coming home and getting my life together and remarrying and spending 20 years as this picture perfect, exemplary family, my marriage fell apart and I'm now a single mom starting completely over in my 40s.
All of that should define me. I should be so broken that I am beyond repair at this point. That's what others do, they use their horrific pasts and families as an excuse to never succeed or to a reason why they can't succeed.
But I refuse. I am not Vina Onstead, the product of decades of torment and torture. I'll be damned if the decision of others and how they impacted my life is going to wound me forever. And even those terrible decisions I made that led to some pretty awful events aren't reasons to give up. Forgiving myself and others was even harder than enduring the darkest times. That is the truth. Forgiving took it's toll on me, and yet, who I am now that I've let all that go and even forgiven myself is the most freeing gift to my life!
My past does NOT define me. The lessons I learned through every single nightmare is now fuel for my actions today and throughout my future.
My name is Vina Onstead, I am a single mother of three amazing children, an entrepreneur in charge of my own financial future, someone who refuses to give up and is always ready to conquer the next challenge, and I am not defined by my past! I am a chosen product of my past and a damn good one at that!