The True Short Story of LauraBeth Ryan
What happens when the life you have worked so hard for, raising four sons, as an active hands-on mom, comes to an abrupt halt? That’s what happened when I was 28 years old. I had four sons, all under the age of eight, and an injury changed the entire trajectory of our lives forever. I was a strong believer in God and I would like to tell you [as I laid flat on my back in debilitating pain] that I remained positive; but the truth is, my world was falling apart and I had no control over any of it.
After seeking numerous doctors for a treatment, I learned that my sacroiliac joint ligaments were torn and, therefore, I had no core stability. It was painful to sit, stand or walk. I wanted a solution; exercises I could do, physical therapy, even surgery, if it would get me up out of that bed. But over a five year period of searching, they offered little hope.
I had to go through a season of grief and went through very tough times of depression. But the amazing thing is, God started giving me the gift of writing! Unbelievable words would bubble up and I would receive understanding for where I was at, yet always with a theme of hope entwined! In time, I made a decision to make the best of my life and to live every day with a positive outlook.
My sons took much of my energy and I learned to get creative in parenting; making my “bedroom” the new “family room”. I grieved all the running around I could no longer do for them but then realized how much more of “me” they had. I was always available to them for reading books, doing homework, playing games, hugs and listening. I learned to be grateful for what I had and make the best life possible despite my condition.
When they were little, things were working well as I was the main parent who did all the supervising, disciplining, refereeing, homework checking, knowing where they were, etc. Once they were older, I was ecstatic to open up my company, Cheerful Hearts, which God had deposited in my heart years prior. I had been writing for ten years and had a vision of creating an inspirational greeting card, gift and keepsake line!
My dreams were coming true; I was going to be able to inspire and encourage others with the same words God gave me! But once again, my world came crashing down! My boys were now teenagers and it was tougher to discipline without the support of their father who, though he stood by me in the beginning, had checked out of the marriage emotionally several years earlier.
It seemed that he never accepted my disability and where I turned to the Lord and found joy, he turned to the world and alcohol. The happier and more confident I became, the angrier he became. It got to the point where I was no longer safe in the home. I had asked for a separation until we could come back to a healthier marriage but was told, “If you leave me, you will be out in the street in your wheel chair”. He also called the boys in front of us and bellowed, “She is no longer your mother and has no authority over you”. When I told one friend what was happening, she told me I needed to get away for a bit–for the sake of my health. I never intended for it to be long but I was wrong.
My mother helped me board a plane to Texas [where my sisters lived] and I landed with one suitcase to my name. It broke my heart not to tell the boys but I was advised not to, as I could not risk their father finding out. Once I arrived, I got settled in with my younger sister and called home. I was told [by my husband] that I was not emotionally stable and that he and the boys would not play this charade. I thought for sure he would realize the seriousness now that I was gone and be willing to get help for his alcohol and rage. I thought he loved me.
There was hope on the horizon for a new procedure that may allow me to walk again. I thought that was the answer. “I will get the treatment, learn how to walk again and the stress will be lessened on the family”. Thrilled that I was able to stand upright after a new procedure gave me hope, but oddly, my husband was not happy. Instead, he accused me of being able to walk all along though all my doctors and medical records said otherwise.
Nevertheless, I still hoped. I was determined to do everything possible to rehabilitate and worked tirelessly in physical therapy. Time was passing and my sons were still not speaking to me though I called and wrote letters continually. My heart was torn to shreds that I couldn’t tell them anything and that they were taking their father’s resentful posture.
After a year, I was able to get functional enough to live on my own with the help of someone for the physical tasks. Though I still had flares and had to rest and work in bed a lot, I also had good days and even weeks where I could sit and walk small distances and enjoy life out of my four walls! Once at this point, I concluded that my husband was not going to get any help for himself and I had to go to court to file for divorce and fight for our boys.
I had no money and was living on disability of $674.00 per month but sought help through a domestic abuse group. They provided me with a lawyer [back in MD] to fight for my kids and my rights! It was very hard and in the end, the boys were of age where it was their choice to see me or not. I won partial custody but they refused counseling with me and never came; more heartache, more disappointment. But I did everything I possibly could.
I had to accept, that for a time, my boys wanted nothing to do with me. Except for my oldest son, that is still the case today. But I still send cards, letters and poems, hoping that one day, I will hear their voices again.
So how does one pick up their life when a marriage of 22 years and your family evaporates? I leaned heavily into Christ, spent a lot of time with my two sisters and their children, found a good church where I received much prayer, sought counseling, as well as joining a support group for domestic violence survivors! I did the work and allowed God to do surgery on my heart; to reconstruct it into someone who became strong–a survivor!
For several years, though I still attended online schooling, Cheerful Hearts was put on hold. But I never lost the dream God had deposited so many years ago. He had done so much in my life, helped me to grow spiritually, emotionally and relationally and I knew I would rebuild. I was able to secure government funding for small businesses to makeover the company; even better than before. And now we not only have a specialty greeting card and gift line, I also share my story through speaking and I offer Life Coaching as well to help anyone facing obstacles, overcome challenges and live their best life.
I never thought I would find love again after all I had been through and with my health condition as well. But I had hoped and I prayed that God would bring me a good Godly man. I met my sweetheart on Christian Mingle and we became the best of friends very fast. He asked me to be his wife and he calls me his Precious Pearl. I never knew love could be this grand. He treats me like a queen and I certainly consider my husband my KING!
Life is good again and I am so happy that God has given me such purpose through all that I have gained. I have a husband who supports me both personally and professionally, I have a God who has sustained me, strengthened me, allowed me to walk again and continues to amaze me. Because He is merciful and mighty, I know anything is possible! So I want you to know, whatever you face, however bleak life may look, keep your faith in HIM. I promise you, there is joy on the other side!!!
LauraBeth Ryan (c) 2014