My name is Wendy Henderson. I was born to an unwed 17-year-old girl who was sent to California to have me. Back then that was a way to protect the young girl and avoid a lot of disgrace to the family. I lived there for only a short time after I was born.
My mom was a strong-willed and strong-minded person. She ran away from home back in Memphis and left me there to be taken care of by my grandparents, Madear and Daddy. They were hardworking, church-going people.
As far as I can remember each one only had two jobs in their lives. They only went to school for a few years. As a matter of fact, my grandmother couldn’t read or write. They were strict disciplinarians and I didn’t have many friends.
My mom and I never really had a relationship. I thought she hated me and my father, and I felt like it was because I messed up her childhood. I lived with her off and on but never for any long periods of time, 3-4 years at a time.
My aunt, great-grandmother, grandmother, and grandfather were the main people in my life and they loved the Lord and made sure I did too. We always had nice things and lived in the finest of homes, but the material things didn’t make up for the love I was seeking from my mom. She always loved men more than she loved me. So I turned to my pets for that lost affection and love.
I went to a mostly all-white school in Houston, and being dark-skinned, I never could fit in with the crowd. They used to call me ugly names. I could never find anyone to accept me for who I was, so I drowned myself in books, music, and animals. Those things made me feel like I was somebody.
I never was much of anybody growing up, but I knew my grandparents loved me unconditionally. They were the only ones. They never turned their backs on me or took sides with any outsiders, but unfortunately my mom did. I never was good enough or could do enough to please her. I really think she hated me. She loved my sister and brother. We never had much to do with each other growing up. Only since I have been grown have my sister and I built a relationship. Even in my addiction she always tried to keep in touch.
I had one true friend and he was gay. Back then I didn’t know what gay meant. I just knew he wasn’t as rough or masculine as the other guys I knew, but he was my best good friend. My mom didn’t have a problem with me being around him or doing things with him. I guess because she knew something I didn’t know.
Things were great. I had someone I could relate to and we just did the things teenagers did without feeling judged or being put in a category, being accepted for who we were.
Without warning we packed up and moved to another part of Houston. I didn’t even have a chance to tell my best good friend goodbye. There was no way to keep in touch. That was my first experience with losing someone I really cared about.
Things went downhill from there. I was placed in a mostly white school. I was shunned, picked on, bullied, called names, ostracized, and rejected. I didn’t really know what being discriminated against meant, I just knew something about these people and me in this situation wasn’t right. The teachers didn’t like me. My classmates didn’t like me. My mom didn’t like me. So I tried to run away from home and to commit suicide, but none of it worked. So my mom packed me up without notice again, and this time sent me back to my grandparents' house. They were at the airport with open arms and were overly excited to have me back.
Living back in Memphis I went to school and did well, graduated, and got a job with the IRS. I thought I was on top of the world. They were very proud of me and I of myself. I worked at the hospitals, doctors offices, JMGR, and NBC just to name a few. Life was grand.
I got pregnant, and it was the best thing that could have happened to me and my grandmother. It felt like I was her surrogate. She prepared for the baby more than I did. She bought me a house on the same street, four houses down. We would raise Neko and be together as a family forever.
Then one day God decided it was time for her to come home. That was my second major experience losing someone I really cared about.
My grandfather was lost when she died and he had no clue how to manage anything around the house. He provided and my grandmother maintained, even though she couldn’t read a lick. This is proof that God will provide and His grace is sufficient. Her death was so much that he had a stroke and 18 months later God allowed him to go be with the one he loved.
From that point, the insurance money caused sister to be against sister, brother against sister, and mother against daughter. The family took everything my grandparents had ever given me and literally kicked me to the curb. House, car, they even tried to take my son; I mean everything.
Consequently, I turned to the only place I felt I was loved: sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The underworld was so fascinating to me and the money flowed like water.
I turned my back on the only person who needed, depended on, and loved me: my son. It happened so subtly, that when it actually hit the fan I didn’t even know it had happened. My addiction and lifestyle convinced me I was helpless, hopeless, and good for nothing, just like I had felt growing up. So I allowed my son to go to foster care. I kept saying “He shouldn’t be penalized for my failures. He still deserves the best.” That was my fourth major loss of someone I really cared for.
My son and I used to be like two peas in a pod. Now we hardly talk at all. He is in the navy now, and I reach out to him but he refuses to forgive me for what I did. In actuality, what I didn’t do. I think that’s the brunt of all my pain and despair.
From then I went to jail a few times on petty charges, and always got out just to trump myself with something else. All the while, trying to find someone or something to fill that empty space. I would cry out to God but it seemed like He didn’t like me either, thinking I had done too much. If my family didn’t like me, who would? And why was Madear always telling me to look to the hills from whence your help comes? No one seemed to hear my cries.
The final straw was when I met this guy from Chicago. He was my knight in shining armor, everything I longed for, every quality I saw in my grandfather, all the love I got from my grandmother, all the material things I got from my mother, all the guidance and dependency I gave to Neko he was and even more.
I thought God had finally answered my prayer. I can get my son back and we can live happily every after. It turned out that he was Satan himself. I saw things, felt things, said things, watched things, allowed things, begged for things, that no human being should have ever seen, been exposed to, or reduced to.
How did this 180 degree rotation ever occur? I felt like Solomon. My tears were my pillow. I tried to get away but he would always find me, using those smooth talking sweet nothings to get me right back to the place I dreaded. I felt there was only one way out and that would be death. I just couldn’t figure out the best and less messy way to do it. I couldn’t shoot myself because I hated blood, not that I would have seen it, but just in case. I ruled that one out as too messy. I thought maybe I should just make someone really mad and they would kill me. That didn’t work, however, I ended up with a scar on my face that I’ll have to live with forever and see every time I look in the mirror.
So I decided to take $3,000, buy some drugs, smoke, not eat, not drink, not sleep, and I would die by the things that I thought would save me. I threw away all that money, passed out, woke up two days later, and he called the police on me. I had a felony warrant and went to jail. Looking back on everything that happened, I can see that when I was looking to the hill from whence my help comes, it finally came.
Well, I wish there was a happy ending to this story, but the truth of the matter is it’s just beginning. Now, thanks to what God has done through The A Way Out Program, I am off the streets, in a safe place, brushing up on my software skills, learning how to discern the voice of God, His character, and enjoying having a Spirit-led conscience.
My son and I are not talking, but I believe that in God’s timing He will restore our relationship and put forgiveness in his heart. My sister, aunt, and I keep in touch and occasionally have lunch or dinner together and that’s encouraging. I pray that before my mother leaves this earth that we will be able to mend all those broken pieces.
I thank God for His grace, mercy, and favor, and continue to pray that everything I do and say will be done to glorify Him because if it had not been for His love for me, I don’t know where I would be or even if I would still be here.
To be continued. May God bless everyone who reads this and their families. The ladies in A Way Out have made bad decisions, but we all need people who love the Lord to give us a second chance so our old choices won’t be what determines our future.