Your tales live here

Recovery Hippie

Recovery Hippie

I was in a very bad spot – addicted, broke, and alone – and really needed someone. We met on an online dating site and talked for two months before meeting personally. I admired her reserve and her ability to set boundaries, something I never was good at. I know now that she was feeling me out, getting info, and building a way to manipulate.

After two months we finally met; she would come from an hour away every other weekend and paid for everything. I melted each time she told me something good about myself or when she villainized the people who were doing me wrong. It was instant infatuation, which caused me to put the blinders on when the red flags began to show.

She was 15 years older than me – sweet and innocent, and I knew the area she was from to be a posh, affluent suburb of Detroit. I was living in a recovery house in Flint, and she immediately accepted my flaws and encouraged my aspirations and endeavors to be better. I had never felt more love and affection for another human being in my life. This was solidified even further when she began helping me financially. It started with groceries and rent assistance, and when I could no longer live where I was, she spared nothing to rent several vehicles before buying me a personal vehicle even knowing that at the time I had no driver’s license. I also absconded from parole, and she even knew about […]


It’s been 11 days since I walked away from him. The first few days I couldn’t stop myself from checking on him just to make sure he was ok. He didn’t even acknowledge that I was in the room. It’s been 2 days of no contact and I have never felt this miserable in all my life.

Every time I think of him I ache. I’m not sure if it’s because I miss him or if it’s because I’m finally realizing that he never loved me or even cared about me. 12 years I stayed and endured with the hope that he would realize how lucky he was to have someone who loved him so much that they were willing to put up with the lies and the cheating and the stealing. Someone who loved him so much they always cleaned up the mess and made things right again. Someone who loved him so much that they forgot who they were and only cared about his happiness.

I feel like I’m finally waking from a never ending nightmare. But now I’m confronted with all this uncertainty and lonliness and anxiety and fear. Never been good at dealing with emotions so I’m really confused right now.

So many of you out there have survived this and my question is how? How do you totally reinvent yourself when so much of your identity was the person who hurt you the most? Sure could use some advice.


I experienced sexual abuse when I was a little girl. I told one of my caregivers and they didn’t do anything about it. I held that secret for several years, which wreaked havoc on my self-esteem and sense of security. I got the message “You are crazy and you don’t matter.” I don’t think that was the intended message from some of the people that were in my life, but I believed it.

I also suffered emotional abuse from a trusted caregiver in my childhood. When I was in my teens, I discovered alcohol and drank to numb the pain and to cope in society. I, of course, found myself in countless toxic relationships with people throughout my alcohol addiction.

My mother, who had been my biggest support system died when I was a young adult. It was devastating. I struggled with mental illness and alcoholism for several years and was hospitalized several times for suicidal issues. When I got honest about the abuse I experienced during my childhood, some of my family and friends called me a liar. It was very painful and I felt very alone. I finally got sober after I was sexually assaulted by a musician. I went to treatment, joined AA and worked the steps with a sponsor.

After about 12 years of working on myself in recovery (including a few relapses), I have eight years of sobriety from drugs and alcohol as I write this. Over the years of my sobriety I have done […]

Vicki Maree

Vicki Maree

My life started out with having a grandfather abuse me when I was 3 years old; then the abuse continued through the next generation by my older male cousins.

When I was 12 years old, I lost my virginity through rape. Then again, at 18 years old, I was raped by a stranger. At 23 years old, I was raped by my employer.

Recently, at 48 years of age, I was raped by my ex-partners best friend.

Mostly I have discovered that my experience does not define me.

I deal with my PTSD a day at a time.

I was blessed to find the rooms of AA and recovery.

For the past 13 years I have been in and out of recovery. Today I pray to God that I am relieved of my pain and restored to sanity.

In my past, I lost the will to live many times but somehow I always fought back when I found recovery at my rock bottom. The fellowship and God loved me back to life.

I see professional help as well. And I keep my life simple.

Today I am a strong women with freedom and love in my heart.





Survivor is a strong word some days. I was blessed with a precious baby boy. He was extremely smart and very athletic growing up. His personality was almost mirror to mine. People loved him and he loved people, maybe too much in school. He had his whole life planned out for him at the ripe old age of 15. He was dating the love of his life, going to college and majoring in Electrical Engineering, and playing baseball and football. He suffered a few concussions playing football, and a shoulder injury ended his time as an athlete. I failed to see it coming, but looking back now I can see the signs of his isolation and change of friends. He lost his girlfriend. His behavior begin to change and I just attributed it to depression. I thought if I could just give him some hope or something positive in his life, then he would be okay. RIGHT!!! I went down the dark path with him and did not even know that I was doing it. He would steal from me time and time again. He would become verbally abusive if I did not give him what he wanted. He would get into physical altercations with his father and brothers. I was sacrificing myself, my marriage, and my relationship with my other children to try and save him.

After several rehabs and tens of thousands of dollars later I lost him anyway. He died from an overdose of fentanyl after being […]

Molly Finnegan

Molly Finnegan

As of this writing, I have been separated from my ex-husband for 22½ years and happily divorced for 14½ years.  There was certainly one bright light after the wedding – my child… an amazing daughter to whom I refer as the best baby ever born.  She is everything to me, and I don’t believe that I would have weathered this storm without her support, encouragement, and a smile that would melt the deepest and tallest glacier.

“I am not going to be the one to ruin that relationship.”  That was not only my mantra, but it also became my commitment to my daughter with regard to her father.  Prior to separating, I communicated with my entire family that I did not want anyone to bad-mouth my ex in front of my child; by and large, they acceded to my wishes – but outside of my child’s earshot, one family member particularly insulted, demeaned, and criticized both me and my ex.  To this day, this person (to whom I am indentured) is blind to the fact that he/she is exactly like my ex in character and temperament – and they absolutely can’t stand each other (never have; never will).  Even though they have not been officially diagnosed by any mental health professionals, I can honestly say that both check off several boxes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

While I am including this TAR Tale under “Parental Alienation”, I want to tell you it is possible to minimize the effects of this terrible form of […]

Paul Michael Marinello

Paul Michael Marinello

May 9th of this year was a very sad day for me, as it marked a full 365 days since I was erased from my daughter’s life. The process of alienating a child from a loving parent often takes years of quietly applied maneuvering, co-dependency, coercion, and the profound altering of a child’s emotional attachment to the other parent – as was the case in my scenario. It is considered child abuse for a reason. When you take the time to re-evaluate the intricacies of your parental relationship, and that of a divorced spouse, the pattern that emerges can be quite overwhelming. I’m lucky, I wrote everything down. 

Looking back upon the dumpster fire that has been this last calendar year, I find myself waking up more days holding on to the essence of my own hope. Today, I am fully engaged with those around me and have purposely removed myself from a place of isolation. 

I’m not claiming that I’ve been saved, nor am I the savior.

I am one man, peddling nothing but facts and truth. When faced with a moral dilemma that you’ve lost something that you can never properly or organically (re)ascertain, a sense of moral awakening takes place. The embers remain in their worst place – a dark flammable corner – where one spark could cause a four-alarm blaze.

Not today. Today I have some hope. And with hope comes accountability. To concentrate on truths, hollowing out the use of excuses, take control of my own behavior, and offer […]

Paul Michael Marinello

Paul Michael Marinello

A father’s journey is one of perseverance. A journey where each passing day – whether bright and hopeful or dark and pressing – allows for the joys of life, the celebration of milestones, and a reckoning that as a father, you have done everything in your power to keep your child(ren) happy, healthy, and safe.

For seventeen years I was a dedicated, loving, and involved parent to my daughter. I was there for her birth, every birthday, every graduation, every parent-teacher conference, and every doctor’s appointment. I played the Easter Bunny, Santa, and the Tooth Fairy. When she was ill, I was there to nurse her back to health. As recently as a few months ago, we toured colleges and universities together. 

I gladly and willingly paid child support for a decade as it was the only way to ensure no less than 50% of parenting time. After child support orders ceased, I continued to make sure my daughter had health insurance, life insurance coverage, supplies for school, clothing, and adequate social connections (dance, softball, camp, time with extended family).

Those I have spoken to have predicated their thoughts regarding this situation by acknowledging the sacrifice a parent needs to make. I never sacrificed anything – I chose my occupations and geography carefully so that they would align with my trajectory of being a single dad. The joy of having a child should not lead to sacrifice – it should lead to sanctuary. My daughter has made me proud in a million different […]

Paul Michael Marinello

Paul Michael Marinello

I was awoken by my alarm promptly at 5:00 a.m. this morning, the same time it is set for on all seven days. I have always preferred mornings, in darkness, prior to the sunlight’s blissful rise to capture the essence of my day. These morning hours bring clarity, sanctuary, and allow me to prepare for whatever the day has planned for me. For most of the past few weeks, the plan was working.

I feel truant when I sleep past the alarm and so I have several snooze options available at my disposal – and use one almost every day while the coffee is perking.

It’s the middle of the afternoon and I am feeling a bit defeated by the day. Despite trauma by way of parental alienation, most of my recent mornings were pasted with a candy-colored aura reminiscent of gratitude toward all things. I have begun a job I really enjoy after mostly COVID-related downtime and in between a few nannying positions.

And while the days over the past three weeks or so have been good for my résumé and wallet, my mental health continues to teeter somewhere between thinking I am totally fine and thinking I am a total wreck. This is Trauma 101.

I was recently reading a report from the National Library of Medicine which starts with this introduction: Existing research suggests that trauma survivors who experience psychological distress may deliberately inhibit the behavioral expression of emotion (Hassija et al., 2013; Litz, Orsillo, Kaloupek, & Weathers, 2000; Marx & Sloan, […]