Have you ever felt like a large chunk of you has gone missing? Do you think you’re happy, but wonder why you feel no joy? A friend of mine felt the same way, and unfortunately, it took nearly two decades before she discovered how to deal with heart wounds and find the missing me.
These days, however, Tina Hepperly sees her story as victory…something she shares willingly in her role directing the women’s ministry at her church. The once shy and insecure woman who couldn’t look people in the eye now speaks with authority and passion.
“You can’t let your past define you. There is purpose in pain,” she tells me. “My purpose is to encourage broken women and show them they don’t have to live shattered lives. Healing is available. But they must be ready because sometimes we get comfortable in our pain.”
Tina’s heart wounds may sound familiar to you. An uncle sexually assaulted her as a child…a trauma that she kept hidden well into adulthood until she told her husband. As horrific as that may be, it’s just one of many. Tina can check many categories on the trauma checklist.
“I came from a broken home. Both of my parents were alcoholics,” Tina says. And because of their personal issues, instability became her only constant. Between the ages of five and 12, she bounced between her grandmother and mother. Her dad wasn’t a part of her life.
“My grandmother was a devout Christian, and she planted some good seeds. She provided a safe place that all children need. She did her best to raise me.”
But then, just as Tina tasted steadiness, “my mother would randomly take me back.” During those years, while not living with her grandmother, Tina lived in Georgia, Ohio, and Tennessee, often spending her nights alone because her mother would leave in the middle of the night.
But her mother’s caustic words caused the most harm:
“You’re not pretty enough.”
“You’ll never be good enough.”
“Why can’t you do anything right?”
“She stripped away any worth, confidence I may have had in my life,” Tina says. “Nothing was ever good enough.”
All Tina wanted was a stable family where mothers baked cupcakes and dads drove their kids to band practice. Not a mother who lived a tumbleweed existence fueled by alcohol and involvement in multiple ill-fated marriages. Or an uninvolved dad, a drunk, who attempted suicide when Tina was only 12.
Yes, she even went through that.
By her teenage years, she’d moved back with her grandmother in Maryville, Tennessee. But the bitterness and rebellion had taken root. Desiring stability, acceptance, and love, she took control. She called the shots even though many of her decisions came from a place of fear.
“But the Lord kept me.”
Eleven months after meeting Steve at age 18, she married him. “But because of my brokenness and need to control—my jealousy—I wouldn’t let him out of my sight. I was so needy.”
Steve couldn’t deal with her neurosis. Divorce papers were filed. But “God had a purpose for Steve and me together.” Somehow they managed to work through their problems. They had a couple of children and she moved on, ostensibly happy… or so she thought.
But her sense of incompleteness and feelings of inadequacy hadn’t abated. She often wondered why other traumatized women seemed to have it together. Why did they seem happier? Why couldn’t she feel joy?
And so began Tina’s journey of discovery that revealed how to deal with heart wounds and find the missing me.
A Friend’s Encouragement
“My friend was a catalyst,” Tina says. The woman had been trained in Sozo prayer, which is an inner healing ministry aimed at uncovering the root issues hindering a person’s connection with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Though controversial among some Christians, Tina attributes her healing more than 15 years ago to the guided prayer that allowed her to resurrect repressed memories and see herself as God sees her.
During one of the sessions, a particularly painful memory bubbled up. “I was a child, maybe six or seven,” Tina recounts. “I was sitting on the bed with my mother, and she was brushing my hair. I don’t know if she was in a bad mood or drunk. I don’t know if it was my hair, but she got aggressive.”
As her mother raked her head with the brush, while spewing hateful words, Tina saw something she hadn’t seen then. “Jesus was in the corner. His eyes were filled with compassion.” Despite her tears and confusion over her mother’s anger, “He had brought me comfort.”
Tina hadn’t been alone. She’d never been alone.
“That’s when the healing began.”
New Insights into Heart Wounds
How to deal with heart wounds and find the missing me?
Instead of wallowing in self-pity, wondering why life has dealt you an unfair hand, Tina encourages the hurting “to lay down the victim card. You can be pitiful, or you can be powerful, but you can’t be both.”
She also advocates a change in perspective. “I don’t know what happened to break my mother,” she says, “and I don’t know what happened to my father. But they were broken people who numbed their pain with alcohol. I needed to see them through a different lens.”
She forgave them.
“You have to walk through doorways of pain” and then allow the Lord to use your experiences to help others find freedom, she says. “It’s a choice, but if you taste freedom, you’ll never want to go back. That is my platform.”
Spoken by a woman who learned how to deal with heart wounds and find the missing me.