This is a long post, but it is, from my heart, vulnerable and authentic, so it is worth the read. A lot of people find it hard to talk real with other people about struggles in their life, but not me. I have always been an open book and try to be as real with others as I can to help other people, which has been my calling for a very long time. The last five years of my life have been some of the hardest times I have ever gone through. Including our move to Chattanooga where we tried to start our lives all over again, making new friends, finding jobs, finding a new church, trying to leave behind everything that happened here in Birmingham when my husband shot himself in the courthouse in 2012. When this happened, I had so many labels put on me; it tore my life and who I was apart. It wasn’t enough that I had to handle what he had done, and grieve his loss, but to be blamed for him doing it because I was the new wife was more than I could bear. Because of it being such national news, my face and name were everywhere, on every news channel national, and local.
I could not go out anywhere that people would walk up to me and say “ you are that woman whose husband killed himself in the courthouse” and that became my new identity. All the people in the federal courthouse where he worked were calling me a gold digger, the black widow, and saying things I could not even begin to tell you. When Ronnie and I were fixing to get married, he worked at Bruce’s office supply. The federal courthouse was one of his clients, he went there, and they told him they had heard he was marrying me and told him not to do that. “ You don’t know what kind of gold-digger and monster she is, she is known around here as the black widow.” They didn’t even know me, and they had never yet met me, they talked about how many times I had been married before, but the one thing they never knew was my past and why I may have made some horrible decisions in my life. They never knew I was just a woman due to my history looking to be loved. They didn’t know as a child I spent many years in very abusive girls home, locked up for months at a time a dog, naked, and kept in the dark for months at a time. They didn’t know I had been sexually abused as a child time and time again. They didn’t know that I didn’t have a father in my life, then at age 30, he finally became a part of my life after he had been in a motorcycle wreck paralyzed from the neck down needing me to care for him. They didn’t know years later, he was murdered in my home, and I still never heard, I love you from him, I had forever lost my dream of ever being daddy’s little girl. They didn’t know that it caused me so many issues that I left a long marriage of 16 years. They didn’t realize it tore my kids apart when I left my husband and our stable home that on New year’s day in 2005, I was all alone, my kids not speaking to me, and found myself in a fetal position in my bathroom floor contemplating suicide. They didn’t understand after my suicided episode on New Years I finally had a year of extensive counseling and became involved in a program called Celebrate Recovery.
I was saved at Celebrate Recovery and got into leadership there and started a singles ministry called Alabama’s Circle of Friends. David came to my ministry is how we met. I ran this ministry for five years, pouring my soul into singles and setting up activities and events every Saturday night. I was speaking everywhere, and my book came out; Hope Knows Your Name. I was the butterfly that got put in a box by what happened, and when you put a butterfly in a box, it dies, which is precisely what happened to me. I ended up closing the ministry that I had worked so hard for, due to my social anxiety, PTSD, depression, panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts. I started an extensive program at UAB due to becoming so withdrawn and depression. I was back to where I was at in 2005 wanting to end my life.
I had lost everything now, who I was, the social butterfly I was, all of my friends who had disappeared after David’s death. The close friends I did have; I shut down on them, I wanted to be alone; I did not want any friends anymore, I tried to ultimately shut down anything and anyone that had to do with David. Due to my shutting down as I did, I lost some of the best friends I have ever had. They had stuck with me through this whole situation and helped me so much to get through it all, and I just completely shut everyone out of my life and stayed to myself. I had just married Ronnie, and he didn’t know what to do with me. He felt so secluded, and what a way to start a new marriage. He did everything he could to help me and was watching me sit there dying and becoming so secluded from everyone. I could not feel anymore; David’s death had taken so much from me, and so did other people. We decided to move out of Birmingham due to all I had to deal with, I was still getting facebook messages that it was all my fault, and just everywhere we went something would happen, or someone would say something. I felt like the most horrible person in the world; I did not want to become involved with anyone ever again. I did not want any friends, did not want to go to church, never wanted to go anywhere, or do anything which has continued the last five years. We felt a new life in another city would be the answer. But, even moving off to somewhere new, you are still with you. My problems only worsened due to leaving family, losing my ministry, my best friends, wow had my life changed.
In Chattanooga, I did the same thing; I had so much social anxiety that I could not get involved in too much of anything. I started working, and that helped to feel I was doing something again. Then my back issues happened, and I had to have major surgery, due to not being able to go back to work sooner than I did, my boss fired me. Once again, leaving me to feel worthless, and I went back into my shell. Through this whole situation, my husband is the one who has suffered the most. I have not been able to be the wife he has needed me to be. He has been the one to try and pick up the pieces after David’s death. I have even held him at bay, being able to get to close to me. I have shut out and hurt the people I have loved the most. Then, Ronnie ended up taking a job in Texas, so we move 13 hours from home and with me still needing more surgery on my back. I fell in July off of a stool, and I have two tears in both hips, which I am still waiting on surgery.
We had only been in Texas 6 months when the radio station Ronnie went to work for closed down. Now, we were 13 hours away, no family, no friends at all, and what were we going to do? We ended up moving back to Birmingham and lived with my mom for five weeks. We finally got our place two weeks ago, and we are enjoying it. I am back to getting help with my depression, PTSD and social anxiety. I have had a rough time being back due to running into people I may know, or hearing what I heard five years ago. I am still at a place of not wanting to go anywhere or see anyone. I have been trying to go to the store and get things for our apartment. I find myself sitting in the car for 30 to 45 minutes before going in someplace due to this anxiety of running into people. Ronnie really wants to get back in church, and my fear is going and seeing someone I know or someone recognizing me. I am so withdrawn still from everyone; I want prayers for being able to love Ronnie like I need to and not be afraid of letting someone into my heart again, I need prayer for this social anxiety that I still deal with. I need prayer for making friends again and not being so afraid; I need prayer for forgiveness from those friends that I did hurt so bad from withdrawing from the relationship. I need prayer for a renewed mind, a new ministry and for God to be able to use me as a vessel again. I need prayer to let others in my heart again, to know yes I am back as a cacoon, but one day I will blossom back to a butterfly. I need prayer that I can forgive those who have said some of the cruelest things about me that have changed my life forever. What they don’t know is these last five years of my life have been affected by what they did, what people have said, how I was treated through his death. I am glad I got to share where I am at and some very vulnerable moments for me. I want me back; I want my life back. I want to love my husband as he deserves to be loved. I want to forgive others and forgive me. I am currently not able to work due to my health, so please pray that God provides us as we live on one income now. I do believe what Jeremiah 29:11 I know he has plans for me, and I know he has hope for my future! I am so thankful for a husband who has stuck in there with me through some of the hardest years of my life.
Ronnie and Christie Bruce
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