Theresa has a very friendly smile and wears a bright shirt as we meet and talk over coffee. She has brought some gorgeous art journals with her that we couldn’t wait to look at, so we dove right in. Theresa shows us some beautiful pieces of art, all part of a therapeutic process she goes through almost daily to help her process her past trauma and work through current struggles. Her work goes from joyful to dark and back again as her journey flows and progresses.

Theresa lives in West Michigan, has been married for almost 25 years, and has three kids. She works, takes care of her family, and loves to go to the beach any time of year. If you met her at an event or social situation, you’d find that she smiles a lot, is a great conversationalist, and is passionate about her family, art, and helping others.

But what you wouldn’t know right away is that Theresa has experienced trauma in her life from a very young age. She was raised by a mother with mental illness, then put up for adoption. She was in foster care off and on, and experienced abuse throughout her young years. She even had to testify in court against the caregivers in her life at the age of eight.

“There are things in your life that happen that are pretty bad, that can really affect you.”

Despite having a high ACE score, Theresa knew life could be better and she consistently fought against the negative forces in her life. She was able to seek out good friends and support throughout her journey. Her life hasn’t been easy since then, and it takes regular therapy and support from her family to stay healthy.

“I want to give my family props. I’m so grateful to have a husband who loves me fully, no matter what happens. He sees the whole person, and I’m so thankful for that. My husband and kids have been great.”

Having support is a large factor in what helps people who’ve experienced trauma in their lives bounce back and begin to lead healthy lives. For Theresa, developing resilience had a lot to do with having supportive adults in her life, seeking support through therapy and counseling, and breaking ties with unhealthy people.

“For anyone dealing with the consequences of childhood trauma, don’t forget that you’re worth it. If you can work through it, you can get better. You will keep growing through all this; it’s hard, but it’s worth it.”

We are so grateful to Theresa for being willing to share her story!