When she was just seven years old, Amy Watson's mother left her in the care of two notorious serial killers. She spent several years in a children’s home and later her abusive husband tried to kill her. Amy has faced unimaginable trauma but her story is also one of healing and forgiveness.

 

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(Transcript is a guide only and may not be 100% correct.)

 

Emily Olsen 

Wherever there are shadows, there are people ready to kick out the darkness until it bleeds daylight. This is Bleeding Daylight with your host Rodney Olsen.

 

Rodney Olsen 

Thanks for listening today. Please share this episode and don't forget to connect with Bleeding Daylight on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. When she was just seven years old, her mother left her in the care of two notorious serial killers. She spent several years in a children's home and later, her abusive husband tried to kill her. Today's guest has faced unimaginable trauma, but his story is also one of healing and forgiveness. This episode is confronting at times but it also offers hope, and is a story of light that shatters the darkness. Amy Watson is a blogger, author and podcaster. She holds a degree in biology, a master's degree in business administration and has enjoyed success as an entrepreneur, as well as an educator. Amy hosts the podcast Wednesdays with Watson, where she's not afraid to tackle some big issues with her guests. She's also sharing deeply about her own story. We'll get to hear some of that story today. Amy, thank you for joining us on Bleeding Daylight.

 

Amy Watson 

Thank you, Rodney. I am so excited. I so am a fan of your podcast and what you do and more importantly, your message.

 

Rodney Olsen 

Thank you very much. I'm keen to find out more about your very early years, you certainly didn't have a usual childhood. Tell me about growing up for you.

 

Amy Watson 

Yeah, now I definitely did not have a usual childhood of though as most most trauma survivors will tell you. Of course, we didn't know that but I often tell people that I have been an adult for a long time. At the age of seven years old, I was placed into the care of two very well known serial killers here in the States. For those of your listeners here in the states will at least you know somewhat Gen Xers would would know the name Adam Walsh which is a young man who one of these serial killers kidnapped and killed. But my very first of seven abusers was another one of those serial killers. And so that's really one of my earliest memories is that first of seven abusers, and my mom basically let them babysit us and did what whatever she wanted to do and so she was absent for as long as I can remember, that is my earliest memory at seven years old. That's kind of how I got it got started in life, if you will. And so it's not been a not been a great go. Like I said that he was the first of seven, to, to sexually abused me over the course of seven years. At the age of 14, I was finally removed by the state of Florida and placed in a children's home. I tell people all the time. And I still would maintain that that those were the best years of my life, from age 14 to around 18. I was in a children's home. And that was one of the first places that I found unconditional love and safety. And so those seven years from that that first event that I mentioned to you. Fast forward to 14 years old, my mom basically abandoned me to marry abuser number seven. And so that is why I was removed from her care and so pretty rough go from from very, very, very early on, but also afforded some great opportunities that really kind of filled in some opportunity gaps that that somebody in my position could have had. I would definitely say that as non traditional, and it's beginnings for sure. You know, it was intense. And like I said, I feel like I've been an adult for for a very, very long time.

 

Rodney Olsen 

And obviously we're wanting to know your story. But I'm wondering if you can take us back and tell us a bit of your mom's story. What was going on in her life, that she would put a child in danger like that? Did she have some sort of abuse growing up? Or what was her story?

 

Amy Watson 

Yeah, you know, that's such a great question. And and one that one day I hope to get the full answer to. It's unfortunate. My mom was the daughter of a brigadier general and the army and if you google his name, he comes up he was a prominent general during World War One and World War Two Southern affluent family both of her brothers, one of them a lieutenant colonel in the army, another a well known author who wrote for the Baltimore Sun newspaper. And so all that to say that she was the apple of her dad's eye and when he died, she ran away and got married and had the first of four. I'm the youngest of four girls, and had two children by her first marriage and one of them ended up being somehow profoundly intellectually delayed. And it's now to this day institutionalized with an IQ of someone less than a year old. It is thought that she did something to harm my oldest sister to make that happen because she was born completely normal. We don't know is that is the real answer to that we know that she she had opportunities growing up afforded her, I would imagine that being an army brat wasn't easy, and certainly, at that high of a level probably wasn't easy either. And I think that, you know, she tried to measure up to her brothers, and she had her own intellectual difficulties was dyslexic, which, of course, in those days was was not even a thing. And then had some other health issues that came much later in life. And so I wish I could answer that question with great certainty. I do not know, if she also was abused, I know that it should not have been the story. Unfortunately, that was the story. And so by the time I was born, she was 38 years old. By the time I was born, she wasn't 19 when she left to go to get married to her first husband. So there's 20 years between my oldest sister and me, that is such an important question. So I'm so glad you asked us like what happened to you? You know, this podcast is called Bleeding Daylight. It's like what's so dark about you? And I wish I could ask her that. And she is she passed away when I was 19 years old. But what broke you so that you're continuing to basically break other people in some ways?

 

Rodney Olsen 

At the age of seven, she placed you in danger and started that abuse cycle. What about your sisters? You've mentioned one of them, but what about the other two?

 

Amy Watson 

The other two, ironically, is such a great question. I just met them for the first time in January of this year, the divorce with with her first husband was so contested. And even I mean, when you were talking early 1960s, that dad got full custody of both of these girls, and really protected them from her and then also from us. And so as I got older, I knew that they existed, but never could find them. And then of course, went on with my own life and had lots more trauma after that. And so, never really had the resources and so many ways, or even the thought process to try to find them. And Christmas of last year, I said, let me just type her name and Facebook. And she came and, and her picture kind of popped up on and it was like staring in a mirror except for, you know, 15 years from now, hopefully. But it was so obvious that she was my sister. And so I sent her a pm on on Facebook. And she didn't answer me until January. But ironically, she was living in Colorado, and I live in Florida on the west coast of Florida about 90 miles from the Tampa Bay area, and a sleepy bedroom town. She had literally just bought a house on this little town where I live. And so now we live in the same city after I had not met her my entire life. I'll be 49 in December, but just met her in January. And we went and saw my oldest sister in that institution. And that was hard. But we got to meet her too. And so that's been interesting. But that's a relatively new development of just this year, actually. But my sister Lisa, who I did grew up with is three years older than I she too was placed in the care of these of these same two men as as well as some other dangerous people. But at some point, we kind of parted ways. Even as younger kids, I would go one place and she would go and other sort of stories are different in a lot of ways. And then by the time I was 14 and taken away from my mom by the state, she had already left and so many ways while we grew up together until I was around 10 or 12. It was a whole lot of just kind of trying to survive trauma together. And then we were separated until until I graduate from high school when and she and I are so close to the state and she lives a couple hours from me. But But yeah, so she went through a lot of the same stuff. We don't talk about it a lot because that the stories are a little bit different. But she has the other sister that was that was also neglected and abandoned by the same person.

 

Rodney Olsen 

You touched on the point that it's very difficult to know what is normal and what is not. So you had no frames of reference to say, this is not normal. When did you start to realize that life was not actually normal for you?

 

Amy Watson 

You're right. You have no frame of reference. It was a knock on a door. And it was it was a providential knock on a door. And I will always be grateful for this knock on the door. But I was at a friend's house and I was about 10 years old. So about three years after this first episode, there was a knock on the door and we answered it and then a man and Lady stood there with a bag of candy. And they said, Hey, we're Dawn and Mary Lou. We're from Victory Baptist Church and we'd love it if we could pick you up tomorrow on a church bus and take you to church and here's some candy and we'll bring some candy tomorrow. And we're like yeah, we're in. We got on that church bus the next day. I begin to build a community even as a child at church and junior church and and Sunday school and so now I have Sunday school teachers looking at me and junior church pastors looking at me and all of my friends were from home. homes and healthy homes. And so as a beginning to figure out very quickly, when I would go stay with them, and you know, because I had now had a choice, I could pick a safe place to go when my mom didn't want us around, which was always and so I started hanging out with my friends at my at my church, and learned very quickly that Oh, wow, this I'm missing so much in my own home and, and Rodney. Oddly enough, it wasn't, you know, my friend is not in danger. It was my, my friend's parents loved them, wait, your mom is supposed to love you, your mom is supposed to hug you, you know, your mom's supposed to feed you. I didn't know any of that stuff until I started hanging out with my church friends. And then my uncle, my mom's brother put me in an a private school that was attached to that church. And that that saved my life, because I continued to be watched by people who were like, and something is not okay. And so one night, when I knew that my mom's live-in boyfriend who had literally just gotten out of prison as a pedophile and this was, of course, before you had to register to be a sex offender and all of those things. I went to church one night, and just told my pastor's wife what was going on, they called the authorities and I never went back that night, at least. And so I would say that that providential knock on the door, which is also how I, you know, came to know the Lord and the true sense of the word being introduced to him, and then of in later in life, building a relationship with him. But that was a game changer, the obedience of people who just had compassion for people and a bad neighborhood, to say, hey, let's, let's try to give some of these kids who had these opportunity gaps, let's try to give them a fighting chance of getting out of out of this situation that they're in. And so that was around age 10. And it saved me, by age 14, I trusted them enough to say, Hey, here's what's going on at home. And they stepped in. And because of that, then custody was removed from my mom. And decisions began to be made for me, that were in my best interest, and quite frankly, saved me, by quite possibly could have followed some of those same patterns as so often as a case, it was that knock on the door that shifted everything for me, and really helped me understand what I didn't have, which was just love, and protection, and safety. And I got to watch my friends be 10 and 12, and 13, and 14, and not worry about what they were going to eat that night, or if the power was going to be on or you know where their parents were. And that's how I learned the life that we were living wasn't normal.

 

Rodney Olsen 

And at the age of 14, when you're still in that stage of being a girl, and yet becoming a woman, you move to this home. Tell me about that experience and what that was like.

 

Amy Watson 

Yeah, you know, of course, going getting dropped off there. I did stay in foster care for about 18 months before I went to the children's home, that same pastor, that same church and his wife, who was the person that I told, kept me in their home, so I could finish out that school year. And then I finished my freshman year of high school. But it became abundantly clear that I had needs as most survivors of particular childhood abuse do, you have needs. And so there was a lot of attention seeking behaviors, nothing major, you know, no drugs or anything like that, but a lot of whatever I could do to get attention. So that would be you know, that would tell a lie about something silly, or really what it turned into just this. And this is still true about me today is something I fight, but it's this performance, like I'm going to outwait it, I'm going to work it, I'm going to outwit it. But because of some of those things that just occur and a child that has been through that I needed more attention than they could give me they had three kids of their own. And so they made the decision to put me in this children's home, which kind of on the surface doesn't make a lot of sense, because you know, there were 40 kids at the Children's Home. So the day they dropped me off Rodney, even telling you the story I caught my stomach kind of drops, my heart kind of drops, because they had chosen me for 18 months. And then in the drop off at the children's home, I felt like they had abandoned to me. And of course it goes to that famous things shame. Like what did I do to make you not want me? Why does no one want me? And so those early days at the children's home, I had no other recourse but to blame myself it was like it. You know, I thought to myself, my mom is just doing whatever she did. And I could even see my way clear that that wasn't my fault. But when I stayed with my pastor and his wife for 18 months, and they thought it necessary to take me out of their home because of some attention seeking behaviors. And again, I'm not talking drugs or alcohol I'm talking line. That's really the only thing I can think of off the top of my head but just a lot of attention I wanted I needed a lot of their attention. So those early days were hard because it was another abandonment. But what happened next was remarkable and was another one of those providential moments that was a game changer. For me, and that was the directors of the children's home, who at that time, were really just executive and they're in their functions there. But mom, mom and dad McGowan is what we call them. And mom took a special a special special interest in me, she would spend hours with me just hanging out with me, I would work with her in her office and, and she just loved me. And she didn't try to push anything on me. And then before I knew it, this, this children's home was my everything. And these people were my everything. And to this day, that's still true. And so that experience while a meet the immediate part of it was this is just another abandonment. And I had to work through, Why doesn't anybody want me? And I'm not saying that even even when I started to love it there that I didn't have that question in the back of my mind. And so Rodney, what it did was it produced this production monster. And so everything was done at you know, 185 miles an hour, and it was going to be done better and faster and stronger than ever. And so I figured if I perform that way that people would want me. And so that experience was a good one. But that was a habit that I took into my adulthood, unfortunately. But that was the first place besides my uncle and my aunt, who is my mom's brothers that I saw occasionally, that I remember being unconditionally loved. And, and I was loved so well. They're graduated from high school while I was there, went to college on a full ride scholarship. I also worked at the children's home while I was in college for a few years. And so that experience was a good one. It was redeeming it was healing. And I'm so so grateful for that place to be honest with you,

 

Rodney Olsen 

You found that kind of love that you'd been yearning for at the Children's Home. How long did it take you to realize that this was unconditional love? How long before those things in the back of your mind stop saying, well, they're going to give you up soon. anyway?

 

Amy Watson 

I would say two years, probably, I would just perform, perform perform. You know what it was Rodney. When I turned 18, I turned 18 in December and didn't graduate from high school until June. And when they didn't age me out of the system. When I turned 18 and December, when I still had six months of high school left, I knew that they were the real deal. And so it is actually an interesting question. I was never able to actually put a timestamp on that. But I knew then that they weren't going anywhere. And because they they very well could have just said you're 18 go and and they did not. So they allowed me to stay for that the additional six months while I finished high school. So I would I would say it took a while to undo that kind of fear, the constant evaluation of behavior and shame and all those things that love to hide and those dark corners, you know,

 

Rodney Olsen 

So even amongst all this sort of doubt that's going on amongst the abuse and all these things that are happening, there's obviously this potential that that lay there, because you've done well through schooling through college and, and being able to do well there. Did you think that from that point, life was just going to keep improving?

 

Amy Watson 

I did. I did it. I thought I hoped I knew that the worst was behind me. I absolutely did. And that is such a good question for for people that have been through childhood stuff like I have. It was such a gift that I even had the ability to, to hope for continued, and a better future. But I did I 100% debt I graduated from college, I left the Tampa Bay area, which is where the children's home is went back to my hometown. And that's kind of where some more things came off of the rails for me.

 

Rodney Olsen 

And I want to explore a little bit of that now because you've got these feelings that life is just almost way up from here. You've put the past behind you. But then what happened?

 

Amy Watson 

I moved back to Jacksonville. Like I mentioned, I was not even back in that city for three or four months before I started dating. A gentleman who is about eight years older than I am. I had gotten hurt in the church. And so it was on a bit of a sabbatical from God had been taught my whole life to stay in stay in church and certainly not to marry someone who did not share my faith and who did did not trust in Jesus. But he knew all the right things to say he had two kids already. I knew that I couldn't have kids fell in love with him and did all the things that I was taught not to moved in with him. All of those things. About three months before we got married was the first time that he hit me and he ruptured my eardrum. After that I went back into performance mode thinking okay, there is a common denominator here and it's me. So what am I doing to make people hurt me? Whether it was a serial killer when I was seven, or the six people that came behind him, or my mom, or now my soon to be husband.  Why do people want to hurt me? And it just threw me back into that performance mode, we started a business together, and it did very, very well. And it did well because of a skill set that I didn't even know I had. But I lived in that domestic violence marriage for 12 years and finally left him in 2007, when he put a gun to my head pulled the trigger. And I'm not sure whether the gum jammed, or there wasn't a bullet in the magazine of the gun. But I pushed him off of may tour a bunch of stuff in my shoulder, kind of made it apropos so that I you know, because the most dangerous time to leave a situation like that is at that point. And so I just kind of acted like I forgave him and waited for my time. And when that time came, I had some friends. And I and I'd like to say that all through out my story, I hope that listeners will see a common thread besides my faith is a community because so many people run they don't share our faith, and sometimes hard for me to tell my redemption story, and give them the hope that they need and that they're looking for. But if they don't share my faith, one thing that we all have in common, and I hope you're hearing my story is a community of people, somebody's always willing to step up. And so when it came time to leave him when it became safe for me to leave him, I had people hiding clothes everywhere, all over the city, people putting plane tickets on credit cards for me to get out of the country. So he could be served with divorce papers. So I left him and move back to my college town. That was in 2008. And that is when I realized that life isn't going up anymore. I lost all of that hope that I had as a 22 year old college graduate, or even all the way through my marriage when he would say I'm sorry. And I would attach that that particular incident to some sort of event, you know, live on this, look this, this hope that this is the last time this is the last time this the last time and so by the time I left him and moved in 2008, I had a significant substance abuse issue. And narcotic pain medication, I had been in a car accident a couple years prior to that, and realize that those pills did more than take away the back pain. You know, there's an old saying that when when you have a substance abuse issue, that one is too many and 10,000 is not enough at left him and did get involved in a church and in a community and started teaching high school for a couple years. But Life Life was hard. And all of the trauma came home to roost about that time when I was right after I left him and was living by myself, and an apartment that was you know, 750 square feet, which is like, you know, a bedroom in the house that I moved out love. Life was tough, then, and it led me into this almost as not almost as legitimate crisis of faith. To be honest with you.

 

Rodney Olsen 

I know that there'll be people listening, who will say, What do you mean, you waited until you were almost killed to get out of that relationship? Because so many people don't understand that it's it's not as simple as walking out. You said that even before you got married, there was that first sign of abuse. And yet you stayed in that relationship? Can you help us understand the difficulty of leaving an abusive relationship?

 

Amy Watson 

Yes, thank you for asking that. There's two ways that that question gets asked, Why didn't you leave? or Why did you stay so long? And it feels to us like an indictment. Because what we need to understand is that one in four women will be in a domestic violence situation, one in seven men will be in a domestic violence situation. What people don't understand is if you can imagine so like in my situation, everything was tied to him every single red cent, my job, my car, everything was connected to him. And so to say, why don't you just leave or go to a shelter shelters basically are meant to triage for domestic violence victims. So there's the practical part of why domestic violence victims don't leave, particularly if there's children involved because they don't have the money to leave. And you can't just go to a shelter. And it's still, I can't believe in 2020 we're having this conversation where we, at least in North America don't have anything in place to help domestic violence victims at the onset of the violence. And that's why so many people don't call because they serve a restraining order, which is a piece of paper and that's all it is. And it makes life more difficult for survivors or for people that are in that situation. And so there's the practical part of it. There's the dangerous the physical dangerous part of it like they can find you and the most dangerous time for a domestic violence victim is Right after they leave. And then finally for me, Rodney, I was hell bent on getting him to love me. And so many domestic violence victims have childhood stories like mine. And all we want to do is to be good enough for somebody to love us and to stop hurting us. And so while I am very well educated, and when I finally did leave him getting a job wasn't a problem. None of that money stuff was a problem, because I had some friends and a community that helped me, and I failed at getting him to love me, at least I thought. And so those are the three reasons I stayed the practical, the safety, that probably most prominent was, I made a vow, I loved him, and I wanted him to love me back. I wanted to stop doing whatever I was doing to make him hit me, and it wasn't until I got back in church and got a community who was speaking life into me, that life began to at least look like it had a tiny little bit of hope people were were speaking that no, that is not your fault. They did not do what so many people want to do is just come in and save the day they walked with me they watched it, I really believe that had they thought that at any time, my life was really in danger, they would have called the police. And certainly the time you put the gun to my head, I made sure I told all of them. And they they were like you have 72 hours to go or we are going to do something about it. And so there is an appropriate time to do something about it. That is such a common question that I'm so glad you asked. Because it's just not that simple. We simply don't know what that domestic violence victim brought into that relationship in terms of insecurities, in terms of abuse, history, like I have abandonment history like I have. And we are just human beings who want somebody to love us. And I just wanted him to love me and I was so determined as a performer to make him love me and to stop doing whatever it was that made him hit me and it wasn't until I got a community of people at my church that spok into me and helped me and lifted me up that I was able to get out. And so it is such as lonely existence and domestic violence. And then when you tell friends, oftentimes they respond with that indicting question. And they Meanwhile, but they make it worse. And so we don't tell anybody. And so I've made it my my mission, whether it's my blog, or whatever, when when I get the opportunity to speak into the lives of people currently in domestic violence situations, to really just say, look, I get it, I understand, and to help them get out and get out safely. And that remains one of my passions, because that is an amazing question. I'm so grateful that you asked it because the average person just can't wrap their head around why you would stay. And it just isn't that simple. Unfortunately,

 

Rodney Olsen 

it sounds like all the way along. Those who will visit abuse upon someone are also using manipulation the whole time to make you feel like this is the best that you deserve. How do you break free from that?

 

Amy Watson 

Yeah. And that's exactly what they do. They they Gaslight you and I'm the best, you deserve, way, way worse than me and all of that. And so for me breaking free from that. There's an old saying in the psychological world that they get you by crook or by hook. And so he often would after an event, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. And then lavish love and gifts and all of that stuff. And so I broke free from that manipulation, because of that community that I told you about. But after I left breaking free from the lies that that I deserved to be hit, and all of those things came from and continues to come from a lot of work in counselors offices, a lot of love by being loved by my community. And I real crisis of faith where I just cried out to Jesus, just like John the Baptist said, you know, are you going to help me or should I be looking for somebody else? And so, it wasn't until in the middle of PTSD, flashbacks and floodings and, and just horrific physical issues that I have as a result of this life that I've had of abuse as complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with a ton of physical issues. I ended up in the hospital, a five day hospital stay for a nervous breakdown about a year and a half after I left him and walking around the halls of that psych ward was the first time in my life I remember not having any responsibilities for myself that my meal that day didn't depend on anything that I did, and my clothes or having a roof over my head. None of it depended on my performance because I thought the children's home would kick me out if I if I wasn't a good kid. But it wasn't until I was hospital. I was with a complete nervous breakdown, that that breakthrough from his lies and his manipulation and that terrible self worth that that gives a survivor of abuse. It wasn't until after that break down. And that crisis of faith and people just investing in me and, and speaking life into me as they continue to do this day. But Rodney, a lot of work in counseling, trauma informed counseling, but it's still very much cloud who I am today, I've just turned it into a mission and try to stay on the right side of it and use it for good. I don't agree to every interview, I wanted to do this one because I love your podcast, being a really good steward of the pain is important to me. And so I use my voice, and I use my story when I think it matters. And when I am when I think it'll help people, and it's turned it into purpose, it makes the pain, I was gonna say bearable, but it makes me embrace the pain. Because there's such purpose in the pain, people need to hear a voice of somebody that has been through some stuff and has every reason to have a needle in their arm, or to be drinking every night or any of those things. And that's just not my story now, because of a lot of people along the way. And obviously, you know, my faith and my church. And like I said counseling, but it takes a while to break that paradigm. And unfortunately, it comes back every now and then when you're in a domestic violence situation like that, that manipulation, like it's your fault. And and because I had already come out of a childhood abuse thing that is our default, that is my default is if something bad happens, it's my fault. And it's a hole that I often have to bury myself out love, come back to the center and come back to the truth of who I am, who I am, and who they were. And and really just try to let it Let it be used for good.

 

Rodney Olsen 

So as part of the healing, recognizing those defaults, and when you start to lean towards those defaults to be able to catch yourself

 

Amy Watson 

Absolutely and and second, a close second to that is having five star friends that will call you out on it, who will just say, Hey, I'm seeing flickers of some behavior that's indicating to me that that we need to get you back to back to center, back to what I call your Psalm 139ness are fearfully and wonderfully made ness or made in the image of God, as we see in Genesis 1:26 and 1:27. Now, so many years later, absolutely. There are defaults, that'll make me go. And there's some some cutting edge therapies that I've that I've been in that make that actually my brain will say you deserved better than than that abuse. And yeah, pull out all of that performance mode that I tried to get into make people love me and be me. But really a close second to that as a community of people who tell me that all the time and who will say hey, Amy, take a day off, walk away from whatever it is you're doing often writing or podcasting or whatever that brings back up the trauma, since so often make me fall into those old habits. And so yeah, there's a list of things eating not eating is one of them for me, Rodney, so I know that I'm struggling when I don't take the time to eat three meals a day. And so stuff like that the eating thing is something that's obvious to everybody. But that is one major one for me. And one that even in real time on this day that we're recording this that I'm struggling with, where my friend will say to me, Hey, did you eat today, and I get that text message every day. And some days I go? No, and she's like, it's four o'clock, I'm like, Okay, I'm going to eat now. And so I can't stress that that community aspect enough. You know, I would love to tell you a story like like Shay Watson told you on your podcast of this time when all of this stuff that the PTSD stuff stopped. For me, it is better, there's no doubt that it's better. But I still very much every day walk with PTSD. And every part of my body that is affected as well. That's not the story that the Lord has told. complete healing. For me, it is it is work. Every day, I use the analogy when I wake up. Most people wake up on sea level, I wake up in a basement. And so I just kind of have to climb out of that basement to get to where most people even just wake up in terms of how they're going to operate that day, and how they're going to treat themselves and how they're going to, you know what they're going to put in their body and that kind of stuff. And so there are definitely defaults, and definitely warning signs. I'm still in counseling, which I think is so important with this kind of body of trauma, and which also is obviously helpful and somebody somebody's watching me, I always say, you know, I've got plenty of people watching me or checking on their strong friend as they call it. That's That's such a good question. Because it it doesn't go away for everybody. It didn't go away. For me.

 

Rodney Olsen 

It's one thing to do that work within yourself to bring yourself to a better place and it sounds like you're a long way along that track, even though there's still work to be done. But it seems to be taking things to a new level when we start to talk about forgiveness, especially forgiveness for those who haven't ever come You said, I'm sorry, how do you start to forgive people who have brought that abuse into your life?

 

Amy Watson 

Yeah, I learned that lesson the hard way. Right after I turned 18 years old, the state could not tell me or my mom that we could not communicate with each other. And so after she left to get married to the seventh abuser, when I was 14, I saw her at my high school graduation when I was 18. A year later, I was standing in a hospital room where she was on a ventilator, essentially, I knew that was the last visit with her and I stood above her Rodney, and I listened to all the machines in the room, breathing for her everything, all of it, and I looked at her in the bed, and I wanted to just pick up her hand and say, I forgive you, because I knew she was going to die. And I couldn't even do that I just couldn't do it Am I was too, too shattered, my heart was shattered in a million pieces. And I couldn't even begin to know what that even look like to forgive her while she died just a couple months later, and I never got the opportunity to tell her that I forgave her. And I lived in that regret. And I promised myself that I would never ever, ever live in that regret again. And so then I just started over forgiving everybody like, like my ex husband, you punched me in the face. It's good. Let's move on. And there was some air quote, transaction of forgiveness, if you will. But it wasn't until I got healthy enough, especially after I got out of that domestic violence marriage. I've been in counseling a couple years, been really involved in my church gotten the help that I needed for the substance abuse, and so really beginning to deal with life. And I just really began to wonder, and I and I referenced that earlier, what happened to you to make you this broken? Because that makes me sad, whatever that is that happened to you. Somewhere along the way, I realized that when we read Ephesians 4:32, it says Be compassionate one to another tender hearted, forgiving one another. And so some, some translations say kind. I like that word compassion. And I like that it comes first. Because I think that if we can even take a tiny step, I mean that a millimeter of a step in the direction of compassion for the people who hurt us, like, what happened to you, and what broke you, because I'm so sorry, that whatever broke you, it affected me, and there's parts of us that are never going to be okay, I'm not going to continue to put myself on the line of your fire. But I'm so sorry for whatever broke you to make you do these horrible things to me. And so my path to forgiveness is not the, you know, Jesus forgave me and I must forgive even though that's true, I think that it stands to reason that being able to forgive is a is a fruit of being forgiven by Jesus and what he did for us on the cross. But that approach always fell flat to me. Like, if I didn't forgive, Jesus wasn't gonna forgive me that always fell flat to me. But what didn't and what doesn't feel flat to me, is what they did, they did. And and, and today, I still pay the price for it in many, many ways. But it makes me sad for both of these two people, whatever happened to them, they both took to the to their graves with them, and they were miserable, sad people. And so compassion is bread forgiveness for me. And at first, it was that regret, it was regret, you know, that regret of not forgiving my mom and she died. And that's why I would just over forgive. And I said, and I use that word like it is actual true, I don't know that you can over forgive. But I let a bunch of stuff slide that I should have called out on the carpet, because there's a difference between calling it out and forgiving it. condoning and forgiving are also two different things. And so compassion was my pathway to forgiving both of them. And I don't know what happened to either one of them to make them broken. But I am old enough in my life now to look at people who don't treat their wives and their children, like they treated me. And so the vast majority of the world doesn't treat their wives and children, like I got treated. And so it stands to reason they needed something. And so compassion was my pathway to forgiving both of them.

 

Rodney Olsen 

I'm sure that there are parts in your story that resonate very deeply with some of those who are listening right now. If people are wanting to get into contact with you to learn more about your story and connect with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

 

Amy Watson 

I think probably the easiest way is AmyWatsonauthor.com such as a m y, and then Watson w a t s o n and then author.com or Google Wednesday's with Watson, you also find me that way. But the easiest way would be my website and just hit that contact button I would love. It is a ministry of mine to work with survivors, particularly domestic violence and childhood abuse at the layman's level that I can. As you know, I've made it my passion with some of the interaction that you and I have had together. And so yeah, my website would be the easiest way for them to get in touch with me.

 

Rodney Olsen 

And we will make sure that links to your website to your podcast, or in the show notes at bleeding daylight dotnet. So people can go there. But as you say, the easiest way is just to head to that website or just a Google and they will be able to find you very quickly. Amy, I know that there's a whole lot more of this story that we could continue to unpack. But I think this is a great place to leave things. Looking at this idea of forgiveness. It's not excusing bad behavior, but actually helping to bring healing to yourself and I really appreciate your openness and your honesty today. Thank you so much for sharing some of your story on Bleeding Daylight,

 

Amy Watson 

Rodney, it's been my pleasure and please keep doing what you're doing. I love what you're doing. dispelling the darkness and and love your podcast, love your heart. And please keep doing what you're doing. It's been such an honor to be here with you today.

 

Emily Olsen 

Thank you for listening to Bleeding Daylight. Please help us to shine more light into the darkness by sharing this episode with others. For further details and more episodes, please visit bleedingdaylight.net

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