"My name is DeNiece, I am from Indiana, and I will be sharing my story about my life's journey."
What is your story?
I grew up in a single parent household. I was the youngest of four children (three from my mother). Being the youngest, I was outcast pretty quickly as my siblings didn’t see the need for another kid in the house. I felt unwanted and unloved from the beginning.
More than anything, I wanted acceptance.
Being from a single parent home, money was tight and bills never ceased. Lights and gas were turned off so often I thought it was just a part of life. When we couldn’t stay in the house anymore, my mother my two older siblings and I were forced to move into a homeless shelter. We bounced around from homeless shelter to homeless shelter for years.
Before I wanted to strive for acceptance, now I wanted nothing more than stability.
As a 5 year old, I suffered silently and alone as I was sexually abused for nearly a year by a family friend. My mother turned to drugs while my siblings and I faced abuse, neglect, hunger, poverty and instability. However, we smiled because we still had each other.
In my pre-teen age, I started attending church and began to find a family and a support that I never knew I needed. Things began to feel right and my life began to brighten. My siblings and I were closer than ever and we watched mom turn from drugs to becoming the mother we had always needed.
Although, life's challenges always came time and time again. We experienced the death of my oldest brother when he turned 22, the diagnosis of my mother with breast cancer, the loss of several family members at young ages. Adversity has always been present, but I have always been able to find a light in the midst of it.
In 2015, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and vowed to break the cycle of poverty.
I wanted nothing but stability for my daughter. I vowed to never let her upbringing mimic mine. I vowed to always have a stable home for her with food on the table so she would never have to go to bed hungry.
My daughter is my reason to always have hope. She deserves nothing but the best.
I still have faced grief and hardships, but one thing remains through all adversity, I have always found a reason to smile.
Pain does not last forever.
In one word, how would you describe/define your experience?
"Empowering. I feel stronger sharing my story on how I have faced my adversities head on but still end up with a joy. That is unshakeable."
What would you compare your experience to? And/or what analogy would define your experience?
"I would compare my story to a terrible storm that leaves a beautiful rainbow when the damage is done."
What advice would you give yourself or someone else experiencing something similar?
"Never count yourself out. Never feel like you have to suffer silently because you feel you are the only one going through something.
Find at least one reason to smile each and every day and let that guide you until you can find several reasons to smile.
Love and be kind, never let anger take your joy away and don’t let people dim your shine!"
Hear the song "The Woman I've Become" inspired by DeNiece's story: Available Everywhere 10.15.21