May’s Gem Precious Jewell Middleton
I am honored to introduce to you, May’s Gem, Precious Middleton. I am in awe of her story. She has managed to turn tragedy into triumph, and is working to make that a reality for others who are still experiencing the fallout of troubled pasts. I know that this will be a blessing to everyone who reads this post. Read on and be inspired by May’s Gem, Precious Jewell Middleton.
Me: How would you describe yourself? Who is Precious?
Precious: I’m a mother. I’m a lover of God. I’m an entrepreneur, a serial entrepreneur. I would say that I’m an overall great person.
Me: Tell me about your beginnings. Where were you born?
Precious: My siblings and I were raised in the projects in Jeffersonville, IN. I’m the oldest of three children.
Me: What are your happiest childhood memories?
Precious: Being outside, talking and singing to the stars. I also remember pretending that I was a teacher, reading to my sisters and brother.
Me: What did you dream of becoming when you grew up?
Precious: Great question. Let’s see. I was into art, creative expression. We didn’t have much. I used yarn to express my creativity. As a matter of fact, I got in trouble at school once for stealing yarn. I was going to create something that I could sell. I don’t know what I was intending to make, but that intention was strong.
Me: What were some of your greatest fears growing up?
Precious: Honestly, we grew up, the 3 of us, in a fear-based home. Everything was my biggest fear.
Me: What do you mean when you say that it was a “fear-based” home?
Precious: It was fear-based because of domestic violence, poverty, and the uncertainties that come of it all. There was nothing promising for a child to look forward to. For me, that was fearful.
Me: What made you the most hopeful at that time? What made you believe in yourself?
Precious: There were many times when I would sit outside on the rooftop with my blanket and my Raggedy Ann doll. I would talk to the stars, and just hope that I would live another day. That was my prayer, to just make it through the night.
Me: Did you have a support system at all, anyone to comfort you from the turmoil that you experienced?
Precious: Well, it was hard. There wasn’t really a biggest supporter. I do remember that my grandmother was the sweetest person. She would bring a mint green cake to lighten things for us. I also remember that she gave me my first bike. I would say my grandparents were a support system for us.
Me: What has been your biggest accomplishment, so far?
Precious: I’ve been through very difficult experiences in childhood and adulthood. My greatest challenge and accomplishment has been overcoming those tragedies, and believing in myself.
My primary concern was that I didn’t want to repeat my upbringing with my children. Education was a force in my childhood home. We had to learn to read, we had to learn to speak. It was a big thing in our home, but it wasn’t enforced in a healthy way. I wanted to make sure that my kids saw the healthy part of being in school and getting over challenges. Children need education but it doesn’t have to be a brutal experience
Me: You were speaking of difficulties in both childhood and adulthood. What were particularly difficult situations?
Precious: I didn’t know if I would survive my childhood. We had mental illnesses in the home. I didn’t know if I would survive the attacks from my parents at the time. I experienced physical, mental, and sexual abuse. There really wasn’t any boundary.
Me: Were rescued from that at any point?
Precious: We were in and out of foster homes throughout the childhood abuse. We lived with different family members. Actually, my first memory is coming home from a foster home at three years old and meeting my biological mother for the first time.
Me: Let’s talk about healing. What was the first step in you healing from the abuse?
Precious: It was not until 2010 that I realized that there was an issue. Around 2008 the market fell. I lost my job, my home, all of these material possessions. I felt that I needed those things to feel accomplished, to feel that I was doing a good job for my children. Things fell apart. I lost control and almost committed suicide. I had to pick myself up. Even though my family was there, I needed to find the answer to why I almost committed suicide. That led me to a journey of self-discovery. Through this process, I learned that my coping skills were low. I decided to go into counseling. During my sessions, the therapist made the connection that because of the severe abuse during childhood, I was still suffering.
Me: Was that the first time that this connection was made?
Precious: Yes. The sexual abuse was major. I learned in counseling that, because there were no boundaries, I felt that people could do and say anything, which ultimately killed my spirit. The year 2010 was my first encounter with self-discovery and trying to find out answers to who I was.
Me: What place are you in now in terms of your self-esteem and confidence?
Precious: I would say that I’m a strong 8. Before my process of self-discovery, I was in the negative numbers. Things improve once you realize what you have overcome. I’m ok with the fact that I’m always a work in progress. I’m not perfect, and I feel like God is showing me my new value. At one time in my life I had no value.
Me: What do you feel is your purpose?
Precious: I am just finding that out through prayer and meditation, and by taking care of myself. My purpose is to speak to other women and encourage them. They may be experiencing something that has everything to do with their childhood that ran over into adulthood. I think my purpose is to shed light on mental illness and self-esteem recovery for those who’ve been through events that are tragic. I’m here to give a voice to those who don’t have a voice.
Me: In what ways are you sharing your story to encourage others?
Precious: On my blog, Precious Jewel Speaks, I write about my journey to show that you can overcome any obstacle. I am also in the process of writing my first book, entitled Pulling Back the Covers. In my book, I will share more about the tragedies that I have experienced, and my process of healing.
Me: At this point, are you where you want to be? Are you satisfied with where you are now?
Precious: I would say that I am content with my corporate job, but I know God says that there is more for me. There are people who have a story like mine who need to heal and be inspired. I hope to be that voice that helps to uplift them. There’s still a lot of growth for me.
Me: We’ve talked about your growth over time, and your healing process. What do you love most about the woman who you are today?
Precious: My tenacity. Throwing in the towel is not an option. I’ve learned this about myself, having gone through domestic violence, finishing school, raising children. I love that I have the tenacity to get things done.
Me: What is your biggest goal at this point in your life?
Precious: My oldest daughter is 17 and graduating from high school. I was 15 when I had her. My other baby is graduating 5th grade. Just being there with them through this process is my biggest goal. Making sure that my children are well protected and taken care of has been my biggest motivator. Opening up chapter 2 in my life is the next goal. I’m thinking about relocating and starting a clean slate. I plan to get my book out this summer. I’m staying the course, learning to take care of me, and that’s ok.
Me: What is your advice to someone who may have had a similar background as yours, but who has not started the healing process?
Precious: Slow down and get to know yourself before you try to get to know someone else. Once you master self-discovery and self-love, you raise your standards as to how others will treat you. You know your value and you don’t wait for someone else to give you your value. Admit areas where you’re weak, and seek help. Get counseling.
Me: Do you think that seeking professional counseling is still a stigma in the African-American community?
Precious: Absolutely. In my childhood, the thought was “what goes on in our home, stays in our home”. I’m sure that this is true across the board. I want to say that it’s ok to get the help that you need if facing depression, thoughts of suicide, or abuse in your life. It’s ok to take care of yourself.
Me: Is there anything else that you would like to share as encouragement to others who are striving to take care of themselves?
Precious: One nugget—limit and set boundaries around anyone who you feel is draining your life. You deserve to be loved, cared for, and respected. Pray about the relationship, and, if necessary, you may need to end it.
I have to say that I am finally able to embrace my name now at 33 years of age. I know that God sees me as a Precious Jewel and I’m excited about that.
I want to thank Precious for being so open and transparent. Her story is certain to help others in their healing process. Please comment and let Precious know how her story has touched you.
Be sure to support her upcoming book, Pulling Back the Covers, on Amazon.
*Available for pre-order
Antoinette C. is a blogger who delights in all things that foster unity and growth in women. After all, if the woman is happy and fulfilled, so is her family and community. Through Truly Charmed, Antoinette will introduce you to women who have inspired her, and who will, hopefully, do the same for you! Here's to your charmed life!