*This is the story of Ms. LaShawn Cunningham. It is not meant to disrespect anyone, but is simply HER truth and HER experiences through HER eyes.
LaShawn Cunningham, a 41-year-old, mother of three, has undergone quite the journey within the past two years. Her once mended family, became broken, and Cunningham was left to make some difficult decisions. “I had to make a choice, and the choice was to do better… not to die on the inside, but do better and live,” said Cunningham.
Cunningham decided to leave her husband of over 10 years, which left her with absolutely nothing. “ I was making $11.50 an hour, with no benefits, and he took my car, and I had no place to live, so my brother and sister-in-law allowed my three children and myself to stay with them for a while,” said Cunningham. In the midst of her situation, she didn’t know how she was going to make it, and had to take multiple buses just to get to work each day.
Also, during the separation of she and her husband, Cunningham also ran into trouble with her oldest daughter. Cunningham said, “I never thought she would turn her back on me.” Cunningham ended up giving up her job for her daughter and neglecting her other two children in return because her oldest needed attention. She said that she gave her daughter everything she could. Cunningham’s daughter gave birth to a son at age 16, and according to Cunningham, the child’s father’s mother told Cunningham’s daughter that once she turned 17, she didn’t have to listen to her mother.
Cunningham was intolerant of her daughter’s disrespect, so she told her to figure out whether or not she wanted to be with her son’s father or not because she was very indecisive. This weighed heavily on Cunningham’s emotions because she was also dealing with her issues with her husband. She admits that she also neglected her husband, but she didn’t know what to do. “I’m a mom, and I’m a wife, and she needed me, so I did what I had to do,” Cunningham said.
After months of going back and forth with her son’s father, Cunningham finally told her daughter that she could not contact him. She became upset and ran away. “It broke my heart because she was like a connection to my mother. It broke my heart for her to destroy me like that and I almost got sick,” said Cunningham.
Cunningham tried to get her daughter back, by visiting her at school, but what she didn’t know was that the school was under the impression that she was an abusive mother. About four administrators stood in the school office while she talked to her daughter. “She stood there and said ‘you did nothing for me.’ And allowed her to go to a crazy home,” said Cunningham. She blamed everything on her mother. In addition, she explained that if Cunningham did not apologize to her boyfriend’s mother, that she would not have to worry about seeing her ever again. Cunningham refused to apologize because she felt she had done nothing wrong, but she did apologize to her daughter for being married to a man who was abusive. “I couldn’t leave my husband because she wanted me to leave my husband. I had to come to reality and see that this is not where I am supposed to be,” Cunningham said.
After her conversation with her daughter at school, Cunningham describes that she felt like a knife was going through her. But, on a lighter note, Cunningham said that God showed who he is to her, even though she already knew and never ceased in praising him throughout her trials. And although that was a rough patch in her life, God blessed her with a new job where she went from making $23,000 a year to $40,000 a year. She also recently received a bonus and raise at her job. Through it all she was able to move into her own place, pay off her extraneous debt that her ex-husband left her with, and a new found happiness and self confidence. “I’m proud of myself. I’m not on welfare. I’m not on food stamps. The Lord just showed me ‘I got you,’ even when I didn’t have the money,” said Cunningham.