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CBN.com "I was abused very badly in this foster home and locked in the closet for days at a time. I had a horrible fear of the dark," says Allison Gappa Bottke, who, at the age of four, was abused as a foster child.
Allison's loving mother had been hospitalized with spinal meningitis. Allison's father was estranged, and there were no other available relatives to take care of Allison and her sister and brother, so the children were sent out to two different foster homes. The family re-united, but for Allison, the intense abuse left deep emotional scars.
"I was catatonic, unable to comprehend what had happened to me," she recalls. "I couldnt speak. I was a preschooler. I did talk before I went in, but I couldnt speak afterward." My first recollection truly was being just fearful of dark places. I slept with lights on all the time."
Fortunately, Allison found an escape. She developed a fantasy world through countless hours of reading and writing.
"I started writing my first scripts when I was a really little girl. I created these scenarios of a perfect life, of perfect parents, of perfect siblings, of a perfect world. Thats how I got through that time; I created my reality."
In her teen years, rebellion and spiritual emptiness filled her life. By the time she was 16, Allison was married and pregnant.
"He was 18. At 15 I ran away from home and went to South Carolina and married this fellow. I am a 15-year-old. I didnt know who he was. I had no concept of character judgement at that age. I didnt have an earthly fathers love. I didnt know a Heavenly Fathers love. I had an emptiness that longed for somebody to say, 'I love you, Allison. I will take care of you. And I will be this Prince Charming that you need and want,'" she says.
But her teen husband was no Prince Charmingher violent marriage ended in divorce. Allison filled her adult life with "live in" relationships and alcohol and drugs. She desperately tried to fill the spiritual void she felt in her heart.
"I was out there like a ship without a sail or without a rudder; I was just going here and there, and hitting one dead end after another."
Allison's private life was a disaster, but her professional career was in high gear. She was one of the countrys first full-figured models, and she was also a professional fundraiser for non-profit organizations.
"I was being paid to throw 1,000-dollar-a plate-dinners for the governor of California. I found myself in this awesome position to have a lot of fun. People envied me. People thought I had this great life because I had developed this really great career. I was working, but there was an emptiness."
In her emptiness, Allison attempted suicide.
"I sent my son to my mothers house for the weekend, and I swallowed 150 or so pills --Valium, Quaaludes, everything," Allison explains, recalling that horrible day. "It wouldve killed me. A friend of mine suspected something wasnt right, and she came in and broke into my house and found me and took me to the hospital. I had to have my stomach pumped."
The deep void in her heart kept growing bigger.
"It was hitting against a dead-end road one time after another," she says. "I would keep trying things and nothing worked. Relationships didnt work. My friendships werent working. I was not in touch with who I was and what I wanted to do and where I was going in my life."
It was a Wednesday evening when Allison decided to take a walk. She wanted to clear her mind. Allison noticed some people going into a church across the street. She felt drawn to go inside, and before Allison knew it, she was sitting in the balcony of the church.
"I was the only person in the balcony. Nobody else was up there. I looked down and I saw people down sitting in the sanctuary. I figured Id be OK up here. Nobody was going to come and get me. I was really sobbing, though, at least I felt like I really was. I thought, Somebody is going to come up here and find me, and wonder who this crazy woman is up here crying in the church balcony. This pastor who started speaking, his message that night was for me. It was a message just for me. There was a church filled with people, but his message was for me. It was a message about being lost and being broken and having an empty place in our hearts that only God can fill. If you dont have God filling that place, what do you fill it with? You fill it with empty pursuits. You fill it with relationships. You fill it with drugs, with alcohol, with over work, with wrong decisions and wrong choices. He told me this, and I was agreeing with all of this: Absolutely. Thats what Im doing. Im doing this. At that moment I knew that there had to be a big change in my life. I had to turn around."
Allison met with the pastor the very next day. After that meeting, her life began to change.
"There was definitely a change," Allison says. "It wasn't like life suddenly got better, because I still had a whole lot of challenges in my life. But there was a peace that you dont have without Christ. There was a peace there that maybe I dont have all the answers. Maybe Im going to really mess things up. Maybe Im going to hit a few more dead end roads here. However, there is a foundation there. Theres a guide there. Theres a navigator there. There is somebody there who will help me. And that ability to have that help brought me peace."
Allison is now happily married, and her life has made an incredible U-turn. Her love of writing that helped her through the darkest years of her childhood is now part of her amazing career. She compiles inspiring, dramatic stories of how God is working in peoples lives. Her book series is appropriately titled God Allows U-Turns. Its not just other peoples stories that she finds so inspiring, but Allison gets to share her own story as well.
"Ive committed so many mistakes and so many sins and I talk to people who say, 'You know, God could never forgive me. I could never get out of this hole that Im in.' And that is so wrong. His character is loving and forgiving. When we honestly can come to Him with a repentant heart -- thats a real key -- to say, 'Im sorry for what Ive done, please change me, get me back on the right road,' Hell do it for us," Allison concludes.
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