Fallen, Yet She Rose
Updated: Jul 20, 2020
YOU CAN. I want you to know this! I know at times it may seem impossible, unachievable, and unattainable. I have felt that way. There will be times of uncertainty and trials on your path. You'll wonder where you are going, how long it will take, and if you’ll ever get there. I am here to tell you that you can and will make it. I will not claim that the road will be easy. I dare not persuade you into believing that you won’t run into roadblocks, obstacles, potholes, and even pitfalls. Life is uncertain, but I can guarantee that if you push hard and stay determined, nothing will stop you. It doesn’t matter how hard it gets, or how many times you get knocked down, you will get back up and persevere until you reach the finish line.
Born in Baltimore City, raised in Howard County on inherited farmland, many made the assumption that I was well off simply because of the county I resided in. We had just what we needed to make it through- nothing more, nothing less. Hand-me-downs, lights being cut off on occasion, and makeshift dinners were often served to be able to feed 6 kids. These things were typical in my family. There were 8 of us occupying a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 800 sq ft rancher. We didn't have luxury items like a washer, dryer, dishwasher, or AC during hot summers. A wood stove was our source of heat in the winter. For a while, I didn’t have a bedroom, but in the living room, I did have a bed. Some of my friends joked and had named our house the “shoebox without a lid” based on its size and condition, but we knew exactly why. Most of our childhood was spent outside, anyway. We never complained because we had each other and that was all we needed.
I graduated from Atholton High School in 2005. I was always involved with some sort of extracurricular activity. I played soccer, ran track, sang in the choir and I was a member of the JROTC. Through hard work and discipline, I was promoted to the Command Sergeant Major position and by graduation, I was leading the JROTC company who responded to my commands while marching. I sang the national anthem at our ceremonies. Previously I attended River Hill High School, where I did not feel as focused. I transferred to Atholton which improved my grades and morale. In JROTC, there was no room for slacking off and there would be consequences for your actions. It provided me with much-needed structure and accountability. It was around this time that we lost a great friend, classmate & amazing human being. R.I.P. Matthew Rudacille. The loss hit me hard but I also used these feelings to push myself even harder. I knew he’d always be proud of me and any success I’d reach.
Following graduation, I immediately began attending HCC in Fall 2005. You can imagine, there was no college funding set aside for me nor was I well-versed in the realm of college tuition, financial aid, scholarships and students loans. Needless to say, it ended up being a great semester for me. I played for the women's soccer team and maintained a GPA of 3.0. In the midst of focus and achievements thus far, I entered the beginning of one of the most challenging and trying times in my life. Leaving home at 17, I knew nothing about life or what darkness was ahead of me. I was grateful to be taken in by a good friend’s family. Although she went away to college in WV, they allowed me to stay there in her room and loved me as their own. You may say that I chose to leave home, yet I felt as if I had no choice. When my dad explained to me that if I chose to date outside of my race, he would disown me, that I had to stand up for what’s right. I had already been with my high school sweetheart for 4 years, and aside from that, I knew that there was nothing wrong with my choices or who I was with.
My dad was out of my life for good, and he missed so many things. I struggled with depression, anxiety, and the feelings that come with abandonment & disownment. I had low self-esteem and I often felt like a failure and constantly doubted myself yet I was still driven to achieve my goals. Longing for him, I wrote him a 4-page letter expressing my feelings and concerns, without ever receiving a reply. A moment that forever haunts me was when my sister was rushed to the ICU in another state after being hit by a car. The doctors said she was lucky to be alive. Yet as our family gathered in dismay, my dad still wouldn't even look at me, let alone speak to me. It wasn’t just my father who banished me; his entire side of the family shunned me. They disowned me and threw me out as if I never existed. It’s hard to verbalize the depth of this feeling. Although I had my mom and sisters, I was not allowed to come to my mother’s home to see her or my youngest sister.
Adding insult to injury, when my boyfriend went away for college he broke things off with me. After losing my dad, and to then lose the man whom I left my home for, I was wounded beyond repair. I went into a downward spiral. I no longer valued myself or anyone around me. My judgment was lacking and there wasn’t any risky choice I would hesitate to make. Life became a constant battle of trying to escape the pain through irrational decisions yet still wishing I could somehow attain a stable life. During this chapter, I survived rape, gang rape, domestic violence, abortion, homelessness, no transportation, excessive relocation, all while still dealing with the internal persistent struggle that my father wanting nothing to do with me. There were nights I slept outside. There were days I had nothing to eat and no way to get to work. Still, I pressed forward.
Along the way, I had so many kind and caring people take me under their wing and even open up their homes to me to have a place to sleep at night. Around age 19, I met my second family. I attended a small, intimate and newly birthed church in Columbia. What started as a renewed relationship with God blossomed into a lifelong relationship with people who I now call my family. They made me feel so welcomed and comfortable at all times. I could be myself and I was accepted and loved unconditionally. The impact they had on my life is extremely important to me and is everlasting.
In 2010, I gave birth to my only son, and yet his grandad remained absent. Regardless of the years of rejection and doubting my self-worth, I knew that I needed to stay focused for my baby boy. I knew that I needed to come up with a solid plan to be able to finish school so that I could provide my son with the life I wanted and never had.
Around my son’s 3rd birthday, my dad decided to finally meet his grandson and be a part of my life again. I didn’t really understand what my mom was saying when she mentioned him wanting to come around. It was like she was speaking a different language, since my dad had become so distant and foreign to me at that point. Of course, I accepted him back into my life with open arms. We never really discussed what happened. We never worked through anything of the past. Yet, the unspoken words were communicated through his actions. He became one of our biggest supports and cheerleaders. He was at my beckon call during my schooling and nursing program and he’d do anything to support his grandson. He surely redeemed himself through his acts of love, kindness and acceptance to us.
As an adult, I held countless jobs and many administrative positions within hospitals working full time while still accumulating part-time credits at BCCC & CCBC towards my nursing degree. I easily became bored at each job I held after mastering it pretty quickly. I moved over 20 times from age 17 to 27. I knew there had to be more stability to life than this. I knew living check to check and having to pick between soap and ramen noodles with what was left after bills were paid wasn’t the way of life. My son was my biggest motivation to never give up on the ultimate prize, graduating as a Registered Nurse and being able to earn a steady income and provide my son with the life I never had.
In 2017, I returned to HCC as a fulltime student. I came to finish what I had started. I switched gears and worked part-time so that I could study full-time and play college soccer. I had to take a student loan out to be able to afford this, and I was required to write a letter of appeal to receive aid based on how I left HCC in 2006 with a semester of failing grades and withdrawn classes. I played my last year of eligibility on the women's soccer team. It didn’t that I was 31 and most of my teammates were roughly 18 and in excellent shape. I just had to take back everything I let go in the past during my darkest days. I wanted to feel that thrill on the soccer field during game days & to complete my degree. I did it for my son and I, but also for every single person who ever tore me down, discouraged me, threw me out, or doubted me and my ability to be successful.
From Fall 2018 to Spring 2020, I attended & completed the Nursing Education Program. I passed each course successfully the first time. Between studying, attending clinicals, writing care plans, raising my son, playing soccer, coaching soccer, maintaining a home, I FINALLY did it!! I had an amazing support system along the way whom I recognize was a major factor in my success, yet it was through perseverance, determination, focus, organization and hard work all within me that led to securing the grades needed to graduate with an Associates Degree in Nursing.
With redundancy, whatever you are trying to achieve, I know that you can! My parents didn’t graduate from college & my mother didn’t graduate from high school. It wasn’t in the cards for me to succeed. It wasn’t in the works for me to make it anywhere near a college degree. Ask anyone who was there to witness it all, I wasn’t supposed to make it past 21. Yet here I stand, as the first of my six siblings to graduate with a college degree. Through all of the trauma, the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, abandonment, rejection, failures, obstacles, domestic violence, abortion, miscarriage, eviction, homelessness, excessive relocation, unemployment, and no transportation-- God still kept me and led me faithfully to my destination. I hope and pray that whatever comes your way, you’ll continue to push forward, you’ll stay connected to positivity, you’ll continue to keep your eye on the prize no matter how dark or cold life gets. Never give up and you WILL finish what you started. Class of 2020, we graduated with COVID & BLACK LIVES MATTER!!
Be blessed, Cara Marie Twigg, RN