Secrets. The better theyíre kept, the more powerful they become. For
nearly half her life, Gigi Garcia kept her secrets so well they almost
Gigiís world blew apart at age ten when her father shot and killed
himself in the backyard. With that one act, life as she knew it ended,
and there was no going back. Her mother, now the single parent of 12
children, had to work two and three jobs to provide for them. Her
siblings, who had been her primary playmates -- tightly bound by their
fatherís control -- now dispersed. Her usual play area had become the
site of her fatherís suicide. The world was suddenly a very scary
place, so Gigi created her own secret world and retreated into it. In
Gigiís world, she was loved, adored, and eventually, desired.
ďI found pornography, and that was my way of escaping pain, escaping
reality, escaping the dark world as I knew it.Ē Gigi was only 11 when
she first discovered her brotherís stash of magazines. Their addictive
power, accompanied by her own imagination and the critical element of
secrecy, held her captive until she was 26.
The outgoing, extroverted girl became shy and quiet. She withdrew
more and more from real relationships in favor of fantasy ones. She
became obsessed with men: ďI was inwardly thinking about them all the
time, fantasizing, creating my own little world of what I wanted for
my future. I imagined them as mine Ė my possessions.Ē
Gigiís addiction limited her life more and more. After high school,
she had no direction. First her mom, then her brothers, pushed her to
get a job, but she preferred to be alone in her room with her
fantasies. She found comfort there, and at least temporarily, her
fears, her problems, disappeared. She was loved. Or so she imagined.
Gigi became a Christian at 18, but her addiction didnít end there.
Because it wasnít readily apparent, she could keep it secret. At the
same time, she felt strongly convicted and desperately wanted to
change. Only she couldnít. This back-and-forth battle of wanting to
change and not being able to do so left Gigi loathing herself. If
anyone really knew her, knew what went through her mind, she felt
convinced they would despise her, too. She became depressed and began
to have thoughts of suicide. Knowing the devastation of what her
father had done, those thoughts pushed her to seek help. She went to
her pastor, and her pastor recommended Anna Ogden Hall.
At Ogden, Gigi found what she most needed and most feared Ė real
relationships Ė ones where people know you for who you really are and
love you. Ones where there are no secrets. She found Godís
unconditional love reflected in the actions of people in the house. In
this environment, she was able to admit her addiction, and the secret
began to lose its power. She discovered that real relationships didnít
have to be painful, and while not perfect, they had the benefit of
being tangible. Real people can touch you and hold you and speak to
you with thoughts other than your own. True, they can also hurt you,
and when that happened, Gigi was tempted to withdraw, isolate, and
comfort herself with fantasy, but she was surrounded by community.
That community called her to accountability, to do the right thing and
risk once again. Faced with the stark contrast between a loving
community and the isolation of her secret life, Gigi chose community.
She chose the truth over secrets, and the truth Ė met by unconditional
love Ė did indeed set her free.
Gigiís living in the real world now. After completing the majority of
her program at Ogden, she worked at the Missionís thrift store, the
Classy Rack, for a year, testing her new relationship skills in a work
environment. She recently began attending Whitworth University and
working toward her goal of one day owning a Christian bookstore. She
chose to live on campus so that she would continue to be in community
with people to hold her accountable.
Gigi walked into Anna Ogden Hall two years ago as a woman enslaved to
her secrets. Her bondage showed on her shaved head, her posture, and
her facial expression. At Ogden, she found a group of Christís
servants ready to extend His grace to her. She found a safe place, a
healing place where she could be freed from the fantasies that had
enslaved her for almost fifteen years. It didnít happen overnight, and
it wasnít easy. Gigi did the hard work of moving toward her fears, of
allowing people to care about her. She took the risk of sharing her
secrets and found that people did not reject her. She slipped up,
admitted it, and began again. She found the unconditional love of
Christ that does not demand perfection. Gigi was transformed from
slave to free woman by the healing power of Christ.