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Soul, by Deedra B. Hunter

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Gaining "Soul" Custody
By Deedra Hunter

You actually think everything is perfect, and then - life happens. Life happened to me on August 14, 1994. A process server knocked on my door with papers informing me that my ex-husband was suing me for custody of our three children. After I signed the necessary documentation acknowledging receipt, he left my home. Feeling a panic attack coming on, I ran upstairs to my bedroom and dropped to my knees. As I raised my hands to the ceiling, I said simultaneously, "Oh, my God" and "thank you, God". Somehow I knew that by the time I got through fighting for the right to retain custody of the children, I would never be the same. The journey I had never consciously asked to take would test the very limits of my sanity, and subject me to a level of stress I couldn't begin to imagine.

I was on trial for almost two years as a woman and a mother. My every "everything" was scrutinized and criticized. I lived with a constant feel of terror. And felt as if I were being stalked. Wherever I went, they went. "They" were my thoughts about what I would say to my ex-husband, to the psychologists, to the lawyers, to the guardian ad litem, and finally to the judge.

My conversations were always the same. They were either to justify my personal actions, or explain my decisions regarding my children. I knew I loved my children with all my heart and had always done my best for them. But I also knew that I had not always treated myself that way. I had been fat for years, eaten and thrown-up for years, and chosen men who abused me verbally and emotionally for years.

My childhood traumas were deep and stubborn and my shame about them all was equally as deep and stubborn. Now, in a court of law, my past would be used as the biggest weapon against me.

I had to face four separate trials and hours of finger pointing from my ex-husband's lawyer. But, in the end, I won! However, I won more than a custody battle. I won the ability to love myself. Yes, I had an imperfect past. But everyone does. That's what being human is all about. My past has made me who I am today and I know, in my heart of hearts, that there really is a reason for everything happening.

I accept full responsibility for all my choices and experiences, and take pride in knowing I live these wonderful words by Emily Bronte in her poem Last Lines:

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere;
I see Heaven's glories shine,
and faith shine equal,
arming me from fear.

Winning custody allowed me to begin the journey of gaining "soul" custody. Thank you God for giving me this wonderful opportunity.

Life presents opportunities every day for our soul growth and development.
What are you facing now that, if reframed, could be such an experience?

I would love to hear from you and share in this exciting process.
Contact me at


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