EPISODE 018: My Teen Mom on Growing Up and Letting Go of Abusive Relationships


In this week’s episode, Paula Flatt, my mom, tells us about what it was like being a single teenage mother to me, including how she felt pressure to get married quick, leading to an early divorce. Paula details what it was like to get through college and become a Registered Nurse through it all. We left West Virginia for South Carolina in 1989, where she met and fell in love with a good man - a person with good qualities who later became abusive.  

In this candid conversation, Paula discusses her own recollection of the domestic violence I detailed from my perspective in Episode 001 of this podcast. This incident led to our abrupt move from South Carolina to Tennessee in 1998. 

Listen in to discover themes of nurturing and perfectionism; childlike innocence lost and an evolution from growing up fast to raise a child; and lessons learned about patience in finding love and paying attention to the little things with your kids.



  • Becoming pregnant at 17.

  • What it was like being a teenage mother and the stigma that came with it.

  • “I wish I had been more in the moment and enjoyed more of the little special times that you and I had.”

  • Staying motivated and building a career to provide for a baby (me) as a single, young mother.

  • Weighing the options for what to do with the baby - How Paula made the choice.

  • Why Paula entered into abusive relationships. 

  • How her relationship with her abusive late ex-husband began with an introduction from a trusted friend and a lot of fun.

  • Is it possible to be abusive and also have good qualities?

  • The potential for people to stop the abuse and how self awareness is key.

  • “Children are innocent…they learn behavior from people they’re around.”

  • The good qualities of our abuser.

  • How health issues and alcoholism adds to inability to deal with inner issues.

  • How some health issues, such as diabetes, can change aspects of your personality.

  • How drugs, alcohol, and smoking effect your personality.

  • Physical, mental, and emotional health are all related.

  • The emotions and events Paula went through as a mother to get us to safety after death threats to my life.

  • Taking care of financial matters before leaving.

  • Having the help of friends and family.

  • How Paula wasn’t afraid for herself, only her children.

  • How verbal abuse and ultimatums left scars.

  • Why we stayed as long as we did.

  • Why Paula thought it was okay to be abused.

  • “People make threats, eventually they’re going to carry through.”

  • Nobody would have known what we were going through. Life was worse than it appeared.

  • From an outsider, we list the red flags you can look for to detect potential abuse that’s going on: large quantities of alcohol; adversarial and rude interactions, for example.

  • “You’re going to have to let that hatred go.”

  • How to let go: call upon God for strength.

  • “You have to ask God to help you…I called upon Him so many times for strength and the ability to understand and let go. And the only way I could let go of that was to ask God to help me. And He did.”

  • “It was not adding any quality to my life to be vengeful and hateful…”

  • Resolving resentment in parent/child relationships.

  • What healing looks like - how a third-party or outside perspective can help.

  • “I always felt that my life had to be put on hold for everybody else’s.” 

  • The importance of patience and family.

  • “It’s okay to make mistakes. But in the end, everything will be okay.”


EPISODE 001: How Repeating Patterns Help Us Apply Incomplete Combustion Lessons to Cycles of Abuse, Healing, and Living Fully