Teresa Rilling. (Photo submitted)

Sylvan Lake author’s book tells tale of triumph over abuse

Book signing to be held this week at Cobb’s Clothing

By Janaia Hutzal

For Sylvan Lake News

Teresa Rilling, 62, never wanted to be known as “the abused girl who got better somehow, miraculously.” Yet, today, because of her devotion and courage to share her story, she is — and she is not. She is much more. She is a mosaic of broken and beautiful: a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend, a colleague and a daughter.

“I didn’t ever want to just be a survivor. To me life had many more steps than that,” says Rilling, who strives to “pour” her life into the next generation and encourage women to “be all they were designed to be.”

Since writing her book, “Just Breathe; Hope Beyond Hurt,” in 2009, Rilling has been invited to share her story of childhood abuse all over the world. Her passion for training women in leadership has led her to places where women are supressed and many have endured abuse. She says the experiences are powerful because she is able to tell her story, as well as listen to others without judgment.

When she was asked to speak at a high security prison in Saskatchewan, she was told that 99.9 per cent of the women there had been sexually abused before the age of 18. She says she was able to make an impact because she could relate and, therefore, connect with them.

“Because I understood, I understood why they were there and that many of them had committed crimes because they were abused.”

To her, “heal is not a word” and “pain has no spelling,” both are a part of the journey of surrendering, of growing, of forgiving — of living.

In 2019, she travelled to Jordan with Megan Hanson, 33, who is now the mayor of Sylvan Lake, as part of the Jordan Municipal Support Project to help facilitate strategic planning. Rilling, herself, is in her second term as a councillor with the town.

Hanson says that even with the language barrier in Jordan, Rilling still had the ability to communicate with the people.

“Her energy transcends language,” said Hanson. “She is so easy to connect with.”

Hanson adds that one will often see Rilling, who has 11 grandchildren of her own, cheering on local youth at sports games.

“She is the grandma and the supporter of any group she’s in, whether that’s the council group or the sports team she comes out to,” said Hanson.

Rilling grew up in Lymburn, a farming community outside of Grand Prairie. Her grandfather, who abused her, died when she was 10. But, she says that her “intentional” healing did not begin until she was 31.

Married in 1978, her husband Jim is a pastor whom she describes as amazing. She says his six-foot-three stature of strength that parallels his capacity to love, has provided her petite-self with a secure place to “say hello” to pain, in order to be able to “say good-bye.” He is also her reminder to “just breathe.”

Her husband’s work and her strong faith continue to guide her to places where she is surrounded by safety and provided with opportunities to add to her mosaic of hope, including in the town she has called home for 11 years, Sylvan Lake.

On March 19, Rilling will be doing a book signing at Cobb’s Clothing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Her books can be found on Amazon or via her website www.teresarilling.ca.

Just as dawn continues to break, she says she too rises each day making the choice to change the world, one person at a time.

“The sun picks up the most beautiful colours in the tiniest cracks, because it was broken, not in spite of it being broken.”