Feeling Fatherless, She Returns to her Creator
Share This article
For nearly two decades, Rachel Baribeau blazed a trail for women in sports broadcasting. She could be found on the sidelines covering college football or in the studio as the first female host of Sirius XM’s radio talk show, College Sports Nation. She was also the first female sports reporter to strap on a helmet and endure a grueling professional football training camp. To those who knew her, Rachel was unstoppable.
“I had friends, you know, was outgoing and vivacious and all these things, but I had a dark side of my life that very few people knew about, and it was gonna kill me.” Rachel grew up the youngest of three with two brothers. Her parents divorced when she was nine.
“I was a happy kid; I was imaginative. I was spoiled with love,” Rachel recalls. “When my parents got divorced, it affected me greatly. My daddy was gone. And now looking back I can see that as the beginning of a father wound.” Then, a couple of years later, she discovered that the man she thought was her father had adopted her as a toddler.
‘“The best way to describe it is the rug gets pulled out from underneath you. Everything you thought you knew about yourself; everything you thought to be true, the most primal, deepest things, your parents--that's not true. My own internal dialogue, very quickly, was ‘you're illegitimate.’ And then the natural next step was, "You are unwanted." And then I would even say words to myself like, ‘you're a bastard.’ No one in my family had ever used those words to me, but I began to think of myself like that.”’
Then her mother remarried, only adding to Rachel’s pain and confusion. “I had a biological father. I had an adoptive father. I had a stepfather. My parents got divorced, you know, I found out I was adopted. That's a lot for a little girl.” A year later, at age 13, Rachel gave her life to Jesus at a church youth camp, however, that experience didn’t heal her heart. “I loved Jesus. I was a Christian, but I was deeply in pain. I was deeply hurting.”
So, when Rachel started high school, she began drinking and partying. “Other people were doing it, and I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be fun and cool. I was gregarious, I was the life of the party.” Being the “life of the party” included drugs. By her early twenties, Rachel was a cocaine addict, bouncing from relationship to relationship, some of them abusive.
“I was looking for somebody else to complete me. Somebody else to make me feel worthy. Somebody else to love me. I stuffed my trauma down. I stuffed it down. I tried to make it small.”
There was one bright spot: Rachel discovered a love—and a talent--for sportscasting and poured herself into pursuing it professionally after she graduated. “Being a broadcaster was incredibly exciting. It's fun and it scared me a lot. And so, it kept me on my toes, and it challenged me. Broadcasting for me was the connection, getting to tell people's stories.”
For the next nine years, Rachel gained respect and popularity as a sportscaster, all while fighting a losing battle with her demons. Rachel recalls, “I still loved the Lord. But I knew I wasn't living for Him. I was, you know, physically addicted, I was mentally addicted, I was all of those things. I just began to have this feeling in the pit of my stomach where I knew how bad off I was. I knew it.”
By 2009, she had dropped to a new low: selling drugs to support her addiction. She says it was then God spoke to her. ‘“He said, ‘You're a runaway train going down the wrong way on the track. And you are going to kill yourself, kill somebody else, end up in jail, or all of the above.’ And what I felt him saying, was, 'I created you for more than this, my girl. I love you so much. Come home to me.”’
A few days later, she came across a sermon on the radio. "I just began to weep, and I said, ‘I'm tired. I don't want to run from God anymore."’
Still pulled by addiction, Rachel would use cocaine one last time. “As soon as it hit my nose, I began to convulse and shake and weep. And I heard the Lord say to me, ‘Your body is not your own anymore.’"
The next morning... “I got cleaned up. And I drove that car like Mario Andretti. I could not get to the church fast enough. And I went and I fell – put my face down on that carpeted altar and I just wept and wept and wept. And I thanked God for saving my life. I found in God, at that time, complete surrender. 'I cannot do this on my own. I need your help, Lord.' The only way I can describe it is I was supernaturally delivered from a 9-year cocaine addiction. I never desired it again.”
After rededicating her life to Christ, Rachel says healing took time. ‘“God filled those holes with a beautiful message to say, ‘You are enough in me. You don't need substances, you don't need things, you don't need the world. You don't need any of these things to be enough. You are perfect in my image.’ It was a peace beyond understanding. My middle name is Joy. God gave me my joy back."
Over the next few years, Rachel reached new heights in her career until she retired in 2019. Now married, she runs a non-profit organization, I’m Changing the Narrative,Inc, (https://www.imchangingthenarrative.org/), which promotes mental health and inspires others to build a positive legacy. Of all her accomplishments, Rachel believes she’s doing her greatest work--sharing the truth that set her free.
“I've given my life to God, and He's given me something so beautiful in return. I'm living proof that there is life and love and peace and joy on the other side. There is fullness of life.”
(To contact Rachel directly, please email her at Rachel@rachelbaribeau.com).
Share This article