Persistence, Progression, Personal Power

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”  -Nelson Mandela

“I always knew I wanted more.”   This was my standard response when people asked me why I left home at 17 and out of state just after turning 19.  Time away from someplace or someone will show you how you have changed or not changed, whatever the case may be.  Have you ever experienced this?  I can’t tell you the number of times I have experienced this throughout my life.  Have you gone back to your favorite old hang out only to discover what a dull, dreary sight it is and you feel completely uninspired and just want to get out??  Or back to your home town to visit and only remember why you left?  It was a great place to grow up, but not a great place to grow!

Change is hard for a lot of people to understand and accept, especially if they are stagnant.  Sometimes a lack of vision or confidence keeps people from dreaming and growing forward and they just accept what “is” instead of working toward more.  I was never content to just “be”, even as a child, therefore I was always changing.  That change was the source of a lot of feelings that I can only decipher now as envy or jealousy.  At the time, I didn’t understand it, but as an adult looking back I recognize those feelings.  There have been plenty of times that I was envious or even jealous of someone else because they had something I wanted, so I can’t fault those that had the feelings toward me, I understand!  I am not referring to material items I wanted, but more of a state; a state of mind or they were living in a state I could only wish for at the time.  To live in a state of comfort and safety was a dream to me.  I had to leave home to find that, even before I was old enough to actually move out.  In my pre-teen years, I spent a lot of time with families from our church.  I babysat for a couple of them and would gladly stay for the entire weekend for next to nothing and even clean the house.  There were others that I simply adopted as my surrogate families and they invited me over regularly just to spend time.  For the first time in my life, I saw what “normal” was and I wanted more of it!  I had no idea my family was so different before that.  The dreams of change in my life began to grow like a vine that I would later climb to escape.

As I got older, I wanted even more of this change.  Being away from home became my ultimate goal because it just wasn’t comfortable and often it wasn’t even safe for me, depending on who was living there at the time.  When I started high school, I was in sports after school to avoid being at home.  Basically, I was there to grab a quick meal and sleep.  Over the summers, I worked 40 hours a week with the JTPA program to earn money to buy school clothes and do things with my friends.  Once I had a taste of the independence money gave me, there was no looking back and I have worked full time since I was 14.  This was the biggest change so far in my short life!  From then on, I always looked for opportunity; anything to make money, better myself or get ahead, I signed up.  At 15, add a license and a car and I was home free.

My new found freedom was amazing!  There were changes that I would never come back from and changes I didn’t realize would ultimately ruin my relationship with Mom for the rest of her life.  I was happy!  I was living the life!  I went to school with my friends, had a boyfriend and a few dollars in my pocket for fun; but I worked hard!  My Junior and Senior years, I took college classes on the nights I didn’t work.  I was very ambitious and had a lot of big dreams.  At that time, I wanted to be an attorney.  Some might say that was just because I liked to argue!  My dad was very supportive and helped me fill out paperwork for school and grants, but Mom wanted nothing to do with any of it, or me.  I had a pretty smart mouth on me, so I guess I just figured it was the usual teenage girl/mom problems, but now I know there was nothing “usual” about our issues.  Mom was never proud of me for being a cheerleader, being popular or getting ahead in school.  Or, if she was she never showed it.  She never came go games or meets, never came to school for anything.  I didn’t understand why she had no interest…why she seemed to pick at me and why she would call me awful names on the regular.  I was accused of a lot of things and I began wondering if these horrible things were true and I was just selfish as she said.  I have lived with that uncertainty for most of my life and while I am a strong, confident woman today, there is always that little voice inside that reminds me I might not be as great as I think I am.  I have learned to quiet that voice and I know I am pretty awesome because God made me that way!

I didn’t figure out exactly why all of this went on in my house until well into adulthood.  When I became a mom, I wondered how she could have treated me the way she did if she loved me.  She chose to adopt me!  They say you don’t choose your family, but she did!  I was and still am incredibly proud of my daughter and have been there for everything she’s ever done!!  So the revelation was devastating when I realized…my mom was jealous!!  I was living the life she never got to.  She dropped out of high school pregnant at 17 and ran off with my dad.  She had very strict parents which was the norm for that time period so she never had any sense of freedom or independence until the last years of her life after Dad died.  Instead of living vicariously through me, like many do, she resented me for my accomplishments.  She wanted all of these things, but chose another path and as a result, she had put herself into a position that she would never get out of.  She lived a life of discontent, regret and envy and that breaks my heart for her to this day.  When I look back, I can see it and I think on a subconscious level I knew it, but didn’t understand it.  I remember a specific argument with her where she unloaded her feelings on me and I learned how she really felt.  She felt that I thought I was better than they were and nothing was good enough for me.  Of course it wasn’t true, I loved my parents and I was actually taking a burden off my dad by paying for my own things.  I wanted to help Dad, but I also wanted what I wanted materially as a teenager!  This argument became a repeated one in my home life and I saw Mom getting more and more resentful.  She was incredibly jealous of my relationship with Dad and she started taking things out on Dad when I wasn’t around to take it.  The more I saw of this, the harder I worked to be certain that would never be my life.  I made myself scarce and did what I had to do.  My life was not peaches and cream from that point on, don’t get me wrong!  There is still a LOT of story to fill in this time period, but not in this post.  I simply recognize this as a turning point in my life where I realized that if I wanted more, it was up to ME to go get it.  Nobody can create your success or failure except you.  This has been one of the best lessons ever learned.  If you get nothing else from my post, know that.  You are in control of your life and you are responsible for the outcome!

Over the years, I have been through many life altering changes, some better than others.  I have taken a lot of steps forward and a lot of steps back.  The past few years have been some of the hardest of my life but probably the most impactful at the same time.  I have started understanding some of the reasoning behind many things that happened in my childhood, but some there are just no explanation for other than evil, pure evil that comes from the enemy fighting God’s work in our lives.  Those things, I just learn to accept and forgive.  Some forgiveness hasn’t come yet and when it does, that will be such sweet victory.  I strive for that day!  I can honestly say that every bit of what has taken place in my life recently is the most positive it has ever been, though not all easy.  Change is never easy; but is usually necessary and good, even when it hurts like hell.  I’m used to things hurting like hell, I have a lot of experience with that.  Good things never seemed to last and that is a pattern I am so happy to say, I have broken.  I have learned to deal with things I couldn’t have handled very gracefully before.  I have a long way to go, but I am happy with my progress.  I am grateful for my life, my job, my home and learning to stand on my own again.  These are all things I created for myself, one step at a time and I am proud of my progress and the personal power I now stand for!  I am, as my cousin Amy says, an overcomer!

Pray Before You Overthink!

“God, help me to focus on my relationship with you first.”

It’s been a while since I have published anything on my blog. About 6 months to be exact! I am really disappointed that the words stopped coming to me so easily, but that is actually a good thing.  When I hurt and struggle with day to day life and anxiety, it’s the only way to get it out of my head.  Now, I am much better equipped to handle many of things that had me in such disarray.  I have sat down to write countless times and the words just don’t flow, so I stop. My writing is something that clears clutter in my head and comforts my heart, even when I’m writing about unpleasant times in my past and I am finding new . The blog was not just for me, though. I share my story in hopes of giving someone else hope that they, too, can come out the other side of a difficult childhood! So it is important to me to get back to sharing. I have a half dozen partially written topics sitting in my drafts! They may or may not get completed. God gives me the words to share with you, so if he leads me back to those topics or stories, I will publish them! This morning I was sent a beautiful worship song on YouTube and it really cleared up some major confusion going on in my head and as I was creating a FB post a bit ago, it was obvious to me that I was to be writing on this topic, not just sharing a small post. The nudge, a feeling that I have been ignoring more often than not recently, got a hold of me and here I am sharing with you again. Don’t ignore it when God nudges you! Clear the clutter so you can hear His voice that is always calling you.

Saturday night I was to attend an event that is very close to my heart, but was unable to go due to a migraine. As I sat on the couch that evening, feeling sorry for myself, I became more and more angry and bitter over things that have been going on in my life and the things I have missed and lost due to the physical pain I have been living with for the past few years. I have become accustomed to cancelling at the last minute because I hurt; I have broken the best habit I had, working out; people around me checking my temperature before approaching me…will I bite their head off or is it ok to merely say “hi” to me? I have drank a lot more than I have in years, because it helps me relax and alleviate some of the pain when nothing else does. (Or maybe I am just forgetting I hurt by having a drink!) These are just a few things that dawned on me as I sat there pouting and looking at the pictures of the event on Facebook. As I continue making a mental list of the things that are “wrong” in my life and placing the blame “appropriately”, I decided the coming week would be different. It had to be. I vowed to take time for myself, refocus my life and start tackling these negative feelings, one by one. What I didn’t know, was the “how”. How would I successfully do this? How can I change my ways of thinking so much that I change my patterns? I’ll make a list of things to do, start writing my daily gratitudes again, get back to reading the stack of self-discipline/help books I have. I’ll focus on things that make me happy and fill my cup. Sounds right, doesn’t it? All of those are great, positive things; good habits to practice…but they are not what will get me to the content, healthy and loving place I long for. That is probably why I felt a bit of overwhelm as I was trying to set a plan, and know how to proceed. It didn’t all feel quite right, but I started acting on my plan anyway thinking sometimes you have to just start and things will fall into place.

I find it truly amazing how God puts people right in your path and you have no idea that he has a plan for them in your life! We all have purpose and the ability to serve Him in ways we don’t even know and this is yet another perfect example of that. This morning, a new friend sent me a link from YouTube and when I clicked on it and the tune played over my truck speakers, tears welled in my eyes and my heart softened. As I listened to the words of “O Come to the Altar”, my true needs became very apparent and while the needs didn’t change, I saw them differently. Through the fog this morning, I couldn’t see much outside but the wrong turn I made was crystal clear. Thankfully, we always have an option to turn around and get back on the right track, get back to God. I haven’t been praying or worshipping the way I know I should, and my lost feeling and grouchy attitude are the result. How can something be so obvious yet you don’t see it? Even more so, how incredible is it to know that He is always there with open arms waiting for us to come back to Him?! So grateful.

I became a born again Christian at the age of 11. Yes, I knew what it meant and I while I was forced to go to church 3 times a week, you cannot force that love in your heart for our Savior. 35 years later I find myself in familiar territory needing guidance and fulfillment I won’t find from another human. This time around, my needs are quite different than they have been in the past. I have so much to be grateful for. I have a great job and an incredible stream of passive income as a result of helping people reach their goals; thank you Jesus! I have a beautiful, warm home where I love to spend time; thank you Jesus! I have the man of my dreams at my side and amazing supportive friends; thank you Jesus! I have my health and so does my daughter, thank you Jesus! This all sounds like an amazing, blessed life – right? So what more could I ask for? Yes, I have a very blessed life, but I am missing the unconditional love he offers and the joy I feel in my heart when I am living my life for Him instead of me. While he does live in my heart, sometimes I lose focus and secular life starts taking over. I have always sought comfort in the arms of the Lord when going through hard life events, but this time it’s not truly a difficult time, but an unfamiliar season. I am making things more difficult by not following Him. Getting in the word of the bible, praying and surrounding myself with others that love the Lord the way I do is so important to getting back on track and continuing on that path. Actively worshipping and praising Him is the only way to keep that focus. Just hearing a simple hymn can bring you back to where you need to be. That is the great thing about being a Christian; you always know where to turn regardless of the challenge you face. Sometimes we just need a reminder to nourish our relationship with Him, first! Everything else will fall into place. Thank you Cindy!

Needless to say, my plan has changed quite a bit and I know the outcome will be a much better one! I will allow God to restore my heart, replenish my faith and refocus my heart and mind on the things I desire in my life. I have a couple of obstacles to overcome to get myself back where I belong and I know He is the only way.

And So It Begins…

Oh Happy Day… – Joan Baez 1971.  Today started with purpose, it is ending with greatness, which leaves me singing!  Today was more than I could have imagined.  The past several months have been about discovery, understanding, forgiving and healing.  I was left incapacitated and unable to function for much of this time.  The past several weeks, I have improved greatly; thanks to good friends, prayer and finally understanding a bit (well, a lot) more about myself!  Being kind to myself and treating myself with love and forgiveness has played a huge role.  We all deserve to be loved and treated with the utmost kindness, especially from ourselves!  This is something I have never been very good at.  I have viewed myself in a negative light for so many years, because that’s what I was taught, that it was hard to see myself in that way.

Today, I can say things are very different and I love myself as much as I love so many others; and for those of you that know me, you know that I am a bleeding heart and will give until I have nothing else to give.  I cannot take credit for this revelation.  I have prayed, I have trusted God, I have trusted professionals and friends and I have wound up in an amazing place.  Quite possibly the best place I have been in at least ten years.  I can say, that even with the losses I have had in the past year and especially couple of months, I am HAPPY.  Do you have any idea how it feels to say that?  I AM HAPPY!!  I haven’t been able to honestly say that in years.  My heart is full.  I have an amazing support system, an amazing family and the Lord in my heart which makes all of the difference in the world.  I have developed so many new friends in the past year and have been able to do so many incredible new things I always dreamed of doing. I am in love with my new life!!  A new home, a new job and a bright future.  What more could a girl with my past ask for?  What more could any woman ask for??  Nothing.  I literally want for nothing right now as I sit here with a big smile on my face, alone, typing these few short words. I believe in my abilities.  I know that I am a strong, capable woman with a great heart and work ethic.  I secured an amazing new job; I provide for myself and my daughter and that is a huge feat.  I have to say that I am proud of myself.  That is another thing that isn’t easy for me to say…but I say it with full confidence.

I normally do a much longer and much more serious topic, but tonight – I just simply wanted to say what a great, happy day I had and I thank God for every moment of the season I am entering!!  Keep the faith friends, you can turn your life into something great too, if you haven’t already!!  It’s within you, I promise!!  God bless and good night!!

Instability, displacement. Blessing, disaster, or a source of strength?

“Stop leaving and you will arrive.  Stop searching and you will see.  Stop running away and you will be found.”  -Unknown

It is sometimes hard to really determine what affect our past has on our current day life and relationships. If you really stop and consider it, did your upbringing guide you to strength and stability, insecurity and instability, or someplace in the middle?  I believe that we often just go through the motions of life as we grow and don’t realize the impact and work on the shortcomings that we may have developed.  This is the main reason for my blog, my months (so far) in therapy and so many of the changes taking place in my life now.  I am understanding myself better than I ever have and realizing, as I have stated in multiple other blogs, why I am the way I am and understanding many of my fears.

I believe I have mentioned before that throughout my life we moved a lot and rarely stayed in one place.  This created more issues for me than I ever realized.  It made social skills a challenge, trusting people has never been a strong point to this day.  It is hard to walk into a room and believe that you belong when you are constantly on the move and having to make new friends everywhere you go.  If you read my original blog, you know – I was born in Corpus Christi, TX, was adopted there and at 3 years old moved to Mountain Grove,  MO.  I won’t take through every single move I went through, that would be incredibly boring!!  BUT, I can tell you that in the 17 years I lived at home I lived in 10 houses (that I can remember at the moment) as well as in our camp trailer or in our van for many months and 2 additional locations as well as a lot of camp sites and road time.  My 4th grade year, I went to 3 different schools, living in 2 different states!  That year stands out for me as the hardest year of my younger years for obvious reasons, and more that will come out at a later date.  It’s so hard being the “new girl” anyway, that being the new girl in the capacity in which i was, was extremely difficult.  What do I mean by “in that capacity that I was”, right??

Well let me back up just a bit and I will explain a bit.  At 8 years old, I was a pretty well adjusted kid living in Blue Springs, MO, attending the 4th grade local elementary school, not fully aware of how abnormal and inappropriate my life was.  I knew my life was a bit crazy and things were not the same as for most others, but as I have mentioned before, I was too young to fully understand the depth of what was taking place and what the lasting affects would be.  There were a lot of things going on inside of my household that many would not believe or comprehend, things that people might say was a tall tale or a wild imagination.  Many of the things I don’t fully understand to this day myself; and yet I lived it!   While many of you may think that what I sometimes post is just family drama or dirty laundry that should be kept within the family confines, it is my story that I am sure somebody relates to.  I tell you in such detail what took place in my life because I believe that to understand me and my story, you have to know details and what feelings were inside me.  You cannot put yourself in my shoes and understand if you don’t know the feelings I had and I truly want people to understand and feel what I experienced.  So know, this is very personal and graphic for a reason.

The well adjusted kid disappeared at 8 when my somewhat normal life came to a screeching halt.  Craziness escalated when my brother Brian got married.  He had married someone that he didn’t know well enough to marry and it didn’t take long for this to become a disaster.  This quickly caught up to him and he realized he shouldn’t have married her.  I mentioned before that my dad was my hero, but Brian was my idol.  I loved him so much, I idolized him.  He was the most handsome big brother, he was cool, he had the prettiest girlfriends and I admired him so much!  And most importantly, he loved me and he protected me.  He got me out of the house when he could, he bought me things I wouldn’t otherwise get; he took care of me the best he could from a distance, since he didn’t live with us.  That year, he bought me a teddy bear that at 8 years old, was the same size as me.  I remember sleeping with this thing on top of my body because it was just too big to cuddle, but I didn’t want to miss a moment of it.  That was the coolest thing I had ever received, and today, one of my best childhood memories.  He will never know how much that bear meant to me.

Anyway…how this ties to my topic today – instability and displacement.  Brian had married and had a child with a woman that was not who or what she claimed to be.  He was so trusting and such a loving soul; he believed her, he loved her, he married her and had a child with her.  He quickly found out that she was not someone to be trusted and she was also a child abuser, abusing their new born son, my nephew Willie.  Willie was the sweetest and most handsome infant I had seen!  I loved my nephew an incredible amount and so did my entire family.  Still wondering how this applies to topic I’m sure, but keep reading and you’ll understand this sets the stage for the displacement from my home.  My sister-in-law was a very unstable young girl and severely misled my brother.  She had lied about her age, her situation and multiple other things; and she did not want the baby she had just delivered.  She called my brother at work daily, saying the baby wouldn’t stop crying so he would come home.  After some months of him bringing the baby to our house so he could go back to work, very concerning things were appearing.  Willie was crying uncontrollably at our house on a regular basis which was abnormal, after examining his body, my mom found little pin holes in his fat creases.  Having the heart he did, Brian struggled with believing his wife would do anything to harm their child and tried to figure things out – how to keep his wife happy but protect his child.  When the crying worsened, it was clear he was in pain and doctor visits determined his esophagus was burned and tests ensued to determine cause.  It was confirmed that she was sticking him with pins to make him cry and she was putting lye acid in his vitamins which was the cause of the burned throat and the stomach pains he was having.  Ultimately, my brother clearly couldn’t tolerate the abuse and made the hard but only decision he could, and took the baby and left her.  He had to find help and my parents were readily available.  He didn’t want to divorce her yet, he still wanted to understand.  Unfortunately, as he began to understand there was no option but to move toward ending their marriage and cut off all contact.  It was an incredibly difficult and tumultuous break up.  The cops were called several times for disturbing the peace and as a civil escort when she was granted visitation rights with the baby.  This was a devastating time for my family, although I had no idea how deep it would go.

I know this sounds a bit like a Lifetime movie and I have often joked about my life being like a movie.  The sad truth is, it’s not a joke.  My life truly has very much resembled a messed up movie with multiple crazy family members!  But guess what!!  That was my REAL life!  That’s the cards some of us were dealt and that makes it hard to handle but we have no choice but to handle or crumble.  I’m not a crumbler, there fore it may not have always been easy, but I handled it!  Until the past year, when I began falling apart and looking at why.

Now, this is the segway back to topic and into  our next and most significant move.  Because of the craziness happening with the baby being poisoned and his health declining, the baby’s life was in danger.  The courts wouldn’t suspend visitation rights and my brother and parents feared that one more visit with her and Willie could be dead.  Nobody was willing to take that risk, we loved him too much.  That week, we spent the week packing our home into a storage unit, and putting only what we absolutely needed to live into the van.  Leaving behind my life-size teddy bear was the hardest thing I had to do to date in my short 8 years.  While I knew we were having a serious situation, I was still a child and that bear was my favorite thing on earth.  It was symbolic of my brother’s pure love for me which was so different than the perverted and disgusting lust that my other brother had.  Two very different types of affection, one is NOT love.  In any case, my heart was broken and my parents PROMISED me I would get him (the bear) back, along with all of my toys, my bedroom and our home for that matter.  For the record, I never saw the bear or anything else including our home, again.  We packed what we needed in our van in the night and went on the run.  At this point we were fugitives of justice, considered kidnappers with a baby.

There were 5 of us in the van:  Dad, Mom, Willie (baby), Andrew (abusive brother) and me.  This series of events over the next couple of years stands out as some of the roughest times I have ever been through in my life.  I didn’t understand what was happening, I didn’t know at 8 years old what “running from the law” meant or how serious the repercussions would be!  I wish I had never learned, but eventually I did.

The only positive thing about this period of my life is that with all of the distractions and the fact that we were living in our van, on the road, there was very little opportunity for my brother to bother me with his perversion.  This allowed me to relax a little bit and try to be a kid, but I didn’t really know how to any more.

After some weeks in the van (I’m not really sure how long), on the road traveling cross country to many states and stops, we landed in Saucier, MS where my parents had some friends from when they lived in Corpus Christi who were willing to help.  We stayed on their property in a camp trailer for a short time, until we found a tiny 2 bedroom house for the 5 of us to rent.  I started school again, being my second school in the 4th grade.  The insanity of the situation we called life kept me from being able to play with friends after school or have sleep overs, so I didn’t exactly have many friends.  My parents fought too much to have anybody over anyway…it would have been mortifying for anyone to witness that.  Then, some normalcy – I got to join a basketball team, my first sport ever!  I was so excited!!  My parents came to my first game, amidst a fight, and my mom made such a horrible scene at the game that I never went back.  As you can imagine, I was incredibly uncomfortable and nervous ALL of the time.  I also had developed what, at the time they called “nervous stomach”, which kept me in pain a lot of the time.  It was a long time before I actually got to go the doctor to find out why my stomach was hurting me all the time and I was the least of my parents concern.  Ultimately I got some medication that calmed my intestines and helped the pain so I could relax as much as possible, which still wasn’t a lot.

When I think today about some of these things it blows my mind that this was my life.  So while I have not had an easy storybook life, I have had built up a lot of strength, understanding and empathy for others.  This part of my story is long from over, and I will continue in another post.  For today, my focus was to discuss instability and displacement and how it affected me.  My crazy life has offered me so many advantages and many disadvantages; I mentioned a couple above.  Feeling the comfort of a home is critical to me.  For the past year and a half, my daughter and I had been sharing a house with my friend which allowed me to get bills paid off, relax a little bit financially, but also gave me a very unsettling sense of displacement because it wasn’t mine.  I wasn’t providing for myself fully.  Last weekend I moved my daughter and myself into a new home.  I have a sense of security again that I have been missing for the past year.  I couldn’t be happier!  It is very important for me to be in control of my life now because I had no control growing up.  I have been dependent on someone else for my happiness for a lot of my life, sadly.  I admit I am very much a codependent.  My self confidence has been low most of my life, but I am raising it.  Now, through so much work in my life, I am learning for the first time in my life that I am more than capable of making myself happy, taking care of myself and my daughter and overcoming the remaining humps in my life.  Today, I am an over-comer and am excited for every day that comes because it is another step in the right direction and continued healing!   I have learned the importance of giving back to those in need, I understand what it means to be without.  I want to give and help with my knowledge or my paycheck, whichever is most appropriate, at any given moment.  I am thankful for my life and the terrors and what I have learned.  I love my family, I love my friends and I love my mankind.  This will not change, but will grow!!  Thank you for reading, and I welcome any feedback or comments.  Please share if you know anyone that might be interested in my story!

Child Abuse is the World’s Greatest Silent Crime

“Only when we are no longer afraid, do we begin to live.”  – Dorothy Thompson

Throughout our lives so many types of memories are created.  Good, bad, fun, scary, some indifferent.  I have memories of laughing harder than I have ever laughed before and I have memories of nightmare moments that many would never believe actually happened.  We have all experienced those moments, right?  Just some to other extents than others.  I believe that these assist in creating who we are as adults.  We turn out to be the product of our environment combined with things inherent within us.  Some people go through little and come out a mess and some live a life of hell and come out on top.  Things affect people in different ways and drive them to different abilities.  I am thankful today, that while I am one that went through hell growing up, a lot of abuse and contrary to that, I am a pretty OK adult!  I am full of strength I sometimes forget I have, I have a good work ethic and I have intelligence that got me where I am today; all while being a loving and compassionate person, (despite what some might say).  I love my fellow man and woman, although am often afraid to show it for fear of rejection.  I am in love with you, I am especially in love with me these days.  I am in love with the less fortunate who are trying to put food in their bellies or the bellies of their hungry children, and with their children who are struggling and hungry and don’t know any different.  I am in love with love, despite abuse; and in fact I crave it and don’t function well without it.  I think that would be exact reason I have made myself a priority lately and have focused so much on getting myself right.  I have learned that I cannot depend on anybody other than myself and my God to fulfill that hole in my heart that needs the love.  I am blessed to have the support system that I have now; but years ago, I didn’t have that.

I lived most of my formative years in fear.  Something that most people cannot fathom.  Fear of what was coming next, what was lurking around the corner.  Do you know what living in fear feels like?  Let me give you insight into what my world felt like, as I dealt with the fear and pain in silence and hid it.  It’s paralyzing.  Was there a punch to the face coming from my brother?  Will there be a black eye, will my jaw open wide enough to eat after he hits me across the face?  Will there be a bat to my ribs and will I be able to stand upright?  How long until I catch my breath?  Is there a 2×4 being swung at my head?  Will I be woken up inappropriately in the night and have to fight for my innocence?

Do any of you have claustrophobia?  Do you know where it came from?  I have it so bad I have to be pulled from the MRI tube 2 or 3 times crying because it terrifies me so badly.  How about fear of heights?  That’s my biggest one.  Fears all come from somewhere, you’re not born with them, they’re learned.    From the age of 3 or 4, (I’m not sure which age, but I know that was my age when I lived in the house where it started) we lived on a farm in Missouri.  Southern Missouri is filled with mountainous cliff hillsides, beautiful lush green trees and snakes.  Lots and lots of snakes.  As a 10-11 year old boy, my brother loved the snakes, toads, lizards – basically anything he could find to scare the daylights out of a 4 year old child.  He also was a good builder.  He build tree houses all over our property, one in particular that I was mortified to go up because that is where he kept his “pets”.  His pets being all of the creepy crawly things that I mentioned before.  I would be easily coerced into going up the tree house at 3-4 years old because I believed him that he wouldn’t do anything to scare or hurt me.  We are quite gullible at that age!  As a child you see the good in everyone, you don’t think they’re out to hurt or scare you and ultimately damage you for life.  So as I climbed the rickety boards nailed into the tree to the house portion, I would immediately see that he had NOT, in fact, gotten rid of any of his creepy crawlies and they he would lock the gate so I was stuck.  Stuck in the air, with him and his disgusting mind and jars of snakes, frogs and lizards.  (I was really only scared of the snakes because they were huge and scary; frogs and lizards I played with on the ground all the time.)  Here I am trapped with him as my commander to do as he says or he puts snakes on me.  Kind of like “it rubs the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose”.  Sick analogy, right?  But that’s what I think of every time, that’s how it felt.  So without further details, I tell you this is why today, I am mortified of snakes and I don’t like heights.  Now the claustrophobia, that’s a different story.  I suppose some of that came from him trapping me in a small space, but mostly from him holding me down.  Remember he is 7 years older than me and quite big.  He would be over top of me with my arms and legs pinned with his and first I would just get mad, then I would panic and scream and cry.  Eventually, he would be satisfied with his torture and let me up.  To this day, I cannot stand to be held down.  Not that this happens a lot as an adult, but in my younger years I found some superhuman strength if I got into a scrap and was on bottom, I quickly made it out of there and back on top.  Even playing around, wrestling, I feel trapped and will almost immediately freak out and start yelling.  I already told you how I react to the MRI tube and that is something I have to do several times a year.

Then there was my mom…what awful names will she call me today?  What would I do wrong today?  How would I displease or disappoint her?  What awful things would I be accused of when I was still very much innocent?  Will she grab me by the back of the head and slap me back and forth until her hand is tired?  How high will my anxiety be today?  Will my stomach hurt from the stress?  Will I need a pill to control my “nervous stomach” as they called it then.  Will I survive another day in this house?  How quickly can I get out and how late can I stay?  These were the thoughts that went through my head on a daily basis.  Utter fear brought all of these feelings to me every single day that I had to live in that house.  Put yourself in that mindset for just a moment.  Can you imagine that these are the people that you depend on, every single day of your life, yet you’re mortified of them?  Will they protect you or hurt you that day?  AND THEY CHOSE TO ADOPT ME!!!  WHY??  I’m not saying my life would have been any better anywhere else, but that question will always be there.  My life was hell and did it really have to be?  As a mother myself, I know I have not been perfect; in fact far from it.  I can guarantee you one thing though, if you ask my daughter if I love her she’ll say yes.  If you ask her if I would die protecting her, she’ll say yes.  I’ve had plenty of fails as a parent, but ultimately my child knows I would and DO, do anything in the world for her.  So please be clear, I am making no claims to being a perfect mom, but my daughter does not live in fear of me nor does she question my faith and love in her; and that is all I ever wanted from my mom.  Faith and love.  And protection.  I never got any of it before she died.  I will live with that nightmare for the rest of my life.

Then there was Dad…he was the closest thing to a hero I ever had in the house.  My dad was the best, although looking back now I don’t understand why or how he let everything happen.  He wasn’t a large stature man.  He was only 5’9″, retired from the military on disability with a very bad back and just not physically able to do a lot in the realm of protection for me.  He couldn’t fight off my brother by any means and hadn’t been able to for many years.  My brother is 6’3″ and weighed about 300 lbs.  Dad was no match for him and he couldn’t physically protect me.  He couldn’t protect himself or Mom either, as my brother often turned on them as well.  I will never understand why he didn’t get me out of there though.  Call the cops, do something!!  I know my dad loved me more than anything and I believe that to be the reason Mom hated me, jealousy.  She never worked.  He didn’t work.  So my entire life they were both home and Mom didn’t drive.  It was a very old fashioned home.  Mom and Dad cooked dinner together every night.  They went to the store together.  They hung laundry on the clothes line together.  They differed on my treatment.  Dad was never ok with it, but didn’t stop it.  So on one hand he was my hero but on the other hand he was the enabler.  I feel guilt when I say this, because I loved him so much, but it made him as guilty as the abusers by not putting a stop to it.  Silence is as bad as performing the act yourself.  Remember that people.  If you see abuse – DO SOMETHING!!!!  If you aren’t sure, find out.  Call somebody to have it checked out.  Could you live your life knowing that YOU allowed ME to go through what I’ve just described to you?  I couldn’t.  If I could stop all abuse I would, but I’ll take it one at a time as I can for now.

This brother is now in prison for the rest of his life, where he belongs, but the nightmares will never stop.  In fact, the first thing for me to do today was write because I woke up screaming at 6:30am over a nightmare of him and Mom.  The nightmare took place in our old house where I lived in high school.  He was in his 20’s by then and I had learned to stand up to him.  He would come and go when he pleased, not really living there, but showing up to stay whenever he wanted and the hell would ensue.  Most of my dreams, or nightmares, are a real depiction of what took place.  We are both home, I try to be calm, but the fear wells up and it’s as if he is an animal that can smell it.  The fear triggers his reaction and the hunt and fight are on.  In this particular dream last night (remember how crazy dreams can be), the fight began and several pieces I don’t remember of me trying to get away and scream but nothing came out; he ended up holding me down as described before, shoving paper into my mouth so I couldn’t breathe.  All the while, Mom was in the next room not hearing my cries.  This was a much more intense dream than usual and I didn’t know where I was but I knew it was a dream I needed to wake up from.  I didn’t know how old I was for instance or that I was in my bedroom or where the door was, because I was looking for it as I tried to wake myself from the screaming cries with tears rolling down my face.  When I finally woke, I couldn’t stop crying.  It’s a horrible realization that these things happen and not just to me, but to thousands of children and much worse than what I went through.  It absolutely breaks my heart.  It takes me back to a time I don’t like to remember, but I am thankful somehow that I have these memories because it gives me empathy and understanding for those that have also endured this type of life.  It also gives me the satisfaction of knowing I survived it, I have strength most don’t have because of it and unfortunately I have insecurities and fears most don’t have as well.  So in everything there is good and bad.  I ignored for so long…I focused on the bad…now I learn from it and focus on the good.

Thanks for coming back, more to come!  Love.

You can break, but in Balance

“Sometimes a heartbreak shakes you awake and helps you see that you were worth more than what you were settling for.” -unknown, but WISE!!

The past few months I have fought for everything worth having in my life and it turned out that some things weren’t serving me the way I pictured they were.  6 months ago, I had no clue what the difference was.  I didn’t know what/who was serving me and what/who wasn’t; I was so lost in so many tragedies and the unreal demands of corporate America.  It’s been a hard and trying time.  It’s been a time for learning and it’s been an amazing time to find what’s in my soul.  Severe situations can go one of two ways:  you can be awakened and strengthened, or you can crash and burn.  Sometimes you do a little of both, which I did.  I crashed and burned, hard – but then – through the storm has come a strength I forgot I had.  I wasn’t living in the present, I was depressed about the past and was anxious about the future.  I wasn’t very kind to a lot of people or to myself.  Even though I volunteered a lot of my time and it made my soul happy, as soon as I got back home I was miserable again.  My anxiety was off the charts, some days I didn’t even make it to the volunteer events or even out of my house, let alone to the shower due to the anxiety.  I have forced myself to get out there as much as I can, I have continued work on myself and I have overcome a lot.

I loved so hard and I wanted it back so badly but I didn’t get it.  I have been taken advantage of for years and I have continued to have so much faith in people, some more than others, and believed it would all work out the way it was supposed to.  Well, it finally has, even thought not necessarily the way I wanted it to be.  Like the image says, hold on to those who respect you and let go of those who don’t serve you.  When you’ve craved love, acceptance and appreciation your entire life, you want to believe that people will eventually see the good in you and ultimately return it.  When those you love don’t see or appreciate that, it hurts in an unexplainable manner.  Just as it did when I was a child. Amazingly, now I have some tools to work with.  I am no longer buried under 10 feet of devastation when I find it time to walk away.  Even more so, I have the ability to determine that it IS time to walk away from particular areas of my life.  I now have the strength to accept it and deal with it in a much healthier manner. I’m far from perfect, but I’m managing, I’m functioning and I’m doing what I need to do on a daily basis.  Some days better than others, but ultimately it’s working.  Walking away is never an easy choice, not an easy thing to do; but sometimes it IS necessary to appreciate and love yourself which is something I have never been good at doing.  I have made a life altering decision and I am walking away from something I have been holding onto for several years.  It’s not easy, my heart hurts.  Walking away from my mom was the single most hard thing I have ever done in my life until this.  This is hard, beyond hard actually, but I will come out better in the end and I have to believe that.

I am, for the first time in my life, living in the present, today.  It’s hard, don’t get me wrong.  I stress about the future, I worry about the past instead of thanking God for today.  Tonight, I am praying thanks to my Lord God for giving me this life, the ability to make these decisions and the comfort that I will prosper from this decision.  I love my God.  I love my daughter, I love myself and I love my friends.  God will guide me through the troubled waters and my friends and family will be there to help me stay on track.  I am happy in my heart even though I hurt and am sad.  Nobody will steal my joy again.  Ever.  This was a wrench in my plan that I had not anticipated, but one I will handle and accept with grace, intelligence and love.  I will begin another new chapter in my life and I will take the time to get to know myself, learn who I am again and love ME.  I can’t say I’m “excited” about it, but I do accept it and will handle it.  Professionally, I will also be starting a new chapter and that is exciting!  Also a little sad, because my work friends were also my family!  So many changes at once can be scary – but I am not scared!!  I am happy.  I will figure it all out.  I will accept each challenge as it comes at me and I hope this shows the world that I am back on track to becoming the woman I was meant to be!  It is also showing ME that I can handle things for the first time in a very, very long time.  I am getting back to being the strong, withstanding person that I was my whole life.  Only this time, I will deal with things…not stuff it down and ignore the feelings.  I will work through them and I will take each issue piece by piece and handle it!  This doesn’t mean it will be easy, but it means it will be healthy and I am so excited to feel this way in the midst of heartbreak.  I’m not sitting here crying, falling apart, or having a pity party.  I am good!  Sad, but good.  Mad, but good.  In Vail.  How do you be anything but at peace in a place so beautiful?

Please let this be a lesson to everyone what therapy and dealing with emotions will do for you.  NEVER, EVER count yourself out.  You are always there for yourself if you seek God’s help.  I have grown in my relationship with God more in the past month than in years.  I know what I want, what I expect of myself and what God expects of me.  It starts with me and believing.  A lifetime of pain and mistreatment can never be erased, but the damage that it did can be minimized and repaired a little at a time with His help.  I still have so far to go, but I believe in Him and He believes in me.  What more can I ask for?  I trust, I have faith and I will overcome this obstacle as well.  It won’t be easy and I will grieve, but I will be ok and that is the first time I’ve been able to honestly say that in so many years.

What are your challenges?  What makes you feel inadequate?  What hurts your heart so badly that you feel like the tears will never stop?  Is it one thing?  Is it multiple things?  Has it been building your whole life or something recent?  Do you have a relationship with God?  Do you pray?  Do you talk to Him and tell Him how you feel and what you need?  Most importantly, do you hear Him, listen to His answers and believe Him?  Or do you try to force your will instead of His?  I know what I’ve been doing and it hasn’t worked.  Now, I have slowly been understanding and “getting it” and I am growing and repairing day by day.  Ultimately, we must trust Him and ourselves.  This is what is going to lead me back into telling my story with confidence and honor and dissolve all shame with regards to my history.  There is a story to be told and I am going to share it!  Thank you as always for being here with me on this journey and more to come soon!  Have a great week!!  I know I will.

Change…Evolve…Love

“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”  -Albert Einstein

I’ve been away for a while!  I’ve had a lot of sickness, frustration and changes over the past few weeks and I have not been writing and I have really been missing the outlet.  Tonight will be a short and sweet post as I have several posts that I have started and need to put more thought and energy into.

The past few weeks have brought about many frustrations but so many amazing changes.  I will soon be announcing some of these changes, but for right now let me just tell you I am doing great!  I am finding the peace and happiness that I have been longing for, for many years.  Everything is not perfect and no, there hasn’t been any huge breakthrough in my relationship.  In fact, when I think about it, many of the circumstances themselves haven’t changed all that much, but my reaction and change of heart have changed dramatically!  It’s me.  I have began thinking of things differently and have taken more pride and love in myself; I have began looking to God more and His word for my comfort instead of other people.  Other people don’t fulfill that hole in my soul, He does.  I’m also not saying that a simple prayer fixes everything, because ultimately it’s the choices I make and if I actually LISTEN to the response when I ask for His guidance, that bring me to the place I want to be in life.  I have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.  Life is a daily challenge and struggle, but I find less of a struggle these days and I find things that were too painful and unmanageable before, to be things I can handle and deal with today.  My guiding light is shining brighter than ever before and I intend to continue growing and that excites me!!

After 8 of the worst months of my life, (and I’ve had some BAD times in my life) I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel and feel more like I can focus on getting back to telling my story as opposed to using the blog as an outlet to get out of bed every day.  The fact that we have tools is so fantastically amazing, but really seeing results from the tools is a whole other story!  I couldn’t be more pleased with the progress I have made in my life and how much happier I am overall.  My ability to manage day to day life is sweet and it’s a gift that I will never take for granted again.  When you lose that ability, you’re lost.  When you find it again, you’re blessed.

Thank you all for being with me on this journey; even though at times it’s very graphic and unpleasant.  Unfortunately, that is how life is sometimes and we cannot be ashamed of it or hide it.  I have had enough shame and hiding for a lifetime, and I refuse to do it any more!  I am me!  I am going to continue to tell my story with life and spunk where appropriate and other times with tension and emotion because it is due.  My life is still my life and my story still my story; so while my heart and life are changing in amazing ways, my life was still not a cup of tea that will be for everyone to handle.  I hope that you will see from my words tonight that there is always hope even when you are at your lowest and I can honestly say I was at the lowest point in my life this year.  However, I have made multiple breakthroughs, made new friends, found lost family, learned to give from the heart in even more ways than I knew possible, made an even stronger relationship with God, repaired a lot of relationships, especially with myself and learned to speak my mind in a healthy and productive manner.  These are huge feats for me and I hope that what I’ve been through has helped you in some way.  I’m sure there will be plenty more drama to come, however with a change of heart, I will be better equipped to deal with it in the future.

So again, I thank you.  I also remind you that if the facts don’t support the theory you have for your life, change the facts – not the theory.  Put yourself back together and move on!  Happy days to all of you…there are many stories to be finished and published on the road to my continued recovery!  Please, as always, if you like what you read share with your friends.  I would like to start having more of a following and be able to help and inspire more and more people daily.  I am going to share a secret with those of you that read this…I want to turn this process into a motivational series of some sort.  Ultimately, this blog will turn into a book of my life.  I could use all of the input I can get to determine what is interesting and what isn’t.  I want to make a major difference in not just my life, but yours!!  Thank you ALL!!  Much LOVE and watch for more posts coming soon about my history!