Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Shh! Why I Overshare.

The other day I wrote about being sexually abused as a child. And while the outpouring of support from most friends and family were amazing, I couldn't stop thinking about the topic. Not thinking about it in regards to my personal experience (although of course I am but I'm doing better than I was) but thinking about in regards to actually discussing the topic at all. Because it is such a taboo subject. 

Had I said "My mother went back to my abuser" it wouldn't have been nearly as scandalous as "My mother went back to my sexual abuser." And because I suffer from anxiety, I second guess myself forever in regards to everything. Maybe I shouldn't have shared this one. Maybe I should have worded it different. Maybe I should take the post down. But that's the problem with these types of things. People really truly believe we shouldn't talk about it. They ask why I have to "overshare" and talk about my problems with the whole world. People I work with, go to church with, people I know from my childrens schools. Is this really what I want them reading about me and my family? And my honest answer is no. No I don't want everyone in the world to know my business. It's embarrassing. It gives me stress hives. But it's something I feel called to do. Maybe that sounds prideful or pompous, I don't know. But every time I go back and forth about publishing something that I know will rock the boat, I always ask myself; Would this have helped me in any way as a survivor of abuse. And if the answer is 'Yes' or even a soft 'Possibly' then I share. 

I truly feel that because these topics aren't discussed in polite company so to speak, survivors are never able to fully heal. Because the truth is, it shouldn't be embarrassing to me. It shouldn't freak me out. I didn't do anything bad. I had something bad happen to me. And I'm still trying to heal from that almost 30 years later. And part of the reason is because for 30 years, society made me feel that these are secrets best kept to myself. That nobody wanted or needed to hear about this typs of stuff. That it was in the past and I should let it go. I was made to feel quilty for talking about something that was done to me. And that's not okay. Society doesn't get to dictate how a survivor can "politely" heal. 

Healing is gritty and scary and hard. Nobody should ever be made to feel less of a person for not being polite in their process. 

So okay, maybe it makes you feel uncomfortable. Maybe you don't think it's professional. Maybe you think I'm being dramatic. And that's okay. If that's how you feel, I truly understand. Probably more than you yourself understand. But if I can help or comfort just one person, even the tiniest bit by talking about these things, then I will continue to do so. No matter how uncomfortable it makes you or how embarrassed it makes me.

So let me share this last little tidbit on why I talk about the things I do.

Statistically, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are victims of child sexual abuse. 
I have over 300 Facebook friends. And all of my posts on this album are public and can be and have been shared by people with 100's of their own friends. I'll let you do the math on the chances that if you aren't a victim yourself, you know one. 

So yeah. I'm going to keep "oversharing."

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Not Today

"My mother went back to my sexual abuser."
Those words have the ability to strike people speechless. And saying those words out loud never fails to make my stomach clench and my heart stutter. 

I was 6 years old the day that the cops showed up at our door and I thought the nightmare was at an end. I was 7 years old the day I came home from my new school 100's of miles away from that house of horror and my nightmare was sitting on our couch. And for about 6 months my little world was once again filled with tummy aches and whispers and downcast eyes. She had promised. "He's not going to do that anymore, you don't have to worry." And she was half right. He didn't do it again. But oh how I worried. So much. Every night. Every day. Every time he looked at me. 
And I didn't just worry about being abused again. Oh no. You see, I was a child who needed to be loved. I was a child who had been conditioned to please. So while I was scared to death that he was going to touch me again, I also worried because I felt so much guilt for all of the "inconvenience" I had created. We had to move to another state. We had to live in a home for single mothers. My mother had to work multiple jobs just to put government issued cheese and peanut butter on our table. She had to leave us all the time with sitters who were not nice. And when he came back, he was sure to let me know how much hassle I had caused him. The arrest. The jail. His reputation. I felt horrible.  I felt embarrassed.  But above all, I felt guilt. Guilt for my mom, him, my brothers. I did this. I caused this. I wasn't the one who told, no I knew better than that. But once those cops showed up I thought it was safe. I knew lies were bad so I told the truth. I showed them and told them where he hurt me. I thought I was doing the right thing! But it didn't matter. Somehow, it didn't matter. He was let go and he got to come back to us. And the new life that we had started far away was once again, focused around him. 

And even at 7, I was old enough to be mad. Even with all of those other feelings, I was seething mad inside. Mad at everyone and everything. Why did he come back? How'd he find us? Who told him? Mom? Why did she tell him? Why did she let him come back? I was too young at the time to understand the psychological reasons for why she did what she did. To understand abused women and the hold their abusers have on them. Too young to understand her demons. At 7, and for the next 20+ years really, all I knew was that I had started to feel safe and happy and my mom took that away. 

My heart had forgiven him long ago. I learned that evil doesn't need a reason. I learned that some people can never be explained and that to try and understand those people would just lead to more pain and heartache. So eventually, after years and years of prayer, I was able to forgive him. Not for him but for me. But apparently, forgiving her was harder than I thought. Because you see, I love my momma. We've spent years building a relationship as adults. I am proud of the woman she has become today. Of the grandma she is to her grandchildren. But the 7 year old deep down inside me has yet to forgive her completely apparently. And I only discovered this when she told me how angry she got the other day over a woman bringing her childs abuser to a ball game that her child was at. The look of anger and disbelief and absolute disgust on my mothers face while telling me this story was exactly the face that people give me when I share that my mother went back to the man who abused me. It is the exact face and reaction that is completely right and normal when someone hears such an absolutely atrocious thing. 

And yet... and yet she did it too. Almost 3 decades ago. And by doing so caused as much, if not more confusion and trauma to that little girl than the actual abuse did. My mother chose the man who hurt me, over me. And that hurts me now more than anything. Even knowing the reasoning. Even knowing why. It still hurts. And it probably always will. But I am choosing to move on as much as I can. I choose to push that aside and remind myself that the mother I have today is not the same mother I had then. I don't know that I will ever fully forgive or trust my mother like I truly want to. But I'll keep trying. Because I am an adult. But I am also an adult who is a survivor of abuse. I am also an adult who suffers from PTSD, depression, and anxiety. 
So when I hear these stories of these little ones whose parents are choosing themselves over their child, be it an abusive partner, a drug, or even their own need to make their ex suffer, I have to fight an internal battle. I have to work through my own demons and pain. I have to forgive all over again. And to be honest, I hate it. I hate being the bigger person. I hate forgiving those who hurt me. I hate being loving and Christ like towards those who are hurting others, especially children. But I must. Because if I don't, the darkness and the demons will win. So I work through it, just as I will this time. Eventually.  But I'm not going to be happy about it. I'm not going to be graceful about it. I'm not going to be kind and loving and worried about saving other people's feelings more than my own. At least not yet. Maybe one day. But today, I need to be selfish. I need to say how I feel. I need to share my pain so that I can heal. And if that is too much for some, then I do apologize. To an extent. But I won't ask your forgiveness. Not today. Today on behalf of that little 7 year old girl inside of me who will always be a part of me, and on behalf of all of the little ones today who are going through their own nightmares, today I want you to feel the guilt. I want those who are choosing themselves over their children, to be ashamed. I want those adults who are more concerned with their own happiness and their own fix, drug or human, than they are their own child's mental and/or physical health, to know that I see you. Your choices are not invisible to the world. I want you to know that the choices you are making today, can and will hurt your children for the rest of their lives. I will pray that your children forgive you one day. And I will pray that God has more mercy on you than you deserve. But again, not today. I just don't have it in me.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Choose Happiness

The four year anniversary of my pulmonary embolism was yesterday. And reflecting back on it and other things in the last two days has really made me think. So as I always do, I write. So here's the thing about me. I choose to be happy. I choose to smile. To enjoy my day to day life. Even the mundane, annoying, stressful things. I try my best to be positive in all situations. Sure I still get crabby and down. My depression is still a very real thing that I am almost in a constant battle with, although most would never know if I didn't choose to speak of it. And it's something I will struggle with my entire life. But I look for the silver linings and try to set the example for others. Even though my positivity actually makes some people mad. But some people are just like that. They thrive on it. They have to point out the bad and talk about your failures. Not to you of course, but to other people. Maybe to make themselves feel better? To excuse their own negativity? I don't know the reasons why. But I do know what I'm going to do about it. I'm going to smile. And I'm going to keep smiling. If my own happiness and positivity makes someone bitter, that's on them. I'm not going to let them steal my joy. I almost lost my life 4 years ago. More importantly, I almost lost the chance to grow old with my husband and watch my children grow up. So I refuse to let negativity rule my life. I will go through life happy and content in all things. Life has given me many reasons to break down and give up. But it's also given me so very many reasons to smile. So when need be, I will be my own cheerleader. I will choose to try and make the best of any situation. And I will live my life with my chin up and head in the clouds. I will dance in the aisle when the quiet gets too loud. I will be silly in serious situations just to make someone smile. Even if that someone is me. When things aren't working right and every thing is going wrong, I will point out whatever good I can find, no matter how insignificant it may seem. I will try and be the light in any situation. I will loudly stand up and right whatever wrong I can. When others are sitting back resting on their laurels, I will be building bridges for us all to use to get to the next step. Life is just too short to be boring or grumpy. And it's definitely too short not to spread happiness. Some may call it being naive or fake or that I'm trying to be liked too much or whatever. But that's okay. If the worst thing someone can say about me is that I am "too happy" then so be it. Because I am a good person and really do want everyone to be as happy as they choose to be too. And if tearing me down is what you need to do to feel higher than I will let you. Because I know my truth. I know that your bitterness will not change the way my loved ones feel about me. And at the end of the day, when I go to asleep, I will say my prayers of thanksgiving for another day with my friends and family and will say an extra prayer that you one day find whatever it is you need to bring fulfillment and happiness to your life. Because that's the difference between me and you. Whereas you would love deep down to see me fall, I would like nothing better than to see you rise! And when you do win at whatever you want in life, I will be one of the first to congratulate you and I promise that nothing will be fake about my smile.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Right and Wrong

When I was a teenager I was told that there was an unforgivable sin. And I became terrified. Because I had already been through and done so much that I was afraid I had committed the sin without even knowing it. I had yelled at God, blamed Him, cursed Him. And I spent years trying to determine what the sin was that was so terrible. And I think I figured it out. And it wasn't what I expected. From my research and from my own personal prayers, I believe that the only unforgivable sin in life is to refuse to see and hear. Because if you think about it, if a man commits a crime, even the most heinous crime against the most innocent of society, by God's grace, he can still be forgiven. Even though our own personal nature tells us that that person doesn't deserve forgiveness. They can receive it. Just as any of us can even though none of us truly deserve forgiveness. But, if a man is told of God's word and still refuses to follow Him, he is lost. There are some of us who are so dedicated to not following Him, that we refuse to even consider  the smallest of possibilities that we are in the wrong. Some of us even believe in a "higher power" but because of whatever reasons, we have decided at some point that it's just not for us. If you ask most people in America if they believe in God, they'll tell you without hesitation that they do. But if you ask them if they follow His teachings, most of us wouldn't be able to tell you what those teachings are. But we're convinced that we are going to Heaven because God is this good, forgiving guy who loves us and we are decent people who don't deserve hell. But we are so very wrong. No matter how good of a person you are, if you don't follow Him, you're lost. 

And how true this is for us in every day life as well. When we set our hearts on something we know is wrong but do it anyways. Even when taking God out of the equation, which is never a good idea, when we know that what we are doing or what we are contemplating is morally wrong, and we do it anyways, we are without hope. We convince ourselves we'll be fine. We put our own happiness ahead of what is right. We're told from society that life is too short to be anything but happy. That it's healthy to put ourselves first. But God didn't promise us happiness. He has specifically told us not to put ourselves first. He has told us time and again to show His love to others. And we can't do that by only taking care of our own wants and needs. He promised us forgiveness. He promised us an eternity with Him. This world and our life here, is temporary. It very well could be the saddest, most horrible life anyone's ever gone through. But He has promised us that it will be worth it. We will all face tragedies and heartbreak. Some of us will face things too terrible to even speak of. But He will redeem that pain. He will make it right. If we follow Him. If we make the decision to do so. It's not easy. It's almost never easy to do what it right. It can sometimes be the hardest thing we've ever done, but it will be worth it. But we have to acknowledge the truth. We not only have to hear His words but we have to follow Him. It's one of the saddest things in the world to me when I see a loved one who is hurting and running hand in hand with anger and fear and they don't even know it. They think they are fine and that if they just keep going, they'll be happy. But in reality they are in denial and heading down the darkest path they can possibly go down.
And I am helpless to stop them.
All I can do is pray. 
And love them. 
As He so desperately does.
As He asks me to do.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Best In People

Seeing the best in people. It's a wonderful trait. To see what makes even the worst of us, good. In any little way. To see that small glimmer of greatness in even the darkest of souls. It's a trait that many should strive to have. Because there is something good in all of us. It's just that sometimes, it takes a very special person to see it. 

And while I do think that I have this trait to a certain extent, I know I have the opposite. I see the bad. Because just like we all have goodness in us, we all have some not so nice things too. And I am usually very good at seeing these dark spots. Even sometimes when the person doesn't even know they have them. My gut doesn't lie. Maybe it's because I saw so much dark so early in life? Maybe because I'm so familiar with my own ugliness? Whatever the reason, I'm glad I have this ability. Sometimes it's not a great feeling to almost immediately sense someones worst quality. Or to everyday see the blemish in the heart of someone you love. But still, I'm grateful. Because, I see you. I see your dirt. Your ugliness. 

I. See. You. All of you. The good and the bad. And you know what? I love you anyways. Because I choose to love you. I might not always like you but I promise to always love you. We don't have to be perfect to be a good person. We all have secrets we'd never want the world to see. We all have something about us that we want to stay hidden away forever. And that's okay. As long as we are striving to be better. As long as we don't ever give into that darkness. As long as we keep striving for the light! But in the meantime, I love you. All of you. Even if you can't love yourself right now. Even if I don't love myself right now. I love you. In all of your light. And in all of your dark.