Friday, December 25, 2009

The Greatest Gift of All

My children asked me last week what I wanted for Christmas. My immediate response was that I wanted them to grow up healthy, happy, and successful in their lives. That's my honest heart's desire.

They didn't like that answer. They wanted to know what material things I wanted. I tried to think of something that I really wanted. Nothing came to my mind. I'm not a materialistic person anyway but I'm content with what I have, also.

It made me think of gifts I've received throughout my life. And I realized that what I had told my daughter was true.


My thoughts brought me back to my childhood and to Grandma. Let me tell you about her......

Grandma was the most beautiful woman who has ever walked this earth. Her eyes danced when she laughed. Her laugh! It sounded like wind chimes tinkling in the breeze. The most wonderful sound I've ever heard. Her smile made the worst days more bearable.

I spent countless hours and days by her side while I was growing up. Watching her every move. Mimicking her mannerisms. Learning how to be a homemaker. Learning to cook and clean. Listening to her words of wisdom. Tucking every moment away deep within my heart.

When I reached my preteens, my parents divorced. It was then that she became my refuge. My dad had custody of us and threw his responsibilities onto me. I was the constant caregiver to my younger two siblings while he either worked or went 'out for coffee' with his buddies or on dates. I cleaned the house, cooked their meals, did laundry and had to take them on babysitting jobs. I wasn't allowed any time alone to spend with friends or be a normal child.

My dad and I would fight often for this and other reasons. I'd get so angry that I'd hop onto my red 10-speed bike and ride out to the country to Grandma's. I was always welcome at her home with no questions asked. My heart found peace and safety with her. She would say, "fighting with your dad again?" I'd nod my head, close to tears. "When you're ready to talk, I'm right here." And she always was. I'd lay my head down on her lap and just listen to her talk about her day and family gossip. Her voice, her smell, her touch....all meant safety to me. No one and nothing could hurt me when I was with her. She wouldn't allow it.

When I finally was ready to talk about the incident, she would listen. That's it. Just listen until I was done telling my story. Then she would offer advice or correct me if I had been at fault. A lot of the time, she would get angry. Not at me, but FOR me. She would say, "You have the world on your shoulders at such a young age. Responsibilities you shouldn't have. Life has dealt you a hard hand." I remember many times when she would call my dad and yell at him because of all the things I was required to do. "You need to take care of your responsibilities! Those are your children, not hers. She should be allowed to be a child!" She was my advocate.

She taught me the value of hard work and not wasting the day away. Many hours were spent in her kitchen while she taught an awkward teenage girl how to bake cinnamon rolls from scratch or make potato dumplings with sauerkraut. She taught me the value of having a clean house and exactly how to do it. To this day, I love the smell of Pinesol and think of her every time I use it. She instilled in me that as a wife and mother, it is a duty and an honor to make a home for your family. She taught me that no matter how ugly, old or battered your things or home are, that you should take care of them as if they were new. That you should take pride in what you have even if you have little.

I remember working in her garden with her when she was healthy enough still to do it. The food we harvested from it was the best tasting food ever. We canned and froze it. Later on in the winter, she would put some corn on the table for lunch. After I had taken a bite, she would say, "Remember that corn? That's the corn we grew. Tastes wonderful, doesn't it?"

I could write pages and pages about my Grandma. She was my cornerstone. My refuge. My mentor. She shaped me. When she died 5 years ago, it left the biggest hole in my heart and life.

Even though she is gone, she gave me the Greatest Gift I've ever received. The gift of herself.

She loved me unconditionally. Believed in me. Cheered me on. Corrected me. Held me up. Just held me. Gave of her time. Placed her wisdom and love and bits of herself deep inside my heart and life. She was my advocate. My refuge. My friend. My critic. My teacher.

There are days that I still cry because I miss her. But I know she is right here with me still. She's reflecting in the freshly hand washed kitchen floor. She's beside me holding my hand when I repeat one of her Pearls of Wisdom to my children. She's the sun shining down onto my garden helping my vegetables to grow.

And every time I hear a wind chime, I hear her laughter dancing on the breeze.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

a penny for your thoughts....

there’s this thought that keeps running through my mind. i guess to make it stop, i need to write about it. i’ve never been a fighter. i hate confrontation. the reality is that i’ve never had a major problem with any of my friends or even a stranger my entire life.

there was the friend that decided to tell strangers and friends all the private details of my divorce that i had confided to her. when i confronted her with it, i told her she had breached my trust and i could no longer consider her my friend. we had known each other since we had been in diapers. she then decided to “jab” back and lie to me that her husband had died so that i’d feel sorry for her and take her back. it didn’t’ work. almost ten years went by before i decided to open that door again. but i did it only half-heartedly. i didn’t confide in her. i didn’t let her into my life too far. once again, she lied and betrayed my trust when she went behind my back and sent a message to my sister about an issue that wasn’t her business. and then lied to my face about it and blamed it on my sister. that was the end of that friendship. again. this time forever.

or the friend that decided that her problem of what color bridesmaid dresses she should have and how she was going to spy on her fiancĂ© at his bachelor party were so more important than listening to what i was going through at the time. that even though i was training for a new job, working at my parents’ house, helping my mom who had just had a hysterectomy, going to karate and gymnastics and not getting home to even eat supper until after 8:30pm....that was NO excuse for not returning (literally) 64 calls she had made to my house within a 12 hour period. And for that reason alone ~ i was deemed a crappy friend. never mind that i was the only one that had been there during her divorce, her foreclosure, her bankruptcy and every other major and minor issue in her life those past 2 years. she would call or show up at my house at all hours of the day and night and i would drop everything to listen and help. suddenly, i’m unavailable and deemed unworthy of her friendship.

i never had an issue with any of my high school friends or anyone throughout my adult life. i still have kept secrets from elementary school. i’ve never betrayed a confidence or lied to a friend about anything. any one of my friends can tell you the kind of person i am. any one of the people i went to school with, church with or have worked with can tell you. i’m not a fighter, a liar, a drama queen, a trouble maker...whatever kind of names you want to give it.

but those aren’t the kind of problems i’m talking about. there are 2 women in my life that i’m having the same issue with. these women are liars. they are two-faced; pretending to be so sweet, christian-like and honest but, in fact, are the opposite. this fact has been proven over and over again by too many people to count. they have both lied about me and continue to do so. they have blogged about me and tried to get others to believe that i’m really not who i say i am, that i’m fake and a liar. they both have people that they consider great friends who inform me of all the nasty things they say or blog. they have both been sweet and pretended to be my friend at one time, until i trusted them and then stabbed me in the back. and twisted the truth about what happened.

the thought that keeps running through my mind is WHY are these the only two people i’ve EVER had these kinds of problems with? Obviously, i’m not the problem here. if i was who they say i am ~ this would be a continuing theme in my life. there would an unending chain of people who could all say the same things they are saying. but there is no long line. only a lonely line of two.

on the other hand, i can find an abundance of people who have been burned, hurt, lied about, lied to or treated badly by these two. there are still those that don’t know the real wolf under the sheep’s clothing. there are those that still trust. the majority, however, know different. the funny thing is, these two women believe that they are always the victim and that they have done no wrong. they believe every word they say. they believe their own lies.

i am glad that no one is fooled by what they say. i’m glad that there are so many people that know the real me and can testify to my nature. i’m glad that the truth always makes its way out and far outshines the darkness.

and THAT is worth more than just a penny.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bits N' Pieces of My Mind

1. My name is... Mama Girl

2. I should learn to...Speak Spanish, not procrastinate, not be such a hermit

3. I love... rainy days, Mondays, learning, organizing and cleaning

4. People would say that I am...Real. I hate fake people.

5. I don't understand...a lot of things. Like why there are those couple of people that are so obsessed with me that even though they want me out of their lives, they continue to talk, think, and blog about me and go to great lengths to get into my accounts, read my blogs, etc. and then act as though they aren't when I have proof.

6. When I wake up in the morning...I'm thankful for another day, already making a list in my mind of what I need to do, excited to cook breakfast and eat with my son before he goes to school

7. I job this fall. It was THE biggest blessing of the year. God has a way of taking out the toxic people and situations and replacing them with what you really deserve and need. I am blessed every day that I wake up now.

8. Life adventure. You can make plans but you never know where your journey will take you or what detours lie ahead.

9. My past taught me...not to trust people, to hide my heart, and always watch my back. The present? So very different.

10. I get annoyed when...people hide behind their religion.People who flaunt their "good works" and devotion to God and yet away from the church family, wear a different face and life that is dishonest and corrupt.

11. Parties...are OK once in a blue moon. I'd rather just hang out.

12. I wish...I could see my nieces and nephew.

13. Dogs and cats...are awesome and worth the extra work.

14. My childhood pet...was a black lab named Lady.

15. Tomorrow is...not promised but if it happens to get here, it's a fresh start.

16. I have a low tolerance for...change that to NO tolerance... for lies.

17. If I had a million dollars...I would build a new house and furnish it, give to my parents and brother, put money in the bank, travel and give to charities.

18. I'm terrified children being kidnapped, hurt or abused by someone.

19. I've come to doesn't matter what other people think of me. God knows who I am inside and out and He's the only One that matters.

20. I am listening to...George Lopez on TV

21. I talk...when it's necessary.

22. My best friends...are few and far between. I don't trust people so if you're on this list, consider yourself special!

23. My first something we both still talk about 34 years later! Too funny.

24. Love...found me almost a decade ago. That deep, vulnerable, passionate forever love I always wanted. I will never let it go.

25. Marriage is...on the horizon.

26. Somewhere, someone is thinking...about how to break their silence.

27. I'll always be...His girl. His Love. His world.

28. The last time I really cried...on Tuesday. I had my first abscess tooth and after the Novocaine wore off, I couldn't take the pain.

29. My cell phone life line.

30. Before I go to bed...I pray, go over my to-do list for the next day, give thanks and play my DS

31. My middle name...Ann

32. Right now, I am thinking...I should probably get on those honeymoon plans and all the other details.

33. Today I...worked on my structure and function paper for Anatomy and Physiology class all day, talked with Flor, had movie and pizza night with the family

34. Tomorrow I will be...working on that same paper, talking to Flor again, hopefully cleaning my bedroom.

35. I really want to...move to Florida to be by my high school BFF.

36. My relationship with my great. I miss them a lot.

37. My most treasured possession is...both of the teddy bears my aunt made. One is made from my Grandma's robe and the other is made from her fur coat.

38. My favorite me at about 2 years old sitting in my Grandma's lap. Her arms are wrapped tightly around me and she's smiling down at me.

39. I sing...all the time though only in front of my kids. Don't know why that is. I used to sing in church choir and did a few solos.

40. If I was a crayon...I'd be coloring the world pink!

41. Someday I want to travel to...Africa (SOON!), Tahiti, Fiji, Greece

42. I am wearing...sweats and a hoodie

43. My favorite class this semester is...Essentials of Health Information Management

44. My favorite language is...English, Spanish, German, French

45. It sit for a long time. I popped a rib out and it threw my back out. It's a slow process back to normal.

46. I'm going to miss...watching the sextuplets grow up on Jon & Kate Plus 8.

47. I need...more hours in my day!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

To Dad

This song says all I cannot say to you right now. You wonder where I've gone and yet you haven't looked for me. You wonder why you haven't heard from me and yet you haven't listened.
From the time I was a little girl until the woman I was yesterday, I always held your hand. I assured you everything would be alright. I chased away your demons. Even when I had every right to hate you and erase you from my life, I tried to make amends with you. I forgave you. I worked to build a life with you.
As a little girl, you held my heart and were my world. But you chose to create demons that would destroy and consume my life. You chose to take that innocent child love and crush it to the ground. Even as I entered womanhood, you continued.

Today, I am a new woman. A Phoenix. Reborn. Strong. Free. Yet still oddly bound.
Healed but still wounded.

I walked your journey with you, though it wasn't mine to walk. I had no obligation to hold your hand through it but did so out of love.
You? You abandoned me and left me to walk through the dark on my journey...alone. A journey you bought the ticket for.

The pain of realizing that...
though you're still with me, I've been alone all along.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Never Again

Defeated & Torn
darkness all around me - i can't catch my breath
the demons that destroyed your mind are clawing at my neck.
trapped inside this tiny room - hands tied behind my back
i watch in fear and helplessness at my daughter dressed in black.
little girl lost where have you gone - they've stolen your soul as thieves
left you to bleed alone on the floor as your mother watches and grieves.
hell laughs at me and stabs my wounds shrieking, "she'll never come home!"
my hope has died i must admit, i'm weary and believe their drone.
my little girl i cannot save - defeat has locked the door
i tried so hard, i cried, i prayed, now hope lays dead upon the floor.

I wrote this poem a few years ago when my daughter was at her lowest. And so was I.
As I read over it today, those old feelings came back. Defeated. Torn. Hopeless. I remember writing the poem with tears streaming down my face and my stomach clenched in knots of pain. I was absolutely certain at this time that God had turned a deaf ear my way and I was going to lose my daughter to depression.

Today, I sat across from her at our desk and watched as she giggled and talked non-stop about random things. I tried to catch a glimpse of that little girl who had been taken and beaten by a darkness we couldn't penetrate. I didn't see her.

And I believe beyond a shadow of doubt that I will never see her again. I have my daughter back. The little girl that she was before her battle and glimpses of the woman she is becoming. The years I spent teaching her from the Bible, homeschooling her…all worth it. The years she has spent in my lap, in my arms, and at my side watching and learning how to be a wife, mommy, and woman…all worth it. All the time and energy I placed into raising her has become my reward now. And I can only see this investment continuing to grow and give back to me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Education or Ignorance ~ Which do you choose?

It is amazing to me that in this information age and with so many groups and resources available to us, that many people still speak about things using their opinions as fact. Why someone would rather show their stupidity and biases instead of gathering facts is beyond me. This kind of ignorance can't be tolerated anymore.

One of the issues people like to talk about and make judgements about but make no effort to learn about is cutting. My daughter cut for several years. At first, it scared me to death. I had no idea what was wrong or why she was doing it. The sight of those bright red lines on her arms and legs made me nauseous every time I caught a glimpse of them. That wasn't too often because she (like most cutters) hid them under long sleeves and pants. Even in hot weather.

It started about two years after her depression started. At that time, we had no idea she had depression, either, just that something was wrong. She was slowly slipping farther and farther down into a deep, dark pit and didn't know how to reach out for help or even why she hurt so bad inside. One of the boys in her class "burned" a picture with an eraser on her hand and for a minute her internal pain disappeared. She went home that night and gave herself her first cut. She said feeling the pain of the cut and seeing the blood took the pain from inside and placed it on the outside where she could see it and deal with it. It gave her a high like she'd never felt. She became addicted to it. Addicted to the adrenalin rush she got from it. The deeper her depression got, the longer and deeper her cuts became.

All of this was so hard for me to understand until I got an information packet from the doctor. As I read through it, I came to a section on other forms of self-injury. One of these methods was burning. I felt as if I'd been slammed into a brick wall. All these years later and a memory came crashing back into my head. I'd been sexually abused as a child for many years. I remember starting in my junior year of high school (about a year after the abuse stopped) I began burning myself with cigarette lighters. I remember the unbearable, intense pain I felt inside that I just couldn't deal with. When I'd burn my wrists, arms, and legs the pain inside was drowned out. I, too, had an amazing rush of good feelings when I'd burn. I became addicted. My heart would race and I'd feel so high.

Suddenly, I completely understood my daughter when she'd tell my why she cut. And finally I was validated by doctors and psychiatrists that assured me I wasn't to blame for her cutting or depression.

I've posted 2 links below for those of you that are just in the dark and want to know more so that maybe you could be of help to someone. Teenagers aren't the only ones that cut. Adults do it, too. Depression strikes teenagers and adults. You could be the person that holds out a life line to someone in need. You could possibly save a life.

For those of you that make judgments on the parents that have children who cut or have depression ~ these links are especially for you. If you want to remain uneducated, then PLEASE don't talk about issues you refuse to learn about. It makes you look ignorant and you are doing a terrible disservice to the people you come into contact with that are crying out for help and you can't see it because of your self-righteousness.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Don't Forget....

Blessed. Blessed. Blessed

I am so blessed. It doesn't matter what is going on around me lately. I haven't focused on the negative.

"It doesn't matter. Rise above. Move on."

And don't forget to count those blessings. The biggest one of all right now? That my daughter is healthy again. That help came our way before it was too late. Every time she smiles or I hear her laughing, it fills me with such joy. Her eyes are actually sparkling once more. A year ago, it all felt so hopeless. But I handed her over to God and told Him I could no longer do it on my own. I told Him I trusted whatever He had planned and wanted to do.

That's where the blessing came from. Giving up control and trusting. When she came home in April, I was so scared that things would go back to the way they were. For a brief moment, she struggled. I fell apart. I heard God whisper to me one night, "Remember when you trusted her to me before? Do it again." I cried. I remembered so vividly the night I lay on my floor and sobbed and fought before I handed her over. What was hard to do the first time, was a little easier the second time.

And she came back around and has not fallen back off the path since. She has big dreams and is making plans to study graphic design in Chicago next year. I imagine God will be speaking to me yet again about handing her over to Him. When that times comes, I will have had plenty of practice.

It's no secret that I struggle in my relationship with Him. It stems from my abusive past. I still can't forgive Him or accept the fact that He listened to me scream and cry to Him as a child to help me and did nothing. Until almost 20 years later. Then I'm reminded that His time is not our time. His ways are not our ways. He didn't bring sin into this world.

I'm learning one day at a time to trust Him. It is seriously almost an impossible task for me to give up control to Him and let Him handle things. But on more than one occasion the past few months, He has come through. Instead of getting stressed out and trying to fix situations on my own, I calmly handed them over and said, "I trust You to take care of this for me." Whether it was financial or someone making problems for me, it didn't matter. He took care of it.

I remember the first time this summer when I just wanted to pay off some bills. Instead of budgeting out and stressing out over it like I usually do, I simply showed Him the bills and said, "I trust You to take care of this for me." Within DAYS, an unexpected check for $1500 came in the mail. No lie. I stood at the mailbox with my mouth gaping open and crying. Thanking. Gaining faith back. Hmmmm...I had just one more bill I wanted to take care of. Could He do it again? Repeat the steps and this time a huge check I was expecting not to come until October, came within 2 weeks. Repeat my reactions again.

I could name numerous times He's come through for me the past few months. I've been blown away with how He has heard me and answered. Is He making up for lost time? Proving His love for me? Putting my faith back where it once was?

Well, it's working. Whatever it is I'm facing, I have no problem handing over to Him and letting Him handle it. Trusting. Believing. Waiting for His timing.

"It doesn't matter." He will bring out the truth. He will take care of the situation.
"Rise above." I won't dwell on the problem or the person. I won't stress out or play their games.
"Move on." I'll put it into His hands and leave it there. Where it belongs.

And in the meantime, I won't forget to count my blessings.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A trip back in time.....

Today ~ I turned my back on my homework, left my phone behind, put the grocery shopping on hold, let the house sit in dust....and ran away with my kids.

I had the best day ever. We left early this morning and drove to New Ulm. It's a city full of history for my family. My great-grandpa came over from Germany and settled here many years ago. It's where my grandparents raised my dad and his siblings. It's where we spent countless days every summer camping. It's where my great-grandparents, grandparents and sister are buried, along with numerous other relatives.

The main reason for going was to visit my grandma's grave. The 5-yr anniversary of her death is next Tuesday. I haven't been back there since the day we buried her. It was hard going back but it was even harder leaving. I felt close to her and just wanted to sit all day long at her grave side and be with her. Which is silly, because I know she isn't there. But I'd like to believe that she sat with me today and wiped the tears that fell. I can hear her saying ,"Don't cry for me, Lori. I'm in a better place. No pain. I'll see you when you get here." She always told me growing up that she didn't want me crying for her when she was gone. Just remember the good times and know that she's happy and loves me. It's hard losing someone that is your world and loves you so unconditionally.

We saw Hermann the German and Cam actually went all the way to the top this time! We were so proud of him even though he only stayed up there for about 3 minutes and then promptly told us he would be "all the way at the bottom" waiting for us. I've been to Hermann so many times since I was little I can't even count. It is so amazing to be able to share these places with my own children and talk about my memories with them. I remember my dad taking us throughout New Ulm every summer when we stayed there and sharing all of his stories with us about growing up there. I hope my kids can someday pass this on to their children.

Of course, we couldn't forget to visit the Glockenspiel. The bells strike the hour and the door opens up...and as the bells chime out their tune, the characters that represent New Ulm's heritage move and spin around. This time it brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me of my heritage and the great losses and trials my family has had the past few years. Of all the memories that will never be and all the history that can never be rewritten.

We ran all over the city today trying to get everything into one day. We didn't succeed but we had fun trying. We made new memories and we laughed. At one point, we decided to visit this mall in the middle of downtown. I don't know what happened to it but we walked in and up and down the entire mall, except for Herberger's at one end, was totally bare. Like everyone had gone out of business. My son remarked that it was "really creepy" and "too quiet." We high-tailed it out of there and laughed about it all the way down the block.

As we toured old historic buildings, we tried to capture orbs on the camera. We all like the ghost shows and thought we'd try our hand at it. Amazingly, we caught about 4-5 up at the BC Historical Society. One in the Ulm room where there was a bunch of old furniture from Germany and then the rest upstairs mostly around an old wagon like the one on Laura Ingalls.

The best part of my day was just being with my kids. Away from everything. I've been so engrossed in my school work that I haven't had many opportunities to just hang out with them. And though the end of my day landed on a sour note once I checked my emails and voicemails, the amazing memories I made with my family today quickly drowned it all out and put the smile back on my face. It will be hard to erase it for some time!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Amazing Chase

We had our in-service for work the other day. I was all set for the normal, boring day-long meeting. I have a hard time sitting all day and being fed information and rules. I'm more of a hands on type of learner and get bored easily. That's why I chose online courses for college. It totally cuts out any middle man and I can do it on my own.

So we were given a list of 17 tasks to complete in a certain amount of time. How wise it was to send school buses out around town in a race against each other and the clock, I'm still questioning. But it was a lot of fun. We were placed in groups of 5 and let loose.

As soon as we got to our bus and began going over the tasks, I knew we were in trouble. There was a new guy who hadn't a clue what was going on. Another guy who didn't really care what was going on. Then Lady #1 and Lady #2....who have driven for quite some time. And I'm usually competitive by nature. I like to do things correctly and efficiently. When I have to run errands around town, I plan out what to do so that no time or miles are wasted. Herein lies the problem.

Both of the women wanted to lead. Both wanted to argue about why it should be done their way and why they knew best. That would then lead to a story "show-down" to see who would win.

When we began our first assignment, I stole the clipboard away from them and began to deligate the jobs. Lady #1 gave up the control to me with no problem and began doing her task. The other one? She stopped cooperating and decided she was going to sweep the bus. SWEEP THE BUS?! It wasn't even on our list or part of the task we were trying to complete. What kind of team player was she? She wasn't. And I knew that from experience.

I just started laughing. I couldn't control myself. So I quietly put my competitive spirit away because it didn't matter to me at that point whether we won or not. I was more interested in seeing how this race was going to pan out on my OWN bus. Would we finish at all? And which one of these women would be left standing, arms raised in victory?

I helped the new guy and explained things we were doing. Tried to get Lady #2 to let him complete some tasks because she kept hogging them and wanted to make sure her name was put by each one. (Not a team player, remember?)

I joked around with the other guy and we talked about what he should get his wife for their anniversary. He and I have talked a lot over the past year. He's old and many of my co-workers don't like him. I've learned to look past that and see who he is on the inside. Just as with Lady #1. I don't think I know a single person at work that likes her or has the patience to deal with her. Not that I always have patience for her but I try and see the person she is inside and am constantly trying to figure out what made her the person she's become today.

I think the purpose of this activity was to help us learn something about each task we had to complete. I wonder just how much each new person learned unless they were actually doing the job. What I got from talking to other co-workers was that they didn't really learn anything. They were just happy to get away from the usual boring meeting.

I certainly didn't learn anything new that would help me to do my job better.

What I did get, though, was a quiet reassurance that I have changed. And it felt AMAZING! What usually would have bothered me during that race, didnt' phase me at all. It didn't matter to me whether we won or lost, whether I was in control or not, if we were doing it right or wrong, or even who was on my team. I'm so thankful I was placed with the people I was with. I laughed. I made a new friend. Saw life through different eyes.

I was given a test and walked away with the Grand Prize. Self-awareness. Contentment. Humor. Reassurance.

Reassurance that whatever this new year brings, whatever trash people try to throw at me, no matter what my enemies do to try and bring me to their level.......I will deal with it. I'll embrace it and hang on for dear life until I see that certain something I can take away from it to make me yet a better person.

You can't mess with my mind anymore
This is it!
I'm smarter, see I've been here before
This is it!
It's a new day, I'm not afraid anymore
Kirk Franklin / Declaration (This is it!)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Traits of a Survivor

Traits of a Survivor by Jenna Kandyce Linch

Rises above the ashes of the past

Perseveres through life's storms

Compassionate towards other survivors and victims

Reaches out a hand to help those in need

Insight provides understanding to what others have gone through

Uses past experiences to pave the way for others to speak out

Spreads awareness by shedding light on the truth

Looks for the open doors in life

Determined to rebuild a life that is abuse free

Gives hope to others when sharing own story

Encourages victims and survivors in their journey of healing

Guides those who are lost and alone

Teaches fellow survivors to fly again

Soars to new heights

Believes in goals and dreams

Unites with other warriors to fight for all who are trapped

Courage to take a stand for what is right

Takes a step forward to lead those still wandering

Hears the voices of the unheard

Sees the feelings and emotions of others by looking into their hearts

Works behind the scenes to help others heal

Seizes opportunities to make a difference in life

Chooses to be the change needed in the world

Listens to what people have to say, not fixating on just one part of the story

Builds a bright future from the broken pieces of the past

Writes a new and better sequel to the chapters all ready written

Explores beyond the horizons, discovering the destination waiting

Knows no limits when achieving goals

Fights for the rights of those who haven't been granted justice

Dispels myths about abuse by speaking the truth

Doesn't pass judgment on anyone

Shelters and comforts ones hurting and grieving

Never afraid to show emotions and feelings

Leaves no fellow survivor or victim behind on life's battlefield

Passes on knowledge about dangers and effects of abuse to those who haven't beenabused

Strives to eliminate the stigmas surrounding survivors and victims

Gives without expecting anything in return

Embraces possibilities life offers

Opens the eyes to those blinded by ignorance to what goes on in the lives of abuse victims and survivors

Takes action instead of just talking about achievements hoped to be accomplished

Understands that everyone's situation is different so they heal in their own way

Overcomes obstacles and tears down walls blocking the way

Shows the world what love is about by replacing and removing hate in own life

Views reflection of one who is a survivor and no longer a victim

Breaks the chains of the past in order to move on to a new day and have the life they always wanted to live

Reflects on how much growing has been done through the years, from where they once were to where they are today

Loves and accepts every part of themselves

Lives in the present, making the most of each moment

Has faith in own abilities

Puts together pieces of their life's puzzle to see how beautiful it is and can be

Never quits or backs down during hard times

Envisions what can be, not what could have been

Pushes onward rather then stay stuck in the past

Keeps holding on, knowing the present and future don't have to repeat the history from before

'Traits of a Survivor' Copyright © Jenna Kandyce Linch

Thursday, August 20, 2009

'Cause I don't have to read that page again

Not long ago, I made a vision board. For those of you who don't know what this is, it's best described as putting your goals onto a poster board in the form of pictures and words. It uses the law of attraction to manifest your dreams into reality. I started with a small board about 11 x 14. This week I'm upgrading to a large poster board. I realized I was limiting myself.

This entire past year, and especially this summer, I have been changing and improving things about my life and myself. I have never before felt such positive energy flowing out of me. I've never felt my dreams so close that I could actually feel, smell, and taste them.

I have a vision of who I want to be. I have a dream of where I want to go. My daydreams often involve these goals. I see myself as already being there.

When my healing journey began 2 years ago, I was not in a good place. I was below rock bottom. Lower than low. Pain, turmoil, uncertainty. But I knew where I wanted to be. I knew who I wanted to be. And every day that went by, in the midst of the crying and chaos, I imagined myself at the end of the journey. I pictured myself being strong and certain. Smiling. Laughing. Healed.

EVERY DAY. Even in those days when I felt like just dying instead. I looked ahead and painted a picture in my head. And focused. And hoped.

And here I am today. The outline of the picture I imagined. A little color here. Some shading there. Still not the full picture but ON MY WAY!

I'm usually not one that enjoys change. I resist it like a baby being fed strained peas. But lately, I embrace it. How does the saying go?

"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten?"

Who wants that?! I see change as an opportunity to learn new things, to meet new people, to cultivate a better life. Change is necessary for a life lived to the fullest.

A few months ago, I would've told you that I wanted to keep my bus routes. Don't you dare change them! I've had the same kids for almost 5 years. I love them. I know them like I know my own children. They love me and so do their parents. I recently got my new bus routes and they are totally new and different.

AND I'M SO EXCITED!!! Not the normal response from me. I'm going to miss the kids from my old route. No lie about that. I've heard from some of the parents I've told that they're disappointed to lose me. It's a sad day.

On the other hand....what an opportunity! I look forward to meeting the new kids and learning new routes, facing new challenges and having different scenery to look at. I embrace whatever comes with this change because it will enhance my life in some way.

Kirk Franklin is my absolute favorite Chrisitan artist. His music inspires and uplifts me. It strengthens me and changes my outlook. During the hours and hours before I had to face my dad in court and read my victim impact statement, I listened to "Declaration (This is it!)" over and over and over on my iPod. It gave me hope. It gave me strength. It gave me a vision. It is my song.

Today, I was listening to him again and his song "Imagine Me" just hit me right where I'm living.

Imagine me...having a vision. Watching dreams become reality.

Whatever I imagine ~ CAN BE. If I envision it and embrace the change.

"Letting go of my past
And glad I have another chance
And my heart will dance
'Cause I don't have to read that page again"
Imagine me
Loving what I see when the mirror looks at me cause I
I imagine me
In a place of no insecurities
And I'm finally happy cause
I imagine me
Letting go of all of the ones who hurt me
Cause they never did deserve me
Can you imagine me?
Saying no to thoughts that try to control me
Remembering all you told me
Lord, can you imagine me?
Over what my mama said
And healed from what my daddy did
And I wanna live and not read that page again
[Chorus:]Imagine me, being free, trusting you totally
finally I can...Imagine me
I admit it was hard to see
You being in love with someone like me
But finally I can...Imagine me
Being strongAnd not letting people break me down
You won't get that joy this time around
Can you imagine me?
In a world (in a world) where nobody has to live afraid
Because of your love fears gone away
Can you imagine me?
[Bridge:]Letting go of my past
And glad I have another chance
And my heart will dance
'Cause I don't have to read that page again
~Kirk Franklin / Imagine Me / Hero

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I've Put Down My Baggage...Can You Handle It?

It's been discussed several times this month. Yet no matter how often it gets talked about, I can't make sense of it. At all.

As soon as we leave an old way of life and start making a new, better life for ourselves there are those who want to derail you. They'll go to any length to bring you back down to the level you've always been at. Why?

Is it because the changes you've made in your life now open their eyes to the areas in their own lives that they should be focused on? They are now fully conscious of the less than desirable "things" in their life along with all the yucky feelings that go along with that new found awareness. It's so much easier to sweep habits and baggage under the rug than to turn and fully face it. So much easier to ignore they exist rather than deal with them.

Some people are just too lazy to take on the project. Many find comfort in something familiar even if it's not good for them.

I remember 12 years ago....

I had become really sick inside. An ulcer, constant aches and pains, nausea, headaches...not to mention being totally unbearable to my family and myself. My body would shake uncontrollably at the mere mention of my dad's name. I was a total mess. I didn't need to go to the doctor to find out what was wrong with me. I already knew. The hate, pain, and resentment I had towards my dad for the past 17 years was taking its toll on me. All of these feelings and fears I had lugged around secretly since the age of 10 had finally caught up with me.

We had had a ladies' retreat one weekend and, not surprisingly, the topic that came up most often was forgiveness. I remember at the prayer service on the last night of the retreat, a friend sat next to me and put her arms around me. I don't know how she knew what my struggle was because I hadn't told anyone at that time. It could only have been God speaking to her. But she sat down next to me and told me a story about her life long ago and she had been through the same thing. She told me that the hate and pain had become a stronghold in my life and I needed to somehow find a way to forgive. She said "Don't let his sin become yours."

I went home that night with a new purpose. I refused to live like this any longer. For the next several months, I poured over studies on forgiveness and strongholds. I studied my Bible and my Concordance. I fasted. I prayed. I asked God to place in me a forgiving heart and a love for my dad.

One night as I prayed, I felt a peace. I knew I had reached the place where I could honestly forgive my dad. After I called him and confronted him about the abuse and told him I forgave him, I remember getting into the car with my brother and husband. I told them it felt like an elephant had been sitting on me and had just gotten off. I was giggly and couldn't stop smiling. It was pure joy and peace.

The next day, panic set in. I looked in the mirror and had no idea who was looking back at me. I felt as though I'd been ripped away from myself and a stranger had been left in my place. The me I had been so comfortable with was gone. A new me stood there. Scared to death.

I remember saying to the mirror, "I don't know who I am without the hate. Who are you?!"

It's the same with our friends and family that suddenly realize we're no longer carrying some of our old baggage. It scares them. They don't know who we are anymore. They don't know how to act. By making ourselves better, we've taken away their comfort zone.

I've recognized this with people in the past year and a half along my healing journey. I've dealt with numerous issues and I'm not the same person at all.

I finally have a voice and I stand up for myself. I speak it even it my voice shakes.

I'm not afraid to try new things or open up my mind to new ideas.

I'm more confident in myself and possess self worth.

I still have baggage. After all, I'm still on my healing journey. Can't take a journey without some baggage. But my load is lighter. There are people out there in my life that are threatened by that fact. They are uncomfortable with my changes because it has put a mirror up to their own lives. So they come after me with attacks and lies. Lies about my character, my personal life, accusing me of thinking this way and feeling that way, putting me down for being "this" way because I've always been "that" way and I'm just putting on a show for people....I can't believe the trash that has come up. Even going as far as to attack my role as a mom and blaming all of my daughter's problems on my total lack of parenting skills.

(I'd just like to say to those 2 particular *ahem* "women", that you must have forgotten that I'm raising TWO children. Both have been raised by the SAME mother. My son gets A's, has a ton of friends and interests and talents...and is a very good child. My daughter was the same way. Until depression took control of her. It almost destroyed her life and mine. Why don't you research what depression is, how you get it and how it affects teenagers? Do some research and talk to people that have been there. I've advocated for my daughter and fought, screamed, and jumped through hoops for the last 6 years until someone heard me and helped my daughter. You have NO frickin' CLUE what I've gone through to get her life back. When you have all of that information and think you KNOW what you're talking about ~ call me a loser parent again and this time I hope you see how ignorant it makes you look.)

What people fail to realize about me (and the other women I know dealing with the same thing) is that when I dropped that baggage, I picked up something to take its place. It's called STRENGTH and it protects me from your nasty words and your ugly attacks. I have a new found confidence in who I am and what I'm doing. Nothing you say will bring me back down to where I was. Nothing you say can detour me off this road. I know where I belong and I know, without a doubt, who I am and what my purpose is. I am a Survivor and you can't change that no matter how hard you try.

It's sad when you're on your journey and you start to learn who is real and who isn't. The ones that really love you and want the best for you cheer you on no matter how much you shake up their comfort zone. They want to see you succeed. The others? Well....who needs 'em?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We were given an assignment in writing workshop to write 100 things we like about ourselves. I tried and got stuck on #4. So I decided to try a different list we were given. Maybe since this one is done, the one I'm supposed to do will come more easily?

MY 100 THINGS.....

1.I love being a mom. It's the hardest, most rewarding job I've ever had and I'd do it over and over again.
2.I miss my grandma so much it hurts. She was my mentor and hiding place.
3.I have asthma and I hate it.
4.Towels are to be folded a certain way. In half, in half again, and then 1/3's. If they aren't folded this way, I'll take them out of the cabinet and refold all of them. I just can't deal with them being folded any other way. It just looks neater.
5.I have learned that my inner strength is my greatest asset. It has kept me alive.
6.I love Fridays
7.I often trust the wrong people.
8.Once that trust is broken, they rarely get it back.
9.I'm jealous of my daughter's creativity. I used to have it and let it go somewhere along the way.
10.I love Sean more than I've ever loved anyone.
11. He's the only man I've totally been myself with. He knows more about me than anyone.
12.Except my brother.
13.They are the only 2 people I trust with everything and anything. Even my life.
14.One of my favorite things to do is to waste an entire weekend morning fishing with Sean.
15.Big Brother is the only show I refuse to miss for anything. I won't even answer the phone.
16.I rarely watch TV otherwise.
17.I'd rather read a book
18.I love my son's sense of adventure and fearlessness.
19.I daydream a lot. It's how I deal with life.
20.My favorite daydreams involve traveling.
21.I'm having fun planning our honeymoon because it involves a lot of traveling to faraway places.
22.I'm going to Africa to volunteer with my high school BFF.
23.If I didn't have kids, I'd leave everything behind and move to Florida just to be with her.
24.Except Sean. I'd take him with.
25.I often wonder what my life would've looked liked without the sexual abuse.
26.Sometimes I want to be a child again and this time I'd break the silence right away.
27.I love all my girlfriends. They all have a different role in my life.
28.I like tattoos.
29.Sean got my name tattooed on his arm as a surprise for me. I cried because I knew what it meant.
30.It meant he was serious about growing old with me and loving me forever and ever.
31.My last tattoo was of a Phoenix. It has such a significant meaning to me. It marks the end of one chapter in my life and the beginning of a whole new one. It marks the day my silence was broken. It marks the day I started living again.
32.It took 6 1/2 hours in one sitting.
33.I cried for the last hour and a half.
34. I couldn't take the pain anymore.
35.I leaned into the pain and cried for the transformation taking place not only on my back, but in my heart.
36.Cleaning gives me peace.
37.I love the smell of Pine sol.
38.I love my garden and feel close to my grandma when I'm on my knees weeding and sweating.
39.I'm tearing up as I think about Grandma. She was my world.
40.I swear.
41.A lot. But I'm trying to cut back because my kids hate it.
42.I hate swearing.
43.I cry. A lot. About everything. Commercials, my son making a goal in soccer, my daughter's poetry, someone else's pain…you name it.
44.I laugh a lot. Things are funny to me. Sometimes when they shouldn't be.
45.My dream job is to be a writer living in a beach house.
46.I'd love to have the life of Diane Lane in "Under the Tuscan Sun."
47.Did I mention I love making lists?
48.I wish for peace and tolerance of differences.
49.I really like vegetables.
50.I'd rather have second hand clothes than buy new ones off the rack.
51.Doing yoga relaxes me and empties my worry basket.
52.I feel safe & loved when Sean wraps his arms around me at night.
53.I'm so thankful that depression didn't take my daughter's life and that people were placed in our life to help her out of the darkness.
54.I can't make it without coffee.
55.I like words and word games.
56.Two of my favorite books are my dictionary and thesaurus.
57.I like puzzles and can spend hours zoned in on one.
58.I think scars are beautiful.
59.I feel guilty when I see a deputy even though I know I've done nothing wrong.
60.Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I love to have a house full of people and be surrounded by friends and family.
61.I love when my grandpa calls me "Sweetheart" and "Suzy Q." I feel very loved.
62.I want to run marathons. I just want to run.
63.I love the women in my support group. They have all survived and are strong and I learn from them all the time.
64.I hate confrontations but if you keep threatening and harassing me, I will pull out all stops and you might end up regretting it.
65.I keep records of everything ~ just in case. Emails, texts, IM's…everything in its own folder.
66.I'd be lost without my laptop. It contains my life.
67.I love playing computer games and my DS but I'm mostly addicted to the noises they make.
68.I'm obsessed with pygmy and fainting goats. If I'm feeling down, I watch videos of goats on YouTube and laugh until I cry.
69.I love giraffes.
70.I don't EVER kiss anyone's ass to get ahead or even to make my life easier. I think people that expect others to kiss their ass are extremely selfish, arrogant, and insecure.
71.I will not go barefoot outside. I'll wear socks, slippers, flip flops~ whatever. But I hate getting my feet dirty and hate the feeling of dirt and stuff on them.
72.You won't ever see me without my Chapstick.
73.I'm a borderline germaphobe and always carry hand sanitizer.
74.I love crossing things off my "To-do" list.
75.I have saved the movie tickets to every movie Sean and I have seen together since our first date.
76.I used to burn myself with a lighter as a teenager. I'd forgotten about that until my daughter started cutting. It's amazing what intense pain inside will make you do to yourself on the outside.
77.I'm always cold. I've worn a sweatshirt almost the entire summer.
78.The 2 songs that are my life songs: Kirk Franklin "Declaration (This is it!) ; Evanescence "My Immortal"
79.I'm angry that the abuse will affect me the rest of my life and that I'll be healing until my last breath.
80.I can wear my daughter's shirts and my son's shoes.
81.I love gospel choir music.
82.I was a Sunday school teacher and youth leader for 11 years.
83.I have a problem in my relationship with God right now. I believe He's there but I don't trust. Truthfully, there's a lot I don't believe in right now.
84. I'm addicted to Coca-Cola. I really need to kick the habit but I just can't right now ~ it's one of my coping tools.
85.Sometimes I really miss my dad. But I'm willing to wait until he's done working on his issues and hopefully we can have a healthy relationship someday. I'm anxious to see what God has worked out in this area since His hand was in the rest of it.
86.I worry that it will never happen and he'll die without making the effort to heal the little girl in me. It's so hard to trust God with this part because He didn't help that little girl when she cried to Him during the abuse so will He listen to that little girl now that needs her dad to reach out to her in honesty and validation?
87.I'm really angry right now. ANGRY. I hate these feelings.
88.I never felt safe my entire life until I met Sean

89.I am scared to death of my children dying.
90.I'm scared of dying and leaving my children without a mom.
91.I write "Good-bye" letters to my kids and my brother every time I get on a plane. The outside of the envelope says "Open Only On My Death." but I always end up letting them read them when I return. It's kind of morbid but I can't help it.
92.One of my favorite things to do is to lay in my kids' beds and talk with them. I love hearing what's going on in their hearts and heads.
93.As a child, I loved my brother and sister more than anything. There were a few years that I was solely responsible for them and I worried about them constantly and tried to make life fun for them. It was just the 3 of us against the world.
94.Today, my brother is my best friend and my rock. I love him more than life. I would absolutely be lost without him.
95.Today, my sister isn't in my life. She says I'm dead to her and has unfortunate faulty views of how I see her and how I feel about her. If she could see inside my heart, she'd feel like a fool for all the trash she's talked. But I've let her go because I can't deal with the drama and pain anymore.
96.I have two other siblings who came with my dad's 2nd marriage. I love them so much and I wish they lived closer. I miss them horribly. I just want all of my family together.
97.I love spending time with my mom. Both of them.
98.I absolutely enjoy being alone.
99.I get obsessed with tracing my family tree. It totally consumes me when I'm doing it.
100.I can't believe I came up with 100 things. Maybe I can actually make the list I'm supposed to now.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

You've Come A Long Way, Baby

I can't believe it's August 1st already and that summer's almost over.

I can't believe the writers' workshop is ending in two weeks. It feels like we just started!

I can't believe I got the Dean's Award for Perfect 4.0 GPA.

I can't believe we are deciding my daughter's college plans for next year. Wasn't she curled up in my lap with her Lovie and a sippie cup just last week?

There's so many things I find hard to believe right now. Time is moving way too fast. The thing I find hardest to wrap my understanding around is how far I've come on this journey. If you'd told me two years ago that I'd be standing in this very spot right now ~ I would've laughed at you in disbelief. In fact, my advocate did tell me. The other women in my support group told me. And I did. I laughed at disbelief.

It felt as though the pain and humiliation I felt at the time would never lessen because it was so great it swallowed me up. I couldn't see even a glimpse of light from the bottom of that pit. My healing journey's been hard and long and painful and it's not done yet. It will continue throughout the rest of my life.

When I look back at where I was and see where I am now ~ I cry.

There is thankfulness in my tears. Thankful that God heard my cries to be healed and though the way He brought it about wasn't what I had in mind, He knew what was best. And He placed people in my life to show me where to start and how to get there.

There is joy in my tears. I've never been happier in my life. I laugh more. I take time to have fun. I live.

The pain is still there and pops up every once in a while but it's not as strong. The nightmares are still there but there are fewer of them. The flashbacks are still there but most of them no longer paralyze me with fear for days on end.

I am able to cope with it, learn from it, put it where it belongs, and keep moving.

The poem I wrote for writing class just came out and when I looked back at it, I realized that each section is about a time in my life and what I did to cope with each one at the time. I hid, I ran, I fought...and now I heal. And though I'm no artist, I had to add the picture of what was in my head as I wrote the poem. The abuse and everything it entailed at the top which created a lifelong bondage for me. The many tears I cried as a child and throughout my life. Down to the chain breaking with my silence being broken and a Phoenix rising from the ashes of the old life. Wings spread wide and full of color, happiness, newness and freedom.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It Doesn't Matter

It doesn't matter.

Does it? I always thought it did but I'm beginning to think otherwise.

My bonus daughter says this phrase a lot. Mostly to make herself feel better about an otherwise irritating situation. The kids are in the habit of calling "shotgun" when we get in the car. It's an easier way for them to "take turns" than to keep track of who sat where last. When she forgets to call it, even though you can see she's mad about it, she says, "It doesn't matter." And then she lets it go.

I usually get so angry when someone lies about me. I worry about what people think about me, especially if their perspective about me is off. I fight for the truth to be known and will argue and push until the other person sees it.

But hearing my bonus daughter vocalize that phrase repeatedly over the past month has changed my view on things.

I love honesty. I love truth. I love simplicity and peace.

I found out this past weekend, (a lot I already knew), that another person has been bad-mouthing me and telling lies about me and my mom. She has emailed and called other family members repeatedly spewing trash from her mouth. My family welcomed me with open arms despite her attempts to destroy those relationships. Each one of my aunts and uncles told me not to worry about it. They are tired of hearing from her. Tired of her lies and complaining. Angry by the fact that a person would do that to another family member.

"It doesn't matter."

My uncle told me that one reason nobody believes her or even wants to listen to her is because they know who I am and who she is. It is my character that speaks for me. And hers for her. It has never been me that has bad mouthed her or gone to other family members and spoken ugly things about her. Yet since we were young, it has been her that has stirred up drama, talked bad about each of her family members, and told lie after lie. And in light of the events of the past 2 years, they are disgusted that she would stoop to the level she has.

"It doesn't matter."

I have held my tongue through the worst because it doesn't matter.

I have turned the other cheek time and again because it doesn't matter.

There is only ONE that matters. God. We should be concerned about what He thinks about us. We should care how He sees us.


I have learned that when I let things go and don't try and "fix" it on my own ~ the truth comes out. It may take a month. It may take a year. It may take a decade.
But it does come out.

Does it really matter what lies are told about me? Does it really matter what people believe about me? Does it really matter how someone else sees me?

Honestly? NO. If I just keep living my life and letting the unnecessary things go ~ The TRUTH will come out.

It's been proven over and over in my life. And it's taken me this long to realize it.

Backing down to confrontation doesn't mean you are giving up.

Not fighting back doesn't mean that you know the other person is right and that you're wrong.

Being assertive isn't about fighting back and responding.

Sometimes standing up for yourself and standing up for the truth means that you have to close your mouth and turn and walk away.

The rest will take care of itself. It doesn't matter ~ let it go.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Letters, Deceptions, and Games

I began a writing workshop for survivors.

One: I love to write
Two: It was something I could do just for me

My advocate is the leader for the group. I love her. She's been with me since the beginning of this mess and has helped me through in so many ways.

We started out with three lists of 5: Things I feel right now, Things I have anxiety about, Things about writing that scare me. As I was making my columns, I was thinking how easy this was going to be. Then I started writing. Not as easy as I thought. I could only come up with 4 things in each column and the last 3 things in each column were squeezed out of my head along with blood and sweat. We went on to do other exercises where our creativity was allowed to flow.

Blank pages give me anxiety. They just seem to stare at me and taunt me.

We finished with one of the exercises and began discussing it. One of the women spoke up about how she had a hard time with letting her thoughts flow and somehow ended up on the subject of confrontation. She had just had to deal with a stalker and reporting him to the police. It was the first time she'd felt strong in her life. The first time she'd stood up for herself. It made her want to pen a letter to her abuser because she felt she could finally confront him. If only on paper.

While I applauded her desire to confront him, I was also worried about it. Rarely, when confronted, will the abuser admit to any wrong doing or apologize. Even if they've openly admitted guilt in court or to their families, it is just a formality. Inside, they still take no responsibility. Everything that goes wrong or has gone wrong, including the abuse, is always someone else's fault. Even after being in treatment for years and years, no change will have taken place inside.

I sat there remembering the countless times I had confronted my abuser and told him exactly how I felt. Not just recently. Beginning all the way back to 1990. He totally disregarded me and more lies came. Lies that placed the blame on me, lies that made my anger with him about something else. Lies that turned my step-mom against me because he made her believe I was the problem. Her and I have talked so much these past couple years now. Both of our eyes have been opened and we see everything so clear now. These lies not only destroyed our relationship but I had to turn my back on him. I had nothing to do with him for years because his abuse continued ~ emotional, psychological. It was the only way I could protect myself from any more pain.

I confronted him almost 10 years later. This time he apologized. But then more lies came. Lies and deceit. Though this time, they wouldn't become clear or be discovered for almost another decade.

Once this mess began, I started on the side of being compassionate and understanding. After all, I HAD forgiven him. It wasn't something I was going to take back. I told him that repeatedly. I don't hold the abuse against him at all. I wrote him about how I loved him and how we could get through this together. See, even though I had talked to the police and given them evidence against him, I was still determined to be there to help him through.
This phase lasted for 5 months. Not once did he ever acknowledge how I felt. Never once did he validate my pain or fears or feelings. I then visited him along with my brother. The visit went good. I still felt like we could make it through.

I decided to visit him by myself. A decision that sent me reeling and hindered my progress in therapy. He took full advantage of me being alone and began playing his mind games. He continued what he'd been saying to me through letters those months but added onto it.
He had the nerve to sit there and tell me that HE was the victim in all of this and actually asked me if I wanted to trade places. He told me how miserable he was and that if I hadn't talked to the cops, he wouldn't be sitting there. He actually told me that all I had to do to fix it was talk to the cops and take my statement back. That it was up to me and as soon as I left there, I needed to make the phone call. His wife was thinking about leaving him. This he blamed on me, my sister and my brother. That if we hadn't been such brats and been so mean to her all these years that she wouldn't be thinking about divorcing him now. Her love for him had died because of us~ nothing he had done. He blamed me and the other girls he had violated. Since when are children to blame for sexual abuse? He sat there and complained about my mom and how all of this was her fault and how my sister was just like her. He said things about my sister and the life she'd lived and then blamed my mom that she was still alive because he should've let her die instead of reviving her when she almost died of SIDS. He blamed the police and everyone he'd ever come into contact with for his situation. Then he came back and started in on me again. I couldn't breathe. I felt like I was going to vomit. I was scared to death but couldn't move. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream. But I was glued to that chair.

I left that day and drove the long trip home bawling my eyes out. I don’t even know how I got home.

During the months that led up to his sentencing, I wrote him several times. Telling him in detail how I felt, what I needed from him, what I thought. But he continued to deny responsibility, to lie, to blame those around him. It was then that I knew I had to take him out of my life. I was trying to heal and all his actions were hindering that. It wasn't just me he was doing it to. It was our entire family. Though not everyone could or can see it.

I stopped all contact with him. He was released in October 2008. Never once did he try and contact me. I felt strongly that I was supposed to call him on Thanksgiving. So I did. I gave him yet another opportunity. He ignored it and acted as though nothing had happened and went on to tell me how miserable his life was and blah, blah, blah. Not once since then has he made any effort. Not once. Recently I found out that he still blames my mother. He still blames me. Really. All of this came about because of everyone else and nothing you did?

My step-mom, along with many others, told me recently that I have made every effort to reconcile and it is no longer my responsibility. That I've given him more than enough chances and every time he has spit in my face. She told me that I need to come to grips with the fact that he will probably die without making peace with me. She said that God gave him chance after chance and he never took advantage of those, either. God heard my cries all these years for healing, for peace and in His time…..answered those prayers.

My letters of confrontation are over. My days of being controlled by mind games are done. However, the deception lives on because there are still ears that want to listen.

But not mine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Peek Behind Me....

It's almost the end of the quarter ~ next Friday! I feel SO good about what I've accomplished my first quarter in school. I have straight A's. I was pretty nervous about going back after 20 years. After all, in high school, I passed most of my classes with D's. I got A's in German, Art, and my writing classes….but the rest, I just didn't care about. That stemmed from feeling I was just not worth it after being sexually abused from age 10 on.

Being sexually abused changes everything about your world.


I went from an outgoing little girl, who was always happy and laughing, and had tons of friends to a sad, angry little girl who withdrew from everyone and trusted no one. I remember my life before the abuse. FUN. Carefree. Trusting. Curious about the world. Loved playing with my friends. Loved my family. Slept peacefully at night. I often wonder who I would've become had I not experienced the violence and pain of the abuse.

I turned into a girl who trusted no one and hated lies. After all, I had trusted one of the first people I had ever known and loved unconditionally…and he hurt me beyond words. He would tell me he loved me ~ and then abuse me. He would tell me I could trust him ~ then betray that trust. He would tell me it was over and he wouldn't hurt me any more ~ but it went on for over 5 years. I stopped believing everyone in my world ~ except Grandma. To this day, if I'm lied to, I get angry. I get the same feelings I had when I was little. If a person destroys my trust, they rarely get it back. It's my way of protecting myself. Everyone tells white lies. "Those pants look great on you." Not the lies I'm talking about. Major lies ~ lies that destroy, that hurt~ are unacceptable. What's the motive behind the lie? It truly shows a person's character when they lie and think nothing about the way it can destroy the person they're lying to or about.

I grew up feeling I wasn't worthy of anything good. That I didn't deserve to be happy. I still struggle with this one sometimes. I'm afraid to be too happy because I feel that God will rip it away from me. With the help of the therapy, I've come to learn that I AM worthy, I AM precious, I AM deserving. I do things for myself now that I would never had dreamed of doing. I let others serve me ~ an idea that used to make me nauseous and uncomfortable. I am currently the happiest I've ever been in my life and I make it a point to name my blessings everyday. I can't believe how much GOOD is in my life. I can't believe how CONTENT I am even when there's turmoil around me.

August 2007 until October of 2008…THE worst time in my entire life, aside from the abuse. My abuser was being investigated based on some other reports, and through a letter I had written to him years earlier, my abuse had been found out. It started a storm I thought would overtake and kill me. I had put the abuse and everything associated with it into a room and bolted the door. Suddenly, I was being forced into facing it head-on. There's no way to even begin to describe the hell I went through on a daily basis. Fear, nightmares, insomnia, guilt, flashbacks…and that's just the tip of the iceberg. There were periods of time I actually thought I was going to die. Times where I wanted to die. Times I felt as if I was already dead. The pain was unbearable. The entire process from interviewing, to sentencing, to his release took me on a trip through hell that I am thankful for even now.

I was allowed to break my silence. I no longer live in fear that nobody will believe me or that he will come back for me. Everything was brought to the light and out in the open and it FREED me.


My abuser still has his demons to wrestle with. He still has to confront himself in the mirror and deal with what he has done. Now HE is the one that must live with the same feelings I lived with all these years. It's his turn. I thought that now it's all said and done that somewhere along this path, we could reconcile. That he would realize the magnitude of pain and destruction he brought not only to my life, but to our entire family. But no. I heard the other day that he still blames my mom for what he did. (How does that work?) And he still blames me. After all, I'm the one who told my story to the police. I'm the reason he sat in jail for a year. (Never mind that he got off with a hand slap for Criminal Sexual Conduct in the 1st and 2nd degree) I'm the one that turned my back on him. (Forget how he destroyed the life of a child and stole my innocence.) I've come to accept the fact that I will probably never to speak to him again or have any kind of relationship with him. And I'm fine with that…………………because I'm FREE.

What I don't understand, however, is the fact that my sister turned her back on me. She continues to tell lies about me to other family members. She continues to try and destroy my character. This has gone on our entire lives. It's actually nothing new. But she chose the time during which I was struggling with these demons to not only kick me down and repeatedly stab me, but turn around and play the innocent victim and lie about why we no longer have contact. Who does that to family? Who does that to anyone? I don't fight back, yet she continues. She reminds me of Gollum ~ stroking her "Precious". I know my abuser plays a part in it. His bitterness has rubbed off onto her and she believes everything he says since she is so desperate for his love and attention. It has been like that since we were little. It's so sad.

I will never let her back into my life. Not after taking years of lies and her trying to destroy my life. I've let both of them go.

I've grieved for the loss.

I've moved on.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

There are many things I do not understand. And I'm fine with that. We're not meant to understand everything ~ that's where faith steps in. But there are those things that are just unacceptable.

Lying, for example. Especially lying about a child to make gains for yourself or to make yourself look like the "injured" party. What is that teaching the child? It's ok to lie if you're an adult? It's ok to lie if you need to make someone look bad? It's ok to lie so you can get ahead? Have you ever stopped and thought about the volumes your actions speak about your character? Nothing you can do or say after that will ever erase the picture someone has now created of you and the person you are. And even if the people around you believe the lies you've said at that time, does it really matter? Because the One that REALLY matters, already knows the truth. God has seen what you've done to that child. He has heard the lies you've told. He has seen your heart and known your motives for wanting to hurt that child with your lies.

Lies. I hate lies. I hate being lied to. I hate being lied about. I would never dream of lying about anyone in my family to make myself look better or to make others turn on another family member. So why is it that you feel compelled to do so? What are you hoping to gain?

After what I've lived through most of my life but especially the past couple years, you'd think that you would be happy for me. Overjoyed that FINALLY I'm able to get justice, to find peace, to start healing. And yet at the peak of it all, when it was the most painful, you chose that time to knock me down even further. To turn your back on me and continue stabbing. Why? And then you turn around and tell lie on top of lie and blame this and that on me. When I've sat here for the past year and those before, doing absolutely nothing to you. I'm not fighting back and yet you keep swinging. In going through all my therapy and my support groups, I've learned to deal with the past and I've healed a great deal of the wounds. NOTHING you can do or say, can reopen them. I've learned to ignore you. I've let you go. I've let him go, too.

You can continue to attack me. Continue to lie about me. Continue to try and rip apart my relationships with my family. Continue to tear apart my character. Say what you want. I keep hearing about it.

I DON'T CARE. God brought this to the light. He has given me the justice and brought my healing. Nothing either of you do, can change that. Nothing either of you say can steal it away. NOTHING. When will it get through to you?

I hope you're prepared for when it all falls in on you. What you give out always comes back to you...whether it was good or bad.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I had high hopes when Daughter came home to stay. I held tight to the hope that she would put to use all she had learned, that as a family we would be healed. Those hopes were crushed and destroyed. Several times in the past month.

Things were going so well. I should've known. I should've seen it coming. But love is blind, is it not? Love bears all things. Love believes all things. Love hopes and endures all things. That is what scripture tells us. That's what I know and believe. As a mom, Love is what I DO.

I have to say I am impressed with the change in her. She is not defiant or angry. She does her chores...though it's usually on her time, not mine. But they get done. When something is bothering her, she is able to sit down with one of us and talk about it and even ask for input. She's often thinking of others and not focused on herself anymore. There is so much good in her and about her now. There always was but somewhere along the way, she lost it. No. It was stolen from her by a demon. A demon known as Depression. He stole so much from her, from her life, from us.

So while many things are very good.......there are still things that are terribly wrong. I'm standing at a place where I need to make a major decision...yet again. I am constantly wrestling with the decision day after day. It's tearing my heart apart. I don't want to make a mistake.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.

I gave the last decision to Him. I leaned on Him even though I didn't understand or even know if I was doing what I should be. I trusted Daughter to Him and everything turned out right. This time is different. This time is harder. This time.....feels permanent. I feel as though I've lost my daughter.

The only thing that gives me hope is the scripture:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

I have the promise that all I've put into her heart and her mind is still there, sprouting like a seedling. I have taught her everyday of her life how to behave, how a lady acts, how to treat others, to trust in God, that she has a purpose here. It started the first time I held her in my arms and has not stopped. If you had the time to sit with her, she could tell you almost word for word, everything I've placed in her heart. She KNOWS.

Right now she is doing things "her" way. The opposite of all I've instilled in her, of course. But one day, she will come back around. I have that promise. God doesn't break His promises.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

4 Days and Another Chapter

Monday marks the beginning of another chapter in our lives. Daughter is beginning her transition home after living apart from us for the past year. So let's start from the beginning...or somewhere kind of close.

My daughter will be 17 in a few months. She's always been an exhausting child. What I mean is, always demanding attention, constantly on the move, a total energy vampire. At the same time, she's a total ray of sunshine ~ laughing, brightening up the room and bringing unique ideas to the table. I noticed a change in her behavior starting in 5th grade. I KNEW something was different, but I just couldn't put my finger on it. I attributed it to her age and the onset of puberty.

I kept this opinion throughout her 5th grade year while I tried different discipline tactics, tried to keep her engaged in activities and went bald on 1/3 of my head from pulling my hair out. Somewhere between 5th and 6th grade, almost overnight, she began stealing, lying, grades began dropping. My once happy child suddenly became defiant and hateful. Never happy about anything. I felt like such a failure as a parent.

Knowing something was wrong with her and having grown up with a Bipolar sister, I took her in for a professional opinion. The diagnosis was anxiety and mild OCD. I chalked it up as a bunch of bull and left. After all, how he could come up with that after only spending 10 minutes talking to her blew my mind.

Things got progressively worse to the point that I just wanted to send her to live with her Dad. I was exhausted and out of options. At the end of her 7th grade year, I noticed several cuts on her wrist that clearly weren't any kind of accident. I questioned her over and over and got no where with her. I went through her room one day and found a suicide threat, some really dark poems she'd written and a few letters to some of her friends discussing her cutting. Needless to say, I freaked out. There's just no other way to put it. I called our family doctor because I had no idea what to do. He suggested taking her to the ER once school was out and explaining what I had seen and found. He said this was the fastest way to get her help because she needed to see a Psychiatrist but the waiting list for those was over 6 months long.

That started a LONG, LONG road to Nowhere Street. Over the next 2 1/2 years, we'd been to 3 psychiatrists all who told me it was me with the problem and she was a perfectly normal teenager. Somehow it was all my fault. We took her to the ER 4 times for suicide threats and notes. They kept her once overnight and a second time for the weekend. I spend countless nights looking for her, calling friends to see if they'd seen her when she wouldn't come home from school or never showed up for curfew. The police were called numerous times to report her as a runaway. She began skipping first a class, then entire days of school. She was getting straight F's even if she was in class. She was so defiant and ugly at home that I'd spend my nights crying my eyes out and praying for a miracle. Her cutting worsened. There were times she cut so deeply that she almost needed stitches. She began self tattooing and piercing herself.
The pain I saw in her eyes was almost enough to kill me. I just had no idea what was wrong, what had gone wrong or how to help her.

Every where I turned for help, I was turned away. She wasn't "bad" enough for services; she was just "lazy"; let her do what she wants, she'll come around; you aren't a good parent; you don't discipline her; you don't show her enough love....I felt like I was jumping through hoops and getting beaten at the same time.

Finally, on our 5th visit to the ER in a year and a half, the male nurse who was helping us told me, "You've been here too many times for this. I can't believe nobody has helped you or looked into this. I'm going to go through your daughter's file and I'm going to get both of you the help she needs." I started crying. FINALLY! Finally somebody was listening to me.

Long story short, we ended up with a social worker from the county to help get her the services she needed, a psychiatrist who placed her in a summer program to test and diagnose her, a family therapist, a personal therapist for her, and an IEP at school. Her diagnosis was ADD, severe depression and anxiety. She was put on medication to help those things. We went on like this for a year with some things getting better, some things worse.

Last year at around this time, I had to call her in as a runaway again when she never showed up after school and I got a phone call from school saying she hadn't been in school all day. None of her friends knew where she was or had seen her. At around 8 pm, I got a tip off from a friend and had the police go and pick her up. It was the deputy that noticed the severe & long cuts on her arm and wrist again. He strongly suggested taking her to ER again and calling her therapist and social worker. They ended up keeping her in the Adolescent Mental Ward for a week while her social worker and I ironed out what to do.

I was given two options: 1) Voluntarily place her in a group home or 2) Wait it out, stay on the same path and wait until it becomes court ordered.
Being at my wits end with her and running out of time to help her straighten out her life (she was a month away from turning 16), I opted to voluntarily place her in a group home an hour and a half from where we lived.

I cried for 3 days straight. I worried about doing the right thing for her. I worried about if she'd be safe. I grieved for the little girl I had lost somewhere along the way. The little girl who had laughed and been silly. The little girl who had worn my high heels around the house and sang worship songs. The little girl I had held in my arms. The little girl who had my heart and soul. I had to believe I was doing the right thing. Had to believe God had a plan I couldn't see & He had in all in control.

The past year has been hard and long. It turns out that it was the right decision. It's been harder for Daughter than for the rest of us. She's done a lot of soul searching and digging. She's learned a lot of hard lessons. She's had to look at herself in a way that's hard for anyone to do.

On Monday, she moves back home during the week and goes back to the group home on the weekends. She'll be finishing off the last quarter of school at her own school. She left with straight F's and is coming back with A's and B's. We are all excited for this chapter to begin and also to close it and start on the next chapter.

She hasn't cut since last August. She laughs and is silly again. She wears my high heels and sings again. Though now the shoes fit and its definitely not worship songs she sings. I hold her in my arms and snuggle with her. OFTEN. We talk, we cry. I'm learning from her everyday.

And that little girl still has my heart and soul...woven tightly in every fiber of her being, held together with tears and laughter and love.