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.