Monthly Archives: October 2016

Now You See Me…..

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For me, in a sea of unknown faces I can hide. I can be alone with my thoughts. My thoughts wander. Realities become blurred. I can sit back and imagine all the possibilities. In this time of pondering, I’m able to reach out and grasp the untouchables. The elite. The hidden. It is then that I realize that even in crowds of people, I see that I’m only a speck, just a blip on the radar of life.

There has to be something that I can grasp, something tangible that I can feel, just like sand flowing through my fingers while sitting on a beach. There’s such a disillusion of what companionship really is. It can be something I can feel. Something I can know. Something that is in my presence. But yet, it’s not there. It’s hiding. It’s distant and I want so much to be able to be there, in constant communication.

I get beat down. I get the wind knocked out of me. Words are so powerful. Thoughts can get you in a place you don’t want to be. You can be lifted up. Or you can be torn down. How am I supposed to handle this? How should I respond when these words and actions are thrown my direction? What am I supposed to do in order to triumph over my demons? The demons that try to send me to my demise. The demons that tell me I am worthless, that I am beneath those around me, that I am just a space filler here on this earth. How can I push those demons off the proverbial cliff of life?

Wise decisions need to be made. When those decisions aren’t made in timely fashion or in the correct mindset, I get bombarded with empty feelings. With thoughts that get me nowhere and leave me hanging over the edge. And yet again, I’m alone. I’m hiding in the sea of unknown faces. Wherever I go, I’m alone. I’m reaching out, only to find a black hole with no end in sight. I’m trying to grasp for just one hand to lift me out, and there’s nothing. No one. Again, I’m alone.

I’m trying to be resilient and push my way through the struggles, but sometimes the struggle is stronger than me. Stronger than my thoughts. Stronger than my heart can handle. What then? What am I supposed to do? I’m lost. I’m alone, with no guidance, no direction. I’m misunderstood. I’m a rebel. I’m a loner. I’m not what you think I am, nor what you want me to be. But what does that matter? I’m me. This is who I am and no amount of pushing or prodding is going to change that. Ever.

So for now, what do I do? What can I grasp to lift me up? Where can I go where I am just more than a blank face in a crowd? Where can I reside where I’m not alone while surrounded by the world? I can only push. Push through the obstacles. Push through the bullies that are standing there mocking me, demeaning me, pushing me away. I’m strong. I have an indescribable amount of strength within me that I just haven’t been able to bring to the surface. It’s in there, I’m confident of that. Now it’s going to be like a treasure hunt to find it.

Follow the map to find it. No. That won’t work with me. There is no set path that I can take. There isn’t a dotted line that I can follow. I have to go by instinct. I must rely on my intuition. I’ll find it. It’s just a matter of time. It’s a matter of being patient until the time is right and the unknown is revealed to me. So for now, I just wait and try to see my way through the sea of unknown faces and try to recognize someone, anyone. I just need to find my way.

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More Than Words……Silence Speaks Volumes

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I’ve been keeping somewhat quiet on social media and in general about everything going on with the election. I will be the first to tell you that I am NOT a very politically minded person. I don’t know a lot about politics (much to the chagrin of my politically charged boyfriend lol) and I’m ok with that honestly. I know enough to make an informed decision and what I don’t know, I research and track down appropriate information so that I am more aware of the issues and what possible concerns there are.

BUT, with all that being said, in light of all the news surrounding Donald Trump and his recent recording that has been released and now the subsequent number of women coming forward to prove that what he SAID in that recording are much more than “just” words, but it’s proving to be ACTIONS. I think what is bothering me most, actually, what I KNOW that’s bothering me most, is how people, men AND women, are casting doubt on and shifting blame to the women that are coming forward with their harrowing tales of being sexually assaulted and molested by Donald Trump.

I am APPALLED that anyone would do this. I’m also not ignorant and am fully cognoscente of the fact that rape culture is alive and real, and harmful as all get out. Now, so many conservatives (a group I once aligned myself too adamantly) deny that rape culture exists. They cast a shadow over the whole concept of rape culture. I grew up in this mindset surrounding me and it’s destroying so many people around us.

Here’s what I posted on Facebook the other day and even now, it makes me upset!

Rape Culture doesn’t always equal the specific act of rape. Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.

This is all I’m going to say about Trump’s words and actions that have come to light from 10+ years ago. And if you are going to comment and defend him or excuse his words and actions as “typical locker room banter”, don’t bother because this is my page and I’m saying how I feel about it. Like it, love it, hate it, I don’t care.

As a survivor of sexual assault, rape, I can say without question that his words are very much part of rape culture. No, what he said and his conversation did not specifically state that he raped anyone. That’s not the point that I’m getting at. And while I may be more “sensitive” to his words and actions based on my history, it’s in no way lessening what he said and in all honesty, is creating a culture that has become desensitized to such terrible behavior.

What his words DO say to me is that it’s OK for men to treat women like a piece of meat. It’s OK for men to dominate women and “take what they want” regardless of what a woman says. It’s OK to use any public clout or professional standing to take advantage of a woman. It’s OK to repeatedly chase married women and use money and gifts and whatever other means they have to physically use them.

What he said is lewd and awful and very much degrading to females. Sure, guys talk crass. Women talk crass. No one is exempt from lousy behavior and saying things that they probably shouldn’t. But his words of abusive actions and sexual predator type behavior is unacceptable, for anyone to say, let alone someone who is supposed to be an example of what the USA stands for as a president.

Yes, I know past presidents have done worse. I know that Bill Clinton was impeached based on his sexual actions while in the White House. I’m not excluding him from this either. BUT, he’s also not running for president. Yes, his wife is, and I know that she’s done some pretty terrible things in her political lifespan, but when it comes down to it, Trump is the one under the microscope. Trump is the one that said such lewd and crass things that absolutely perpetuate rape culture. He might not have raped any of these women he so loosely talked about with no thought of a conscience (which I honestly doubt he has) but he sure as hell is contributing to the current downward spiral of our present day rape culture.

So please, stop excusing his words and actions. Stop saying it’s just normal for men to talk like that, because if that’s the type of company you keep, you need to take a deep look inside yourself to examine your associations. If a boy or man was saying this about YOUR daughter or wife or sister or cousin or ANYONE, would you excuse it? Would you give him a pass because that’s “normal” conversations? I should hope not! If my sons EVER said anything remotely like what Trump said, you better believe we’d be having a major heart to heart, no matter how old they are.

Why would you defend this man and give him a pass on this morally degrading conversation that he so freely had without even pause? Rape culture is real. Rape culture has taken over our country and it needs to stop. It needs to come to the forefront of our country and not be excused, ever. When are we going to take a stand to destroy this awful behavior? God help us.

As a survivor of rape, and one that was not able to come forward about what happened to me for some time, I can fully understand why this is coming out now. Yes, there could be some politically motivated angst in the delay in coming forward with their stories, but as a survivor myself, there is a time and a place to vet out the stories. Flat out refusing to believe a woman about their assault or rape is downplaying anything that happened to them. It’s victim blaming and shaming and it needs to stop.

My story was published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on January 29,2016. You can read the article in its entirety HERE – Breaking My Silence: A Rape Survivor’s Story. But here’s a few excerpts that are really bringing it home for me:

“I was ashamed of what happened to me. I was afraid of what others would say. I was sure that my family and friends would stonewall me. I distanced myself from my strict upbringing because I thought there would be no support. When I needed it most, I was sure it would fail me as it had others before.”

Exactly this…women do not come forward because of the fact that in some circles, more circles it seems like these days, the women will be blamed for allowing it to happen, or for causing the man to stumble, or for tempting the man, etc.

“Maybe all these women finally found a support system that builds them up and embraces them, instead of tearing them down and belittling them regardless of what may have occurred. Maybe these women have finally found their strength to come forward, because they now have an avenue to voice their secret. Regardless of their reasoning, their silence does not in any way negate the circumstances or their story.

I can only speak for myself and what I know without a doubt, that in the midst of the pain and awful turmoil and the hurt, I found a voice that I didn’t know existed. I found the strength and courage to speak out against this depraved act that was carried out against me. I discovered that I was not alone and that there were others out there that could relate to and support me.

No amount of time or silence could change what happened to me. I pray that no one ever has to go through what I went through – what many millions of others have gone through. I can only hope that the women who have been unable to speak of these actions will finally find their voice and the healing that comes from breaking the silence.”

Silence speaks volumes sometimes, as we are finding out now with all these stories coming out now.

So many comments on several social media platforms are making my blood boil this morning and there is no excuse for Donald Trumps words and his now apparent actions. This isn’t locker room banter. This isn’t just words or guy talk. This is far beyond that and it’s perpetuating sexual assault and attempting to normalize it and brush it off. I for one, will not stand for this, and neither should anyone else. Quit dismissing it and blaming the women or the “Liberals” for being sensitive. Yes, I’m sensitive about this (I’m not categorizing myself as a Liberal either) because as a woman, no, not just as a woman but as a HUMAN BEING, we should not be subjected to this type of behavior, ever, by anyone.

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To Everything There is a Season

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Three years ago today, I embarked on a journey of epic proportions. I started a new life. I was out in the world on my own. I was scared. I was weak. I was alone.

Three years ago today, I moved out of my home and became a single mom.

The last three years have been, to be blunt, mostly hell. Of course there have been highlights along the way. There has been a learning curve for life lessons and some failing grades as I’ve moved along through all the stages of this transformation. The financial struggles and trials and mishaps have been the most difficult adjustment. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a struggle since the day I moved. And maybe that’s how it’s always going to be, but I’d like to remain hopeful that one day it won’t be this hard.

I’ve been dealt the blow of losing family and friends over the years due to the decision that’s been made. But when it comes down to it, if you can’t support me, or heck, even acknowledge me in my time of change, grief, solitude, whatever you want to call it, then I don’t need that in my life. I need only positive reinforcements backing me up every step of the way. I’d rather be alone and KNOW that I’m doing the right thing and happy with my situation, then surrounded by mediocre friendships and back-biting relatives that are only out to serve their own selfish purposes.

It’s been three years of hell coming to grips that I only see my children half the time now. Their father and I have shared custody and while that’s honestly the most amicable solution, and only fair to the boys, this is one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with over these last 1,096 days. My kids are my life, they are my everything, they are why I exist. I was told I wouldn’t be able to have children, and after miscarrying twins, they are my miracles, and I don’t take that lightly. Time with them is precious so I value every single second with them.

It’s been three years of struggling to date again. This has been one of the harder aspects of “starting over.” I never dated all that much growing up, in high school or college or after college. I was (and am still) quite awkward in dating scenarios. My ex and I got engaged 2 weeks after we met and married 2 months later (yes, I know, a recipe for disaster as it were). I was never one to get asked out much and it was just always a crapshoot.

I do have to say that my foray into dating again did allow me to pursue a dream of mine that I wasn’t able to pursue much while I was married. I love to write (as I hope is evident in my blog) and I love to explore meanings and reasons of why things happen and really like to work on what I need to learn from all my experiences in life, good and bad! Maybe I like to write to warn people, “Don’t Do What I Did!” or maybe just to enlighten people to things that they might be totally unaware of in their given state of being.

Regardless, all my mishaps in life have opened up several doors to explore my writing, on a continued and consistent basis, with aspirations of more down the road. It all started in February of 2015 with my first OpEd being published in the Cincinnati Enquirer (Where Are Good Guys?). This led to me being on two local radio programs (Kidd Chris on 102.7 WEBN and Jeff and Jenn on Q102). That in and of itself was an interesting time!  But through that initial article I wrote, I was able to write 6 more articles for the Cincinnati Enquirer and now am a contributing writer for the Cincinnati Moms Blog HERE. So many doors have been opened because of my “struggles” that I was able to laugh at and find some humor in amongst the pain.

Next stop…..writing my first children’s book with my own illustrations that I draw for the boys….and as always, they are my inspiration for just about everything!!

But the last three years hasn’t all been filled with hurt and pain and struggles and depression. SURE! I’ve had my moments of constant “fill in the blank” problems and issues, but I’m TRYING (trying being the crucial word) to find the positives, despite everything working against me. Some days, it’s really hard. I mean, almost impossible, and that’s to be expected. I was starting over again. Starting over in pretty much every aspect of life: Social, Economical, Spiritual, Physical, Relational and the list goes on and on!

I’ve found out who TRULY is in “Camp Abby” and who is just a wishy-washy friend and relative. I have lost several “friends” over the changes in my life, but I just have to keep reminding myself that a true friend would have stuck around no matter what. They would have been by my side through all the trials and tribulations. No, they don’t have to agree with me, or my ex, or either. That’s not what is at the core of this all. A true friend is one that is going to stick by you and support you, regardless if they agree with you or not. They are going to be an advocate for you despite what is thrown your way or theirs. That’s what it comes down to at the end of the day. And sadly, several family members have chosen to not support me, regardless.

Blood, my friends, is NOT thicker than water. I have some pretty amazing friends that have been supporting me, regardless, and have stuck around, and been strong for me when my supposed supportive family have all been knocked to the wayside. I’ve come to the realization that I don’t need that in my life, and I’m not going to let those people determine my self-worth or bring me down. Yes, it’s a work in progress, but it’s something I’ve been slowly becoming more and more comfortable with over the years.

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I rediscovered my love for baseball. Now this might seem trivial to some, but it’s been an amazing thing for me and my boys as well. We have something that is unique to us. Something that we can share as a family and something that I can instill into my boys’ lives. This has made a huge impact in our lives, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything (despite the losing seasons we’ve experienced)! I was even fortunate enough to have an article printed during the All-Star games last year in Cincinnati that you can read HERE. This tradition has been reestablished in my life and I wouldn’t want that any other way!

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I’ve discovered that money is NOT everything. My marriage had a lot of financial difficulties. Difficulties that I’m still paying for, literally, three years later. The lure of materialistic gain and prosperity won out over practicality and living simply. For that reason, we went through a bankruptcy. Because of that, I’m still paying that off (Chapter 13 repayment) and cannot currently get a car loan, credit cards, rent a car, or even a mortgage (if I ever wanted to go that route again which I really don’t think I want to!).

BUT, despite those financial hardships, I have learned to be more frugal, I have been able to teach my children the value of money and the thrill of saving up for something you really want and paying for it in full. I’ve also learned the drawbacks of my situation.

  • I don’t have the nicest, newest vehicle. Heck, my jeep is 13 years old with almost 170,000 miles on it!
  • I don’t have brand name clothing or shoes or the most expensive handbag. I shop at Goodwill on a consistent basis.
  • I am not able to attend all the cultural, theatrical and artistic events I did once before.
  • I can’t travel to the extent that I would like nor have much hope for a “regular” vacation like other families.
  • And to be honest, if I get the opportunity to remarry, I don’t see myself being able to afford any type of wedding.

And over the last three years, I have learned a valuable lesson in letting things go. And while I am nowhere near where I need to be in this area, I’d like to think that I am a LITTLE bit better. I’ve had to deal and learn and “get over” so many things. So many more things than people can even imagine. I’m not going to sound petty, and please don’t think I’m judging anyone, because I’m the last person that wants to judge someone, but there are some people who have NO idea. There are people who cannot even begin to fathom everything that I’ve been through the last three years, and I wouldn’t want to wish this on anyone. But it’s not been a cake walk, and moving out and taking the route that I did has been anything but easy. It’s been quite the opposite, and now three years later, I still find myself “suffering” at times and trying to pick up the pieces from what destroyed me in the past.

  • I’ve had to see my kids going to Disney with their father and new family. That was the family vacation we planned while I was still married and was something we were going to do one day.
  • I’ve had to see my children’s father get remarried and have a wedding (which he didn’t want to have with me) and reception. It’s something I always wanted.
  • I’ve had to see my children gain a step-mother and two step-sisters and a whole other extended family.
  • I’ve had to cash out my 401K just to be able to get a reliable vehicle and am slowly rebuilding my retirement funds.
  • I’ve had to eat green beans from a can for meals just so that I can make sure my kids are fed and taken care of.
  • I’ve had to borrow money from my mother just so that I don’t “go under” some months. This is a humbling scenario since I am very proud and hate asking for any kind of help.
  • I’ve had to tell my children no on so many occasions when it comes to them asking for something. It kills me that with me, my children have to go without sometimes, unlike when they are with their father.
  • I’ve had to literally cash in pennies so that I could “cushion” my bank account so that I don’t go into the negatives.

All of these things would put to shame so many people who think “they have it rough” because they can’t get the newest Coach purse or have to wait on the newest phone upgrade for 6 months or that they have to get a “used car” that is from 2014. To those people I just want to say, “SHUT UP!!” Not really, but kind of. I just want to encourage people to put things into perspective when it comes to all of these things.

I can only hope that I can encourage others that might be going through a similar situation or know someone who is through my writing and my example. Through my trials and pain and hurt over the last several years, if just one person could be helped or encouraged to just keep going forward and do what you need to do to be in a better situation, then I can consider it a positive. It may take a year, it may take five it may take a decade. But don’t ever give up!!

And I’d be remiss to not mention a part of my life that has been one of the most positive things…and of course, who doesn’t like an upbeat, happy conclusion?! I did meet someone, a man, who I am deeply in love with and am happy and content with. I had to have my heart broken many times in order to find the one who would heal and work on sealing the cracks that almost destroyed my heart over the last three years. And I will be the first to tell you that I’m not perfect. I’ll also be the first to tell you that my boyfriend is not perfect, and that our relationship is not perfect. But I will tell you that it’s been worth it. The best relationships are those that come when you least expect it. They happen to those that work at it. Relationships are not easy, as evident in my three year journey. But when you work as a team, constantly trying to better yourselves, better each other, and lift each other up and encourage each other to be the best person they can be, then that right there is your perfection.

The last three years have been rough. It’s been painful. It’s been a learning experience that I’m not sure I would ever want to repeat. But in the end, the last three years have made me into the person I am today, and while I know that sounds cliché, it’s absolutely true. And while I still have a ways to go in all honesty, I’m much further along in my journey than I ever thought possible. I’m stronger than I ever believed myself to be. And if it took those three years of heartache and pain and constant growing, then it’s worth it in the end. It is what it is, and I can only push forward, making myself a better me with each passing day.

And maybe the next three years won’t be as bad. Maybe the next three years will bring only positive and enlightened paths for me to follow. And if that’s the case, I will follow that path and take each new day in stride and push forward without any regrets or misgivings.

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