Category Archives: Pain

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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What a Difference a Day, Er, Two Years Makes

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Two years ago I got something in the mail that I dreaded receiving.
Two years ago, my life as I knew it came to an official end.
Two years ago, everything changed because of one envelope.

Two year ago, my divorce was final.

In the past two years, I have been through so much. I honestly don’t know how I’m still standing and pushing forward. Maybe because that’s the only thing I CAN do. But regardless, my world has been rocked and pushed off its axis. And not only MY life, but that of my children as well.

They’ve been two years filled with hurt.

Two years filled with concern over the well-being of my children and myself in all honesty. There have been many moments filled with self-doubt concerning that.

Two years filled with a constant worry. Worry that I’m not good enough. Worried that this failure will always be who I am. Worried that my children’s lives are irreversibly harmed. Worry that I’m not going to make it on my own, physically, emotionally, financially, and everything in between.

Two years with much confusion and uncertainty. Sometimes uncertainty if I was going to be able to feed my children that week. Occasional confusion about decisions. Oh, who am I kidding? CONSTANT confusion about decisions.

The never-ending “What If’s?”

 

Over the past two years, there have been countless times that I honestly just wanted to curl up in a ball, crawl into bed, and not come out for weeks. Not so much for the physical exhaustion factor, although that played and still plays into that concept big time, but more so just to get away from the madness and hide.

But I couldn’t. I still can’t. Even when the desire to do just that feels overwhelming as if to swallow me up in a tidal wave of solitude, I have responsibilities. I have my boys. I have to be strong for them and pretend to be strong for everyone else.

The past two years have been filled with me telling everyone I was fine, and that I’ll get through the seeming hurdle (said, MOUNTAIN) and that “It was all good” and “I’m OK” and “No Biggie.” Things happen and you just have to learn from your mistakes and decisions, yadda yadda yadda.

But I wasn’t OK. It wasn’t all good. It was a biggie. And honestly, there are still moments I feel like that. But if I admitted that while it was all going on (in my mind), then I was weak. My facade of being the strong, stubborn mother, taking charge, handling whatever problems are hurled my way with grace and the knowledge to knock over a 20-day jeopardy champion. . .. . was just that, a facade. Fake. A Lie. Wrong.

Over the last two years I have seen how truly weak I am. I’ve been burdened down with so many things. Instead of the load being lifted day by day, it seemed to just get heavier and heavier. Sometimes I just cannot cope with even thinking about this let alone live with it.

The last two years have been filled with so many things to think about that I didn’t think would ever come into play in my life. Too many things for me to process. Heck, sometimes it’s too many things for a team of people to process. At times, there was just too much to make sense of. And over the last two years, I wasn’t sure that I could do it. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know if I could. Honestly, there are still times that I’m not sure I can do it.

So much has changed over the last two years.

I’ve dealt with housing changes, from a huge house to a small apartment.

I’ve dealt with car issues beyond comprehension, but still managed to have transportation (by the grace of God and my generous mother).

I have been run through the gamut with learning how to date and be in a relationship again (which is still a work in progress if I’m going to be honest, just ask my boyfriend)!

I have had to see my children be introduced into a new family.  And with that, I’ve had to learn how to adjust my life (to an extent) to another woman in my boys’ life. A step-mother, step-sisters, and an extended family. One that I’m not part of. And I’ve had to learn how to “deal” with that. It’s not been easy, but it’s something I knew would be inevitable when you deal with a divorce.

But I’ve also been able to learn more about myself in the last two years. I’ve been able to work on “finding” myself. It’s not always easy and it’s oftentimes painful, but it’s necessary. There’s no way I can move forward in my life if I’m still dwelling on the past. If I’m still questioning and doubting all my decisions in the past, I’m in a chokehold without hope of release. And I want to be able to breathe freely, and move forward knowing that what is in the past, is the past.

So yes, today might be the “anniversary” of my divorce. It might be the anniversary of the day my world got flipped upside down. It might be the reminder of the day my life changed. But it’s also the day when I knew I wasn’t going to be the same person I was prior to that. And looking back on that, I’m ok with that.

Without all those changes and various paths I’ve taken over the last couple years, I’ve become who I am today. And for the most part, I’m pretty happy with that person. And not only am I happy with the person I’ve become, I’m pretty proud of the person I am today. I’m more than just an “ex-wife”. I’m a new person, filled with the hope of future possibilities. I have a new outlook on so many things in life. I’m excited to see what the next two years brings my way. Yes, two years isn’t a lot in the light of eternity, but so many things can happen in two years.

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Odd Man Out

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Ever feel awkward in your own skin? Feeling odd but you can’t put your finger on it? Like you’re missing something but you have no clue? I feel like this every single day and I’m feeling more and more lost without a map to lead me out! Searching to find my way, my place, my niche’. And I come up empty every single time. Wandering aimlessly through life hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes to me the light isn’t visible. Sometimes the tunnel doesn’t even exist. The train comes barreling down the tracks, unsure of how it’s going to get to the other side.

I don’t fit in. Anywhere. I never really have. Growing up I was always the one that was very outgoing, would talk to anyone, no matter their age, and was overall a very friendly person. Someone who you would imagine had the world on a string and was just full of life and vigor. But I wasn’t.

I was lonely. I was chronically picked on and bullied. I had friends, sure, but never really had a close, personal friend that was my “BFF” to use a very generational term. And this wasn’t how I was just in those “awkward” pre-pubescent years. It was all the time. From kindergarten to present day. I remember getting picked on in kindergarten. I remember my mom having to come to school when I was in 2nd grade to find a way for the kids to stop picking on me. Despite her efforts and the teacher’s efforts, it only got worse.

Summer camp was always a bear. And not to mention it was a CHRISTIAN summer camp. I was still a loner and did my thing. I got along with people, or so I thought, but I still didn’t fit in. I tried, I really did. One year at camp one of the counselors nicknamed me Gabby Abby (hence the name of the blog) because, well, I can talk, a lot. Several of us were making t-shirts in the Arts & Crafts room, and I made one that on the back said “GABBY ABBY”. It was cute and we had our fellow campers sign our shirts. When I went back later that day to pick up the shirt, someone took the paint and painted over the GABBY part of the shirt. My shirt now said “FLABBY ABBY.” I was devastated. Even as an elementary aged child, I was hurt beyond words. Of course, I just laughed it off and painted over it. But I didn’t let them see me crying back in my cabin. No one. No one was going to see me upset by this, because, then they would know they got to me.

Everyone had their cliques in school. In youth group and church, they had their groups they hung out in. I was never in the “popular” crowd. I didn’t play sports. I was a cheerleader, but I think only because they felt bad for me. I didn’t fit in the cheerleading uniform and they had to make one for me specifically. I was the base of the pyramid and had a loud voice, so that was my reasoning why I was on the squad. I wasn’t super spiritual, so I didn’t fit in with the “good kids.” Because I wasn’t the shining star of Christianity, I always seemed to be pushed aside. I never was the girl the guys asked out. I was “one of the guys” so to speak. I had the “cute face” and “great personality.” I was the one the guys went to in order to find out if a certain girl liked them or to find out if they would go out with them.

I was the funny one. I think that some days I still am. My humor was and is my defense mechanism. I would make fun of myself before someone else could. That way, in my warped sense of self, it wouldn’t hurt as much. If I beat someone to the punch line, then it’s not like THEY would be picking on me. And then through that, people “liked” me more because they thought I was funny. Only now do I see that they “liked” me for making fun of myself and it just saved them from having to say the jokes. But if someone beat ME to the punch line, that hurt so bad. It cut like a knife, a very jagged, dull knife.

It’s pretty sad. I have so many memories of my childhood and teen years and growing up. But unfortunately, most of them revolve around the bad things that happened to me. I can remember vividly the bullying. I can remember times and places, situations, even what I was wearing during different instances. But ask me about the fond memories, the happy ones….they are all a hazy, vague memory, one that I’m not sure even really existed.

I don’t fit in when it comes to music. I grew up in a very restricted household. I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio or buy CD’s or such, so even now, close to 40, there are SO many things I have no idea about, and people just look at me like I have 4 heads. I have a hard time making conversation, with anyone. I say something and then kick myself for being so awkward. I try to keep up with the daily headlines and what’s going on in the world, but I still come across as being ignorant. I’m no akin to the “ways of the world” in so many aspects, and that gets to me.

I don’t fit in when it comes to appearances. I’ve always been the big girl. Even when I look back at school pictures in elementary school, I was never really HUGE, but I was always just a little bit bigger, therefore, I wasn’t like all the other girls, and I was picked on for that. I don’t wear name brand clothes, I don’t FIT into most name brand clothes. I never had the money for expensive, popular clothes. I tried too hard to fit in and ended up looking like a clown at times, I’m sure of it. Even now, as an adult, I don’t buy brand name clothes. I shop thrift stores and bargains and use coupons. I don’t look stylish and don’t have the body type to try.

I see people talking about their big circle of friends and how they did this together, or all their kids had play dates together, or they went out on a girls weekend with their besties. You get the point. And then I look back at my life and realize I don’t have any of that. I see all these people getting married and they have a multitude of bridesmaids and groomsmen, and I think to myself, “Do I even KNOW that many people, let alone LIKE that many people enough for them to stand up for me if I get married?” The answer to that is a resounding no.

I don’t fit in with most of my family. I’m the black sheep of the family….or I’d like to say that I’m the tie-dyed sheep of the family: much more colorful and interesting. But in all reality, I’m not. I grew up in a super religious family. Church since I was 2, went on Sunday morning, Sunday night and youth group on Wednesday nights. I went to the Christian school affiliated with my church. I went and attended Christian college after that. I did everything I was SUPPOSED to do, but still never fit in. I was still getting made fun of. I was still the loner, the odd man out. But no one realized this about me. I hid it well. I still tend to hide it well.

While in Christian college, something very traumatic happened to me, and it changed me at my core, and I can honestly say I’ve never been the same since. In good and bad ways I’ve changed. But, as always, everyone’s idea of good vs. bad is very subjective, and what I believe to be “good” is vile and heinous to other people. And because of certain things that have happened in my life, and certain roads I’ve taken, I again, do not fit in and I’m the “outcast” and have been shunned.

I have tattoos, my nose is pierced, and I drink alcohol on occasion.
I’ve been divorced.
I live with my boyfriend.
I don’t regularly attend church.
I swear sometimes.

So basically, I’M HUMAN! I’m not perfect and I don’t fit all the qualifications of a good Christian human being. So that gives you the right to shun me and keep your distance from me? You’re perfect in your life endeavors and have always done everything according to God’s will? Yeah, what’s that verse in the Bible? John 8:7 “But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” There you go. Please, find the sinless, perfect part of your life to judge me with. So I don’t fit into your mold. If that’s the kind of people you will only allow into your life, then I don’t want any part of it.

It hurts not fitting in. It is painful being the odd man/woman out. It’s a struggle that I face daily, a struggle that slaps me in the face on a continual basis and it stings. It hurts knowing that you have been ostracized from people in your life who you thought would always be there for you. It’s painful to see family members push you aside because of their overwhelming archaic beliefs rather than to love their “enemy.”

I don’t fit in to the popular crowd. I don’t look or play the part of the popular crowd.
I don’t fit in to the religious crowd. I’m too damaged and sinful to play the part of the religious crowd.
I don’t fit in to the trendy crowd. I have no clue what their crowd is all about.
I don’t fit in to the beautiful crowd. Because, well, in so many words, I’m not beautiful enough to play the part of the beautiful crowd.

I guess what it all really comes down to, is this. Do I really WANT to fit in? Well, yes and no. Yes, I want to feel like I’m a part of something. I want to feel that I’m accepted and wanted for who I am and all my eclectic ways. I want to have an overwhelming feeling of love and peaceful interaction from all types of people, similar and different to myself. We don’t have to agree. We don’t have to think alike and be of the same mind. We don’t have to look alike or come from the same background. Life doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, so many people compartmentalized life and friendships and families into that box. I don’t fit in that box…never have, and God help me, I never will. So in that aspect, not fitting in is probably the best thing for me. Hard in the meanwhile and painful as time passes. But in the end, worth it as my personal identity is not tied to a person or a group or a “type”; my personal identity is exactly that. Personally, ME.

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I Was Bullied by an 8 Year Old

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Self-esteem is a term used in psychology to reflect a person’s overall emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. My self-esteem SUCKS. There, that could be the ending of this note, but it’s just the beginning. Self-esteem has such a wide spectrum of outcomes, it’s hard to even know where it starts and where it ends.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been picked on. Since I was in kindergarten, into elementary school, high school, college, and even into adult life. How insane that I even have to say that I’ve been picked on as an adult. I’m 38 years old, and even now, I’m berated, mocked, made fun of, and made to feel like less of a person. Just last night my 8 year old told me that the kids in his class were telling him how his mom is fat and laughing about it. I just stood there in stunned silence not really sure how to process what I just heard. Is this happening AGAIN?

Now, while I realize that some of that falls on me, and I need to not let things get to me as much and I need to have more control over my circumstances to a point, it doesn’t change the way people act and the words they say. People’s words and actions, no matter how old they are, can cut like a knife. A sharp knife. Where you may not feel the initial pain and cut, but then you realize how deep the cut is, and how much pain it sends ripping through your body. This is what it’s like to be picked on relentlessly, with no regard to feelings or outcomes.

I’ve really been struggling with this whole concept of self-esteem and being self-conscious lately. I’ve become highly aware of it. I’ve become so cognisant of it, that I feel like I’m in a tailspin about it all. There haven’t really been “defining moments” that have brought me to this juncture, I’ve just arrived, fully packed with lots of baggage to bring on this trip. I’ve tried so many times in life to try to dig my way out, only to be pushed back down, with more dirt shoveled on top of me. Buried alive, screaming to get out of there, and I can’t.

So many things I’m unhappy about myself, and so many things in my life that I’m not proud of. The past is the past and I can’t change it. No matter how much I dwell on it and think about it and kick myself for the things I’ve done, I can’t change it. No amount of self-loathing and thinking about it is going to make it any better. But I can’t. I won’t. I constantly think about it and what I could have done differently.

My self-esteem is awful when it comes to physical image. My whole life I have struggled with my weight. Ever since I remember, I was picked on for it, starting in early elementary. My mom even had to go to the school to talk about it with my teacher because the taunting was so bad. Not too much changed over the years. My weight would flucuate, and when I’d lose weight, people would talk to me more, be around me more, I’d have more friends in my life, I’d get attention from guys. But then as soon as my weight fluctuated again, people would go, guys would be scarce, it seemed like everything in my life was conditional. Of course, this was the opposite that we were all taught as children on up. The golden rule. Karma. Anything up that road. Accept others unconditionally. You would still accept your best friend or child if they were overweight or had a learning disability. You will still accept your child if they were going through a rough patch in their life, going through a divorce, or told you they were gay. Why? Because we have an unconditional love for those in our life that are the closest to us. Or at least we should. But unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

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So many people have given me this line. .. “You have a beautiful face, and a great personality, but. . .. ” Yes, my body changes that. “You can change your physical outer shell. .. ” And you know what? You’re right. For the most part I can. I have some medical conditions and medications that I’m taking that make it that much more difficult. And it’s discouraging. It’s frustrating, and I fail over and over because I feel defeated. And those of you that can eat and eat and never gain weight, I hate you. Not really, but I am jealous. I eat a rice cake and it goes right to my hips!

All this to say, think about the words that you say. Think about the person you make fun of or mock. Think about the person that is happy and confident on the outside. They may be struggling to survive on the inside, and the comments and suggestions that you make may be hurting them like you’ll never know. Everyone is different. Everyone has their on struggles. Not one struggle is better or worse than the other. In all reality, we are all broken vessels. We are not what we all seem. We all have things in our lives we can improve on. And we as people should look inwardly before we hurl the hurtful words. Before we judge a person for their outward appearance. They may be fighting a battle that you know nothing about.

I’m fighting a battle each and every day. Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, Spiritually. We all do in some sort. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight over time. Believe me, this is NOT easy. And I still have a ways to go. But reaching any milestone is an amazing thing to me. And with it comes the frustration that people are coming out of the woodwork to “congratulate me” and tell me that I look good. And while those compliments are great and make me feel good and accomplished, I feel like we should be telling people more often what they are doing that encourages you. How they have made you feel good that day. Something good about them, just to make their day. Being sincere about it of course. But I wonder how that is going to make you feel. I wonder the impact that’ll have on you. I wonder what that will do for their self-esteem as well as yours.

“When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.” -Jodi Picoult

“How would your life be different if…You stopped allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions? Let today be the day…You stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others”
― Steve Maraboli

“Be real. Embrace that you have weakness. Because everyone does. Embrace that your body is not perfect. Because nobody’s is. Embrace that you have things you can’t control. We all have a list of them.”
― Dan Pearce

“Never let the opinion of another affect your opinion of yourself.”
― Teresa Mummert

“Telling yourself you like the way you look is easy. Believing it is an entirely different kettle of whales.”
― Andrew Biss

Doubting Thomas

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There goes the phrase, “assume good until you are proven wrong”. I’m the opposite. I assume the worse until I am proven otherwise. I know it’s not right. I know it’s not healthy. I know it puts me in a bad light. Believe me, I know this all, and I’ve dealt with those thoughts for quite some time. There’s a reason for this thought process. Bear with me. . . ..

I’ve been too trusting in my life. Way too trusting of people. I used to think that everyone was good. That everyone had the best intentions. That everyone was true to their word. That everyone was what they said they were. Then that trust and belief in good was demolished and thrown out the proverbial window down 2 million stories.

I trusted someone and their “good” intentions. I was innocent. I was naïve. I was hoping and trusting that this person meant what they said. Believed they wouldn’t hurt me. And those thoughts and beliefs were not at all what I had imagined. This person took advantage of me. This person hurt me. Not only physically but also mentally, emotionally, even spiritually to the core. This person was a monster, and changed my life completely and caused me to question everything in my life.

This in turn made me question everyone. Made me distrust what they said. Made me be suspicious of their intentions. Wondering if they really meant what they said. Convincing myself that what they said couldn’t be true. Doubting everything about them. I used to think that there was inherent good in people and in society as a whole. I guess I’ve become a hard core cynic. And I hate that. That’s one of the things I really dislike about myself. Of course, there’s other things, but that’s the one that really shakes me up.

And to this day, I still struggle with it. And it gets in the way of having healthy relationships. It gets in the way of moving forward with my life. It automatically puts up a wall. It makes me push people away. It makes me give pause to letting people in. When I get a compliment, I pass it off as just a kind gesture, not having true meaning behind it. Compliments in general I have a hard time taking. And part of that is because I’m way too hard on myself and can’t see what this person sees. I doubt that they mean it. I assume there are unwanted intentions behind it, and I just push it away. It’s not fair to that person, because I know that they probably sincerely meant it. See, even there. They “probably” sincerely meant it. It’s so hard for me to accept that, because I doubt them.

Now that a new chapter in my life has started, I’m determined to make this chapter the best one of my life. I’m the author of this chapter and I’m the one that determines which direction it’s going to go. Now, while I’m not going to be that overly trusting girl that I was in the past. That’s not a healthy way of life either. BUT, I am going to do my best to not doubt everyone’s intentions. I’m going to turn my thought process around to that of one that will see the best in people until proven wrong. Easy? Heck no! Worth it? In the end, absolutely! So, a doubting Thomas no more. A cautious Abby. A more accepting Abby. An Abby that I will like and others will in the end.

“Every mental act is composed of doubt and belief, but it is belief that is the positive, it is belief that sustains thought and holds the world together.”
― Soren Kierkegaard

“Without trust and respect, only fear and distrust of others’ motives and intentions are left. Without trust and respect between parties, it is nearly impossible to find good solutions to effective communication.”

Rise Up….

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How did I make it without hearing this song?
How can one song pretty much sum up my very existence the last several years of my crazy life?
Why am I sitting at my desk crying right now?!

No matter what you’re going through, or what you’ve already gone through, PLEASE know, you are not alone. You may think you are alone, but you aren’t. There is always someone waiting in the wings, ready to lift you up and carry you over the highest mountain peaks and carry you through your lowest valleys. You just have to look and find them. They are there. I’m here…I can be that for anyone.

Rise up…you aren’t alone….this is my new mantra. It needs to be on constant replay in my mind.