Category Archives: Strength

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.

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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Daydream Believer

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what-screws-us-up-most-in-life-is-the-picture-in-our-head-of-how-its-supposed-to-be-quote-1Sometimes I wonder why I make plans for something that most likely won’t happen.

I plan for my dream house, saving pictures and decorating ideas, and little DIY projects to make organization better in my dream house.
I plan for my dream wedding, pinning color schemes and flower arrangements on Pinterest and looking online to find just the right dress that meets my budget and of course body figure.
I plan for my life, my future. I try to imagine what could be on the horizon in my life, professionally, relationally and everything in between.

I plan and I hope and I dream. But for what? Why? Why do I continue the endless torture of planning something that is likely never going to happen?
I’m a dreamer. I’m have an unrealistic imagination. I’m a hopeless romantic, emphasis on hopeless.
Even despite the unlikelihood of these things ever happening in my life, I continue to dream.
I continue to imagine what my life would be like if those things ever happened for me. I just can’t let go of the dream.

I find myself wondering why it seems that everyone else’s dreams come true, while mine seem to sit dormant, never coming out to see the light of day.
What are they doing right that I’m not? Why can’t I seem to be the person that has those good things happen to?

Because of something I’ve done?
Because of something I haven’t done?
Because of something I’ve said?
Because of something I didn’t say?
Because of some way I’ve acted?
Because of something within me?

Maybe it’s silly and immature to have those feelings, I mean, I AM almost 40. They are my feelings and raw emotions, but can those dreams still have a realistic ending? Simple answer. NOPE!

So instead of holding on to some of those unrealistic dreams, because in all honesty, they really are, my new modus operandi is to work on making realistic goals and having attainable dreams.

I know that due to my financial situation and issues from the past, I’ll never be able to own a house again. I won’t have the “perfect” house in the “perfect” neighborhood with the white picket fence blah blah blah. But I can provide a roof over my children’s heads and keep them happy, fed, clothed, and protected.

I know that also due to my financial situation and just life in general, I’ll never have that “dream” wedding. I honestly doubt that in this lifetime I’ll have a wedding that comes close to anything I could imagine or dream of having, if I get the chance to get married again I should say. Yes, I know. Weddings aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Weddings are just for “show” and it doesn’t really MEAN anything. But when you have dreams of certain events as a child, teenager, college student, and it never comes to fruition, even being married once before (and not getting the chance to have a wedding), it’s just something I’ve always wanted. A girl can dream, right? But I also have to know that it’s not realistic. A dream can only go so far before it gets out of my grasp and leads me down a path of disappointment, again and again. I’m fed up with disappointments in my life to be honest. So in the spirit of being realistic, I got rid of everything wedding related on Pinterest. The dreaming and hoping for what I saw was becoming overwhelming. And when I’m overwhelmed, I tend to just shut down, and that’s not healthy for me or anyone around me.

I enjoy writing. I like expressing myself through words. I think of writing as a cathartic experience. I write a lot. But I won’t publish a lot of what I write, because sometimes what I write is a way of either calming myself down and snapping myself back into reality, or just recognizing the changes I need to make in my life and attitude. Sometimes reading and re-reading what I just wrote is enough to get me feeling better about the situation in my life I’m currently working through. I am complimented on my writing. I have been given a platform through my local newspaper as well as the website Cincinnati Moms Blog where I will be a contributor. Despite these opportunities, I don’t want to dream too big. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Would I love to be writing more down the road? Sure, absolutely! But I also know that I am a full-time working mom with shared custody of my amazing boys. I am busy. I am often tired. I have a hard time finding time for myself to pursue anything outside of the realm of my current life. So, for now, I’ll soak in the opportunities I have been given, I’ll continue to write for my pleasure and hopefully to encourage, enlighten, and even entertain those that take the time to read what I present to them.

I’m not saying I’m giving up on my dreams and aspirations. I’m not saying that the things in my life that I desire most will never come to fruition. I’m not saying that at all. But what I AM saying is that I want to come down from orbit a little bit and become more realistic in my future plans. I want to make a decision about my life that will only affect me and those around me in a positive manner. I want to make wise decisions and plan my life with the best intentions for everyone involved, now, and in my possible future.

I’m still going to dream. I’m still going to aspire to be better and do better. I’m still going to give everything I can to make my dreams a reality. But going forward, a more realistic reality.

So You Think Your Life is Rough?

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Lately, I’ve seen so many family and friends go on and on about how “rough” their life is. How they need to take a break and rest from life. How thy don’t know how they can go on, blah blah blah. And while I have found myself saying the same thing, many times more than I’d like to think about, I’ve had to snap myself back into reality and really evaluate what the term “rough” means. It can mean so many things to so many people.

Take for example the married working mom with several children. She works full-time and has to be a mother to her children and keep up her home. She has help at every turn, however, with family helping her all the time, friends offering to babysit so she can go out with her husband on a date night or even a weekend away. She has a partner to help in the cooking and cleaning and child rearing responsibilities as well as to provide an additional income. She has someone to “back her up” on decisions and whatever life throws her way. She’s not alone. But, she often complains how her life is so rough and needs constant breaks to regroup and whatnot. Sure, life is rough in her opinion, and sometimes, it very well can be.

But let’s compare that to another scenario.

A full-time working, single mom with several children. She has no spouse to lean on for the tough times. She can’t find reliable or trustworthy babysitting and has no family in the area to help her out in a bind. She is solely responsible for maintaining her home. She’s the only one that cooks, cleans, does the dishes. She’s the only one filling up the car with gas on a cold, rainy day. She’s the only one paying the bills and living paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. She’s the one that goes without all the time so that her children don’t have to. She’s the one that spends whatever “extra” money she might have one given pay period on her children and forgoes getting herself something. Going out with a significant other or friends is a novelty and finding time for herself is constant battle. She often says that her life is rough, but more often than not, most would also say (in my findings) that even though, pardon the expression, “the struggle is real”, it’s worth it.

Which scenario resonates with you more? Which person can you find yourself identifying with on a personal basis?

I will tell you this. I have been BOTH of these women. I have experienced these scenarios, almost to a “T”.  And even though you may read this and say to me, “You don’t know me! You don’t know how bad I have it and how things are just so stressful and such” and you’re right. I don’t know YOU. But I DO know your struggles. All of them.

In my short life of almost 40 years (yikes, I hate typing that out!), I have been through enough to stop anyone in their tracks, in my humble opinion.

  • My parents were divorced when I was 8 and I grew up with my sister and my single mom. I know the struggles of children watching their parents sacrifice everything so that they can have a better life. I know what it’s like to not have Christmas because money just isn’t there. I know what it’s like to have churches bring you food baskets so you can have meals. I get that.
  • I was raped when I was in my 20’s. I had something very traumatizing happen and I’ve been able to move past that and even write about it to work on gaining closure (http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/01/29/breaking-silence-rape-survivors-story/79525890/).
  • I was married for 10 years. I had help from family. I had a big circle of friends who would help on a moments notice. I lived pretty comfortably and didn’t want for much.
  • I’ve dealt with fertility issues. I was told that I might not ever be able to have children. I have suffered a miscarriage, losing twin girls early on in my pregnancy. When I did finally get pregnant, I was considered high risk and was monitored closely.
  • I’ve had to have 21 surgeries in my life. Not because I’m inherently clumsy and inflict these surgeries on myself (mostly lol), but I’ve run the gamut of health issues from since childhood from major hearing and inner ear issues to tumors to infertility and miscarriage to carpal tunnel to an eventual early hysterectomy at 33 years old. I have scars that tell stories you’ll never have to experience, ever.
  • I almost died from an allergic reaction to medication. I was in the hospital 3 days while they tried to stabilize my body and hydrate me enough to be able to function again.
  • I’ve been through a bankruptcy and 2 foreclosed houses. My credit was destroyed and I’ve had to learn the real meaning of money and the implications it carries with it.
  • I’ve been through a divorce. I’ve been through the sting and pain of that life being ripped away from me.
  • I’m now the single mom, struggling to get by some weeks, without much of a social circle and no family in town to back me up. I’ve had negative in the bank, I’ve been taken advantage of, I’ve been hurt time and time again.

And yes, I complain. I have my moments when I just want to run and hide and just give up. I rant and I rave and sometimes harbor bitterness against those that have a “better” life. But then reality slaps me in the face. To some people out there, I am the one with the “better” life. I am the one that really has it good in comparison.

I have a good job and have been with my company 10 years. I have health insurance, albeit not the best, but considering how many surgeries I’ve had to have, I am blessed to have any kind of coverage. My kids have never gone hungry. I may have skipped some meals in the beginning of my struggles, but hey, a few pounds lost is a positive outcome from that. I’ve had my struggles financially due to my bankruptcy and I’ve not been able to afford a new car or get a credit card, but at least I have money in my bank account and can pay my bills. I get a minimal amount of child support, but that’s also more than many parents receive. I’ve learned the value of a dollar and have also been able to instill those lessons in my children. They realize that money is tight and we don’t always get to do the things they want, but they’ve also come to see that what I can give them, I give with my whole heart and they know when I’ve made a sacrifice and have become more appreciative of it.

I don’t get to go out much. I don’t get to have weekends away or trips out of town for a concert or get theater tickets every time I want to. When it’s my days to have my boys, I have my boys. I plan my life around my boys and our crazy schedule and I deal with it. My kids are my miracle babies, my rainbow babies, my world. I miss them when they are with their dad and sneak into their bedroom at times just to smell their pillows so I can get through the rough times. I don’t pass them off to someone any chance I get so that I can do something I want to. There will be time for those things later in life.

Here’s some ways to really put into perspective what is “rough” and what is “selfish”.

You have healthy children, no fertility issues and can get pregnant at the drop of a hat. You flaunt your pregnancies and go on and on  about it. You complain that you have it rough because your feet are swollen and you’re getting uncomfortable in your own skin. Believe me, I’ve been there.

BUT

Your friend, sister, cousin, whomever it may be, is struggling with fertility issues. She’s had multiple miscarriages, has had to stick needles into herself on a daily basis just to have a chance of getting pregnant and still has not been able to get pregnant. The heartache each month that she’s trying to get pregnant and isn’t starts to really wear on her and the constant buzzing of pregnancies around her are a lot to handle.

I’m not saying that you should tiptoe around her and not complain and live your life and be happy about the new life forming inside of you, but know this. When they don’t jump up and down with joy for your announcement, or if they keep to themselves about your news, don’t take it as a move of jealousy. Don’t get upset at them and get angry that they aren’t happy for you. In all honesty, most of them ARE happy for you. They might just need some time to process the hurt they are feeling because it’s not them. Give them space, give them time, let them come to terms with this in their own way. DO NOT get mad at them for their feelings. You have NO idea what they are going through, none. And until you can truly come to their level of both grief and excitement, please do not say that they are wrong.

Also, when you say things have been rough at home, and you need to get away, think twice about that. I am in no way negating your feelings and that you very well may have experienced rough times. Believe me, I get it. But try to look at others and see how your life compares. Look at the single mom or dad who are unable get away ever or have the money to buy many groceries. They haven’t been able to take a vacation in several years due to their financial struggles and responsibilities.  Look at the stay-at-home mom or dad who carry the burden of maintaining the house on their own each and every day. Look at the married couple who struggle financially and live in a state far away from family and can’t get babysitting to even have a date night to reconnect with each other.

You think you have it rough? Maybe you do. But do this next time you are complaining about how hard your life is and how you just need time to get away and rest. Are there family or friends you know that are burned out because of having to live their life a different way than you? Are you taking for granted all the positives you have in your life and just dwelling on the negatives, therefore dwelling on what needs to be “fixed”?

I’ll be honest, I try to hide my struggles a lot of the time. I got my game face on, and you won’t see me complain (much) or very rarely shed a tear. Is it because I’m cold and heartless? Hell no! I’m an emotional wreck just as much as the next person. But I’ve also learned (and am still in the constant state of learning actually) where and when to voice my struggles. I try to step back and visualize how others would perceive my situation. Is it REALLY as bad as I think? Do I honestly have it as rough as I seem to think it is? Probably not. Of course, it doesn’t negate my feelings and I would never want to have someone judge my feelings as they are MY feelings to have. But in all reality, I have it good. My life, in all of it’s good and bad glory, is pretty decent. I have a roof over my head, my bills get paid, I have reliable transportation, I have healthy active children who are the light of my life and love with no boundaries, and I’m happy. Of course, I’m not perfect and It’s human nature to find something negative amidst the positive, but I’m making an active CHOICE to be happy.

My life is rough. My life is hard. My struggles are real and constant. But look at the alternatives. It could be much, much worse, and for that, I’ll take and embrace my “rough” life, any day!

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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.”