Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Tender Hearted

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My 6 year old is such a sensitive, caring child. Tonight while putting him to bed, he said he wanted to tell me something but he was afraid it would upset me. Oh boy!…..(I think to myself and gear up for something drastic!)

So I told him it was ok to tell me and I wouldn’t be upset. He told me that his step-mom is a really great step-mom. He told me this while crying and said he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. He told me I’m still the best mom but that she’s ok too.

Of course that brought tears to my eyes. Not because he had those feelings towards his step-mother. In all honesty, I’m glad that he feels this way towards his step-mother since he’s with her and his dad 50% of the time. But it brought tears to my eyes to see that he had such a keen awareness of my feelings and that even at 6 years old he is that concerned with how things will affect me.

I’ve had a lot of rough days as of late, in life, in dealings with issues with the boys, with my health, with my finances, just everything it seems. But hearing him say that to me tonight just put so many things in perspective to me.

So many things in life will try (and oftentimes succeed) to bring me down. Doing this whole raising kids thing on my “own” is not a walk in the park. It’s not a path I would have set out to choose, obviously, but it’s the path that I’m on. And there are so many times that I feel that I have failed my boys or that I just am not equipped to do this. Or that I’m going to screw up the boys’ lives. That I’m just a “bad mom.”

But then something like this happens. That little twinge of hope. That spark of recognition of my efforts and that yes, my kids are going to be ok. That reassurance that I’ve not totally messed up their lives. That my boys, deep down have good souls, loving and caring hearts, and the tenderness to know how to show others that they care.

That in and of itself is more than I could ever ask for. I am blessed beyond measure with these two boys, my miracles. I may not be a perfect mom (FAR from it), I don’t have all the answers and have even far more questions it seems. But these boys are proof enough to me that we’re going to be OK, no matter what is hurled our way. We have each other, and there is so much love resonating around us, that there is nothing we can’t handle together.

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Are You Committed?

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I recently had a conversation with a virtual stranger on the Twitterverse which gave me great pause. Let’s set the stage here and give you some points to ponder.

My boyfriend and I have been together almost 16 months. We live together and share in our mutual expenses (i.e. rent, utilities, groceries, auto insurance). Going into the relationship, I was debt free with the exception of a minimal bankruptcy payment from when I was married. Otherwise, I have paid my student loans, I have no credit cards, and my car is paid for. I have no desire to ever have debt again and I will do all the I can to keep it that way.

Now, my boyfriend still has some student loans to pay off as well as some minimal credit card debt. He as well, does not use credit cards and like me, everything we pay for is in cash. A very good method for keeping up with our expenses as well as ensuring that if there is something we want, we will not go into debt in order to get it.

My boyfriend are very much in love and are in a committed relationship with a higher level of commitment to come in the future (i.e. marriage….I hope lol). I digress…..We have lived together for a year now and are pretty much set in our routine and love each other and know that our lives are together and we are in this relationship for the long haul.

Enter in this conversation I had with said virtual stranger on the interwebs. He stated that I should help out my boyfriend financially with his debt and bills that he has. Bills and debt that he obtained several years prior to meeting me, that he has been chunking away at to get paid. I don’t begrudge him for any of this by the way. The amount is not substantial enough that I would want to go into hiding to avoid any further financial pitfalls in the future. Far from it honestly.

Let me also mention, that at this current point in my life, I am not financially able to contribute towards my boyfriend’s debt. I sometimes struggle with bills and “surprise” expenses that might come my way, but I am stable enough to always pay my bills, rent, and have some leftover for other fun stuff and extras for us and my children.

This person that I was talking to has substantial means to help his girlfriend of 6 months pay her bills and debt. He’s able financially to contribute towards that, and if that’s something he decides he wants to do, then so be it.

Here comes the part which I just can’t agree with. This person stated that because I don’t contribute financially to pay my boyfriend’s bills that it shows a lack of commitment to the relationship and my boyfriend. He states that it’s a sad situation and it sucks. That my commitment to my boyfriend comes into question because I don’t contribute my finances to his debt.

UM, WHAT?

This coming from someone, by the way, who easily makes 4-5 times my salary and still pays some of his ex-wife’s bills. That’s asinine in my opinion but again, I digress.

One, I cannot financially afford to contribute towards my boyfriend’s debt at this point of time, but even IF I could and didn’t, this is NO WAY shows a lack of commitment to my relationship.

Second, we are not married yet, not even engaged at this point. To me, even though I’m fully committed to my boyfriend and our relationship and our future together, it would be foolish to commit such finances to him at this point in our relationship. Because even though we have the best intentions to be together forever and our future together, lets be honest. Life happens, and sometimes, beyond our control, things happen.

This person stated that in any relationship, we are partners and a team. That “what’s yours is mine and mine is yours.” And to an extent, I agree with that. My boyfriend and I are definitely partners and make decisions together, especially those that are dealing with joint finances. But until we are joined in marriage and have a “legal” commitment to each other, I don’t agree with the fact that I or he needs to contribute towards each other’s personal financial obligations. This just really leads one to rough waters at times.

You see, I would NEVER expect my boyfriend to help me out financially with my bankruptcy payments that I incurred over 3 years ago. I would never ask him to help me pay my personal loans or debt that I have had over time, prior to meeting him. And I know for a fact that my boyfriend would never ask that of me as well. In fact, we have had this discussion on several occasions. Once we are married, then we will revisit that conversation and discuss details. But for now, this is not something we are going to do.

And in going this route, the route of being independently responsible for our own bills and debt, we are maintaining financial responsibility for our own expenses. This is something important to myself as well as my boyfriend.

Just like I would never expect my boyfriend to pay for things associated with my children. In a relationship or down the road when we are married. Even after marriage I would never assume that he would have an obligation to pay for school fees, or lunch fees, or field trips, or anything like that. No….they have a father that pays for things for them. He contributes equally towards those expenses as well as pays child support for his children. If my boyfriend wanted to pay for something or treat the kids to something, then by all means. That’s HIS choice and it’s something that he wants to do for them, and ultimately for me. But by no means is that expected from him, at all.

So in the same token, and again, this is something my boyfriend and I have discussed, I have no obligation to help him out financially at this current point of our relationship.

Does it lessen our level of commitment? HECK NO! I am committed to my boyfriend come hell and high water. I love him with every ounce of my being and I am here, standing by his side no matter what. But for this person to claim that it shows a lack of commitment to my relationship or that my relationship is in a sad state is in very bad taste. In fact, it’s quite the contrary to that!

My boyfriend and I are in a very good place in our relationship. We are in a very committed relationship and we love each other with all our hearts. We have a great relationship. We laugh together, we encourage each other, we build each other up, we are each other’s listening ear when we need to vent or talk something out, we don’t judge each other, and we are a team. We are in this, together, 200%.

So, to you virtual stranger in the Twitterverse, I say this:

If you believe that substantial financial contributions to your girlfriend of 6 months shows a higher level of commitment to your relationship than mine, so be it. To me, that actually shows a lack of maturity and wisdom. To believe that your relationship is better than mine because you give your girlfriend money to pay her debt, and you do that because you love her and want her to do well in life, you are sorely mistaken.

When you have moved in with her, helped her to raise her children and instill positive ideals and be a role model to them, when you can be an unwavering support system for her regardless of what the world throws her way, when you can say that you can’t live without her in your life, when you know that your life is better with her, and that you want to spend your life with her, no matter what,THEN you can come to me and we can discuss commitment levels.

Until you get to that point, you have no room to judge what I do in my relationship.

Until you are at that level in your relationship, you have no idea my true level of happiness in my current relationship.

Until you would move heaven and earth to ensure your relationship lasts forever, you have no room to lecture me on what I have done in my relationship and what I intend to do in the future.

I’m not going anywhere, and neither is my boyfriend. We love each other more than we could imagine. We know that our future is together. We are confident that we are with the person we are meant to be with.

That sounds pretty committed to me, don’t you think?

 

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When Enough is Enough

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There comes a time in everyone’s lives that a choice has to be made. A choice of whether to continue down the current path we are on or to deviate to a lesser known, sometimes unfamiliar path. When faced with a crucial dilemma or even a small anomaly, a decision must be made. This is something that I’ve been working through for several months and I’ve finally come to my breaking point.

You’ll remember a few months ago I wrote about a family member who chose to remove me from their life in a pretty unsavory way. You can read about that here.

Well, a few months have passed since this initially happened and several things have transpired over that timeframe.

Since that initial argument/fight/subsequent blocking occurred, I had been unblocked on this person’s social media account. I did not take it upon me to try to add them back or to try to win back a place in their good graces. That wasn’t for me to do, nor did I want to have that psychological struggle.

Another month or so passed after that and I receive a request to add them back to our social media accounts. I promptly deleted the request because I was not in the right frame of mind to open that “can of worms.” I wasn’t ready.

I then received a written request which stated this:

“Hello – I was wondering if it would be okay if we could be friends again on Facebook – I know that it is my fault that we are not and for that I am sorry. I know I have not been the (insert relation) that I should be to you nor the (insert relation) to your boys. I know that we will never be close, we will always disagree on almost everything, but friends come and go but family should be forever. We do not have to be best friends but I do not want to be known as your enemy – which I have most certainly made you feel that I am. I am sorry for how things ended and I do love you.”

I was floored when I received this message. Not because I was so happy or elated or relieved that things could go back to “normal” but upset. I was livid and angry that this person thought that a message and apology would just clear the air and make things all better again. Forgive and forget and move on, la la la la la.

Sorry, but I can’t do that. I can forgive, yes, and I have done that. But I most certainly cannot forget the pain and the grief that I have experienced, not just because of this one incident, but because of years of this treatment. Until you can MEAN what you say and I can see the actions proving that you mean it, to me it’s all a superficial attempt at easing your own conscience.

Let me break this down for you a little. There is a history. This isn’t a new conflict. This isn’t a new trial that has crossed my path. This has been ongoing for well over 30 years of my life. As we became adults, the conflict persisted and seemed to get worse over time.

Cue my divorce.
Cue something they did not agree with.
Cue an attitude of arrogance and hypocrisy.
Cue a family member that didn’t stay “forever” but chose to desert you in your time of need.

The relationship was “mended” enough to get by and talk on occasion. But then another falling out was had, strictly because of this relative’s own incorrect mindset and judgmental attitude. At this point, I was done. I couldn’t keep this toxic person in my life and remain true to myself and my own convictions.

Back to the new message that was sent just recently. I was hot with anger when I got the message, just because everything said was centered around them. Centered around everything they are. I waited a few days to respond because I did not want to say something I would regret later. I did not want to respond in anger because those responses tend to be curt and can come across as very vindictive.

After two days, this is how I responded:

“In time, I will add you again. For now, I have a log going on here that I need to take care of and work through. Once I get through that, then we can tackle our issues and work through things. For now, I gotta focus on me and the boys and go from there. We will talk in time.”

Believe me, there were many other things I wanted to say but refrained because those things would not get me any closer to any type of restitution or resolve. I responded in the best way I know and took the high road.

There was no response to this. The only “response” that I received was to be blocked yet again from all communication and the door that was cracked open for forgiveness and involvement in my life has now been slammed shut.

And to this, I say, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”

Please do not tell me that family is forever and friends come and go, as you are a prime example of this being the opposite. I have several friends who have stuck with me through thick and thin and have been my support system through what seems as an unstoppable force against me.

I have friends who have not only been there for me, but given of themselves over and over again, without judgment or hatred towards me. I have family, such as this person, who has waivered and flipped flopped on their acceptance of me, depending on the situation. There has not been a blanket of acceptance. There has not been an unconditional love. There has not been the hand I need to hold to get me through the scary times.

And to this subsequent blocking and removal from my life, I have this to say:

Enough is enough and I cannot keep going on like this, acting like this is acceptable.

Enough is enough and I will not allow this toxicity to permeate my day to day activities.

Enough is enough and I will not subject my children to this hypocrisy and conditional love you have shown over and over.

Enough is enough and I’m going to call you out on your actions and your insincerity in your words.

Enough is enough if you cannot accept my reason for keeping my distance.

Enough is enough if you cannot accept that MY family comes first and that my sanity and wellness is far more important to me than your wishy-washy apology.

Enough is enough if you are not going to practice what you preach.

Enough is enough if you don’t have the maturity to accept that I have to make sure my own house is in order before I can even attempt to resolve problems outside of it.

Enough is enough if you cannot recognize the fact that my own problems come before you and easing your conscience.

Enough is Enough and I’m putting my foot down.

This is not something that is easy. This is not something I’m taking lightly. This is definitely not something that I enjoy doing.

But it’s necessary.

I want to have a full, productive, happy life and I cannot begin to have that if the constant weight of this problem is tying me down. So I choose me. I choose my sanity (whatever shred of it is left at this point). I choose to make sure my life is in order before I attempt to delve into the issues of other people’s lives.

These are the people that matter most to me that I need to have in my life and need to ensure that we are where we need to be in every aspect of life:

My boys
My boyfriend
Myself

That’s it. It’s that simple. If I can’t have my OWN life in order, then I have NO business in delving into other people’s lives, family or not.

So today, and every day from here on out, enough is enough and I choose me.

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The Greatest of All Blessings

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I don’t have a lot of “close” friends in my life. Best friends. I’ve always been the outgoing, social one. The person that will talk to just about anyone and will inevitably make people laugh. But beneath that social butterfly of a persona is a very lonely individual. I don’t really have a lot of people I can call up at any given time. I don’t really have a long list of girlfriends that I’ll have to choose from to be a potential bridesmaid one day if I ever get married. I don’t have texts and phone calls making me burn the midnight oil trying to keep in contact with everyone. And for the most part, that’s ok. I can be a loner at times and keep to myself. It’s easier because it’s less for me to keep track of (with my every forgetful mind). But then there are days that the loneliness screams out, only to hear a faint echo bouncing back to me. There’s days when I just can’t stand the silence.

When I left my comfort zone for the unknown, I knew it was going to be tough for this introverted extrovert. I knew that my safety net was going to be literally thousands of miles away. But I did it. Would I change it? Maybe I would, maybe I wouldn’t. There are positive things that have been a result of my leap, and for those I wouldn’t change a thing. But being away from those that my soul finds the most rest and peace in has its struggles. But for those dear ones that ARE in my life, near or far, the best friends I can’t imagine my life without, I am thankful. I am thankful for the listening ear (or the reading eyes since it’s usually a text). I am thankful for the advice, even if I don’t always follow it 🙂 I am thankful for the few that God has placed in my life that I can’t imagine not having in my life. There may be times we don’t talk. There may be times we don’t agree. But if we agreed on everything, it sure would be a boring friendship!

Deep, impactful friendships are what I need. I don’t have time for the wishy-washy friendships that only seek to serve themselves. “Friendships” that are come and go and surface level. Ones that serve their purpose for a moment, and when the moment has passed, so has the friendship. I don’t need people in my life that aren’t in it for the long haul. I don’t have time for people who only need me when it’s convenient for them. When there’s no one else. When the last resort is me. I don’t expect to be the only friend in anyone’s life, that would be nonsense. But I do expect an effort. To get to know me and know my crazy quirks and my unsightly baggage, and my monstrous pitfalls. But still is there despite all the setbacks. I don’t need the commonly referred to “fair weather friends.” At this point in my life, I don’t have time for that.

So, if you want to be in my life, be there. Make an effort, and I know I will in turn do the same. I’m not going to be part of a friendship of convenience. Not to sound harsh, but I just don’t have the time or energy to deal with that. I’m busy. I go non-stop. I rarely have a moment to just sit and rest and be still. I’ll always make time for those closest to me. If you can’t do the same for me, then I don’t want to be a part of that. I saw this quote that is so fitting. It says, “True friendship isn’t about being there when it’s convenient. It’s about being there when it’s not.” It seems like nothing is ever convenient these days. I wish! But for those that make the time and help you out or are there for you, even when it’s not the most convenient for THEM, that’s a friend worth having in your life. And I’m thankful for the few that I have.

I don’t need a huge number. I don’t need a list a mile alone. I don’t need hundreds of Facebook “friends” to tell me that I have an enriched life. None of those numbers and accolades mean anything. It’s the support system that lifts me up when I’m at my lowest. It’s the perfectly timed jokes that make me laugh when I didn’t think I could smile. It’s the strong shoulder to lean on when the tears won’t stop flowing. Those things. That only takes one to be that person. And I am blessed to have even a small handful of people who can be there for me like that. And I hope, that in turn, I can be that way for others.

Remember this….The greatest gift is not found in the stores. But in the heart of true friends.

Today I’m thankful for the gifts of friendship I have in my life.

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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Breaking My Silence – A Rape Survivor’s Story

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Breaking My Silence – A Rape Survivor’s Story

As published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on 1/31/16 – http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/01/29/breaking-silence-rape-survivors-story/79525890/

So many people are doubting Bill Cosby’s accusers’ because they waited so long to tell their stories. And in reading those, I can’t help but look back to the five years I waited to speak up about my rape.

I was 20 years old. I was home for a year on a break from college and went on a date with a man I had just met. We went to the movies and then went for a drive afterward to get some coffee. We ended up in a secluded place and before I knew what was happening and despite my insistence that this was not what I wanted, he overpowered me. He took something very precious to me, something I intended to save for marriage.

This man raped me.

I was numb. I don’t remember how I got home. I sat in my driveway in a fog, wondering what I did to cause this. Thinking back to the night, and replaying every word of our conversation. I was intent on figuring out how I caused this to happen. I wasn’t dressed inappropriately. I wasn’t flirty. I didn’t “entice” him. But yet, I was focused on how this was my fault.

I grew up in a very religious home. We started attending church when I was 2 years old, and we attended three to four times a week. My sister and I attended the Christian school at the church. As a strict Bible-believing congregation and family, abstinence was preached from the pulpit quite regularly. Sex before marriage was a disgrace in the eyes of the Lord.

As teenage girls growing up in the church and youth group, we were reminded consistently that we as females had to guard ourselves. That we had to not cause the young men around us to stumble and fall into sin. We are responsible for our attire and actions, lest what we wear on a given day or say in a certain conversation would be the reason a boy had impure thoughts.

That’s a lot to take on as a prepubescent teenage girl. That’s a lot of responsibility to take on for someone that was in such a sheltered atmosphere. If a male sinned in a sexual manner, much of the blame was put upon the girls.

After my rape, all those church lessons flooded back to me. I believed that I somehow was the cause of this, and I couldn’t tell anyone. I had seen how my church had handled previous sexual attacks and turned the blame to the female. I saw how the church disciplined their members when this happened, and I was not about to let that happen to me. I would bury this deep inside. I would pretend that none of this happened. I would never speak of this to anyone, and keep living my life.

But, unfortunately, something this tragic and painful is not easy to keep silent. I was not only physically harmed, but my psyche was destroyed. I began to withdraw. I doubted all good intentions from anyone. I was angry. A lot. Everyone thought I was just being rebellious and running from my church upbringing. And in reality, I was trying to hide from it all.

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.

I lived my life for five years. I attended a Christian college and started to become the “super” Christian. I thought that by doing this, I would somehow feel a weight lifted, that I would feel whole again.

I didn’t.

I just became more and more guilty. So, I buried my secret deeper and became someone I didn’t even recognize. This secret was eating me alive, and eventually I knew that I had to say something. I had to break my silence, before my silence broke me.

I apprehensively told some counselors at the Christian college that I was attending about my rape. The reaction was mixed. Some sympathized with me, some questioned how I let that happen. I decided then that I had to leave that school.

It wasn’t until I was gone, far from the religious atmosphere, that I began to question everything I was once taught. I learned the difference between being religious and having a relationship with God. It was then that I started to feel the proverbial weight being lifted.

I finally told my family, slowly. It was hard, it was painful, but I gradually began to experience true freedom. The pain that ate at me for years was starting to heal.

My attacker was never charged or convicted. I didn’t even know his last name. It was my first date with him, and I never saw him again. But even so, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I spoken up sooner. If I had the support that I needed to get through this awful situation, would I have been in a different place in my life? Would I have been a different person than I am now?

I eventually went through counseling and saw a therapist for a while to help guide me through the journey ahead. I still have trust issues. I still have flashbacks to that night. I have lost a lot of memories from my childhood and much of my adulthood, but that one memory is still as vivid as it is painful.

I can fully understand why some of Cosby’s accusers took years to speak up. 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 and the healing that comes from breaking the silence.

Assistance after rape

After a sexual assault, those who have been attacked have a number of options:

• Anyone in immediate danger should call 911

• Local 24-hour hotline: 513-381-5610

• Toll-free hotline: 877-889-5610

Hotline counselors can provide information about a range of assistance options.

If a friend or relative confides having been attacked, the first, most important thing for them to hear is: “I believe you, and it’s not your fault,” according to Women Helping Women’s Kristin Shrimplin.

Perspective

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Perspective

Is your glass half empty or half full? We have all heard this phrase in our lives…but have we really thought about it? We shoot off a quick answer, and we usually all try to say that our glass is half full, of course! Of course we have a positive outlook on life. Of course we are striving towards excellence. Of course things in life are just peachy keen. Really? You seriously think that we are going to believe that? Now, while there ARE several people who I know that can truly say their glass is half full, I would venture to say that many of us, unfortunately, see the glass as half empty in a perpetual state. We constantly look at things as how they SHOULD be. How they WANT them to be. How we THINK life should be. Who made you the all-knowing? Who laid on you the ultimate gift of knowledge. Now, I’m not being snarky, because in all honesty, I am talking to myself here. This could be a diary entry for all you and I know. I think it’s something that we all struggle with, and it’s something that we need to turn around and stop doing.

First and foremost, I think how we look at the glass depends on our perspective. In all reality, this is the only way we can look at our glass. We have to see that our half-empty glass to us, is a half-full glass to someone else. We tend to be so negative in our lives, dragging ourselves down. We look at all the “bad” things in our life and let those things define us. While we know that shouldn’t be the case, we still do. We are brought down to a level of despair, not thinking that any good can come of our lives. That we are defeated before we can ever have the victory. But then someone comes along and sees the other side. Someone comes along with a different perspective on life and sees things in a way that we never could. Does that mean they are wrong? Does that mean that we are wrong? No, neither person is wrong. And on the flip side, it doesn’t mean that either person is right. What I’m trying to say is that perspective is what puts our thoughts and actions in motion. Perspective is what makes us either open up, or put walls up.

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” (Friedrich Nietzsche). While obviously there are some concrete facts, I think what he was getting at is that everything we know can be interpreted differently by different people. For example, if I say that we were clobbered by a snow storm, your interpretation of snow storm is going to be different from another persons. Having grown up in New Hampshire, my definition of snow storm is vastly different from those living in South Carolina. I know those examples are extreme, but I think you can understand where I’m going with this. You have to be careful to not force your interpretation onto other people. Just because you are strong in your beliefs in something, just because you are firm in your convictions, just because you are steadfast in your thoughts and aspirations…this doesn’t mean that another person is wrong for those very same characteristics, just because they differ from you. Yes, I sometimes go to church. Yes, I believe in God. Yes, I am glad that my children go to church and enjoy it. Does that mean I’m going to try to force that down your throat? Nope. Does that mean that I am more right that you? Nope. Does that mean that just because you don’t believe the same things that I do that you are condemned to live a horrible life because it differs than what I think? Not at all. You have your perspective on life. I have mine. And we have to accept that we see things differently. Is that such a bad thing?

Now, while we all have things that we firmly believe in our lives, I understand that none of us will change our perspective on certain areas. And that’s alright. A person with conviction is a person with an unbreakable spirit, and we could all use a little of that spirit in our lives. What I AM saying is that while you have that firm conviction, it doesn’t mean it’s the same for every person. And instead of forcing it down their throats, or believing that what you say is the only concrete answer, you need to stop right there. You need to take a look at your perspective. You need to give the other person a chance to divulge into their perspective. Give them the decency to explain their perspective before you even take it upon yourself to say they are wrong. Maybe they see something in a way that you never even thought about. Maybe they interpret something differently than you do, but that doesn’t make either of you right or wrong. That is one of the greatest things about the human race. We have our own brains to think of our own perspectives. We have our own thought processes, and while neither of them are concrete to those surrounding them, they are concrete to you. But is the concrete wet and still forming into place, or is it dry and cannot be changed? I would venture to guess that we would all want to have some wet concrete in our lives. Ideas and thoughts that can be formed and molded into the finished product.

Perspective when it comes to people in your life can be a whole different story at some point. As a parent, I want my boys to surround themselves with the best possible people. With people who have respect for others. With people who see the needs of others and put kindness into action. With people who love unconditionally. With people who will build up and not tear down. Will that always happen? No. And as much as I try to make that happen, as my boys grow older, I am going to have to trust them in that choosing. I can’t control them forever. And from a parental perspective, I would love to keep my hold on them and choose the best people for them. But I can’t. And from their perspective, they see a mother who won’t let go and give them space. Especially through their teenage years, but that’s a given! We both have our perspectives, but we can all see both sides. Those that are teenagers and those that are parents. Neither side is wrong nor right. Perspective may put things in a different light for us, but is also can direct us to choose a different path than where we were headed.

I love these quotes about perspective. They can apply in so many areas in our lives, and depending on your perspective on things, you’ll take away something different from everyone else. And yes, that is perfectly ok, and welcomed!

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
― Henry David Thoreau

“The greatest risk to man is not that he aims too high and misses, but that he aims too low and hits.”
― Michaelangelo

“You can’t see the world from somebody else’s point of view and not be changed.”
― Lena Coakley

Let these sink in. Think about what these authors, philosophers, humans are saying about perspective. Just on one website, there were 574 quotes and thoughts about perspective. Obviously many people think it’s an important topic, and one that needs to be addressed because it is one thing that we as humans lack and need to empower ourselves to embrace it. That we all need to respect the perspectives of everyone. We need to let everyone have their views and convictions and beliefs. They see things one way, you see it another. I think that once we get that into our mindset and incorporate that into our daily life, I think a lot of us would be more accepting of people and less judgmental. The last thing we need in this world are more judgmental people. More people who refuse to listen to what you say or your explanations. More people who go through life so narrow-minded that they fail to see the nose on their face. Those focus on the spec in another person’s eye rather than the beam protruding out of their own eye. Quit being that person and start being the person that accepts the cup, filled to whatever level that we may have.