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I have written about my history and the fact that I was molested and then raped when I was young. I have not spoken about how that man stole my soul as it was as a young girl. That very first incident changed my life forever and this man stole that from me. Do we as a society think about this as much as we think about the acts themselves? Innocent souls are stolen by the predators and when they are caught they are given unimaginably short sentences after giving a life sentence to their victims. The victims are shamed and often, like myself, don’t speak out. In my case, I blocked my trauma out for 5 years and during that time had self-hate and harm. I thought about suicide many time and actually attempted, just wanting to go to sleep and stop the inner voice from continuing to tell me horrible things about myself. My inner voice hated that I didn’t get her justice and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting help or why I wasn’t making sure the man that stole our innocence got punished. When I finally allowed myself to remember the rape again 5 years after, I promised myself I would never be silent about this again.
As a society, we tell children that sex is bad and that it is not something we talk about. Even this is wrong. We need to stop stigmatizing the act of sex and put the focus on the fact that these people that do these acts to children are predators and need to be given as extreme of consequences as they impose on their victims. These predators steal the souls of their victims and need to be punished as such.
This journey from Survivor to Thriver and Then Beyond, is in no way easy but it is truly within reach of each of us. Myself, I am between the Survivor and Thriver Stages and I work every day to take the necessary steps to keep moving more forward that backward. This road is often bumpy and there are many days I just think "Maybe I am good with just being a survivor. Why do I need to thrive anyway and is the beyond really that amazing? I am happy as I am now. Why do I need to keep pushing myself?"
The simple answer to all this is: I am meant to do MORE! My journey hasn't ended so why should I just stop working to achieve the ultimate life I am meant to live? I survived sexual abuse! I survived suicide! I survived a life of negativity. Why? The only logical explaination I can come up with is that I am meant to THRIVE and even more importantly reach BEYOND! I am meant to share my story so that others can survive themselves and know that if I can do it they certainly can. If you have done the work to survive your past regardless of what it held, be sure you are working toward thriving and living this life you have, to it's fullness without regret.
I want to discuss Post Traumatic Stress and how it feels as though our souls have been stolen after a traumatic event. There are of course various levels of Trauma but no one can really say that one level is easier than another. It truly depends on a multitude of variables and it really isn’t anyone’s place to determine how each traumatic event will effect each person. Two people can go through the exact same event at the exact same time and each will process it all differently. No one person has the knowledge or power to determine another persons thoughts or emotions. Everyone of us is unique and need to process things in our own way. For society to tell us we need to just accept something and get over it isn’t realistic in a lot of cases.
I battled with PTSD myself after I was raped at the age of 12. I repressed the incident so that I wouldn’t have to face the truth and continue to relive the act over and over in my nightmares. This is how I dealt with the trauma and it almost killed me as I dealt with suicidal thoughts and attempted, thankfully I failed. The one thing in my life I can honestly say today that I am proud of being a failure at. Those thoughts can really get the better of you and for those not having them you have no way of comprehending what it is like. The only way I can try and describe it would be like this… Have you ever had a recording of something you hated play over and over and you couldn’t get the player to shut off? You feel anxious because you want it to stop but it just continues no matter what you do? It is kind of like that but the voices or images are inside your head and there is no off button to push, or power cord you can pull. Think of it like those battling with those voices and images in their head finally have enough and they make suicide their disconnection from the ultimate power source of life. Typically, they resort to these measures because they believe there is no other way to get them to stop and no one can possibly understand what they are going through. Those battling with memories of a traumatic event, continue to replay that event over and over in their minds because their brain is trying to resolve the issue and can’t change the outcome. They are the star of their own personal thriller movie in their minds and they are often scared to share with anyone for fear that no one will believe them or will believe they are weak.
No matter why, it is wrong that they should be made to feel they are the ones that did anything wrong. They need to be ensured that they are loved and that they will not be judged for the acts of others choices or even their own in some cases. Things that have happened in our past, whether that is yesterday or several years ago, can never be changed or taken back. We have to learn to acknowledge those events and history and accept who we are today. In order for us to overcome our past we have to put it in the past and not allow it to continue to tear us down in our present and definitely not let it hold us back from our future. We are on this journey together and we all need to help one another achieve the future that we were meant to have.
What is it depression? A feeling of loneliness? A feeling of there being no hope and not being able to change what has been done? It is a feeling no one wants but just about everyone has experienced at some level in their life. Some of us have been able to get through it, some of us have not. For a certain percentage of people, it was too much to handle and they cut there life short. For others they are still fighting it. It’s a long battle and some start to feel it’s a war they are losing but they are keeping their head up and thinking positive.
Then there are the strong ones who were able to see the good things in life and pull themselves out of it and move on. They put a smile on their face and said it is staying there no matter what happens. We can all hope we are these lucky ones that can pull themselves out of it. Some things are just too difficult to pull yourself out of for some. Death of someone held close to the heart or the loss of a loved one due to break up or divorce can be things that are just too much to pull yourself out of. Bullying and shame will cause people to do things out of desperation as well.
The key to pulling yourself out is knowing no matter what situation you are in, you have support groups. Some lean towards music, others lean towards their friends. Then there are those that have lost all friend or family support and can’t find happiness in music so what do they lean toward? Counseling or psychiatry is always a good choice. Your counselor and/or psychiatrist should know somewhere that can get you help or they personally may know how to help. The key is do not give up; suicide is never the option. No matter what you may think, your death will affect someone. There is always someone, somewhere that cares about you, whether it is a friend, family, or someone you would never have thought of. DEATH IS NEVER AN OPTION TO FIX DEPRESSION.
Remember your life matters and if you are having suicidal thoughts or know someone who is call your local Suicide Prevention Hotline. There is always someone out there that wants to listen.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this has a special place in my heart as my regular followers know. I am the mother of children living with mental health challenges and I know first hand what this does to the individual living with the disorder and their family who would love them no matter what. Mental Health Disorders are invisible disabilities that most can’t even imagine how it impacts the thoughts that go through their heads. Often those suffering have no idea that they are even battling in the moment and those around them deal with the consequences. Society has labeled these battling with these disorders and made them out to be monsters or crazy, which then feeds the negative thoughts already tearing the sufferer apart from the inside. They want to just be “normal” and when they are constantly told they can’t be they often get discouraged. Society puts on the pressure and the result becomes rages, manic episodes, suicide, among other destructive results. Why can’t we get these suffering the proper help and stop stigmatizing them?
Can we take a bit of time this month of awareness and find out how we can all do our part to help and share awareness. Educate yourself a bit this month and try to understand what these battling are going through instead of hiding them and being ashamed if you have family members. The biggest thing these people need to be surrounded with are positive thoughts and lots of support. Show them that people do care about them and that there are people willing to listen.
How does Anxiety in Our Society effect our day to day lives? I think about this often with both my children having anxiety based disabilities. We have so much going on in our lives that I see that we allow anxiety to become a greater impact than it really should.
Kids have higher anxiety in school because our system is setup to make everyone the same instead of the individuals they are. With larger class sizes, teachers are forced to streamline course outlines and this just leaves those who don’t learn in that particular way struggling and in return their anxiety levels are increased and then the potential of anxiety based disorders is increased. We have seen a rise in suicide and attempted suicides year over year. Depression and Anxiety are serious and should not be taken lightly. Our children need to be supplied with the tools necessary to manage these times without feeling it is unmanageable and choose to end their lives as what they believe is their only option. Why aren’t coping skills and stress relief techniques part of curriculum also?
We focus so much on academics and extracurriculars that our children become overwhelmed with, what they feel, is expected from them and what they can actually achieve. We as a society need to work more on focusing on the individuals ànd stop judging based on what the majority believes to be the “norm”. What would the world be like if we were all doctors,or lawyers,or astronauts, etc? There is a place for us all and that doesn’t make any of us necessarily “better” than others. We all have our strengths and our purpose. By judging those that aren’t like us we are creativity a society in which those who are creative and musical may feel they aren’t as important as say a doctor who saves ànd patient. When in reality medicine is a science and is not perfect either.
I want a world where we all are free of anxiety and we are able to support one another no matter what we choose as our path. Our children need to accept one another and learn to start working together to build a world where they accept each other for their individual strengths and stop seeing their weaknesses as character flaws. If we teach our children to see one another as our equals and just because one is great in math and the other loves art doesn’t make either better or worse. We are just all as different as our fingerprint. We need to accept that and learn to live in a positive manner where we fight off anxiety because we know that with a clear mind and low stress level we can tackle obstacles and address them in the manner in which is right for us.
While sitting in a Senior High School Class listening to a couple guest speakers talk about their son being molested by their babysitter, I had an unusual feeling of understanding come over me that I somehow knew the pain and confusion this child must have been feeling. Feeling that no one understood what you were dealing with and the deep ache to rid yourself of an unknown secret. I really didn’t know why I had these feelings, but I sat in that classroom almost in tears and amazement on how these people were talking so freely about this traumatic event in their son’s life. Luckily this was the last real class I had that day because I was not able to focus on anything but the words these people talked about and how they were very clear that this is not the “Victims” fault that these people do these things. They also explained that if we knew anyone who had or was being hurt by someone we needed to speak up and not allow them to continue to make that person or yourself the victim any longer.
I walked around in a fog most of the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. I had trouble going to sleep that night with strange thoughts running through my head. Once I finally fell asleep I was restless and the next thing I knew I awoke screaming, “NO! STOP! YOU’RE HURTING ME!” The memories came flooding back to a horrible night in my life that I had somehow blocked from my subconscious. It was now back and I was never going to forget it again.
I had been molested with inappropriate touching and actions by a man close to our family. He made threats that I would be hurt or that my family wouldn’t believe me if I were to even tell them. This went on for several years and I just allowed this man to treat me like my feelings meant nothing. At age 12, I finally got the courage to stand up to this man and tell him “NO” and that I wouldn’t allow him to treat me like that ever again.
I thought that everything was going to stop and that I had finally been able to take control until I went to sleep that night. I awoke to the most excruciating pain and my head being forced into a pillow. I was on my stomach and I couldn’t move and at times could barely breathe while this grown man raped me and said horrible words to me while shoving my head further in the pillow so I couldn’t scream. I must have blacked out because I don’t remember anything after that.
From that day forward I was a different young lady. I went from being very outgoing and high spirited, to a tomboy and guarded. I wore clothing that didn’t flatter me as to not attract males. I became just one of the guys in my group of friends and started pushing those who were close to me away so that I couldn’t be hurt like that again. I didn’t speak of that night because I just remembered him telling me that no one was going to believe me. I eventually completely blocked it from my memory as a way to protect myself. I also felt there must have been something I had done to deserve this and that maybe I done something to encourage him. He made me a victim and by allowing that I empowered him.
This all came back to me 5 years later, yes I blocked this horrible event out of my memory for 5 years and all it did was tear me up from the inside and created insecurities and depression that I could not truly understand. I had thoughts of suicide and the feeling of just being completely alone and misunderstood. Once this all came back to me I decided I would never keep silent about it again. I pulled myself together and wrote it all down in an anonymous letter to the class, we had a drop box that was in the room that we could put questions in and the class would give their opinions and advice. I didn’t hold anything back in that letter, well nothing but my name of course. I asked if they could help me to determine what I needed to do next to overcome this and how I could stop from being this victim and now take control of my life, once again.
When I got to school that morning I dropped the letter in the box while no one was in the class and proceeded with my school day feeling a bit of the burden I had carried so long, lifted from me. When I arrived to class that afternoon the teacher was standing at the front of the class with his stool and asked everyone to please take their seats. I knew what was about to happen. We all sat down and he sat on his stool and proceeded to tell the class that he had something very serious to read to them and that their help was very important. I gathered all the strength I had in me and listened to the words read back to me that I had written that morning. It all truly became reality at that moment. There was no going back.
After the teacher read the letter he looked to the class for their words of wisdom and guidance. I continued to not show signs that the letter was from me and I even asked and answered questions. These students were so helpful and they didn’t even know that the person who wrote those words was me. We discussed how this is something that is history and by continuing to allow it to fester was only hurting me and holding me back from my future. They talked about how this is not something I did or could have stopped. We discussed that my taking a stand was a good thing even though it caused this to escalate. This was the man’s burden to bare not mine.
After class let out I walked up to the front of the class to talk to the teacher as I did every day. He looked at me and asked me how I thought he and the class had done with the letter. I responded, “You did great!” He said, “You think so?” I looked him in the eyes and said, “It helped a lot!” His eyes changed and started to fill with tears. “I didn’t know,” he said, with the tears starting to flow. I looked at him and said, “I know that is why you helped so much.” If he would have known it was me he may have not been so open about his responses. He gave me a hug and for the first time in many years felt the warmth in another person’s hugs without being scared.
I will leave this story with this for now and will continue with stories that came from me deciding that I was not going to continue to be the victim of this man and that I would never be silent about it again. All being silent did was hurt me and the negativity of the secret was like a cancer in me and was just spreading and once I refused to allow it anymore my life changed. I won’t tell you it was always perfect after that day but it was the strength that I pulled from and continue to pull from today when things get rough.
In closing, don’t read this post and pity me for what happened in my past. My past is my foundation and what made me the strong independent person I am today. I want to share this story so that maybe I can reach others that are going through, or have gone through, similar times. Maybe, just maybe, you can see that you are not alone and you too can find the strength to be “THE VICTIM NO MORE”.
Have you ever taken the time to sit back and analyze what truly inspires you? We often get inspired by other’s actions or insight, but have you ever actually sat down and made a list of the things that make you happy, passionate, teary, just plain have emotion? I find that there are many in life that just live through others and don’t take the time to tap into the true inner passions of themselves. Then we never feel complete fulfilled and even get left feeling empty.
We all have differences and we need to be able to acknowledge them. Those are what makes us all unique and special. I don’t expect everyone to feel as I do about everything I talk and write about. In fact I love to hear other people’s true views when they disagree with me. Other people’s views may deepen my own or could very easily chance my perspective and I love that. Be passionate about what YOU want and desire in life. Stop letting other people define what is good for YOU. Be ok with other people not agreeing with your opinions but never be afraid to stand up for what you truly believe it.
Inspiration comes from so many facets of our lives. Some of us are creative, some analytical, others are very logical. We as people need to accept that about each other and not judge others for what they believe and find inspiration in. We are all made up of different DNA remember. Every molecule in our make up creates differences in us all.
This starts with our children I am seeing being a mother of two very gifted children in their own special way. Society tells us that we should strive to be the best but what exactly is the best really? Being the best in one’s field is great as long as you enjoy what it is that you are doing. Now if you are great at what you do but you don’t find Inspiration in doing it then are you truly the best at it? People do things at times just because that is what they have fallen into and have become good at. Does that mean they are passionate about it all the time? Do they get up every morning inspired to do what it is they do or do they hate it but do it because that is what everyone believes they “should” do to be a productive part of or society?
Does it scare anyone else that more people die from suicide than from homicide? This statistic really got me thinking. If people were able to do what they were truly passionate about and stopped living their lives for others and the way others believed their lives should be lived, would this statistic still be the same?
Take a moment after you read this post and truly sit down and think about 5 things that inspire you to get up every morning and write them down. Then think about 5 things you do in your live that make you sad that you have to do because society says doing it differently is not acceptable. Once you have these lists, ask yourself is there anything on your Inspiration List that can replace anything on your Negative List? Take charge of your future by acknowledging who you are inside and accept that person. We all have our passions…What are yours?
With the sad news of Robin Williams this week, I wanted to take this tragic opportunity to remind everyone that depression is real and it is not something to take lightly. More people die from suicide a year than homicide. Did you realize that? This is a silent killer that eats away at a person from the inside. There are always subtle signs but often those closest to the person tend to ignore or miss them.
Take a person like Robin Williams who makes people laugh for a living. Did anyone truly know the “real” Robin Williams? Did he ever show that person to anyone or did he always hide behind the amazing characters we saw on stage and film.
Often people battling with Depression, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder and similar Illnesses are very artistic, entertaining, and creative. They will often not medicate for fear of losing the edge that makes them great at what they do so they end up self medicating and this can end in tragedy.
In the end suicide is an option that is contemplated because these people feel they have no other options. In their head at the moment the world doesn’t need them. We all see when it is too late how untrue that is. We all have a purpose on this earth.
Open your eyes to those around you, but also know that unless they want help you can’t force them to get help. Show them every day how much they mean to your world and hopefully be able to show them how having them in your life makes it complete.
Remind those around you that if times get tough there are support groups and options for them. Encourage them to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (US).
On November 23, 2012, I started chatting with a gentleman that at the time of us starting to chat I had no idea how much our friendship was going to impact my life. The man was a kindred spirit to me we could chat for hours just about nothing. We talked about our love and wish to travel. We would talk about going on road trips with the top down on the car to the Coast and just sitting and watching the waves. We joked about going to Mexico but neither of us even had our Passport. About a month after we started chatting he asked me if I would be interested in watching TV together but from our own homes. At first I thought this request was an interesting one but I said hey why not but maybe we should meet for coffee first and discuss face to face our likes and dislikes. When we met that December 15th at Starbucks and I just felt so comfortable talking to this man. We were just friends and felt like we had been friends forever. I left that afternoon after us sitting and talking for a couple hours about our children and families just feeling as though I had just caught up with someone I had known all my life.
We would sit and text each other for hours, talking about our children and our families and dreams for travel while watching episodes of “How I Met Your Mother”, “The Big Bang Theory”, and many others. During Christmas that year he told me he would not be available as often because his sons were coming out to visit him and he was so excited about their visit. I loved to hear the tone in his messages when he talked about his boys coming to stay and that they were going to be going to visit his mother during their visit as well. He texted me off and on during their visit and again it was so great to hear how happy it made him to have them there with him.
When the boys went home things started to change with him. About that time is when I found out that he had had Heart surgery back in October and he had been on Medical Leave but was going to be going back to work. He seemed excited but nervous at the same time. We talked a lot and watched shows every night and we would chat back and forth during the shows. It was very nice to have this connection with someone but I never realized that this man had major anxiety when he left his house but he would do all he could when he had to go back to work. He then out of the blue contacted me one evening through text messages, as we always communicated, and told me that he couldn’t do this anymore someone had come back into his life and he had to give that person another chance. I of course was hurt a bit to lose a friend and confused but I wanted him to be happy. I told him that day that I would be around if he needed someone to talk to and left it at that.
About two weeks later I received a message from him saying Hello and that he hoped that we could still be friends. I told him we never stopped and how could I help. We picked up right where we had left off and he started talking a bit about a couple women he had been talking to. One was a woman that he had lived with and he was a little obsessed with the idea that he was sent here to take care of her. She was from his past and he couldn’t let go because she had been in a bad relationship.
After we started chatting again his tone really changed, he was very hi and low and I just talked to him as always. I did what could to be that voice of reason when he would get worked up about this woman and tell me that she saved him that week he stopped talking to me. He had had thoughts of suicide at that time and asked for help and all of a sudden she contacted him and wanted to see him out of the blue. He said this to him was a sign. I tried to explain to him that yes it was a sign that he was to live and be here for his boys but he was very focused on this woman. I tried to be supportive and I was as best as I knew how. I never enabled him but I would tell it like it was. I think there were many nights where I really got through to him.
In the middle of February he asked me for a favor. I had no idea that he needed to go back in for a procedure for his heart that he had no one that he could ask to take him. I was honored of course but thought it was a bit strange that he would ask a person he had only actually met once to take him and be there with him for something like this but I couldn’t let him go alone so I said of course. We met again after that for coffee again and then caught a movie and we had a very nice day talking. We discussed at that time that we needed to follow through with this road trip idea. So we made plans.
One Saturday morning in late February I drove to his place and picked him up and we took a drive to the Coast. It was perfect weather out that day. We drove to Half Moon Bay and found a place on the beach to have lunch. This is when he really opened up to me about the situation with how sad he was to not see his children and how this woman was really tied to him. He would defend behavior she had that I thought was selfish and that she was not thinking of his needs at all. For some reason I was able to talk to him directly and he would listen even though he just could not let go. I started to realize this day that this man was definitely battling with depression.
After lunch we got my camera out of the car and we started down towards the beach. It was a great day and I actually saw him smile many times just like he felt relieved to be out there. We sat at one point and I took pictures and he just sat. There were moments that I could tell that bad thoughts would go through his head but then all of a sudden he would look over and smile and say “Thank you for bringing me.”
When we got back to the car I asked where he would like to go now and he asked that we take the long way home and we drove back to the town where he grew up and he showed me places he remembered as a teen and young adult. Then started talking about his days as a medic and how much he enjoyed that feeling of saving people. As we started to leave town and entered the freeway he got quiet. I gave him a few moments and then I asked him if there was something he needed to talk about. He just looked at me again and said, “Thank you. I didn’t think I could do this trip without having a panic attack.” It was at the time I realized there was much more going on than I had any knowledge of. We drove back to his place listening to old classic rock on the radio and just enjoying the wind blowing through the car.
We got to his place and he got out of the car and gave me a hug and said he was happy we did this and was happy to have me as a friend. I just smiled and told him that I was proud to be his friend and that I would text him as soon as I got home. Which I did and we of course watched an episode of “Burn Notice” and chatted about our day. He talked about the amazing Lobster Roll he had for lunch and that he wanted one again. I just laughed and said well then I guess we will need to do it again.
Time went on and we had many talks up to the day of his procedure at the end of March. I went and picked him up and drove him to the Hospital. I was still shocked that if this woman he kept telling me about was so amazing and that they loved each other why was I there and not her? Just kept telling me he didn’t want to worry anyone and didn’t want them to know. It never made sense to me but of course I just went. I went in to the room with him and it was like I was there with a family member and the doctor and nurses were asking questions and telling me how he needed to be taken care of once we left the hospital. Once the procedure was over we had to wait in the room for a while. I asked the nurse about some of the things that were happening to him recently and she said that it was very possible that they were side effects of the original procedure. The doctor came in and talked to us about the findings and they saw a small mass but they were hoping that it was not something they needed to be concerned with that it would just eventually pass. We had concern and discussed all this on the way to his place. He knew he had to take his medications but he was struggling and having trouble with work. I stayed with him for a few hours after to make sure he was ok and then I left him.
After his procedure, things started to get difficult, the depression got worse, he lost his job and had to get on unemployment, and he was struggling. I did what I could to give him the emotional support and we would get in arguments over texts because he was giving this woman money instead of paying for his own medicine or paying his own bills. Our conversations slowly started to cut-down to every other day and then a couple times a week and in early June I was rarely hearing from him. Then in mid June the messages stopped all together. I kept messaging but nothing. I just figured, well hoped, that he had found someone and was just too busy or that this new person in his life didn’t understand our friendship.
Then came July 9, 2013, the day I will remember forever. I messaged again, asking if he was ok. I waited and all of a sudden a message from his phone came. It was from the mother of his sons. “I have news. If you are comfortable calling me, you are welcome to do so.” Of course I called right away and was told the news that this friend had taken his own life on June 17, 2013. I somehow knew, but it hurt so much that I wasn’t there to help. His son’s mother proceeded to tell me that he had sent a letter to his Mother and in this letter he had talked about me and how he felt about our friendship and that I had been there for him and ask that she please get in touch with me and let me know somehow. She apologized for taking so long to get back with me but I completely understood. I thanked her and offered to help in any way I could and asked that she give his sons a message from me. “Please tell them their father loved them with all he had. The happiest times I saw in him were when he had them with him and when he would talk about them. Tell them that their father was very proud of them and wanted to be with them.” She thanked me for that and asked that we keep in touch. I hung up the phone and wept for a very long time.
It took me several months to forgive myself for allowing the conversations to taper off. I had to come to terms with the fact that this moment was going to happen. I just had the honor to share the days I did with this man. He taught me a lot about myself and life. I thank him for that and for opening my eyes to learning that you don’t have to physically connect with someone to be their friend. Communication is all some of us need and if you can be those words at the other end of the keyboard for someone and that is all they require from you…then is it really that difficult? Enjoy every moment you have with those around you whether it be a real friendship or a virtual one, it really doesn’t matter. The person on the receiving end is still a human being. Friends forever my dear friend, I will never forget you.