I have been reaching out to other abuse survivors to discover the impact the abuse has had on their lives. I know my own experience, but I need a broader view to make sure the curriculum I’m creating to help abuse survivors truly represents the struggles of this community none of us asked to be a part of. The feedback has been both heartbreaking and inspiring.
Survivors talk of the fear and anxiety they live with because they never feel safe. They talk of the shame, the feelings of worthlessness, of feeling judged by others. Many of us don’t share what happened to us. And we are many. All around you are survivors of abuse. The man who gets angry and lashes out. The woman who comes off as standoffish. Then there are the ones you wouldn’t expect. The mother at the park with her kids. The poised woman who always has on perfect makeup. The overweight couple at the grocery store. We are everywhere.
What do they want out of life? To feel safe in their environment and their own bodies. To love and trust themselves and others. To enjoy life and actually live it. I have found that place and I never want to go back. After my abuse I was a victim. Then I became a survivor. I didn’t kill myself, though I had the plans laid out to do it. I fought for healing. I learned to manage, to survive. I wanted more. I wanted what they want- to enjoy life and live it. To be a thriver.
For this I needed more than traditional therapy offers. When I ventured off the beaten path I found deeper healing in things like visualization, hypnotherapy, and energy work. One of the unexpected healing avenues came from my writing coach. The constant reminders to change the way I think, what I say, and to create my own reality for life changed everything. I saw for the first time that I had the power to create a different future because the brain processes fact and fiction the same. Belief is more powerful than fact. I pulled out the weeds my abusers had planted in the fertile garden of my mind and I planted my own seeds of who I wanted to be. They grew and I changed.
This is why I want to be a life coach for abuse survivors. I want to coach them, support them, and teach them how to be thrivers. Because being on this side is amazing. I love life. I feel safe. I am empowered. My anxiety is gone. My PTSD rarely rears it’s ugly head anymore. I honor who I am. I know who to trust and who not to trust. I have discovered how to have assertive communication so I say yes when I want to say yes, and no when I need to say no. I try new things. I feel alive.
It is because of the victims and survivors that I must move forward in building Rise to Thrive- a coaching program to support and empower survivors to achieve deep and lasting healing. I feel a stirring within my soul, a calling from a higher power, that this is what I must do. It is time take our power back from those who stole it from us. It is time to stand up, speak out, and find a way to protect others that they might not have to join our ranks. It is time to live.
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I feel like a very old dog learning new tricks right now. The world of social media marketing feels so foreign to me. Whenever I have a technical question or problem I call on one of my kids to help. Even my eight-year-old can handle some of my issues. One problem- none of my kids use social media. Not my senior in high school, not my twenty-one-year old tech wizard, not my army son.
As I navigate this new world I am asked to do things by my marketing wizard who I hired to help me figure it all out. I have to google the words so I can figure out what she is asking me to do. Yes, I feel like a very, very old dog. Of course, since she is young and cool everything is done remotely. So she can’t stand over me, explain things like I’m in kindergarten, and point to each thing I need to do on the screen.
I’m learning and I’m slowly getting there. I think about my impatience in teaching those who have celebrated more birthdays than I have. Things that seemed simple to me were hard to them. Now I’m on the other side and I know I’m testing the patience of those younger than I am.
With persistence and patience any of us can learn something new by being open to learning from others who know more than we do. My hope is that I can teach as often as I am taught, that I can give as much patience as I receive, and that I can give inspiration back to the world that has inspired me.
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Yesterday I got the call from my son telling me his aptitude scores were high enough he could pick any program and he wanted to be an Aircraft Powertrain Repairer for the Army and what did I think. What does a mom say? You’ll be great but I’m a little worried about boot camp. He agreed, then he picked up the paperwork, brought it home, filled it out, and went back to enlist.
This decision by my son has opened a wave of emotions. I remembered how in first grade he protested what he was learning in school because when was he ever going to need to know how to add? Then in third grade when he told me elementary school was run like a prison. When high school came around and he decided to go to a charter school and took the train and bus to get there because I couldn’t drive him. He did it. When a month before graduation he still hadn’t made up his two F’s and I didn’t know if he’d really graduate. He got all the work done. It’s like his life flashes before my eyes and I wonder, can he handle the complete obedience to his Drill Sargent? Can he keep from questioning all the seemingly dumb things they will make him do when I can’t even get him to clean his room? The thing his, he always rises to the occasion.
Will it be hard, yes. Will it be good for him, yes. I am proud of the man he is becoming. I am proud he knows what he wants and has found the path to do the things he wants. He loves building and fixing things. He loves helicopters. He wants to travel. He wants to be independent and do things on his own. He wants to be a man. I am proud of him.
I am sad. There are no in between steps. One day he will be here and the next he will be gone. No cell phones or emails. I’ll have to trust in the process the army uses. I’ll be the outsider. He’ll be on the other side of the country. When he’s done there, he’ll go somewhere else, but nowhere near me. I have to say goodbye, over and over and over again.
I am suddenly enlisted in the ranks of Army Moms. I am already feeling a swell of pride in my son I’ve never felt before. I’m already paying more attention to the threats of war around the world. I am already seeking answers and reassurance from those moms that have gone before me. I feel the strength that I can do it intermixed with the pain of watching my first child, my quiet second born son, not just leave the nest, but fly far away.
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So many exciting things are happening I had to share. I am getting ready to publish my book, Broken No More. The thing with writing is that it feels like it crawls along like a snail race where half the snails have been squished by some huge shoe coming down from the sky. I’ve gotten used to answering the same question over and over, “When will you be done?” Suddenly, I’m in the last stages. I chose to retain creative control and hybrid publish despite having some top agents interested in my manuscript. I did this because this is my story. When I publish my fantasy book I will happily hand it all over to a publishing house, but this one is so deeply personal that I need to know it goes out looking and feeling the way I want it to come across.
Now I am working with a great marketing group, Gyrosity Projects, and the amazing people at Silver Torch Press. Bouncing ideas on the cover, looking at exactly what I want the interior to look like, and sharing the great news that at long last my book will be published has been amazing. There is an end to the incredible amounts of hard work I’ve put into this project. There will be something tangible I can touch and put on my shelf.
Thank you to all my friends and family who have stood by me through this process and shared the revelations, tears, and frustration of such a tragic journey through my childhood. I could not have done it without you! In August you will be able to see what I have spent hundreds of hours, and poured my soul into producing.
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