Butterflies and Hurricanes
My life altered dramatically a year ago when I attended a Calliope Writer’s Conference. Angie Fenimore did much more than teach me about story structure and how to pitch my books. She taught me truths that altered my life. One of those truths was the concept that belief is more powerful than fact. Belief is so powerful that it alters reality.
I believed the lies my abusers told me and they became my reality. Lies that told me I was worthless, needed to earn love, and would never be good enough. Abusers taught me not to trust anyone, that the world is inherently dangerous, and that I needed to hide beneath immense shame. I believed them and so my world changed. My husband and God taught me differently. Over time I became more confident, but I still walked through life as a porcupine- it was painful to get to close to me.
I spent years locked in victim mode, complaining about how difficult my life was, shifting blame to God and the world, and not truly accepting responsibility for my own happiness. Angie taught me that the brain does not distinguish between fact and imagination. It process them both the same. She taught me that the universe would respond if I changed my beliefs, including the words I used. As I began working and interacting with Angie, I had constant reminders to change the words I used. I listened. I changed.
My entire life has been transformed since that conference last year. I am a better parent, friend, and wife. My dreams are no longer so far away that they seem unattainable. Instead they are lined up within my grasp as I make each one come true. I am now a business owner, life coach, and writing coach in addition to be an author. I wake up excited to tackle new things and make a change in the world. I look at the world with gratitude and wonder at the beauty all around me.
Everything changed because I finally understood that belief is more powerful than fact. I believed I was worthless, so I was. No one could convince me otherwise. I chose to believe that I could change the world around me, beginning with my fractured family, and that came true as well. I have come to understand that we are powerful creators of our own lives. As a life coach I can now help others understand that power within themselves.
Every day I read the truth of what I wanted. I am abundance. I am powerful. I am trust. Every day I changed the words I used. When opportunities came I stopped finding reasons I couldn’t accept them and instead said yes, and found a way later. I always found a way. The world has opened up and I stand in awe of what has been created around me.
Today look at the biggest lie you tell yourself. Write a statement that is the opposite of your lie and make sure you are claiming it. Don’t write I want to be powerful. Don’t even write I will be powerful, because you are still putting it into some future unknown date. Write, I am powerful. Read it every day. Say it out loud. Start acting like someone who has that trait. The change won’t happen over night, but it will happen. After all, belief is more powerful than fact.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As I worked to move my blogs from my old blog page to my new website I realized something felt off. I stopped until I could figure out what it was.
I could tell little snippets of my life, but what I really wanted was a place for survivors to be able to share their stories. Soon we will convert this page to a community where survivors can share their stories that we might all know that we are not alone.
God bless you each in your own journey and check back soon to share your own story.
I’ve longed for years to go to Hawaii, take my kids to a full Disney Adventure, and visit the east coast. The list of countries I want to visit grows every year but I don’t even have a passport. I want to see the world, but I end up seeing the insides of doctors offices for my kids instead.
No more. I am going to Scotland. I just have to say it again. I am going to Scotland! My husband and I will be staying in a castle which just happens to be near where some of his ancestors are from. My writing coach, Angie Fenimore at Calliope, is hosting a writing retreat in Scotland this fall. At first I assumed there was no way I could go, but something kept pulling me. I needed to be there. I’m not sure all of the reasons why, but I get to pitch my fantasy book to Tor- that’s enough to make it worth the trip! There will be incredible people to meet, great coaching, time to write, and a chance to see the Scottish Highlands.
I am giddy with excitement. I turned to my husband the other day and said, “Is this how people get to go places? They just decide?” and he said, “Pretty much.” Yes, he’s a man of few words.
As astonishing as it still is, I am going to Scotland. I can’t wait to share what I discover there with all of you!
Today I got my feelings hurt by my kids. Again. It’s a normal part of parenting but no one ever talks about it. Once I told a table full of people that my kids tell me they hate me all the time and I got shocked looks with an older lady saying “None of my kids ever said that to me. They wouldn’t have dared.”
Let’s face it, kids are judgmental, selfish, and often downright mean. They can hurt your feelings even when they don’t mean to. How? “Gee Mom, I’ve only been playing this song for a week and already I play it better than you and you’ve been playing it for years.”
While cleaning I came across a note never intended for my eyes. My child was letting out all the anger she felt for a mother who took away her technology until she got the family room clean. A mother who didn’t exactly say it nicely this time. Swear words that my pre-teen is careful not to say in front of me where plastered angrily across the sheet calling me names and telling me just where she thought I should go.
It’s good she was at school. It gave me a chance to feel hurt and let my more mature side take over by the time she came home. I showed her what I had found. I told her it hurt my feelings but that I still loved her. I told her it was okay for her to write those things as a way to let go of her anger but that she needed to make sure to always, always destroy what she had written so that others didn’t get hurt like I had been hurt.
The thing is, I’ve done the same thing- written horrible things to someone I was angry at. I just made sure to burn it, rip it up, or crumple it in the trash. Even before my therapist taught me to do it as a healthy way of releasing anger, I had done it.
Today I was grateful I could take a moment that hurt and instead teach my daughter. I taught her about a mother’s love. Yes, it hurt, but I loved her anyway. Isn’t that what we all wish for? To be loved even when we hurt someone else in our anger or pain?
It has been been two years since I’ve had to use my wheelchair. Most days I’m taking my walking for granted again but every few weeks I still feel gratitude for something I can do now that I couldn’t do before.
I went shoe shopping and was grateful I could see the shoes. In the wheelchair I would have to reach up, push the tip of the shoe down and it would cause the shoe to tip up so I could see it. It was tedious.
Another day I ran into the store to grab one thing. It took less than five minutes. Even when I was healthy enough to drive, errands were never quick in my wheelchair. By the time I hobbled to the back of my van, pulled out the pieces of my wheelchair (I wasn’t strong enough to lift the whole thing at once), attached the wheels to the base, got in, shut the van, wheeled myself up the slight rise to the store, found what I wanted, found someone to reach it up high, got checked out, and then reversed the process of getting back in the van it took almost a half an hour and I was exhausted. I could never go into more than one store at a time because I needed to rest.
It’s the little things that demoralized me in the wheelchair. Aisles of clothes that weren’t wide enough to get past, steep ramps to the kid’s school, ice and snow in a parking lot, stairs at every home- even if it was only one or two- became barriers to normal daily tasks.
My most recent realization was that this summer not only did I sweat a lot, I stank. I couldn’t remember my sweat stinking for the past twenty years or more. As a teenager in dance classes I’m pretty sure I got stinky like a normal kid.
To me smelling that stinky sweat meant that I was finally normal. Everyone talks about body odor after exercising. It was one more way that I was finally normal.
Today I’m bursting with gratitude that I stink.
Eighteen-year-old Sandra can’t figure out what is wrong inside her head. A week after meeting fun-loving Jonathan, she accepts his marriage proposal and agrees to run away to sunny San Diego with him. Even before the wedding, Sandra finds herself isolated in an abusive relationship that plunges her into a world of porn and sex abuse. Finding the courage to escape Sandra discovers she’s lost the ability to cope on her own. With the help of a man who expects nothing from her, Sandra embarks on a journey to find faith, love, and a cure for her PTSD.