Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What Do You Do When it Hurts? (Reaching Out)

Sometimes I wonder if anything in this world sucks more than being unable to forgive yourself. When confronted with the past, too often we make the decision to hold on to what we've been through, and we let it drag us down into the muck and the mire. We wallow in and wrestle with the anger until we are so covered with pain, regret, hopelessness and hurt that we no longer recognize who we are...

Yesterday was a really tough day for me. Yesterday I had the chance to have a conversation with someone I care deeply for, and I had the chance to apologize for some things that should have been made right a long, long time ago. Having the chance to say "I'm sorry" is a beautiful thing. Knowing you're forgiven is a beautiful thing... and forgiving yourself is a beautiful thing... but forgiving yourself... why is it so difficult?

I don't want hold on to the past and I don't want to beat myself up about things. So how do you live with the fact that the cycle of abuse you were sucked into caused you to make decisions that hurt others deeply? How do you forgive yourself for wounding someone you love?

My regular readers know that this entire process has been nothing but a public display of my healing, a complete transparency of thought and process and a look inside the mind of someone who is facing her demons, fighting her demons, and doing her best not to run from her demons. Since this is such an honest effort to give other survivors a glimpse into the reality of the healing journey, I'm doing things a little differently today. Remember when I preached at you all about reaching out for help? Remember when I told you to NEVER be too proud to say you need guidance? I'm reaching out today. It's that time for me. I need guidance and I need some strength. Help me feel my way through this. With today's blog I want to pose a question to you: How do you forgive yourself when the going gets so tough that you can't find your smile?

Until next time... I'm holding onto hope.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nobody Else Can REALLY Fill Your Shoes

"Everyone has a unique role to play in the world and is important in some respect. Everyone, including and perhaps especially you, is indispensable." -Nathaniel Hawthorne

The above quote is one of my favorites, and it’s been on my mind for a few days now. I want you to read it more than once. Go on. Give it a good three-times-over and then come back...

Got it? I mean really... do you understand how true that is? It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do... you are indispensable to someone. Nobody else can really fill your shoes.

My daddy worked for the telephone company for 27 years. For 27 years, people around the world depended on my father to do his little office job here in small town Kentucky, so that they would be able to have reliable telephone service in order to communicate with their family members, friends, co-workers, doctors, lawyers, etc. My daddy had a passion for electronics and telephones. He used to take me to work with him sometimes when I was a little girl, and he would let me help him push buttons and flip switches and repair glitches on the switchboards. When he died, he moved on to the next world talking about wires and boxes and pushing buttons. You may not know my daddy’s name, but what he did may very well have been a part of your life. If it wasn’t a part of yours, it was a part of someone’s. And pardon my pretension, but that someone should be grateful that my dad did his job and did it well. Nobody else could really fill my daddy's shoes.

My husband is a janitor and a maintenance guy - or as he likes to say it, a “Master of the Custodial Arts”. He works at a school. He spends 8 hours a day scrubbing toilets, taking out trash, mopping floors, and many other things. He changes light bulbs when they burn out. He inspects the playground’s gravel pit and checks the tarps under all that gravel to be sure there’s nothing there to hurt the kids when they go outside to play. When the H1N1 epidemic hit the schools, my husband spent hours upon hours scrubbing desks with disinfectant so that children and teachers at the school would be protected from the flu. When we go out to shop or out to eat, if a kid from school sees my husband, they pursue him like the paparazzi. My husband is a rock star to those kids. He talks to them when they pass him in the hallways, and he takes care of their school building, and they love him for it. Pardon my pretension, but the parents of the children at Hubby’s school should be grateful that he is there to do his job and do it well. Nobody else can really fill my husband's shoes.

My friend Stephanie recently did a blog-a-thon for the Angela Shelton Foundation. Stephanie stayed up for 24 hours, blogging about survivors and sharing their stories with others. Stephanie broadcast her blog-a-thon live on Ustream, and throughout the course of that 24-hour period, she not only raised awareness for victims and survivors everywhere, she raised $500.00 for the Angela Shelton Foundation AND touched a bunch of lives in the process! That $500.00 will change someone’s life. That money will help someone find healing. That money might very well SAVE someone’s life. Pardon my pretension, but we should be grateful that someone like Stephanie cares enough to take an entire day to stop what she is doing and say, “SURVIVORS MATTER!” She's indispensable! Nobody else could really fill Stephanie's shoes.

There’s a lady who works at the McDonald’s I pass on the way to town. Being the coffee addict that I am, pretty much every time I go to town, I drive through McDonald’s to buy a small coffee with two creams and one Splenda. I would say 80% of the time that I place my order, this lady is the one who’s taking it. I have NEVER heard anything but a smile in her voice. When I pull up to the speaker and she says, “Thank you for choosing McDonald’s today. May I take your order?” I get excited, because she is so pleasant and so joyful that seeing her smile is just nice. In a world where everything is fast-paced and the economy’s tanking and people are killing each other over religion and money and oil and a plethora of other ridiculous things, this woman takes the time to make sure she is SMILING and telling me to have a nice day when she sends me to the next window to pick up my coffee. She is spreading joy by treating every customer with respect and by smiling them on through that drive-thru line. I don’t even know her name, but I’m grateful that she takes the time to do her job with a smile. Sometimes buying coffee from that lady shifts my attitude completely! As silly as it may seem to you, that woman is absolutely indispensable to me. Nobody else could fill her shoes and do that job like she does it!

You may think you don’t matter to anyone, but the truth is that no matter who you are or what you do, no matter what you look like, no matter how much money you have or don't have, you are indispensable! Take a moment to close your eyes and think about what would happen if you decided to go into hiding for a week or two. Sure, someone might step in to fill your shoes for the time being, but nobody else in the whole wide world can fill your shoes like YOU can... because they're YOUR shoes. Wear your shoes with pride and go make your difference in some else's life today like no one else can!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Anger, Abandonment and Twitter Trauma (A Lesson in Counting My Blessings)

So, the last couple of days have been incredibly stressful for me. First things first... A couple of weeks ago, I sent out invitations to a meet-up at my house. Eight people RSVP'd that they would be there. Six others responded that they "might" be there. The morning of the meet-up came and nobody - not a single soul - showed up. Boy, oh boy! What a trigger! I was immediately reminded of just about every time in my life that I'd ever felt abandoned. Not exactly the best way to spend a morning - especially when you're surrounded by fruit trays and pretty place settings accented by your best crystal glasses that are just waiting to be filled with the fresh-squeezed orange juice you were so looking forward to sharing with your guests. The amount of preparation and hard work that went into "the event that never was" is enough to wear me out just thinking about it. So nobody showed up, I spent the morning alone and disappointed and crying like a four-year-old because I'd had my feelings hurt. I was in a funk the entire day because of the emotional triggers. Not so fun.

I went to bed that night absolutely determined to wake up the next morning with a fresh perspective and an adjusted attitude. So nobody showed up. Things could be much, much worse. I had "gotten over" the shunned feeling, and went about my morning routine without a hitch... until I checked my email. What happened next is too complicated to explain. Let's just say that - honest mistake - I no longer have a Twitter account thanks to some "mis-clicks" and some confusion that I'm still trying to straighten out with Twitter's customer service people. For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter, let me tell you that if you did, you would understand why it's so important to me to have that Twitter account up and running. Remember when I talked about how trauma is relative? How if it's trauma to YOU, it doesn't matter if it's trauma to someone else? Well, losing my @MizzMeggs Twitter account was TRAUMA to me, especially when it happened on the heels of the crappiest day I'd had in quite some time.

Can I just say... THANK GOD FOR FRIENDS! Several of my online friends helped me by listening to me vent, rant and rave. They suggested ways for me to let the feelings out and ways for me to get past the trigger... One friend came over to visit and had a nice chat with me. We laughed together and talked about some serious issues together, and by the time she left my house, I felt refreshed... One friend called to check on me because she was worried about me. This particular friend and I both understand the concept of "inner children" and she was quick to remind me that the feeling of abandonment had set off my inner child's temper tantrum (the day full of crying and pouting because nobody came to my "party"). With her reminder that I am loved, I hung up the phone and spent some time playing with my kids and laughing with my husband. My mother came over to visit a bit later in the evening. I started counting my blessings, and I went to bed with a smile on my face.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning. I got up, made some coffee, logged into my Facebook account, and played around for a while. My eight-year-old son woke up early too, and we spent some time cuddling on the couch, flipping through infomercials and laughing at the ridiculous things people are spending money on. My husband and my preschooler are still sawing logs as I write this blog entry. They will no doubt wake up and head straight for the couch to join in on our family's Saturday morning ritual of sitting on our butts in front of the television. I'm sitting here in my home with a smile on my face, knowing that I am blessed beyond measure, and knowing that I'm officially past the "feeling like crap" stage of these last two fiascoes.

Because in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter that nobody showed up for my get-together. I'll schedule another one for another day and hopefully some people will be able to make it. It doesn't really matter that I lost my Twitter account. I can start a new one if Twitter won't restore my old one, and I'll reconnect with the people who followed me and exchanged valuable information with me on a daily basis. In the grand scheme of things, all that really matters to me at this moment is that I came through a couple of crappy days with an understanding that I can get past the occasional let-down. What really matters is that I no longer let anger and guilt consume my life. Sure, I might spend a couple of days down in the dumps, and that's okay. What really matters is that now I can process things and put them behind me, moving on and moving back into that place of joyfulness that has been my home for a good long while now. What really matters is that now I know how to count my blessings. Do you?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sharing Music is a Great Way to Share Your Joy!

Oodles of thanks to one of my favorite authors, Travis Thrasher, whose latest novel (Every Breath You Take) inspired this little musical movement of mine.

Many of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook may have noticed that recently I've been sharing something called "Song of the Day". Each day, I find a fun or touching song on YouTube and share it with everyone on my list. Waking up every morning and choosing a song to start off my day has really helped me to stay in a joyful frame of mind. My kids have even gotten in on the fun, listening to each day's song before they get on the bus. We take time each morning to dance together or sit together while we listen. As a matter of fact, this morning I had to promise my 8-year old that he can choose the next tune. I can't wait to see what kind of fun he drops on us tomorrow!

I've gotten a lot of great feedback from this latest musical joy-sharing movement and I'd like to issue a challenge to my regulars. Share a song of the day with your family and friends, and see if it effects you and yours as much as it's affected me and mine. Purposely choose a joyful song, regardless of your mood. Play it a few times after you've selected it and see if it lifts your spirits. (Heads-up on this; some days it doesn't make you feel a bit different! Ha!) Tweet it. Share it on Facebook. Blog about it. Make a conscious decision to be joyful in the midst of whatever you are facing and bring the rest of us along for the ride. What's YOUR song for today?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Joy is Contagious!

"Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my inner self] rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety." -Psalm 16:9, Amplified Bible

I've noticed something over the last few months. My home has become a very, very joy-filled place. Since my outlook on life has changed and my attitude has changed, I've noticed a shift in the attitudes of those around me. My husband is happier and more involved in our relationship. My kids are loving every minute of their lives here at home; they're even happy to do their chores because they can see that when Mom's cleaning the house, she does it with JOY! (Yes, I am joyful when I clean my house. I'm finally taking pride in myself and my abilities as a wife and mother... and I'm loving every minute of taking care of business instead of sitting on the couch all day with a bucket of ice cream in my lap!) We even have more time to spend together as a family, because we are MAKING time for fun. Here's a picture of the kids hanging out with me on a Monday night. My oldest is popping corn in the microwave, and the youngest is helping us all choose a movie to watch. J-O-Y in action - right here:

I have come to a place in my life where I can truly - with one hundred percent honesty - say that I am happy. I love everything about my life. I even love the trials, because I've come to the realization that there are lessons to be learned from every adverse experience I have. I know. To some of you, this sounds like B.S. motivational speaking at its best. I promise you, this is now my reality. I no longer allow circumstances to control me. I go with the flow and remember that if I am capable of recovering from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse and rape and every other horrible thing I've been through, I am capable of handling every bit of drama and trauma that comes my way.

You know, I could sit here for hours on end and tell you stories of the horrible things I have seen, heard, and done. Some of you would identify with my life, some of you would not. Some of you may think what I've been through is nothing compared to your own story - and you might be correct about that. But there's one thing I know for certain: dwelling on the past has gotten me nowhere. Moving forward is the only thing that has ever made a difference in my life. If you want to hear my story, I will gladly share it with you. But now when I share, I share with the knowledge that I have overcome the circumstances that were forced upon me. I share with the assurance and the peace of knowing that I am no longer living in defeat. I'm living in joy. And I hope that when I do share my story, you will see that joy after trauma is an attainable goal, and that you'll catch a glimpse of the strength and the beauty and the joyful heart of a survivor - a thriver - and that you'll want it for yourself.

I set out on a journey to be joyful, and it brought joy to the people around me. It renewed my faith, it restored relationships and it reminded me that (even though sometimes I may struggle to see it) there is always beauty in my life. What will living joyfully do for you? Take the journey and find out!

Monday, March 01, 2010

It's Over (but Really and Truly, It's Just Beginning)!

Finding Angela Shelton - Day Thirty...

I gave up trying to talk about this in a blog. It's impossible to tell you how transforming this journey has been. Here's the best I can come up with - I don't know what's up with the audio being WAY off... but I tried - haha!

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