I am choosing to start to share my story piece by piece here. It may not have rhyme or reason at times. Being able to reach out to one individual, being able to help one person relate, is important to me. AS I write I keep hearing "Me too" from others. You are not alone. Be Brave. Share your story!
Every spring, summer, and fall my kids love to wrestle in the yard. The result is grass stains on the knees of all of their pants. I stumbled across a universal cleaner that works AMAZINGLY on grass stains, pen stain, and almost every stain on clothes. I use it to get stains and marks off of other surfaces, including the floor, interior surfaces of vehicles, and cupboard doors. I do not suggest using it to clean your linoleum floors, however, as it is very concentrated and leaves a sticky residue if you do not rinse enough. I use LA's Totally Awesome All Purpose Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser/Spot Remover. I spray the kids pant knees and watch the green grass just bubble up. I throw the pants in to the wash with the rest of their clothes as usual. I check the pants before drying, and if any green or marks remain I spray them again and wash them one more time. I have never had to do more than that. All the stains and marks are gone. The clothes look great. You can purchase it on my Amazon site.
In sharing my story, people from my past might see stories of themselves. Not stories that they just relate to, but actually "Hey, that's me she is talking about" moments. I wrestled with this when I wrote Blogging Through My Fears.
You see, eventually some of the kids that teased or bullied me when I was 9 yrs old may have lost touch, were put in different classes, or on different teams and didn't have contact with me, or a number of other situations. They may have also become kinder, or just lost interest. Though I was bullied continuously from the age of 8 years old until I was 17 years old it was not always by the same person. Sometimes it was by people who were once my best friend.
I want to touch on the teasing and bullying from the bus. One of the "girls", now a woman, from the bus actually contacted me after I posted the blog. I thought that this might happen, and was struggling internally how to deal with it. She never knew how I perceived the bus from way back then, and she actually didn't realize my emotions were ever hurt. That is understandable.
This woman explained to me that there was bullying that was happening to her on the exact same bus. I was blind to it because I was new, scared, and in survival mode. I did not know the pain she experienced. I was younger, and tried to hide beside my older sister. We all would only ride the bus together for a complete year, as my sister and the girl mentioned would start riding the middle school/high school bus, and I would remain on the elementary school bus for a few more years. That girl would then be the youngest and one of the smallest on a bus of older kids, where she was the subject of being bullied more. We all experience so much that we keep bottled in. We were all in survival mode.
What I wouldn't give to go back to those years, knowing what I know now, and just reach out to hold her hand. She could reject it, or accept it, but either way, to give her a moment to realize that I was a safe place.
More about that girl... As she became a little older I had a chance to get to know her under different circumstances. Her Girl Scout Troop was the "Big Sister Troop" to my Brownies Troop one summer. We coupled up with them a few times for meetings, and then attended a camp-out with them. At the meetings, the girl assigned to be my "big sister" was missing each time. This is where the older girl became my friend. She offered to include me and take on as a second "little sister," At first I was nervous, but those fears quickly went away. She made me feel happy and safe. The anxiety I dealt with at every meeting was calmed when she held my hand.
We attended the camp-out. This was a huge anxiety provoking event for me. Nights away from home, my first time camping, and I wasn't the most popular girl in the troop, or in general. My assigned "big sister" was there, but didn't seem to have much interest in me. My substitute "big sister" stepped in. She always included me. She was full of smiles. I felt at ease knowing she was there. I continued to view her in this light through out school. Even when my sister and the girl had differences in High School, and my sister always seemed so upset by her presence, I still had a fondness for her. I figured their disagreement was High School drama. We never really spoke when Girl Scouts ended, as we were is different grades, and walked in different circles, but she remain as a happy memory now. I no longer associated her with the school bus. I no longer even thought of her sisters when I thought of her. I just saw her as an individual.
I then saw this same person as an adult, I was shy but didn't show it. As adults we sometimes do not know how those from the past perceive us now, and this is something that heightens my anxiety. I noticed how she still had the same great big smile, and I was confident that she was some one I could converse and spend time with it life every allowed it, or one of us was to reach out. We were in a "Mommy and Me" music group together for a few short weeks, and we would say"hello" and smile across the room. I should have reached out, but I didn't. We lost touch again. This is not where our story ends...
I am often questioned: Why I do forgive people so quickly? Why do I give second chances. Why do I continue to try to connect to people that I may not have connected with early in the relationship? Why do I try so hard?
The answers to all of those questions are simple. We are all hiding pain. We are all hiding who we truly are. We are not always going to put our best foot forward immediately. We are all going to stumble. We are all going to make mistakes. We are all going to need someone to forgive us at some point. I have hurt people. I have made mistakes. I am not perfect. I was nervous to expose the story of how I perceived bullying in my early years. There is an importance to it though. This same woman does not realize what a blessing she has been to me as I have started to let my story unfold.
If I would have put up a wall to this girl, stepping up as my "big sister" for a few weeks, I wouldn't have seen her for her. I wouldn't have "friended" her on Facebook. I would not have reconnected. I would not have found one of my biggest supporters as I struggle through exposing so much of my past. I would not known her story.
You see, this woman told me last night how she prays for me and my struggles. I was humbled once again. People we may not consider to be doing so are praying for. God calls people to work in our lives behind the scenes. She thinks of me, and prays for me. How AMAZING is that?
What I have noticed is that she is usually one of the first people to comment on my posts. She tells me I am beautiful. She tells me that I am strong. She says things to me that truly I truly need to hear. She touches my heart. These are the gifts I receive from a person that I could have chosen to shy away from. She describes me in the ways that I used to describe her in High School. I would look at her in awe and wish I could be more like her, and her sisters when I was a teenager. They had it all together, even after facing SO MANY of life's challenges. She has not had it easy, yet she always appears strong and confident. She has that great big smile. This amazing woman reads what I write!! She pays attention to me, my stories, my words, my feeling. She notices my pain and anxiety. She ENCOURAGES me! When she posts I always turn to Joe and I show him. Her words mean that much. I should have told her how much her words mean prior to this.
Take the time to get to know each other better. Sometimes we need to look beyond past hurts. How we perceive things to be may not be how they truly are. Don't shy away from people you find annoying or different. Get to know them over time. They may have a story to share. They may just be God's answers to one of your prayers (or some one's pray for you). Take your blinders off. Take off your masks too! Let people see you for who you truly are. Stay humble.
On that note, I thank my FRIEND for her continued support. Her posts mean the world to me. I am blessed to have her as part of my world, and I am honored to have her prayers and comments. Friend, I see you for you. I see your battles, your strength, your courage, and your beauty. I know I have told you before, as big as your scars may be, I NEVER notice them. You out-shine any of your scars.
When I moved from the city to the country I was barely 8 years old. This was when I was educated to what a bully was. In the city, I wasn’t bullied or intimidated. Kids would come to my house to play, as we had a swing set, sandbox, computer just for games (yup, in 1988 we had multiple as my dad’s job was computers), and we had a mom at home. The dangers of the city drove my parents to buy a house in the country. At times those dangers of the terrible city seem more bearable than the every day bullying I was introduced to in the country. I had people hurt me, and break me when Iived in the city. I could feel it in my soul (over time I would heal), but the bullying after I moved to the county first broke my spirit, and then continued each day to rip away at parts of who I was. It never ended. I never was allowed to heal. Yet, I fell in love with actual country living, and I miss it every day. If I could experience the land, trees, air, and animals, minus the cruel and heartless actions of my peers, life would have been rainbows and daisies for the most part. Anyway..
My first introduction to a bully was a girl in my neighborhood, or perhaps a few of them. Freshly moved to the country, and I was the new girl, and I had two weeks of school left before summer vacation. There was a girl who was in my class and also rode my bus. She lived way up the country road that I called home now, and she was assigned to be my “buddy” the first few days of being in my new school.She was one of 3 sisters. It wasn’t until I was older until I understood the term “popular” either, but she and her sisters were. Every day until I was in middle school, for the following 3 years, riding the bus was one of the worse parts of the day. I had my seat kicked, I was told I was an ugly dog. The group of girls would tell my sister and I that we were poor, that we wore the wrong clothes, right down to commenting on our socks. There wasn’t a day I didn’t feel fear and confusion. There wasn’t a day that they didn’t break my spirit. My sister continued to have a rough relationship with the girl’s older sister, as they remained "enemies" throughout high school. This was the start of years of being bullied, not by the same girls, but by many many people. I began to hate school. I was the subject of bullying all through out school until 12th grade. You can’t get bullied if you are too sick to be there. I became physically ill on multiple different levels. There was so much physical (we will get to that later) and emotional trauma that my body just started failing me.
Well, we all grow-up and we are told not to let what other people think or say bother you. But let’s be truthful, it does. It still hurts. I want to be able to say that I don’t care. That I am an adult and only my husband’s opinion matters, but we all know that is not true.
I still have difficulty now fitting in. I try to build relationships, but they don’t happen for me. I don’t have a group of girlfriends that invite me out to Ladies Night. And the only social events that I have had like that in the past 5 years were ones that I have planned, and for most of them, only 1 or two people have shown. I would plan a Ladies Night at my house, and have only my sister show. It hurt. I would have nights out for my birthday, and have to cancel because all of my guests would cancel last minute.
Since I have married Joe, there have been more people coming to such events, and I tell my husband, “it’s because of you. They are your friends, so they come”. He tells me that it is not true, that I have made my own social group now, but this is still difficult for me to believe and swallow. Have I been scarred so badly that friendships seem impossible to me?
I walk in to the curling club where we curl, and my anxiety causes me to scan the room and get a feel for the environment. “Will I fit in tonight?” I have an easier time in a room of strangers, or people who don’t know me well, than with a group of people who have known me for years. I worry about offending people. About losing friendships. I am a huge ball of anxiety. Some times I am too quiet. Other times I talk too much. Some times I quietly hide beside my husband, just praying I fit in that day.
With blogging I am not face-to-face with those reading. But those reading, may just be people I know, or people from my past. These people’s opinions still mean something, even if the world says it shouldn’t. I don’t want to embarrass my husband or myself. It is rare that I just let myself be myself, like I do when I write.
In High School I was able to be myself in Youth to Youth (how I miss that club, and community). As an adult I had to wait until my divorce from my first husband before I felt like me, before I cut-lose and found myself again. I never quiet felt like I belonged with his family. But I did begin finding missing elements of myself: My perky, happy, crazy, silly self. My sensitive, over-emotional, anxiety ridden, loving, caring, determined self. I found that I always held on to my courage. I decided to run the Tough Mudder again, solo, since I didn’t have a team, and be true to myself after my divorce. Thus the photo.
I realize not every one is going to love me, or love me all of the time. I am a very sensitive soul, so words cut me deeply. So every day that I put my thoughts down and make them public, I am blogging through my fears.
Why am I using this as my “catch phrase” you may wonder? Well, years ago, when my youngest was 4 years old, I was told by a friend that she wanted to be like me. What she actually said is, “When I grow-up, I want to be just like you. Though we are the same age, I feel as if you have this down, compared to me. I am a mess”. At the time we were both moms to 3 children. She would go on to point out that she felt my house was neater (well, my house was smaller and easier to keep picked-up and did not have an open floor plan). She said that I arrived to everything on time with my kids all looking good (but other things had to be sacrificed for that to happen, such as home-cooked breakfasts). There were many examples she spewed at me. The truth, however, was that I was a mess too. I just wore my mask better. I just had a different system to deal with the mess, or hide it. No Mom is ever perfect. Every mom has a junk drawer, junk closet, or messy basement. We all hide our mess differently.
Now, I am still told that I appear confident. That I appear organized. That I handle stress well. Well…. I am afraid that is not who I am all the time. My husband, Joe, has seen me break down. My children (Jasmin, Maya, Joseph & Lorelei) have all heard me yell. They are all my backbone at times, and are the only reason I make it to my feet some mornings. I am not perfect. You are not perfect. We were not meant to be. So, as everyone reads through my posts, I want you all to keep in mind that you are capable. You are strong. You can. Even though it may not seem like it today… because, well, today, in your life, the baby is teething and screaming relentlessly, while the dog just had an accident on the living room carpet, and you burned dinner and the smoke alarm went off, only to cause the toddler to start to howl. Not to mention you are behind on rent, and your car is making a funny noise, and your four year old tried to flush your cell phone. And right now, you are sitting in your closet, head between your knees having a good cry. Or perhaps, you are running on your treadmill until you feel like puking, or you left your spouse with the kids and the mess to clean up and you are sitting at a bar nursing a drink (because you are responsible and never get drunk) and you just need a moment to hide from the reality of your life. Yep. I have been there. More than once. You cry until there are no more tears. You run until you cannot take one more step. You get encouragement from a stranger, or from your drink, and then you brush it all off. You say a prayer. And you tell yourself that tomorrow will be better.
I am not Wonder Woman. God did not make a world full of people with Super Powers, but he gave us skills, and ability, and minds to think. We each have so much to give back, but we all need help sometimes. I have been in a place lately where I need extra help. Where I am the weak one. Where Joe has to pick up my slack. I know, he reminds me that just 2 years ago it was the opposite, but still…. I feel guilty at times. I am human. I am Not Wonder Woman. I need a rest.
I am Elisa. I usually say, Just Elisa. That is how I have always seen myself. But I am quickly learning from those who love me, and truly know me that “Just” means more than I ever thought it would. I just want people to remember, that I am just like every one else… meaning we all have so many layers, and no one truly knows all there is to know about us. I am not Wonder Woman.
I am a wife. I am an ex-wife. I am a mother, step-mom, bonus-mom, and a nurse. I am a Tough Mudder. I am a “new” Curler (yup, that crazy looking sport on ice). I grew-up sailing. I played trombone. I love to hike and camp. I basically love most outdoors activities. I love horseback riding and the beach. I love my family. My family is what I truly live for.
I am a woman of Faith. I touch on my Faith here and there. But I choose to just live as a Woman of Faith, without being a Bible-pusher. I rather live as the light, than trying to explain the light. If people ask, I then explain. There is more to come on that subject…
I have had a life full of ups and downs. I have had it pretty tough at times, but chose to forgive and move forward. My blogs will be full of my past experiences.
. I am new at this, so please be understanding. I am learning. Perhaps we can learn together.