Businesses are not just about the money.
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I have failed over and over again at different aspect of life that seemed so easy for other people. I have felt discouraged and lost. Starting a new business seemed daunting. Who I be successful? Who would be my customer? Could I possibly do the things I see other women do with their businesses? I placed the business concept in front of husband, and he said "I think it is a good idea".
I didn't start my business immediately. I did additional research. I talked to other women. I waited.
When I did decide to start my business, and the first shipment of inventory arrived, I felt relief. I went straight to work. I made sales and immediately started to grow my business. I felt more relief! This is really happening! I stood in front of a camera and spoke to an audience, and my anxiety did not rule my actions. I know there may be bumps along the road to success, and I am accepting of that fact.
Today my health took a toll on my body. I was unable to do the sale I had planned. I wasn't able to network as I had planned. I realize, however, that tomorrow is another day, and my business will still be there. We will try again tomorrow. I have a business that I can work hard when I am able, or take a breath from when I need to.
Elisa Energized $5 only Paparazzi Accessories. Lead Free. Nickel Free.
I decided to do something very scary for me. I am taking a leap, and starting my own business as an Independent Consultant for Paparazzi Accessories.
In the past I have been shy, and have felt like I could not possibly succeed at such. I am in the position where I cannot work outside of my home due to my health, and I need to do something. Watching other inspiring women promote their businesses has been an encouragement, it has made me feel as if I am capable of succeeding. So here I am... I am selling Jewelry and Accessories for $5 each! And it feels Amazing!
I hope to EMPOWER other women!
Here is to feeling beautiful strong,capable, energetic, and empowered! GO BE the WONDER WOMAN YOU ARE!
My husband, Joe, is the co-owner of a small business, 12th End Sports Network (TESN.US). His business partner is Brian.
My husband is a curler. He had me learn to curl a few years ago also, as he loves it so much. It has become a family sport. He and one of his curling friends created 12th End Sports Network. They webcast curling events, and have created a way for curling clubs to webcast their leagues weekly, both through live viewing and archiving the games. They have brought U.S.A. Curling Nationals in to the homes of viewers across the country, and my husband has been "the voice" of the webcast as he commentates the events.
The hardest part of my year is when he walks out the door to spend more than a week away from me. His business requires that he travels to where the event are taking place. It seems when he is gone for those 10 or more days, that everything that can go wrong does... and I am here holding down the fort. It is not an easy role, and it is one I fought against every being put in. It is one of the reasons I didn't tell him I had feeling for him the moment I realized I did. I spoke to him about my feelings prior to my first "I Love You". I had told him that I couldn't be in a relationship that would require my husband to spend long periods of time away from me. The fact that my heart already LOVED him won out.
It hurts my heart every time he leaves. I suffer from anxiety, and as we are planning for his trip, I can feel the anxiety increase more and more. It doesn't help that my husband is an insulin dependent diabetic, and he is not the best at eating right. My grandfather passed away due to this. It is scary knowing he is so far away, and I cannot care for him.
Another reason my anxiety is heightened is because many people in my life have lost loved ones while their loved one was traveling away from home. I know it is an unusual number, and that in reality, my husband is fine. However, I still have the ones who passed away while RVing, traveling abroad, etc, in the back of my mind. I have memories of loved ones rushing to find a flight to go get their loved one who suffered a heart attack and is now in the hospital in another state. I have watched loved ones struggle to make arrangements to bring loved ones home. I sit there with the knowledge that I am home, not making any money, and I do not have a credit card (as my identity was stolen a few years ago), and I have health issues, so if something was to happen to Joe, I would have NO WAY to go to him. I have no control over the situation. I haven't met the people he works with while he is away, other than Brian, and I have no finances while he is gone. I feel trapped, and I am alone. Most of the time I cannot even talk to him. The lasy 2 years he has not even been able to Skype me once while away on his trips. It is a very scary situation to be in. I hate that I feel this way, and have tried to work through it, but his long trips away are never going to be easy. I hate them, and I feel the tears in my eyes, and my heart begins to race,and it is hard to swallow when I think of him leaving me again for another "business trip". It is even worse when I know he has left. That is when the full panic attack sets in. I get sweaty, my heart races, my stomach turns in knots, my hands shake, I feel like I could pass out, I get a funny taste in my mouth, I feel hot all over... and I have to breath through it until he returns.
That being said:
As a faithful and supportive wife I still encourage and support him. I pack goodie bags and care packages for Joe, and his business partners, and his volunteers. I do my part, even if I do it with tears in my eyes. My job, as his wife, is to love him, and to support his dreams. I want my husband to reach his goals and to make his dreams a reality. I plan surprises for him, and try to have surprises waiting for his return. I pack love notes and cards. I hide gifts in his bags. I wait for his phone calls.
Today I am reaching out to all of my AWESOME readers to help me show my husband support.
My husband is up for a Streaming Award for his webcast. The broadcast with the most votes will win an HD Camera, which would greatly benefit my husband's small business. I am asking for all of my readers to cast a vote for 12th End Sports Network by going to the link, selecting their business, voting by clicking "3", and filling in the few required boxes. I only takes a moment. It is quick. It is easy. And it would greatly benefit my husband, which is also a huge favor to me!!
My husband helped me to set-up this blog, to keep me from going stir-crazy while I am home with my disability. This blog is a way for me to tell my truth, to get my story out. I appreciate every one of my readers. I appreciate my husband for always supporting me. Please help my husband, vote TODAY!
Voting closes on June 30th. Thank You!
My children are amazing. I am a Bonus-Mom to Jasmin, A step-mom to Joseph,and Mom to Maya and Lorelei. All of my children have big hearts, and are filled with empathy. They want to help and love those around them. I am so blessed!
My daughter, Maya, is 11 yrs old and is in 6th grade. She likes to watch YouTube videos, and was watching one about sneakers. It was titled something along the lines of, $2500 sneakers vs $40 sneakers. At the end of the video the guy asked kids to write to him (a comment) and he would give a pair of the $2500 sneakers to someone he felt was deserving.
Maya wrote him. You have to understand, my kids are not kids that get everything they want. Last summer they got to a week long summer camp for the first time, and it was only a half day thing, we don't spend money on activity after activity. Sports are rare. New clothes that are not hand-me-downs are rare. I went through a divorce, was a single mom, then remarried a man who has also suffered through a divorce. Finances are tight. They don't get the biggest, shiniest, and best of everything. They get what we can afford. I always put my kids needs first, so they are always cleanly clothed, and well fed.
As I was saying... Maya wrote him in his comment section. She told him that she would really like a pair of those sneakers, not for herself, but for her mother. She went on to explain that I had been facing health issues and having multiple surgeries, and she didn't have money herself to surprise me, but if the shoes were sent they would be a surprise for me. She stated that she thinks I would be happy with such a surprise, and maybe the shoes would lift my spirits. She was a little girl begging for a chance to gift her mother with something she knew her mother could not afford, and even if she could, would never buy for herself.
This little girl could have asked for a pair for herself, but she asked for a pair for me, her mom. Let me explain what took place. You see, I monitor Maya's YouTube account, but hadn't been quite on top of it for a week. Maya does not know how often I check, and she knows she has to behave on the internet, and at any given moment her mom or Poppy (step-dad) will check what she has been up to. So, after Maya posted the comment of wanting the shoes for her mother she was then facing a week worth of replies from other people on YouTube before I saw because I had been so busy that I had neglected to snoop on her sooner.
I took Maya shopping for dress shoes during that week, knowing her chorus concert was in a few days, and knowing that her old shoes no longer fit. When we were at the store Maya kept saying, "Are you sure, Mommy? You aren't working right now, and you don't have to spend the money on me. I can wear my black boots. You need new clothes more." And I continued to reassure her that she should be getting new shoes, and not to worry about me. She thanked me with the biggest smile, hugs, and gratitude at the end of our shopping trip. Little did I know, my sweet, innocent child was holding a secret that was causing her pain.
The next day I did a "computer check" while she was at school and checked out her YouTube account. She had a few alerts. Maya's comment about wanting the sneakers for her sick mom was definitely noticed by other kids and teens on YouTube, and they were not kind. They all bashed Maya, telling her that her mom was an adult and should go and buy her own sneakers. They told Maya that she was lying, that her mom didn't have surgeries, and that her mom was fine. They stated one mean comment after another. Poor Maya then responded to their comments stating that I did have a recent surgery and it had something to do with my intestines. Maya went on to say that she was only 11 yrs old and did not know all of the details, but that her mom went to the Emergency Department frequently, and had a bunch of surgeries recently, and was now home from work. Maya kept defending herself time and time again. People said, "The shoes are mine" and then told Maya how she could "go fly a kite," basically.
One person even told Maya that tons of people die every single day, so no one cares. No one cares why she would wanted the shoes, and no one would care if her mother died. My heart broke for my child. How could another child be so cruel to anyone? Who was raising this child to bash another child's dreams, and to tell a child that her mother was worthless, that the death of her mother would not matter. Death wasn't something my children thought about before, but now my daughter was questioning whether she would lose me. I signed on to YouTube, I defended Maya. I told everyone how special my daughter is for thinking about some one else first. I explained that Maya was extremely truthful, and that they were all cruel. I then had a talk with Maya....
I had to tell Maya to ignore the hatred and the online bullying. I told her not to respond any further to anyone on that thread, that she need not defend herself further, as we know the truth, and none of their words mattered in our real life. Joe and I told her how much we love her. We told her how proud we are of her.
Maya is an amazing little girl, getting High Honor Roll and always trying her best, even when faced with stress such as her parents' divorce, moving to a new town and school, and a mom with health concerns. It has not been easy for my kids. Maya keeps a sunny disposition through it all. She is so genuine and caring. When Maya smiles, her dimples get so deep that you just want to snuggle those cheeks, and you cannot help but smile too.
The fact that people are trying to break her makes me very upset. I must raise her to be strong, but not to lose her empathy for others. I am Raising three Wonder Women, and one Super Man. I teach them strength emotionally, and through fun physical activities, like Tough Mudder. More important, I am teaching them to LOVE with their whole heart, because this is true strength.
In raising my Maya as a Wonder Woman, I am teaching her to be sweet, yet strong. I want her to always hold on to a piece of that innocent side. People often tell me that I still seem innocent, or even choose to call me naive, though I am not. That innocent side will remain important throughout her life. It will make people feel safe, as she will seem approachable, and will shine a light that will draw others closer when they want to escape the dark. People will want to know more about that light, and she can show them how God has worked in her life, and how he works through her.
Maya's strength will not just show physically. Maya has already begun to turn the other cheek and walk away. Maya is learning that not everyone's opinion matters, and that she is stronger than words. When she is faced with an obstacle, in life or in Tough Mudder, her job is to conquer that obstacle. She can, and she will. She must not quit or back down. Someday, she will make every one of her dreams a reality.
While Maya is being sweet, and strong, her job is also to be caring and to build others up. This is what will make her a true Wonder Woman. As Maya is climbing and reaching her goals, and conquering obstacles, she will not be leaving others face down in her dust. No, Maya will be building steps for them to climb along beside her. Maya will be educating others in how to do what she has already accomplished. Maya will teach. Maya will Lead. Maya will succeed and help others do the same.
I am Raising Wonder Woman. I am her Mommy...
In the words of Dory, "Just keep swimming". It is my Every Day. One foot in front of the other... it is a daily struggle. Remaining hopeful is a lot of hard work. Keeping a positive attitude is ever more difficult. I hear, "You have such a positive attitude," and I think, "If they only knew". My husband and I both know it is not what it seems.
Just last night my husband had to once again dry my tears. I had a procedure done on Friday. It had only been 3 days since the procedure, but it was still so frustrating. The surgeon went in and looked at my sigmoid resection, and found then incision site to be intact and it healed well. So, it was ruled out as part of the problem. It looks to be all muscular. They injected Botox, the highest allowed dose, into my rectum and colon to try to relax the muscles. My abdominal pain has been extremely intense the last 2 days, and it hurts to sit.
I am feeling even more frustrated. Every time I have had to see a new doctor, a new surgeon, they repeat the same tests that I already had. They start from scratch. They want the tests run their way. On Friday, I met with my surgeon just before the procedure. That is when she informed me that she was leaving the practice and I will have to follow up with a different doctor, one of her colleagues. I may have to start over once again, and I have had nothing but set-backs. I am tired. I am frustrated. I am sad.
My kids, my husband, they are what keeps me going. I look at my amazing husband and think about how unfair this is to him. We have been married for such a short time, and in that short time, I decline more and more. The tears flow with this knowledge. He deserves endless happiness. Joe looks at me at times like I am a precious treasure, and I can't help but wonder, "Why?" because I feel like a huge burden. I don't feel sorry for myself. I feel sorry for my husband, and for my children. I look at the handsome face of my amazing husband, and I think of how he deserves EVERYTHING! He deserves so much, and I feel as if I may be failing.
Everyone tells me what an awesome attitude I have, while I sit there and think about all of the ways I am not enough, and then have to battle those negative feelings. This wonderful, sweet, handsome, genuine, loyal, man loves ME! I am blessed beyond words to have this man in my world. Joe's arms calm me when I am feeling overwhelmed. Joe's touch, when he brushes hair off of my forehead, or strokes my neck, leaves me feeling safe and comforted. Joe is my safe place. I am not as always as positive as I seem. Very often I am loss.
I am looking in to BCIR surgery, to see if I can be a candidate. I feel like I am a puppet hanging from it's last frayed strings, and if this is not going to be a possibility I may break in to a heap on to the floor. The thought of spending the rest of my life this weak, and this broken... it is not who I am. I was the Tough Mudder. The mother that takes on the world, the one every one called Wonder Woman. Each day I slip further and further from the woman I use to be.
My story continues....
After being raped, I became very secretive. I didn't want to talk about it, as I was scared. There were times when my secret was almost exposed. There was the Midwife at the OBGYN office that attempted to expose my secret, though she was not 100% sure that she knew my secret. Actually, she had her own opinion that I had become sexually active with a boyfriend and was just afraid to tell my mom. Back then, teen-aged girls did not have the same privacy within the doctor-patient relationship that they have now. It was my first time seeing her, and I had only scheduled an appointment with her because it was an acute appointment and my doctor was unavailable. She called my mom in to the room after I was seen for pelvic pain. She went on to tell my mother that she did not believe that I was a virgin, and that she thought I was lying. She then told my mother that I should be started on birth control pills. My mother allowed me to start on the pills, but because my actual gynecologist, who had seen me months prior, had stated that I had large cysts on my ovaries and he though it would help. Not because a grumpy midwife told her that I was sexually active behind her back.I had no plans to ever experience anything related to sex ever again... at least not until I was married.
There was a suspicious rope burn on my wrist, yet it looked nothing like a rope burn. I had a bulls-eye shaped mark left on my wrist from where the ropes had rubbed. It was where the square knot that had been tied was pressing in and rubbing. Once it began to heal, you could not tell it was a rope burn of any sort. It had sat against my wrist, tightly pressed in because there was duct tape on top of it. I originally though the guy were just being complete jerks, but once I realized they were serious, my fight took on a whole new level of intensity, and their knot tying was placed to the test. By wrapping duct tape over the rope, that issue was quickly solved for them. We lived in the country,and my mom saw the bulls-eye mark on my wrist. Off to the doctors we went. I was tested for Lyme Disease. My mom was pretty sure I was bitten by a tick. The blood work came back negative. Once it began to fade, it was no longer that alarming to my parents, and I was known for getting rashes, scrapes, cuts, and scratches, as I was a tom-boy.
Abdominal pain would soon become a part of life. We found out I had endometriosis at a young age, but I also was dealing with a lot of stress.
I am now going to go in to parts of my story that my husband doesn't know all of the details to yet. He will in the next few hours when he reads this. I haven't kept the details from him, but he said that unless it was really important for me to do so, I need not bring up every memory from the past. That he loves me, and what had happened to me does not change his love for me. I had already told him the gory details and per him he didn't need more unless I felt it would help me in some way. The rest is part of my journey in to healing.
What really was hard for my husband to hear was the fact that long ago I had forgiven the male "friend" who was one of the 3 guys. He was just caused pain by hearing my story to the full extent. This woman, whom he knew as a teen, and whom he now loved, just told him a story of how she was raped, and it had happened at a time when he was an influential young adult in her life, and he felt that he had done nothing to help her. It wasn't his fault because I had not let him in. I had to explain to my husband that I didn't reach out for help. I swore our mutual friends to secrecy, and I didn't let him in. I would go to Youth to Youth conferences, plaster on my smile, and only would share with those that I thought I could truly help. His opinion of me mattered too much... so he only heard rumblings after I told bits of my story in small groups, he never knew the full truth.
When I began to tell Joe of the forgiveness I had for this individual he just couldn't wrap his head around it. I didn't know the other 2 males, and I forgave them too. I only knew their first names and nothing else. Joe couldn't handle any more information after I explained that I had already forgiven and moved on. I had prayed and I forgave. He told me that it was a fresh wound to him, and he couldn't forgive. He said that he couldn't understand how someone could hurt me in the was that I had described. He felt guilt because he knew I was struggling for a while at Youth to Youth, but didn't know why, and if he had known why, he would have struggled with how to help. So what I write now, will be new information to my wonderful, caring, and supportive husband.
As for my male "friend", I have to see him after the rape. While I didn't want to see him at first, I accepted the fact that if I wanted to sail, I would see him. The first time I saw him he avoided me. He did his best not to run in to me at the small sailing camp. He had been younger than the other 2 males. He had been heavily influenced, and the last to participate. I am offering him NO EXCUSES, but I honestly feel, had the other 2 males not been who they were, this would have never happened. He made the choice, however, and he hurt me. He took something that I could never get back, and left me with scars. He was the hardest to forgive. He may not have had the power to save me, but he could have tried. Instead he joined in.
I explain to my children that their choices are their own. It doesn't matter who committed the "crime" first, that if they participate than they are just as guilty. Any one who knew the friend that had hurt me would describe him much differently than he was that day. He was outgoing. He was friendly. He wasn't a follower. He was a follower on the afternoon, however. He was weak. I would have never described his as weak prior.
We spent the first few days back at sailing camp avoiding each other. Eventually, late one afternoon, after a full day of activities, I ran in to this individual while no one else was near. I literally ran in to him. I was rushing inside to grab something requested by my sailing instructor, I turned the kitchen corner in a quick jog to get back out to the landing, when I ran right in to him. He put a hand on my shoulder and said, "I am so sorry." and I knew he wasn't talking about stepping on my toe just then. From there we nodded at each other when we saw each other. I would tell other's that I felt he had an "ego" if they would say he was cute. Young girls swooning over older guys, and here I was making excuses why he wasn't that great. You would think I grew an extra head with the way they would stare at me.
I had planned on telling someone I had trusted. There was a sailing instructor, Dan, who had become my "rock" at sailing lessons. When I started there as a very young girl, I couldn't swim. He helped another instructor teach me to swim in private sim lessons that summer. By the time I was 10 years old, I had a full-blown little girl crush on him, only to have a crush on someone different by the time I was 12 years old. He was the one instructor that remained important to me though. I still wonder at times if he remembers the fool I made of myself when I was 10 yrs old, with that crush. I am the type of person that usually has to let her feeling known. So, I was shy and embarrassed, but I told him that I liked him. I think he was slightly confused as to what I meant and brushed it off. What does an older teen boy say to a little girl that just professed her love for him? I smile just thinking about it. When the kids threw the instructors off of the dock on the last day of sailing, I was there to participate. The instructors would usually try to grab a kid or two to take down with them. Dan grabbed me, and quickly realized the mistake he had made when we had hit the water. I was still scared of water over my head and could barely swim! He held me above the water as he went under, and then he surfaced to swim me to the side, apologizing as he did. For me, as a 10 yr old girl with a crush, it was a hero move.
Anyway, as I grew older and learned more about Dan, he became some one I really looked up to. We had many of the same Christian values. I trusted him and respected him, and as he went off to college he would write me. He would also call me, and allowed me to call him. I would get his advice. He would ask me questions, as he was planning to work as a youth pastor, and valued my input. He became a very important friend. He never realized that I often used him as a shield. I felt safe near him, so I avoided the person that had hurt me by sticking close to Dan. While I felt like an outcast, in most situations, when Dan was around he put my anxiety at ease.
After the rape I avoided the Racing program at sailing camp. There were just too many teen-aged boy trying to show off, and it left me uncomfortable. I became uncomfortable with all competition. Even today, competition, or any sort, gives me anxiety. The day I was raped it was a competition among two very aggressive college-aged males. They goaded some one that originally was not OK with their actions to join them. They bullied and threatened him in to submission, and used his younger age as a strong-hold over him. I didn't want to be around a group of young males with huge egos, and only on to two females who also had larger than life egos, and felt the need to prove themselves among the guys. The sailing camp too notice that once I graduated the last program before racing, I chose to repeat that program again instead of race. I made it known that I never planned on racing in the small boat racing program, and they then created a big boat racing for me, and others like me. A program that focused on sailing as a team. Dan became the instructor. He had been my instructor a couple different times, and this was very comfortable for me.
I wrestled with the thought of telling Dan what had happened many, many times. I wanted to tell some one badly. Especially some one who I felt could pray with me, who could help me with forgiveness, and also guide me if things took a turn for the worse. I know that Dan took notice of the way I would often seem to be "dreaming". If I didn't have an assigned task I would often sit towards of the bow of the boat, toes dragging in the water, belly to the life line, and there I would stare off to the horizon, and I would think of how to tell him. A few times he came and sat beside me and tried to crack a joke, or ask me what I was thinking. The jokes would distract me, and I would smile and I would return to the real world. When he would ask what I was thinking, I would stay quiet and shrug my shoulders. He would sit beside me for a bit, then crack a joke (as this was his personality) and get back to the sailing task at hand.
Once I had finally decided that I was going to tell Dan the whole story. I made up my mind. That was the one and only time I had ever thrown up on a sailboat. It took every one by surprise. I was perfectly fine, until I made that decision. The boat was set to tack, I turned to duck under the boom and slide across the boat to the windward side after the tack, and I vomited. I vomited all over the lines, the down haul, everything that was in front of the hatch, but behind the mast... it was all stained with puke. It was a pretty wavy day, so Dan said that the waves and rough sailing had to be the reason. He grabbed a bailing bucket and splashed the deck, and allowed the waves help to carry it away. The other guys thought it was slightly gross,and then they recovered. I was teased the rest of the day. I never got around to telling Dan. At the end of sailing camp, he pulled me aside to let me know that he wouldn't be returning as an instructor the following year, and my heart broke. Dan continued to write and call. We lost touch when I turned 21 years old, but between his last day at camp, and when we lost touch, I still attempted to tell him. I was never successful.
Every time Dan and I spoke on the phone, he just seemed so happy. I wanted to tell him about the rape. I wanted to tell him about the boyfriend that I now had that was abusing me. I wanted some one to give me an opinion, but not some one who was too close to the situation. There was one time, when I was 17 years old, when I had finally decided to call him and talk to him. He was so happy I had called. He told me about baking brownies in the microwave, and about his sister, and about his BIG news. He asked his girlfriend to marry him, and she said "yes". I was so happy for him. My joy and excitement was overflowing for him. I listened as he told me stories of how he knew she was the one. I remember him telling me that she loved to lay her head on his chest as he told her about his day, because she loved the sound his voice made rolling in his chest, and how it made her feel so safe. I remember thinking how amazing that must be. Joe is now that to me... I waited a long time to find that feeling.
I continued with sailing camp after Dan was gone. Before he left, Dan had encouraged them to create a "cruising" program for those who just wanted to cruise and relax on big boats without racing them. He was so excited the last day of sailing, when this announcement was being made to me. He knew it is what I had wanted. Dan had also had the camp create a new award, one that had never been given out in the past, a leadership award, given to me that summer. Dan left, but he left me with more confidence.
I was left to face the man who had raped me without my "security blanket". I was nervous at first, but I had been staying strong for so long already. It came naturally. I ended up feeling pity for my attacker. I began interacting with him. I saw parts of him that were once that of "my friend" before the rape. I allowed myself to talk to him, laugh with him, and even share food with him. I forgave him. I don't know how I did it, but I did. I no longer saw him through the same eyes. I now saw his weak side.
One summer my cousin and I brought materials to put hair wraps in campers and instructors hair (they look like friendship bracelets only they are wrapped around the hair). We happily put these in any one's hair who asked. He asked. I wrapped his hair. I was sitting close and personal with someone who once caused me a great deal of pain. My hands were in his hair & along side his cheek. I could have slapped him, but I had a big heart, and had already determined that he was weak, that he needed forgiveness more than he needed to be publicly ridiculed. I had to sit close to wrap his short hair, so my leg was pressed against his, and I was facing him. He looked me straight in the eyes, and he said, "I am sorry" and I nodded. That was it. I spent the rest of the afternoon completely at peace, because I knew whether or not he was truly sorry, I had forgiven and healed. I had already spoken to a school counselor, and I had spoken to some of my friends, and I had healed. I started to speak about the rape more openly at Youth to Youth conferences in order to help others. I felt a weight lifted.
I don't expect any one else to forgive as I have. The fact that I have forgiven, does not mean that I will ever forget. It is just no longer a hurdle, a wall in my life. It is not a moment in my life that defines me. It happened to me, but it is not who I am.
I feel so annoyed when doctors open my medical charts, and go through it, looking at me, with all seriousness, to ask me the same question. There is a question they want answered. They feel that it is the route to every bit of anxiety I suffer. Perhaps, this is it, this is what has been causing her stomach issues! They all think they have found the Holy Grail.
They take a deep breath, and they all scoot their doctor stool really close, they look at me straight in the eyes...
But first, prior to asking, they all want to kick my husband out of the room. He just cannot be present. There is no way that he could possibly know about my past, right? I mean, why would a man want to marry such a damaged woman. Joe knows. He knows about all of it. He knows more details than he probably wanted to know. He married me despite the truth. The last time he was at the Emergency Department with me, my surgeon spoke to both of us, stating that he wanted a female doctor to speak with me next. I just wanted someone to help. I was a little taken back when one of the top Colon Surgeons, who just performed surgery on me weeks ago, sent in a female Primary Care Physician to speak to me. I was there because I couldn't move my bowels for 3 weeks, had intense pain, and was vomiting uncontrollably for 16 hours straight. She looked at Joe and said, "I am sorry Mr. Calabrese I am going to ask you to leave". She was so serious. I turned to her and asked why. Joe was quick to respond with, "I am her husband". The doctor told me she had to talk to me about some personal matters and felt it was best if he wasn't present. I looked her straight in the eyes and said, "Are you about to ask me about being raped? If so, he has known the details for a long time. I share everything with my husband. He is my safe place." I saw she was taken back a bit, but then spoke to both of us. Wanting to know what treatments I received and whether this could all be stressed induced. They want to remove my husband from the room to make sure that I am also not still a victim of abuse. Many people who were once a victim, remain a victim, only to new perpetrators. I have to explain over and over that my husband is my best friend, my safe place.
I have come to expect the conversation. I haven't thought much about the rapes in years and years. Since my abdominal pain and bowel issues have become worse, suddenly it is the topic of conversation, and I am forced to revisit that part of my life every single time I see a doctor. You see, anal sex, forceful rape (vaginal or anal), sodomy, etc. can physically reek havoc on a rectum and colon. Trauma of any sort can lead to depression and anxiety, which can lead to digestive disorders. So basically, they all feel that perhaps my symptoms are due to unhealed past trauma. They all ask, "How do you feel now about your rape, and molestation, and sodomy that took place when you were just a young teen? Have you sought out counseling?" and I just once again shake my head and smile. This makes me stressed. I know how much I have healed. I know how I have moved forward, how I have forgiven, how I have found strength. I had my breakdowns long ago. I am now with a supportive husband. He was a friend first, before he was my lover, and we are so much stronger because of that. When I first visited the Cleveland Clinic, they were actually glad that Joe could not stay, and I would be attending my second day of doctor appointments solo. They used that as an opportunity to schedule me with a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist then reported to the pain doctor in my presence. The way she emphasized the fact that I felt my husband was not controlling me, that he was "just the right amount of concerned, not too relaxed and not overly concerned", that he was not abusive, and that he was honest with me, kind of left me feeling annoyed. I understand that many, many women are in need a of a safe place, and need to be able to express honest answers to these questions, but it almost felt as if I was not being heard. I am annoyed that humans need to have these conversations at all, that people can not respect each other. That people hurt each other and betray trust. Personally though, I feel like no one sees past the "VICTIM ELISA" to who I am today. When it was time to leave, they kept telling me, that if I felt different, to make an appointment with them. No, my husband is not hitting me. No, I am not being the victim, and I am not crying out for help by fainting, bleeding, puking, and not pooping. Thanks!
When I was really young, I only went deep in to detail with a few select, close friends. One of my guy friends knew all of the emotions I went through. He knew all of the details of what had happened. He probably remembered things that I am forgetting even, and he took those details to the grave. We lost him a few years ago to illness. I slowly told more and more friends. I opened up to those who became close to me, partially because I was scared that if they found out the details from someone else, that they would only get partial truths.
Joe knew some of the details, and the moment we became a couple, I flooded him with the rest. I just never wanted to keep anything from him. I told him the important things, like: Where it happened. Why I was alone with these 3 individuals. How it unfolded. How scared I was. What they did to me exactly. I also went on to tell him small details, the "too much information details" like: How the rope felt when it cut in to my wrist, and that the rope was actually the line used for a main sheet on a laser sailboat. I told him what was said to me and who did what when. I told him what I was wearing, as every one wonders this. I had on a two piece tankini covered by jean shorts and a sweatshirt. We just got done racing sailboats all day long. I told him the way the floor of the van felt against various body parts (my back and stomach, and my knee when it was smashed in to it). I explained the way the air smelled, like sweaty men, dirty lake water, rust, duct tape and apple trees, and the aluminum smell of small boat masts. I also gave Joe permission to ask any question that came to mind. I promised him that it was OK to ask, and that I would answer honestly. I don't think he wants to know more. What he has heard has been painful enough for him.
I was raped in the back of an old van. It was a long van, with no seats other that the front seats. It was a van that originally had the 3 rows in back. The back windows were mostly covered by built in shelves, or hooks, and the supplies that were on them. The middle was empty, like an aisle where we would maneuver to get stuff or sit. They also stuck a laser sailboat kind of tipped on it's side in there at times, when only two people were riding in the van, so that they wouldn't have to tow it. The van was used for towing small sailboats on a rack trailer, and was full of everything needed for sailing, and small boat repair. We would all pile in and ride in the back. On the way to the race I sat in the back with a guy I had just met, and a female friend whom I had known since I was 9 years old. The two in the front seats were both males. The other girl that rode there with us, abandoned us when she ran in to one of her college friends, and decided to head home with them. I was left with the 3 guys. One I knew, the other two I had just met that day. This was before the days of cell phones. I was 14 years old. The van was full of center boards, rudders, tillers, rope and line of multiple thickness, cleats, duct tape (fixes every boat leak), and lots of other junk. After this, I could never bring myself to join the Racing Program at the sailing camp I attended, even though these guys were not part of it. They parked the van off of a dirt road, near the lake, among the apple trees on one of the guy's property. That is where everything changed for me. This is when I began lying to my parents. This is when I felt God had absolutely made a mistake. I never felt like I fit in among my family, or extended family, or school. The only places I felt like I belonged were at Youth to Youth conferences and when I was Sailing. This stole the sailing from me. Now that I have healed, I miss it deeply.
Some people comment on how brave I am for opening up. I don't feel that way. Everyone acts as if this should be kept a secret. If we make it safe for rape victims to open up, it will make it more difficult for rapist to get away with such acts. Perhaps they will question whether it is really worth the risk? I was victimized as a little girl, molested at the age of 5. I was a rape victim as a teen. That is what had happened to me. It is not who I am. It does not define me. It hasn't left me with unhealthy views of sexuality. I have healed. I think sex is a beautiful thing in a committed relationship, and I can appreciate the gift that we give to our partner by choosing to be open and intimate with them.
If you were a victim of rape, find your voice. It doesn't have to be a huge audience. Speak to a counselor, and then a close family member or friend, but just find your voice. Hiding the truth will only eat you up inside.
There are times, despite the pain, that I really look forward to just enjoying a normal life with my family. Due to my uncertain bathroom habits, my pain, my nausea, and my feelings of fatigue and syncope, I just don't leave the house often. I say "no" to a lot of invites, because people just may not understand.
On Mother's Day my husband wanted to take me to our traditional Mother's Day Brunch. I don't get to have my step-son with me on Mother's Day, as I must share him with his own mother, so Joe started the tradition of taking me out to a really nice buffet brunch, which isn't something that the boy would find to be that much fun, but our 3 girls LOVE to get dressed up for. The chandeliers, china, stemware, and flowers makes them feel like princesses. I was really looking forward to a nice morning out.
I enjoyed myself. I couldn't eat everything I wanted, but made sure I had a nibble of all of my favorites. There was prime rib, salmon, quiche, salads, omelettes, and so much more! There is always a very expansive dessert table. I had a few bites of apple pie and a chocolate covered strawberry. The girls love the cannolis, red velvet cake, chocolate cake, cream puffs, and the list continues...
I was only out of the house for 2 hours. I was making memories with my daughters and my husband. Every second of being with them was joyous.
The result: I was bed ridden for the rest of the day, and all day Monday, but it was worth it. I was tired, nauseated, vomiting, and in so much pain. By Monday morning I was so fatigued that I could not stay awake and I was falling over on the couch like someone completely drunk. I could not function. After my husband, Joe, got the kids off to school, and himself off to work (he had a difficult time leaving, but the phone was close at hand) I passed out asleep on the couch, curled up in pain. I woke for the first time around 2pm to vomit and go back to sleep. I could not eat a single thing. My husband took care of dinner and the kids after school and work. I was unable to function at all that Monday. I eventually crawled in to bed. Tuesday morning I was still in a lot of discomfort, but I was not fatigued as much. I was able to walk, and sit, and drink fluids. By the afternoon I was able to function a bit more, though I still had no energy to write, read, or do many physical activities, such as climb up and down the stairs.
A few hours of fun may result in days of recovery. I have to weigh my desire to leave the house versus the aftermath. I have to look at my calendar and the activities of the entire week, and not just that one day, because choosing to leave the house on a Sunday could leave me completely disabled for days after.
Mother's Day with my beautiful daughters was completely worth the days that followed.
I often hear how I "don't look sick". I get it. People only see me when I feel well enough to be seen. I rarely leave my house right now because I am too tired, too nauseated, and too emotionally drained. My body stands in my way.
I am asked so many questions over and over.
Perhaps this will answer some of them.
This past November I had my Sigmoid Colon removed in hopes to help with the health issues that I deal with daily. Any typical day I can have a whole slew of symptoms.
I have had multiple surgeries in my life time. I am only 37 years old. I have had laparoscopic surgeries due to ruptured ovarian cysts, endometriosis (needed to be scraped), and for exploratory reasons. I had an Appendectomy. I had knee surgery on each of my knees. I have had hernia repair surgeries when I was 11 years old. I have had a stick removed where it pierced though the bridge of my nose between my eyes, and became lodged in multiple pieces (Tom-Boy accident). I have had endoscopy and I have had colonoscopies (not counted as my surgeries though). I had a hysterectomy at the age of 32. I have counted my surgeries. I have had close to 20 of them.
I right now am dealing with a colon that does not want to work. My muscles are not doing what they should. They tighten when they should relax. They spasm all of the time. I have a bowel movement usually only every 14 days on average. This past month we hit day 30.
I am making trips to the Cleveland Clinic to seek help. In June they will try using botox injections in my rectum and colon to see if it brings relief.
I had a local, well-known, Colon Surgeon attempt to help after my previous surgeries did not (2 rectocele repair surgeries). I had imaging done prior to the other surgeries, in which certain results were over-looked. The fact that I had intussusception of the lower colon was not addressed. The entrocele I had was not addressed either.
The surgery in November was going to provide relief, or so I thought. The doctor went in, removed my sigmoid colon, did a rectoplexy to repair the prolapse of my colon and rectum, repair the intussusception, and repair the rectocele, and then he also repaired the entrocele.
The symptoms did not get better. They got worse. I began having new symptoms.
Each day is a giant QUESTION MARK. Will I be able to...? Will you feel up to...? What would you like to eat? What can you eat? Will you vomit today? Will you poop today? Will you faint today? Will you be able to leave the house today? Will you be able to leave your bed today? Will you feel well enough to attend your child's concert/art exhibit/birthday party/etc. today?
I spent my Birthday at the Cleveland Clinic, in another state, without my family, going from appointment to appointment. I have had to travel to the clinic multiple times, alone, to have tests done. I have missed so many fun and meaningful moments. This has left me felt torn.
I am left feeling like a failure because I cannot work. This, and missing my kids' activities, leave me feeling depressed.
Looking at the scars that are covering my abdomen, pelvis, and various other body parts, makes me feel self conscious. I have 15 scars in my belly button alone.
I married my husband this past August. He married me knowing how broken I am. I feel like the "World's Worst Wife" when I am hurting, when I am sick, when I am unable to walk, when I am unable to help. He loves me anyways... I had thought about postponing the wedding when the health issues became more severe. Back then it was mostly just pain daily. He wouldn't hear of it. He had me take some pain medication to help in the morning, and then by the time of the ceremony I grinned and bared the pain. Then after I said "I do" came the wine, another pain pill, and the love and support of my family and friends. I tried to hide any discomfort while I took the dance floor. I knew it may be a long, long time before I would be able to live like that again.
I often get asked, "WHY?" as in, "Why do you have all of this going on inside your one body...?"
Well, due to the endometriosis I had a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy can sometimes lead to entroceles. Rectoceles can happen due to birthing babies naturally. Both of my babies were over 8 lbs, but I had the rectocele since I was a teen. Another cause for such could be trauma to that area. As a teen I was raped and sodomized by 3 young adult men during one single encounter. There was a lot of trauma after. So, the original rectocele may have been caused by that, while the severity may have been increased due to the births of my girls. The intussusception and prolapses may have also been caused by the trauma.
I am most likely vomiting daily, because food cannot pass through my system as it should with my colon not doing it's job. And the syncope is most likely due to blood flow changes when my body dumps, and also due to the fact that my body is not getting rid of toxins like it should.
I get "dumping syndrome" once to twice a month on the days that my bowels finally relax and allow me to go. You see, every day I take enough laxatives for a colonoscopy prep. They do not help. They build up in my system behind the solid stool. When the bowels finally relax, because I black-out, the solid stool is emptied. If you have ever had bowel prep you know what happens... hours and hours of liquid stool... which is what happens next for me. It is a horrible way to live. If I don't take all of the Miralax and laxatives, my bowel never fully empty, and then I feel worse and get even more backed-up. I cannot win.
No one knows for sure, 100%, the reasons I am dealing with all of this. I just want to figure out a way to fix it. I want to LIVE again, not just survive day to day.
Next time you want to say, "You don't look sick." Please stop yourself.