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.
Today I pulled an "Elisa". There is no other way to describe the moment. I was working in the backyard. I was working on the garden, and Joe was was working on the patio pavers not far from me.
I am known for being a bit klutzy. OK, very klutzy. I like to think fall gracefully. Lately, with my stomach issues my balance is even more "off" and I am making a bigger fool of myself quite regularly.
A while ago I realized that every time I hit the hack while curling my balance was severely compromised. I would "fish tail" out of the hack, and then the last time I curled, I fell every single time I pushed off out of the hack. This was complete with a Bambi sprawl one of the times out of the hack. I had to clear my head and overcome how embarrassed I was to be falling on the ice. I have anxiety, and it was building up worse and worse. That was the last time I curled for season. My doctor may have recommended an hour or two of physical activity a day when pain would allow it, but there was no was I was going to do such in front of others again.
Now, back to the garden. Earlier this week, I had a moment where my stomach and back pain were manageable and I just wanted to feel productive, and get outside. I never know how much time I have with decreased pain, so I use it to the fullest.
I had decided to pull out the over-grown ivy vines that had been planted on the back of the house, long before my husband had purchased the house 8 years ago. They were left to grow wild, and grew beyond the rocks that bordered the little garden area, down the hill, and overtook much of the grass on the hill. I had ripped at those vines until I had no strength left.
Today, my husband bought me rose bushes to plant inside that rock walled garden, and grass seed to spread where the grass should be. I had a few remaining vines to pull free before either could take place. Some we quite large and deep. I pulled and pulled. My husband was near by, earbuds in his ears listening to a podcast while filling the spaces between the patio pavers with sand. And then it happened... a complete "Elisa". The root broke and I flew backwards, head over heels down the hill, over the downspout of the gutter, over the little red bush (breaking one of it's branches) and flat on my back.
My husband glances up when he hears the commotion that was beyond the sounds of his podcast. He doesn't make a move. He pulls out one of his earbud, and asks, "Are you ok?" half-heartedly. I remained there laughing. He stuck his earbud back in, and with the shake of his head, went back to work. I laughed harder. This made me think...
This man, has been come so accustom to my clumsy ways, that he barely responds at times. This is not because he does not care, it is because he realizes I am OK. I am just being me.
The other day when I dropped my amazing KitchenAid mixer on my big toe, he came running. He heard the bang, and my cry, and he didn't waste a minute. The 15 lbs of solid metal mixer made a nice large "THUD" has it hit my toe and then the floor. Joe grabbed me an ice pack and took care of me. I told him that I needed some space due to my pain and embarrassment, he left the kitchen calling: "Are you sure you will be OK?" from the living room where he had retreated to give me the space I had requested. My husband is amazing. My mixer is amazing too! It still works.
Today, I brushed myself off, noted that my butt felt bruised, and then returned to tearing out the remaining vine roots. I then began to dig the holes for the rose bushes, thinking about what had just taken place. I kept laughing, reviewing the whole scene in my head. Joe kept glancing up at me, shaking his head. I laughed harder. Heck, I am laughing now as I type this. You see, I kept thinking that this silly, silly, wonderful man LOVES ME! He truly loves me. He has known me for over 20 years, and a year ago we joined our families together in to a beautifully blended family of 4 children and 2 adults (4 adults when his parents visit for the summer). Joe has known all about me. He knew about my health concerns. He knew about every detail of my past, my childhood traumas, rapes, and abuse by my exes. He knew my dreams. He knew my annoying habits, and he knew about all of the these silly quirks, and he still chose to marry me. All of these things annoyed my ex. All of the things that made me ME drove my ex crazy. I am 100% comfortable with Joe, and where I would be embarrassed in front of anyone else, in front of him I am myself. I am comfortable. I am able to laugh. Joe loves me in a way no one else possibly can. He loves me beyond my many, many faults.
Another man would look at me and be embarrassed by me. Another man would see me as broken. Other men have seen me as damaged, and not worthy. My ex had even said, "If you deserved love and affection, you would receive love and affection" more than once, leaving me wounded and feeling worthless. Joe has made an effort to get me to believe the opposite, showering me with love, just because... not because I did anything to deserve it. Joe sees me as strong, and even seems to be proud to be my husband.
At times I question how I possibly could deserve a partner like him. But then I hear him eating a pretzel rod on the couch beside me, and realize, I love his quirks too. Where any other woman would criticize his little "annoying" habits, I find them to be cute, and only love him more. Even when he is munching on a pretzel rod, or loudly gulping his drink. I love my unique, handsome, sweet husband more every single day! I am blessed that he chooses me every day. In the words of Joe, "This is how it is supposed to be".
What My Heart Longed For
Once you were just a feeling, a hope.
That someone out there could love me fully, even after seeing my scars.
You were a past memory, a time in my life that was long since gone.
We revisited the past time and time again, sharing our memories, and then we went our separate ways.
But then you saw me, you truly saw my dark and ugly, but saw strength instead.
And you gently touched a few of the scars that I allowed to be public, and said "allow me".
Allow me see all of your scars, even the most private ones.
Allow me to show you your beauty.
Allow me hold your hand.
Allow me be your strength when you are weak.
Allow me walk beside you.
Allow me laugh with you.
Allow me be your best friend.
Allow me hold you when you cry.
Allow me to keep you secure as you are screaming out in your sleep.
Allow me to scare away all of those nightmares.
Allow me to help you.
Allow me to LOVE you.
Allow me to have the road map to your soul.
Allow me to know your dreams, and help you try to reach them.
Allow me to show you the definition of "husband".
I can give you this, and more.
I have been blessed since the day I said "yes", and allowed you to do all of that and more. In return, you have allowed me so much.
You allowed me to:
Be your one and only.
To hug you any time, anywhere.
Find security beside you.
See all of your scars.
Touch your physical scars, lovingly memorizing their borders.
Gently handle the emotional scars, taking away some of the burden you carry.
Care for you.
Be your strength when you are weak.
Wipe away the rare tear, and kiss your soul.
Hold your hand.
Submit to you.
Be your wife.
Be your dream come true, and every fantasy.
Walk beside you every day.
Find the missing parts of me in you.
You are no longer just a "feeling" or a "hope", or a long-lost dream.
You are real.
You are mine.
I am grateful.
I am blessed.
You are no longer my past, you are my future, my every tomorrow.
No one really knows the pain that others may be hiding. We look at one another, and make judgments. They are made based on what a person is wearing, where a person is from, or the way a person walks, talks, or interacts. How often do we stop to ask ourselves why a person is the way they are? Why is he so confident? Why is she so self-assured? Why is she so shy? Why does he seem dark and gloomy?
I have always been known as perky, bubbly, and happy. Friends didn't understand that I could relate to their pain, and their fears. Many friends shied away from me when they felt their pain was beyond my comprehension. No one knew what I was hiding. I was labeled as Naive, even as an adult. When I went back to nursing school, I was seen as a know-it-all and way too perky. I hid behind "perky" and buried my pain in "bubbly".
The first time I became shattered, I was 5 years old. Boys in my neighborhood decided to use me like a toy, and then break me. The only reason I made it through was because of prayer, and my forgiving nature. It changed me. It scarred me.
There was a boy that was older. He lived across the street from us. He lived with his mom. We would often play together, and when we went to his house his mother was supposed to keep an eye on us. What could go wrong in the backyard? Behind the garage? He was supposed to be my playmate, my friend. I still get a chill with the name, "Bobby". Sometimes older boys would also come over to hang-out and play in Bobby's yard. At times they would also come over to our yard, but my mother seemed less than thrilled to have them there, so usually they would just talk to us in the front of the house or at Bobby's.
One day my sister was not with me, and I was in Bobby's yard playing. Bobby's older friends were showing off. The group of boys led me behind the garage. We were out of sight. I was 5 years old. With me standing there, they began to explain to Bobby what boys are supposed to do to girls. I remember them teasing Bobby, telling him he is not as "developed" as they were (in not such polite terms). I was confused about what was being said. They blocked my only path out of that small enclosed place. I was 5 years old. I remember the things they did to me that day, and the times that followed. I remember the way they acted out sexual intercourse, dry-humping me through my clothes. I remember the tallest boy putting his hand down the back of my shorts. I remember all of the touching, kissing, and pain that followed. As the boys became more confident that they would not get caught, future interactions would be more invasive. They would keep pushing their limits, and hurt me more.
At the end of that first interaction, one of the boys pressed a lit cigarette against my right upper arm. I was told not to tell. It was his way of warning me that this could never be spoken of. I still have the scar. I was given more scars at later dates. I was told that my family would get hurt if I told. I was told that they would kill me dog if I told. I was burned with lighters, and cigarettes at future "play dates". I was threatened with a blade. The marks on my body didn't even come in to question by the adults in my life. I was accident prone. I had a habit of getting hurt. They looked like my many other wounds of play. I rarely complained about cuts, bruises, and scrapes.
My mother had no clue this was happening. I remember my mom taking us across the street to Bobby's Birthday party. It was in his backyard. Adults were present. I remember trying to go across the monkey bars. I remember his mom and my mom standing close, talking. My brain was that of a small child. This time I went untouched, so I thought that maybe things were different. No, it didn't end. That day was just a day of false hope. The boys would continue to come across the street in the future, take my hand, and take me back behind the garage. I was taught how to touch them. I was told instructions that I had to follow without making a peep. One of them was always keeping an eye out, and an ear open for a parent to walk over or call out our names. I suffered pains. My young brain was taught about sex before it was capable of processing it all.
I tried to tell my parents, without actually saying the words. Around the age of 6 years old I attempted to write a letter. I wrote a letter to myself. I put it in the mailbox like regular, every day mail. My dad found it. I remember him telling me that mail cannot go out without a stamp. I don't even know if I was able to write or spell very well at that age, but I remember what I had tried to express. I remember that I had wanted to write about kissing, and sex, and the penises I was forced to look at, touch, and do multiple things to. I wrote about pain. I did not have a word for "rape" yet. I wrote about nudity. I wrote the letter as if one of those boys had written it to me. I knew if my parents saw a letter to me containing such vulgar subjects it would have to raise questions. The letter must have been unreadable, just a bunch of child scribbles with words missing letters, because when I saw that letter in my dad's hands, instead of it being my saving grace, it was a lesson on how to send mail properly.
I never tried to tell anyone again. My cat had been shot in the head by a BB gun. Most likely, it was unrelated, but as a kid, I thought it was because I had tried to tell. They had told me they would kill my pets. I became very fearful of the dark, and of being in my room alone. They told me that they could see me when I was in my room. They told me that they watched me in the dark. When I would get sent to my room for misbehaving I would cry. I was so afraid. I would sit and stare out the window, even if it was pitch black. I would swear that I could see demon eyes in the sky, or ghost. I would begin to pray, and I would just sit there, frozen, staring in to the night. When I would go to bed at night I would make sure my blankets would completely cocoon me. I would make sure not one bit of my body was exposed. Something would surely grab my feet, or my hands. Something would surely hurt me in the dark. I was terrified of dark rooms, and walking past dark doors. My confidence was shattered. I was scared now of everything. We moved from the city when I was 7 years old, and Bobby had moved prior, but the fear never left with him.
I found strength in church, and in prayer. When I would get more and more fearful over the years I would play my christian music, and hide beneath blankets. I would pray out-loud, and I would pray in my head in silence. When I would be in a social situation, I would talk. I dealt with the anxiety that I would feel building up in me by talking, and by being perky. Soon people identified me as a perky, happy person. This seemed like such a positive, so I always tried to be the perky, happy girl. People also got annoyed by me though, because I talked too much.
Who would I have been if I had not experienced such a horrible thing at such an early age? Would I have such low self-esteem and live my life hating everything about myself? I looked in the mirror and saw a Plain-Jane. I hated the sound of my voice. I hated that I wasn't athletic enough, or smart enough. I became fearful of playing my trombone out-loud outside of a large group. If someone could single me out in the crowd, I was terrified. I was never pretty enough. I was never enough. I was only 5 years old when my whole future would be effected by a few horrible boys. I was only 5 years old when I felt a large part of who I was begin to die inside. I was now left to move forward with big, ugly scars. I can barely see the physical scars that were left on my arms (I will show them to you if you ask), but the scars on my soul are there. I can feel them. They are some of those breaks that were repaired with gold that I spoke of in "Beautifully Broken".
I must keep in mind that each time I was broken I was made stronger! This was only the first of many painful moments. I am stronger because of each and every one. I see the ways that I am a strong woman. I also worry though that learning to survive at such a young age dulled some of my emotions. I had turned off some of my reactions to horrendous situations. At times, when I watch the news, I feel that I should be more emotional than I am. At times I feel that I give off the wrong reaction at the wrong times. But I survived. I continue to survive. I have just begun to really live. This is why I am like I am.
My earliest memories are from when we lived in our house on Garfield Street in the City. This was before I was forced to grow-up too fast. This was before my school days began, before I had memories of little brothers, and a dog named, "Peppy" and anxiety.
I remember that half-house that we lived in. It was ugly. I remember the yellow, rusty guardrail that was lining the parking lot across the street. I recall playing on the sidewalk. I received a mini, plastic "big wheel" style bike for my birthday when I was 3 years old. I remember how much I loved it. It was shaped like a turtle. The handle bars were yellow and came out of it's head, and the seat was the shell, con caved in the wrong direction. It was a poor pitiful turtle now that I think about it. In the wild it would never have survived. I loved that turtle bike even past my being able to ride it. I was jealous when I outgrew it and my brothers used it. They wore the eyes off, and eventually it cracked, and it broke, and away to the trash it went.
I was always a dirty child. We were poor. Sticks, stones, and mud could entertain for hours. I was always dressed in hand-me-downs, but was not old enough to care. I still like getting dirty. Hiking,Tough Mudder, gardening, ATV riding... dirt is good for the soul. Almost every picture of me from childhood has me in dirty, stained clothes, with an even dirtier face. My mom saved the dresses for church and holidays...but boy could I get dirty!
I remember the neighbor lady. She was someone's Grandma. She just had to be. She was kind, just like my great-grandmothers. I remember her because she gave us something that was rare for us to have in the house. She gave us snacks of fresh fruit. Fresh fruit was expensive. We usually only had apples and bananas (and grapes if they were in season and on sale). I no longer like fresh apples, I rarely eat bananas too... I had them so often as a kid. I still remember the day she held out fresh peaches to my sister and I. She offered us each a HUGE freshly washed peach. It was such a treat! I was able to have a whole peach, and bite right in to it's fuzzy flesh, juice dripping down my chin, and add more beautiful stains to my already dirty shirt. Oh, how wonderful! For that, I have never forgotten that neighbor.
I remember Cheerios in Tupperware cups in the mornings. I remember watching Sesame Street until Mommy woke. I remember climbing over the baby gate to sneak in to the kitchen with my sister, where we would put paper cups of orange juice in the refrigerator to freeze in to popsicles. Surprise, Mom! We made our own treat! We most likely made a mess too, being only 3 & 4 years old.
I remember the bedrooms and bathroom. I remember cutting myself on my dad's razor when he left it out on the sink one day. It was a white pedestal sink. I remember my mom scolding me for touching it. I remember the bunk beds that were against the wall with the window. Those bunk beds were solid wood, and very sturdy. They became my little brothers' beds 2 houses later. I remember that my parents' bedroom was incredibly small.
I also remember the window where I got my hand stuck, resulting in my first X-ray. My father was an X-ray Tech at the hospital, and often worked evenings and overnights. I went to look out the window which was propped open with a board. It was summer, and A/C was unheard of, and we were poor. I placed my hand too far to the side, knocking the board out of the window, which slammed down on to my other hand. It was an old, heavy window. My mother had to search and search for a crowbar to pry the window off of my hand, as I remained there stuck and crying out. My dad took the X-ray. I remember thinking "they are putting my hand on a plate". I was so young that the bones were still so soft that they did not break. My hand appeared bent out of shape, but it was not broken, and it healed.
That same window was where I saw the "ghost". I woke one night. I was sitting up in my bottom bunk when I saw a figure pass through that window, straight to my bedroom door and out it. I froze. I sat there in my bed, frozen, for a while, until I was sure it was gone. I then ran screaming and crying to my parents room. It is the only time I can remember sleeping in my parents bed. My dad walked the house, up and down the hall, down the stairs and back up. With each step he continued to pray. I can still hear the sound of his voice praying. Praying over the house, and praying over our safety. Til this day, I pray over my home. When I can't sleep at night, I often walk through out the house praying from room to room. I pray for my family's safety, for guidance, for healing, for whatever is on my heart... but I make sure that every corner of the house is covered in prayer.
I remember my dad coming home late and waking us up to make us milkshakes, chocolate milkshakes, while mom slept. He worked a lot, and took college classes, so time with us was rare. I remember back then, feeling loved by my dad. I realize now how stressed he must have been, and that as we got older life was more difficult for him. But when I was little, I remember the good times. I remember him playing with us. I remember that he loved taking pictures of us, and he would have us smile nicely, followed by goofy faces of his choosing, whether we had our tongue out, or growl faces, kissy faces, or whatever.
I have been broken. I have been broken many times over, and at times I feel as if I might shatter completely.
The World has not been the friendliest of place for me. I have had my moments where I have felt worthy, and loved, and human. Those moment seemed so few until recently. I had always thought the good moments should outweigh the bad, that life should not be continuously uphill. I believed that the journey should be more flat, with some hills to climb up... I am still climbing.
If it weren't for my amazing husband, I would be falling apart. He holds me together. Before him, I am not sure how I made it this far.
Today, I sit here physically broken due to health concerns. Yet, that is not what is on my mind. I take that back. Health Concerns are ALWAYS on my mind, as the pain doesn't go away. The symptoms don't stop. Yet, today, I have been attempting to push all of that to the back of my mind. I have been trying to figure out how to formulate that last 37 years of my life in to a blog. How does one use her life stories to help others? How does one put in to words every thing her heart feels daily, and has felt in the past?
I was falling asleep last night, feeling sorry for myself. I felt weak once again. I got out of bed and slipped off to the bathroom. There I stood and looked in the mirror. I started touching all of my physical scars, the ones I could see. I ran my fingers along the newer ones, the ones that still itched daily, and cause me so much discomfort. I looked at the redness of some of the scars, and the purple screaming neon signs of the rest that state,"you are imperfect". I AM IMPERFECT! We all are. My body is covered with scars from countless surgeries, and yet I am still physically broke.
Emotionally, I have had a lot of healing to do in my life time. I am probably the strongest I have ever been emotionally at this moment. I have a thousand struggles every single day, but emotionally, I am in a better place that I have been in my past. I fight each battle daily with my Knight-In-Shining-Armor, Joe, by my side.
I examined my emotional scars last night before drifting off to sleep. I noticed something as I peered closer at them. I had been broken a million times over. I have been the victim of abuse, rape (more than once), bad relationship, financial hardships, bullying by countless people, poor self-esteem, poor choices, miscarriages, a dysfunctional childhood, loss, and so much more. I have been BROKEN. I have been knocked down, shoved to the ground, stomped on, and put down. I have been BROKEN. My flesh has been literally torn and left bleeding. I cried out for help and no one came to my rescue when I was young, and emotionally that left me more broken than just the acts of my abusers had.
Look closer though. Look at all of the areas in which those breaks are visible. Look. Do you see? I am not put back together like one would put the handle back on a broken coffee mug. There is no glue dripping down, leaving an unsightly scar. I am not weaker from being broken. I am STRONGER. I am more beautiful. I am not glued back together with some cheap glue, hastily grabbed from a junk drawer, just to get the job done. Every piece of me that has been broken is put back together with gold. That area of my soul is stronger, more durable, than ever before. Those broken pieces have become the most valuable pieces of who I am.
Those broken pieces have taught me to be a loving mother, attentive to my children's emotional health, physical health, and every one of their dreams. Those broken piece make me a better wife. My first marriage broke me, but I was put back together with gold. I have learned how to give to my second husband in a selfless way, he is then able to see my commitment, love and devotion daily. I am able to make my husband feel like the King that he is. Together we have created a strong marriage, which may not have happened if I had not once been broken. Those broken pieces have made me a better friend, giving more of myself. I am empathetic and sympathetic. I am sensitive, yet strong. My past broke me, and made me stronger for it.
God knew that life would have to have some rough patches in order for me to shine his light. When I shine his light, it glimmers off of all of the gold that pieces me together. I did a little research today, knowing that once I had heard of pottery being repaired with gold. I found out, that in Japanese art, broken pieces of pottery are often repaired with gold. This is called Kintsugi. Kintsugi treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, that each object has a story to tell. Because of this, breakage and repair is not seen as something to hide, it is something to be celebrated. The history of the object adds to it's beauty. I am BROKEN and REPAIRED with gold.
Time to purchase my own Kintsugi from my Amazon store! I need my daily reminder of what beautiful is!
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.