Tag: forget me not

Forget Me Not: Choosing Survivor Status

survivor status

I’ve noticed a trend; one I can relate to all too well. There are a lot of people out there, men and women, who know they need help, but fight the prospect of actually seeking it out. I was there. At times I still am. It’s kind of like losing weight. I know I have gained weight and it is affecting my life. I’m sluggish and cranky, my clothes don’t fit right, and I feel a little too self-aware (and not in a good way). It affects my attitude and my demeanor, how productive I am, and my general outlook on life at times. But, cutting the sugar and going to the gym are a little more work that I’m ready to put in.

Emotional healing is the same way. I know I’m not acting right, but I don’t want to fix it. I know I don’t feel right, but I tell myself that I’m stronger than this and will get a hold of my emotions soon. I don’t want to feel weak, but I don’t have time to work through these issues. Help is needed because I cannot keep living my life this way, but seeking it out is a little more than I’m prepared to do. I’ll get around to it later. Time heals all wounds, right?

Time helps to put all wounds further behind you. They no longer have the same effect as they once did because they are further into your past and you have had time to put some distance between those experiences and your current life. However, they do not fully disappear on their own. Wounds are like a small infection just under your skin. It’s nothing, you say, and you ignore the redness. But as time goes by, it grows and grows until it is interfering with your life and health. Soon, your days are filled with a much larger issue that interferes with everything you do.

Emotionally, you might become agitated, overly sensitive, protective, defensive, depressed, and anxious. As the days go by, more of these emotions creep in as a defense mechanism to the pain you have experienced. You know you have been here before and you thought you had moved passed it, but the feelings are slowly coming back. And, guess what? That affects your work, your relationships, your family, and your happiness. It steals your joy.

Sadly, I believe that these emotions and behaviors become so much a part of us that we don’t even always realize how much they are interfering with our life. But, I assure you that others do. We cannot ignore our pain away. It is important to understand that you need help in order to thrive. You must be willing to accept the help that is around you and seek out support. A simple support group or group of friends who have been in your shoes may suffice. Or you may need to seek out more traditional means, such as individual therapy or group counseling with a trained professional.

No matter where you are, however, don’t get caught in the trap of shame or pride. Most of us cannot do it on our own. We all need support. When you refuse to seek out that help, you are hurting yourself, your children, your work life, and those you love most. You deserve happiness and peace, and it is up to each of us to personally make the choice to heal instead of choosing to stay stuck. That is the difference between remaining a victim and becoming a survivor. Allow yourself the opportunity to actually work on it. You, and those around you, will be thankful for your effort.


Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

Forget Me Not: Finding My Path

Finding Path

Never in my life did I envision what Forget Me Not would become. This morning I sit here, reflecting on the past and contemplating the future, which is — I know — against everything I teach and subscribe to. However, in some instances, I believe it is ok to look back and be mesmerized by how far you have come. I reflect back with positivity and look forward with hope and renewed strength. I sit in this moment and can write to you because this is where I am supposed to be; this is where my life has led me.

Four years ago I started writing Forget Me Not as an open journal. As I told my story, and shared why I believed things to be as they were, I hoped that it could help others know that they were not alone. It didn’t take long, however, before reliving all my hurts was more detrimental than useful. I found myself crying uncontrollably in front of my keyboard, struggling to come to terms with anger and resentment, and wondering why my life was so screwed up. I felt alone in my quest for peace, even though I wanted others to know they were not. I felt lost and depressed, and could not envision a life different than what I was experiencing. So, I quit writing.

My focus became a complicated mission of simply trying to work on myself. I’ve documented much of that journey through this blog and consider myself in a constant state of progress. Over time, and with much work, things did get better. And then, this past December, I found myself sitting in front of a campfire in complete silence. My heart and mind were both in a very good place. Next to me sat my love, a man I am now blessed to share my life with. We both sat in silence, meditating in the darkness. I would periodically open my eyes to watch the flicker of the flame, never once having to look to him. His presence was strongly beside me and I was at complete peace. As I allowed my mind to quiet, my thoughts began to wander. I was surrounded by beauty, the calmness of the night was pristine, and I was encased in absolute comfort. Then, out of nowhere, I heard a voice tell me that I needed to self publish.

My eyes popped open with the thought as I was a caught slightly off guard. Self publish? Self publish what? A dialog started to take place in my mind. I had not written anything in years. But I knew the answer almost before I asked the question. It was time to share my story. And now, only now, could I share my journey to healing as well.

This entire revelation came to me in a place that made no sense logically. There was no talk of my marriage, my past life, or my writing. What was there that night was the realization of growth and joy. This was a place I never imagined I would ever be. This is exactly what I had wanted my whole life. This is what life is supposed to be. And now, it was time to help others reach that place.

With that, I started writing. I wrote my story, which will hopefully soon be a published memoir. I started blogging again and I started talking. I talked, and talk, to anyone who will listen. I speak at events, to small groups, in private settings, and through my writing. It is now my mission to break the silence on domestic violence and the long-term effects it has on so many.

As I share my story, others begin to open and share with me. They share their pain, their struggles, their stories, and their healing. They cheer me on and reach out for support. I spoke out about domestic violence in a marital setting and learned of child abuse, child sexual assault, and rape. My goal was to educate and support, and I am being educated and supported. And as more and more individuals share their story, a light is shone on this monster that hides in the shadows of society.

In private settings, I have found that more and more individuals feel comfortable sharing and opening up, about their own experience, when they learn my story. I have several people I know talk freely about their abuse who have never mentioned it before. And those who overhear the conversations then come forward with questions, which leads to both healing and understanding. It is both sad and beautiful.

I know in my heart that this is the beginning of a very good thing. My personal healing has grown a hundredfold as I find meaning in what I endured. I want to thank each and every one of you who have reached out, shared, and supported this cause, both victims and non-victims alike. Thank you for your willingness to look at abuse head on, confront it, and shine your light on it. Thank you for choosing not to ignore this difficult subject. Keep breaking the silence and the silence will be no more. Without it, abuse will be starved out and humanity just might prove itself kinder and gentler.


Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

Forget Me Not: Finding Your Voice

voice

As a writer, I’ve been told that I need to find my voice. According to numerous online resources, our writing voice is not something that is easily defined. It is something you find, that you learn with practice, or that you develop in time. Voice is the unique writing style of the author. It is what makes you different from everyone else out there. A fingerprint of sorts. This has been my assignment as my book gets closer to print.

Will I ever know if I have my voice, as it is defined by the editor that reads my memoir? Perhaps not. What I know is that I found my true voice not that long ago. I found the strength and healing I needed to put my words to paper and speak my truth in the words that came to me. My story is my voice. My story is my reality. Not everyone will like my story or care to read it, just as not everyone reads my blog.

My story is not a popular one. It is framed as sadness and hopelessness. It tells the tale of too many women and men. So many can relate to my struggles although their pain was brought on by a parent, a loved one, or a rapist. Domestic violence is a vast umbrella that encompasses pain inflicted on one individual by another where you should feel the safest. It is a very uncomfortable topic for those who have lived it, those who inflict it, and those who wish to not know of it.

As I write, and as I work to build Forget Me Not Advocacy Group, I am caught off guard by the compliments as well as the criticisms. I am tickled by the number of supporters who reach out to me in quiet moments and share their kind words with me. They keep me going as they raise me up. They believe in the need for education and supported healing. However, just as I’m tickled by those who support, I’m alarmed at how many put down or undermine my objective.

“Not everyone will support a cause such as yours.” “I know you don’t intent to sell many books.” “Don’t create too high an expectation, this is not a cause everyone will rally behind.” “It will take years to get support.”

While I understand that these comments were made with the intent to help, I also understand the damage that they can inflict. With each similar comment made, I am hearing you say that my pain does not amount to the type of pain a cancer patient endures. I hear you telling me that my business will likely fail. You are projecting your fears, or your failures, on me. But, you are also giving me the strength I need to create an organization that will succeed in helping those in need.

You see, with every reason you find to tell me why domestic violence is not as important to the world as any number of causes, you remind me exactly what my purpose is. You give me a purpose for my voice to rise above all the noise in our society and to speak my truth as loud and as often as I can.

Thank you for making me stronger. Thank you for helping me understand how important it is to get the word out, to support those who feel the rejection and shame by society, and to help educate our young people so they can find their voice in this crazy world. Together we will stand up against domestic violence in all of its forms and yell NO MORE. And one day, the world will hear our cries and come stand by our side. They will no longer turn away from the injustices done by our fellow humans — one against another — but will look it straight in the face and acknowledge it for what it is; something that affects more individuals than any other cause there is.

Then, we will stand together and end the one thing we have control over…how we treat those we love.


Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

Forget Me Not: Crawling Out of the Darkness — Part 3

Darkness 3

The path to healing is one that is difficult and time consuming. I don’t believe that anyone just gets over something. They may be good at covering it up, pretending it doesn’t matter, or telling themselves to ignore it and move forward, but it never truly goes away.

I have found myself having conversations with those who state that they were in abusive relationships or marriages, but claim they are fine. They brush it off as if it has had no effect on them. They state that they do not need support, therapy, or help and are often unwilling to say much more about the subject. This really saddens me for two reasons.

First, it used to make me feel that there was something wrong with me because I was unable to deal with the aftermath of my abusive marriage. Why were they so strong and I was so weak? Maybe I should toughen up and be like them. But then, I would have a second, and almost simultaneous, reaction to their claims. Perhaps they were not really abused at all and they just think they were. Maybe their husband was angry or snippy, or they were not getting what they wanted in life, but surely they did not experience domestic violence as I had. If they had, they would not be ok. Victims are not just ok. And, that thought, whether accurate or not, made me angry.

These things are not for me to know. I’ve since seen that many of these individuals who claim they are ok, really are not. They just have not allowed themselves to heal. Instead, they have chosen to cover it up and pretend. This, of course, is their choice, but I often see the pain they are causing themselves and their loved ones by taking this path. Neither myself, nor anyone else, can make you choose to heal. No one can make you want to come out of the darkness and into the light. It is up to you to take those steps.

Through this mini-series, I’ve shared with you two main things that helped me to get moving in the right direction. First was putting one foot in front of the other. Taking each moment as they came and focusing on survival, then time, and then moving forward. Second, I got out and got active. I had to physically remove myself from the safety of my home and get outside and doing something I loved. Lastly, I believe it is important to find peace in yourself.

This last step may be even harder than the first two, but it is in my opinion the most important piece to long-term happiness. This is where you clear from your mind all the terrible things your abuser said to you, and all the things you believe about yourself because of your experiences. The feelings of disappointment, hatred, and regret have to go. The self-loathing and putting yourself down must become a thing of the past. This is where you learn to see yourself as a new and beautiful being that is worth happiness.
This process took me the better part of a year, and that was just to get to where I could actually visualize myself as a happier person. It is the retraining of your negative thoughts and emotions. Let me give you some examples of what I experienced.

Example 1: It’s the middle of the night and I wake up anxious. I can’t sleep, my stomach is in knots, and my heart is pounding. I don’t know what I’m anxious about so my mind starts to fill with every single thing I’m scared of in life. My mind starts racing with all of these fears and my anxiety builds.

What do I do: I tell myself that it is all in my mind, and then start working to control my breath. Long breath in, “Breathe in love.” Long breath out, “Breathe out fear.” Long breath in, “Breathe in peace.” Long breath out, “Breathe out sadness.” You get the drift. Soon, I feel my body starting to calm down. I focus my mind on the words and my body on the breathing and everything starts to relax. I do this until my mind is calm enough to refocus or until I fall back asleep.

Example 2: A friend or family member does not agree with my plans for my life. I feel the need to explain to them and get their support, and find myself frustrated and crying. They hold fast in their belief about how my life should be, and I’m feeling corned again, by someone else who is not living my life. This, of course, is coming from a trigger.

What do I do: (Disclaimer — I’m still working on this one.) I remind myself silently that they do not understand where I am coming from with my reactions (the crying and the anger), so these reactions serve no purpose. I remind myself that they are not my husband and do not mean harm to me. I remind myself that my choices are my own, for good or bad, and unless they affect the other person, then that person really has no opinion on the matter. I allow myself to walk away from the situation and ask the person to respect my choices. I do not apologize for who I am. Because of this, I’m learning to be stronger in who I am and make the choices that are best for me, not make choices based on the opinion of others.

These are just two examples of issues that I have personally dealt with. As I become stronger in myself, I find that the depression and anxiety lift. I have no doubt that I will struggle with them from time to time, but they are much more prevalent when I put myself in situations with which I am not happy and content.

You shouldn’t stay in a job you hate because others think you are crazy to leave. If you are not happy there, find a place where you are happy. You shouldn’t attend activities you do not enjoy because you have always done so. Find other ways to spend time with your friends and make friends who enjoy the same things you do. You should not give in to your ex because he manipulates your children. Find the strength to seek out the help you need, from a professional that is a good fit for you, and learn how to deal with your ex in a way that is less stressful to you and is not teaching your children that manipulation is a viable option for getting what you want in life.

The final step to crawling out of darkness, for me, was to find my purpose in life and believe in myself…as an individual. It is important that you find ways that work for you, as we are all different in our personalities and our healing. But whatever you do, find those things that work and start implementing them. Be patient with yourself, keep trying when you fail, and know that you are on the right path. As always, I’m here cheering you on.


Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

Forget Me Not: Crawling Out of the Darkness — Part 2

Darkness2

“Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking across the floor. Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door!”

In my last post I talked about the first step to healing from the dark pit of depression and anxiety. Those of you who have follow me have probably picked up that I rarely sugar coat things. Life can be downright impossible sometimes and it is up to us to pull ourselves up and make it better. It is easy to get stuck in a rut of despair, sadness, and frustration. But, it is often very difficult to move out of that rut.

Many of us have experienced extreme trauma in our lives, from domestic violence, to child abuse and rape. These experiences have left us scared and struggling to find happiness and peace in life. What is more difficult, from my point of view, is that society is often quick to judge those experiences, or simply ignore them. For some reason, it seems that society simply does not want to discuss these terrible aspects of humanity. I believe, personally, that it often hits too close to home, and that it is easier to look away than deal with the unpleasantness of the terribleness happening around you, to those you love, or to you.

Because of this, victims often feel alone and as if their hurts do not matter. Or, that no one understands where they are emotionally. When you lack support in your healing, it makes it all the harder to actually heal. It compounds the situation.

And this is why, sadly, we must, as victims, find it in ourselves to move forward. It never hurts, of course, to find forums where there are others that understand your pain and cheer you along in your healing journey. But, no one can make you better but you. And, the first step to healing is to simply survive. You will never move forward if you are stuck where you are.

This was, by far, the most difficult thing I have ever done for myself. It was a concept that was so foreign to me that making it happen was the equivalent of blasting myself into space. It took immense amounts of practice, failure, and retrying before I was able to make the slightest move in the right direction. But once I did, I was able to move on to making progress in other areas of my life.

Finding Something You Love

The second thing I did, in my journey to healing, was to find something I loved. For me, this was biking. Biking later led to kayaking, which then led to roller blading. Basically, I got myself involved in activities I could do outside, on my own. I wasn’t ready to make friends, join groups, or get involved in anything else that involved people. But I knew I needed to do something that brought me joy. As a matter of fact, my therapist told me to find a hobby. Yes, it took my therapist assigning this task as homework before I moved forward. My outdoor excursions got me out of the house, into the sunshine, and exercising. These three things are all great for increasing happy hormones. I’m not a scientist or a therapist, so you will just have to trust me on this.

You don’t have to bike or kayak to get moving, but find something you love. Take a walk, start an exercise program, go hiking, read by the water, take your dog to the dog park, take a ceramics or painting class—the options are limitless. Just find something that gets you out of the house and moving.

Make the Changes on Your Timeline

It’s important to stress that everyone’s healing will happen differently. First, you have to make yourself want the change, then you have to start moving forward, then you have to start doing something productive that you love. This is not going to happen overnight. I’d love to see everyone, who is struggling, jump out of bed and take on the world, but I know that is unrealistic.

It took me several months to get to the point where I started riding my bike. And sometimes, I would ride to the ocean, sit on the beach, and sob. I tell you this because it was no easy task. But please do not be discouraged. If you are in this negative place, there is nowhere to go but up. Remember that you are worth it, no matter what society, your abuser, your parents, your friends, or you tell yourself. You are worth it!!

And, I am here for you…others understand you…you can do this. Keep pushing forward. Hugs.


Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

Forget Me Not: Crawling Out of the Darkness — Part 1

Darkness1

I have literally started this post several times over, but am determined to get my thoughts out in a clear and concise way. This week, I have read a number of posts written by those struggling with, let’s call them, negative feelings. As I read about each of your battles, I am reminded of the time I spent faltering in darkness. I remember it all too well, and sometimes to this day, I find myself dancing along the edge of a chasm that could engulf me if I allowed it. I don’t know that we are ever able to completely rid ourselves of depression, anxiety, guilt, bitterness, and frustration. I’m not sure if we are ever able to move on from our past hurts to a place where they can never affect us again. But, what I do know is that I understand where you are, and I can say with certainty that it does get better.

My goal here, however, is not to simply tell you that it will get better, wish you well, and send you on your way. I also remember that I really hated when people did that. My plan is to share with you how I got from where I was to where I am today. Each journey is different, and we each heal in our own way, but I’ve learned to pick and chose from what has worked for others to find a solution that works in my life. Perhaps this will help you to do the same.

Put One Foot In Front of The Other

If you ever watched the animated Christmas feature, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, you may be familiar with the song “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.” If not, please take a second to watch it, because the song alone should help put a smile on your face. This song has been somehow embedded in my head from the first time my therapist told me to take everything day by day. And, ironically, it worked. The song is sung by a young Santa Claus, who is teaching an old warlock to get past the bad he sees in the mirror and move toward good. No matter where you are, or how you envision yourself, the best way to get from bad to good is to put one foot in front of the other.

This may sound goofy, but I assure you that it is a wonderful first step. For me, one of the more difficult issues I have is focusing on the here and now. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the past, what could have been, what should have been, or what I want. And when I decide I want something, I generally want it now. This mentality feeds into depression and anxiety and makes them worse. When you are down at your lowest, it is hard to see past where you are.

When I was in the midst of my marriage, I couldn’t imagine a life that was different. I literally saw no way out. When I hit rock bottom, I couldn’t see any light in my future. I believed that my life was destined to be that way forever. The more I believed these things, the deeper and darker I fell, until I was forced to seek out help just to remain functional.

Learning to take it day by day was where I started. It was the very first step in finding my way out of the rut I was in, and onto a path to a brighter future. Every time my mind would start to wonder and I would feel the anxiety ramping up, I would tell myself “put one foot in front of the other.” Then, I would take a deep breath and ask myself what was happening right now, and that is what I focused on. When my mind would wonder to even the next hour, I would remind myself that this very moment was all that mattered. It took some practice, but soon I was able to keep my thoughts, more or less, centered on the very space in time that I currently occupied.

Once I managed that, I was able to learn new strategies and do more things with my life to get where I wanted to be, which I will address in upcoming posts.

In order to get out of the darkness, you must find the light. And when the light is not there, you must create your own. Be your own light, your own champion, and believe in the power you have to start taking control of your emotions even when you cannot control the circumstances of your life. This is the first step. Your turn…try putting one foot in front of the other. You’ve got this.


Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

Forget Me Not: Why Should I Care?

It’s always good to have an honest friend. You know, that one who doesn’t filter their thoughts and simply says it as it is. This particular friend said to me, “Why should I care?” And he got me to thinking. He wasn’t necessarily talking about domestic violence, but he struck a chord with me. Why should he care about my passion? I’ve noticed that many people do not care about my passion for speaking against domestic violence. Getting friends and loved ones to do something as simple as like a Facebook page seems to be the equivalent of asking them to actually endorse physical violence against puppies. I see that the same people reading and liking my posts are the same people who support most causes.

Why is this? Well, I believe that as humans, we don’t want to see the more unpleasant side of life. It is downright depressing and so much easier to look the other way and pretend it doesn’t exist. We are all guilty of it. I’ve found myself scrolling past posts on cancer, or changing the channel when the ASPCA commercials come on. Is this because I have no heart? Because I don’t care about those suffering from cancer or abused animals? No. This is because it is difficult to deal with all the pain in our world and easier to look the other way. But, I should care. I should at least attempt to educate myself to the issues so that I can support those around me who are dealing first hand with those issues that do not affect me.

That is exactly how we should be dealing with domestic violence. Why should you care about domestic violence? Because someone close to you is dealing with it right this very minute. And if that is not enough to make you perk up to this far-reaching and devastating matter, then you may want to consider how it is actually affecting you personally, because domestic violence affects our society, our finances, our children, and our animals. Take some of these numbers into consideration.

The Statistics

In the U.S., 1 woman is beaten every 9 SECONDS. 20 people are victims of domestic violence every MINUTE.

1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 MEN are victims of some sort of physical violence, by an intimate partner in their lifetime. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men are SEVERELY PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED by an intimate partner.

Approximately 38,000,000 people have experienced domestic violence.

The Breakdown

2 in 5 GAY and BISEXUAL men are victims of domestic violence. 50% of all LESBIAN women have been victims of domestic violence in their lifetime.

70% of all women WORLDWIDE have been physically or sexually abused in their lifetime.

BLACK women have a 35% higher likelihood of experiencing domestic violence than white women.

Violent Crime

15% of all VIOLENT CRIME is due to intimate partner abuse. 20% of all intimate partner HOMICIDE victims were the family members, friends, neighbors, and individuals who intervened. THAT IS YOU.

72% of all murder-suicides are by intimate partners.

From 2003–2008, 142 women were murdered in their WORKPLACE.

3 women are murdered every DAY by a current or ex-partner.

Between 2001 and 2008, 11,766 WOMEN were killed by their current or ex-male partner. To put the in perspective, during the same timeframe, 6,488 TROOPS were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Animal Abuse

Victims who have entered shelters state that their PETS have been hurt, killed, or threatened by an intimate partner. One in three report that their CHILDREN have hurt the animals in the home.

Children

1 in 15 CHILDREN are exposed to domestic violence each year. 90% of them witness the violence first hand.

BOYS who witness domestic violence are 2x more likely to abuse their future intimate partner and children.

Dating Violence

1 in 5 HIGH SCHOOL students experience physical abuse from their dating partner each YEAR.

One-third of ADOLESCENTS in the U.S. are physically, sexually, emotionally, or verbally abused by their dating partner.

43% of all COLLEGE students experience violent or abusive behaviors by their dating partners.

Financial Impact

Victims lose 8 million days of PAID work leave each YEAR. That is the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.

Domestic Violence is the 3rd leading cause of HOMELESSNESS among families.

Approximately $37 BILLION a YEAR is spent for law enforcement, legal, medical and mental health treatment, and lost productivity.

● ● ●

As you can see, domestic violence has far-reaching effects. It is affecting you. It affects your children when they spend time at a friend’s house, your daughter as she enters the dating world, someone in your family, a friend in your circle, your neighborhood, your workplace, and your pocketbook.

It isn’t a sexy topic and is just now getting attention by the media. But it takes you being aware, learning the signs, and paying attention to help protect and support those that you love and interact with. It takes each of us being involved for there to be change. We cannot throw money at it and hope that research will find a cure. The cure is you!


Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

Forget Me Not: This Week

This week

This week has been amazing on so many levels. I’m not even sure where to start, and yet I know why I want to share this with you. You are the reason for my joy this week. I’m talking about my fellow survivors, those who are trying to help friends or family members, and those who are out there cheering on others daily. This week has been full of connections, hopeful conversations, and personal growth. And, I have you to thank for it.

I have been blessed to have had conversations with several individuals through this blog, social media, and in person. New bonds have been created with people I’ve never met, yet feel like I have known for years. I’ve watched you support each other, provide feedback on ideas, share your demons and your dreams, and raise each other up. We are so much stronger together than when we try to stand-alone.

This week I spoke verbally, for the first time, about my journey through domestic violence and healing. I stood in front of a room of people, without fear, and spoke my truth. I saw the looks of concern and the looks of understanding. We made a difference that day. Not just me, but all who took the time to put such an event together so that victims could be reached and their loved ones educated. It was beautiful to see emotion sweep the room as we watched Lady Gaga perform “Til It Happens to You.” And, at the same time, it was sad, as I could feel the heaviness of those reliving their own experiences.

I watched people wait in line to talk to me because they wanted to know how to help a friend suffering from domestic violence. They were full of concern and willing to learn. I learned that a woman sought shelter after hearing my story. I don’t know if it was my words or the words of the shelter representative, but she is on her way to healing because we came together and broke the silence on domestic abuse. I saw togetherness and it makes my heart swell with happiness and love.

This week I saw my blog climb to 359 views from 9 countries, the most it has ever received. It reinforced that in today’s world, our reach is infinite. I sit at my computer and share my thoughts, fears, dreams, and the lessons I have learned, and my words travel around the world so that they can be found by those whose lives I may touch. Thank you for reading. I believe, wholeheartedly, that I lived through domestic violence so that I can help others through my experience.

This week has brought me hope. I set out to bring to hope to others, and you all have brought hope to me. The interactions and support that I have received have given me the confidence, and validation, to carry on in my mission. Although we all come to these blogs, web pages, social media sites, and chat rooms for various reason, we will grow and blossom together. I look forward to continuing in our journey side by side.


Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

Forget Me Not: A Letter from My Future Self

letter from future self

Dear Me,

It’s been thirty years since I last wrote to you. The year is 2046, and we will turn 70 this year.
I remember the turmoil in your mind as if it were yesterday.

Our gut instinct was to walk into work and declare that we were never coming back. We felt owned and controlled, a feeling that seems to continually haunt us. It’s not that they treated us poorly, but the job simply did not fit with our personality or free spirit. We didn’t feel as if we were doing good there. There is so much more to life than a 50-hour workweek and a paycheck. But we made good money and worked hard to be there. We would have been stupid to throw it all away. And, yet, we were miserable.

It had been several months since we started blogging again. The connections made there were heartwarming, sad, loving, and empowering. We had never spoken with so many strangers about such personal issues, and yet it was freeing in a way we never thought imaginable. It also reinforced that a job is simply that, a job. A job is not a life and it is not a passion. Writing, teaching, and helping others are our passion. This is where we were supposed to be at this time.

But on this day, like so many days past—even years—we struggled to live life on our terms. Fear had a grip that is unyielding. I can see you sitting there with stress creasing your brow and tears pushing toward the surface. We hate fear, don’t we? It is the one thing in life that keeps us trapped where we should not be. It kept us trapped with him for years. Now it shackles us to the unforeseen.

“What if no one wants to hear what we have to share? What if no one buys the book? What if we can’t make the non-profit self-sustainable? What if we can’t pay the bills? What if we fail?” There is safety in boring and secure situations, but they often lack joy.

I’m writing to you today to tell you to stop. Stop worrying about the future and what it may bring. The present is now. Life is short and precious. I know you. I am you. At 70, you will be happy with the good you did, the relationships you made, and the change you brought to others. It is time to make a change for yourself. My only regret is that I didn’t write to you sooner and implore you to allow yourself to be free. There is no correct box in which your life must fit. There is no path that you must take, and no one person who can tell you which direction to go. Only you can do that. Only you can release the chains of fear that are holding you back.

You will make the right choice and find a path that allows you to grow and blossom. The next 30 years will be full of love and passion for life. You will spend your hours helping others to avoid the pain you endured, and making connections with those struggling to find their path. You will grow together.

Some will tell you that you are crazy, but you will know that you are free. The anxiety will fade away. Your past will deteriorate into a story of hope and survival. You will greet the day with anticipation and use your time to create change. No longer will you be the woman who is trying to keep up with life, but instead, you will focus on health, happiness, and others. Love will guide you and peace will find you.

Your skin will wrinkle and your hair turn silver, but your heart will remain the same. In 30 years, you will look back on your life and say, “I did it right.” Follow your dreams. Your strength has brought you this far and will carry your further. Always remember what you say to others: “There is a beautiful life that can be had. Believe in yourself and find it.” It applies to you too.

Lovingly,

Your Future Self


Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

Forget Me Not: Why My Story Isn’t So Bad

Why my story isn't so bad

Sometimes there is a little voice in my head that tells me, “It really wasn’t so bad.” I start to wonder if I remember it differently than it was or exaggerate the details. There are so many individuals that have it much worse than I did, right?

The answer is clear. Of course there are those who have it worse than I did. Men and women that have no support system, have children to care for, lack training or a job, or have been beaten so badly that they are now in a hospital. Some carry permanent scars, are fighting for custody of their children, are being stalked by their ex, or are living in fear of their life. I cannot even imagine the pain and suffering they bear.

No matter our lot in life, there will always be others that suffer more. I recall a conversation I had with a man I ride bikes with, Hector Picard. He is a double amputee and is an inspiration to many in our circles. He competes in triathlons, winning medals for children who suffer from various physical ailments, and encourages the world to never stop living.

This particular conversation took place several months after I suffered a collarbone break that put me on the sidelines due to a non-closure. I faced several surgeries, months of therapy, and was feeling quite down over the whole situation. Hector asked me how I was doing and I shared my tale of sorrow, only to catch myself mid-story as I realized who I was talking to.

His response was just like Hector. Although I can’t recall his exact words, he reminded me that we all suffer differently and have our own struggles. Our struggles cannot be compared to the struggles of others, because no matter how big or small, they are very real to the person living through them.

Abuse is the same way. My experience with domestic violence was my struggle. Others suffer in different ways, but we all experience the pain that our situation brings us and must learn to survive and move forward. I have been blessed to grow from my experience, learn to deal with many of the long-term effects, and be in a situation where I can use my past to help others. Perhaps, had it been worse, I would not be where I am. The abuse was bad enough that I understand and can relate to the effects it has on victims, yet not so bad as to create a barrier which precludes me from being about to help others.

Our situations are our own, not to be compared to those of others and not to be downplayed. What is most important is that we find our way, never give up, and be understanding of others circumstances. Find your way to freedom and then use what you have learned to help others less fortunate.


Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.