Tears of the soul.

We all know what tears of the heart are.
They flow when our heart is touched.
They flow when our heart is broken.
I have cried those tears many times in my life. A heart will cry when it is completely full and when it is completely empty. It will cry when it is full of grief or full of joy. Happiness and sadness, love and loss, all can create these tears.
I have loved so hard I have cried these. Loved my daughter. Loved my husband. Cried at the thousands of moments with each of them that filled my heart with joy. Cried at the thousands of moments when either of them were hurting.
I have lost so deeply that I have cried these. Lost my best friend to cancer. Lost my nana when I still needed her. I have sobbed in these moments and I have cried out in anguish. I have cried while speaking with God on more times that I can count.
Tears of the heart.

There is another kind of tear. They slip down your face with barely a notice. They are silent and still. You can count on one hand the times you’ve ever allowed yourself to let them flow. Not everyone knows them. They are sacred. They are not about anyone else. They have nothing to do with a connection or a vision, a dream or an expectation. They have nothing to do with reaction or rejection.
They are only about oneself. They come from a place that is only accessed if you truly allow yourself to be.
When you have accepted what has happened. When you have accepted the truth. When you have looked inside yourself and know.
These are a different kind of tears.
They come from a depth far beneath the heart.
When each tear is a battle fought, a bridge crossed, and a violation survived.
When each tear is from that child who was lost, and unheard, alone, and afraid.
When each tear is knowing that you made it.

These are tears of the soul.

70 things mothers should tell their daughters.

1. I am here.
2. You are my priority.
3. You will always be my priority.
4. You are worthy of love.
5. You are worthy of commitment and honesty.
6. I choose you.
7. I will always choose you.
8. I trust you.
9. I will believe you.
10. I will fight for you.
11. I will have your back.
12. You will never be punished for your honesty.
13. You can call me at 2am and I will come get you wherever you are no questions asked. Just know I will be there.
14. I will always listen.
15. I will not abandon you.
16. No mistake will keep me from loving you.
17. No bad choice will keep me from loving you.
18. Be true to yourself.
19. Love yourself.
20. Practice humility.
21. Practice gratitude.
22. Trust your instincts and act on them.
23. You are unique. Don’t compare yourself to others.
24. Believe in miracles.
25. Have hope.
26. I will accept you for who you are.
27. Choose friends who build you up and have good character.
28. You are beautiful as you are.
29. It’s ok to say no to someone. Say no.
30. Stand up for others who can’t stand up for themselves.
31. Ask for help if you need it.
32. It is your heart and soul that make you beautiful.
33. It is how you treat others that make you beautiful.
34. I see you. I see the little things you do that make you beautiful.
35. Sometimes to be a better mom I need to have time to myself.
36. Sometimes me being quiet just means I am thinking or tired.
37. Be patient with me. I am trying the best I can.
38. I have made mistakes.
39. I am sorry.
40. You can always come to me.
41. Come put your head on my shoulder.
42. It is all going to be okay.
43. We can work through this together.
44. It is okay if you need to be alone.
45. It is okay to be angry. Just try not to stay that way for too long.
46. It is okay to be sad and cry.
47. Pray, and ask God for guidance. Listen to the words he puts on your heart.
48. Know that through good and bad God is with you.
49. You can lay in my bed if it makes you feel safe. If you have a nightmare you can always wake me up. If you are 5 or 35.
50. If anyone ever scares you, hurts you, makes you sad, makes you uncomfortable, touches any part of you that you do not like even if it is your arm, then come and tell me. Always tell me. Nomatter who it is. If it is my best friend, if it is your best friend, if it is your friend’s uncle, if it is the plumber, always tell me if someone makes you feel badly. I will always take it seriously. I will always listen. I will always believe you and protect you from that happening again.
51. Nomatter how old you get, my arms will always be open for you. My home will always be your home.
52. I forgive you.
53. I love you.
54. I celebrate you.
55. I cherish you.
56. I support you.
57. It is okay if our choices are different.
58. It is okay if Our beliefs are different.
59. It is not okay for anyone to bully you.
60. Social media can be very dangerous. We need to talk about how you need to protect yourself on social media.
61. I am proud of you.
62. Your effort means more than winning.
63. Take time to watch a bird fly, or a worm crawl, or a bee land on a flower.
64. Laugh out loud.
65. Don’t worry about what other people think of you. What you think of you and what God think of you are all that matter.
66. Appreciate a compliment and say thank you.
67. Choose a partner in life that will truly be your partner. One who will honor and respect you. One that will always make you feel loved.
68. Let yourself fully love.
69. Be able to let go of what is not good for you or who is not good for you.
70. Know that my heart will always be with you.

Be someone’s warrior.

When I first got my electric wheelchair it was pretty exciting. My only thoughts were, YES I can now go around the block, and leave when I want to , and walk the dogs. I didn’t think at all about how I would look or how others would perceive me. I would nolonger be trapped in my own house or yard. I could finally venture out when I wanted to. I particualry loved my first “fit” when if I had a car I would have stormed off but somehow slamming the door while driving away in my wheelchair just did not have the same affect. But I could leave. I laughed afterwards at my door slamming and thinking of how un-dramatic it was zipping away in a wheelchair. A wheelchair meant freedom. I could visit friends in the neighborhood. I could go out at night and look up at the stars. I could be independent.

My husband never treated me any different. He never made one comment about the wheelchair. I remember distinctly our first walk and hoping he wouldn’t act uncomfortable or awkward because then I would feel different and I just wanted to go for a walk with my husband. He held my hand. He didn’t act differently at all. I loved him for that. He was like my own personal warrior that made me feel like this was not something I would have to fight alone. This disease could make me weak but he would be give the strength I needed to battle through all the obstacles that would come.

When I got my scooter that the MDA bought for me I was even more thrilled. Now I had something that could go into the car. I could go to dinner, go shopping, go to appointments, and not be dependent. Let me tell you being pushed in a wheelchair is no fun. Having the control to go where I want to when I want to in that scooter was just magical. But with that came other people. I was out now in a scooter and EVERYONE noticed. I was just me. I didn’t get it. The staring was just relentless and the comments and questions were ever coming. They invaded my normalcy with reminding me that I was not normal to them.

One day I was in the mall and I saw myself in a department store mirror. I was pretty shocked. I looked so small in my scooter. I didn’t look like the me that I felt inside. The scooter betrayed the image of me. It was more the scooter was me and I wasn’t me. I saw it now. People just saw the scooter. I so valued my husband’s ability to never look at me differently at that moment because even I looked at myself differently. But I moved past that pretty quickly. INfact in that moment I was already past it. That scooter meant freedom and I really didn’t care how I looked in it. I fixed that in my head very quickly. I wish others could get past the shock value of the moment just as quickly and just go back to treating me as they did. It was hard feeling like a warrior when I looked like a small fragile being and treated like one too.

Knowing I was diagnosed with a muscle disease and maneuvering through everything that that meant physically while having a child to take care of was very exhausting. I had to learn balance. Every action that I did with my body resulted in a reaction that was often negative if I wasn’t careful. I learned my limitations quickly.

I went from being a professional athlete to having to use a wheelchair  if walking required any real length walking or exertion. My husband never batted an eye. Neither did my daughter. Nor did her friends. She was 10 at the time and she and her friends thought of my scooter as a “ride” when they were tired. It was just part of who I was to them and part of that was pretty fun.

I look back at that time and really appreciate the people who just rolled with it. My friend D at the time was one of those people. She would come over and just pick up the broom and start sweeping. If she used my bathroom, she’d often come out and find a rag with cleaner and start cleaning it. She never said a word. Just did it. Never made me feel embarrassed or uncomfortable with the fact that, yes, my floor really did need sweeping. She would just sweep it, then sit down with me like that was just common place for her to do that. That was truly priceless.

Other friends like A would know that she needed to park her car to the right side of the driveway if I was wheel chairing over for dinner or I wouldn’t be able to get past her car. She never made me feel guilty that she was doing all the work in the kitchen because she knew my arms couldn’t do it.

I was thinking about these things last night after talking to my closest friend Patti. She has known me most of my life. I called her because I wanted to talk to her about something and didn’t know how to bring it up. She just said, ” Ok what is it?” She knew that I needed to talk. She knew me. She gets me. She always has. I could call and tell her I robbed a bank and I’m pretty sure she would say, “Well are you doing ok? Do you want to talk about it? Is there anything I can do?” I talked to her about how it felt to have someone say they didn’t like to see me in a wheelchair. She said that in reality no one wants to see me in a wheelchair but it can be worded in a way that makes it not about them and more about me. All in the wording. Instead of, ” I really don’t want to see you in a wheelchair “, ” It must be hard some days to not be able to do what you want to do.” More about me. Less about them. Even though it is an acknowledgment of how hard it is infact for them to see me not like I was. Patti has always had a way of sorting out my issues with me and making them clearer. She also knows how to ask the right questions, give the right compassion, and clarifies and validates my feelings.

I’ve had some super supportive people in my life. They realize that I am still me, my abilities just aren’t the same. And I have had some awful people in my life. But don’t we all. One “friend” told me that she felt like I just wasn’t the same sweet Bethany anymore. That I was angry and didn’t see the good in the world anymore. I’ve thought long about those comments. That was such a  difficult time for me. I was feeling very abandoned by some family and friends, because they were infact abandoning me. And I was angry for the first time in my life about the betrayals that had happened to me. I did the only thing that an “angry” person could do. I called her a bitch! She wasn’t really a bitch. She was just a self centered selfish girl who was not being a good friend. She had no concept of being a good friend. She was actually  part of a pivotal moment in my life. I called my friend Patti after that, like I usually do when any thing happens in my life. And she told me that even if I were angry, who cares! Did I not have the right to be angry? Didnt I have the right to not fit into the mold that others put me in of always being sweet? Infact, Patti said that I was still sweet, I was just feeling angry. I realized then that I needed people in my life that allowed me to be. People that would come in my house and sweep if it needed to be swept. People in my life that instead of judging my emotions, thought to ask if I was ok!

Not many people actually ask how I am. Not many people ask me how I feel emotionally. Infact it has rarely been done in the ten years I have had this disease. You’ve got your doers, your ignores, your ignorant commenters, but rarely the truly connected. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked how it feels to have to use a wheelchair. I know I’ve never been asked how it feels to not waterski anymore. I’ve never been asked how it feels to watch people running and know I cannot. People feel comfortable asking me if I can pop a wheelie in my scooter and if I am a good female driver. People don’t feel comfortable asking me how it feels when someone makes that kind of insensitive comment. People don’t feel comfortable asking me how I feel period.

I love when my buddy TJ calls me. I can hear him in the distance on the answering machine, ” YO B!” He makes me feel normal. He reminds me how it feels to just be me. We talk on the phone like no time has passed since I was 18. He asks me how I feel. And typically he can tell by just the tone of my voice what my reply will be because he is a good listener. I love good listeners and I love people that make me still feel normal!

I’ve been thinking about my muscle disease today. I’ve been thinking about the things that people say and do not say, do and do not do, all in relation to my wheelchair and scooter. About how people don’t ask the hard questions, how they become superficial, and how no one even really knows how I feel about having this disease.

It is not so different than the abuse and everything surrounding the abuse. Not different at all really. No one asked what really needed to be asked. Are you OK? How do you really feel right now? Is there anything I can do? I’ve told my friend Patti every single detail. She always knows what to say. I’ve told my husband every single detail. He always knows what to say. But so many have not. It is hard to feel like a warrior when people treat you like you are a victim. It is hard to feel like a warrior when other people blame you for being abused.

When you have been abused one of the HUGE emotions attached to that is feeling isolated AND feeling different. Not feeling normal.

But it is OTHER people that made me feel that way. Just like OTHER people made me feel different by treating me differently when seeing me in my scooter.

My nana said it best when I was a young girl and she found out I had been abused and she simply said, ” I am so sorry he did that to you. Are you OK Bethy?”

Am I OK. Some days I am not ok. Some days I am angry at this disease. I am angry that I overcame abuse only to find myself struggling again in a completely different way. But my neighbor told me a story just yesterday. It was of a mother she knew with cancer. That mother had a child who was fighting cancer as well. A mother and child fighting cancer. And I thought, we all have our battles. We all have our struggles and challenges. I have read blogs and hear personal stories of other people fighting illnesses and abuse only to have family not support them. So many young girls have told me they have been abused by their fathers only to have their mothers support their father instead of them.  So many feel isolated because of their circumstances and this is something in our society that must change.

We need kindness. We need listeners. We need to feel connected. We need to feel normal. More people should have asked me if I was OK way back when I was being abused and came forward with the truth. Had they asked, and had I felt not so alone, perhaps I would not have attempted suicide. I can only speculate really to how I would have felt had I had people fighting with me and for me after I had been abused.

Back when I was a teenager and trying to trudge through life after abuse, I was driving home from my buddy TJs house when I drove off the road and into a tree. I remember his face when he saw me. I felt so guilty. He thought he shouldn’t have let me drive home so late. He and everyone else thought I fell asleep at the wheel. No one knew until this year that I intentionally planned on dying that night. I was wearing his lettermans jacket. The firefighter cut it off of me. I loved that Jacket. I felt so bad his jacket was torn in half. That’s all I was thinking. I don’t know why that night on the way home I had decided I nolonger want to live. I can’t remember anything that was on my mind at all except feeling bad his jacket had to be cut. I remember speeding up the car and heading straight for a tree.  But I did not succeed and attempted suicide many more times after that. I find it tragic that I felt so alone and no one knew. Because no one asked me. Looking back now I know it was the fact that I felt like no one really knew what I was feeling. No one ever asked. Not REALLY asked. Just like no one asks me now. How do I feel that my daughter has been sick for 3 years now? Not many people ask. How does it feel to not be able to drive, or buy what you want at the grocery store, or just leave whenever you want? Not many people ask. How did it feel then? How does it feel now? No one asks. Which I find bizarre really. Because these are things I ask other people. I find it second nature to bypass the superficial and ask how someone is really feeling.

So I write this to bring awareness. To bring to a conscious level of thought, the value of truly being present for someone. It could have prevented me from attempting suicide as a teenager. It could have made me feel like even after all the abuse, I could still be talked to like a normal person again. Even now, with my muscle disease, it would be nice, just every once in awhile, to not be wondering what someone else is thinking of my scooter, and have someone ASK If am doing ok. It is a simple question. A short question. A life changing question. Because what if I am not OK. And no one knows. Because no one ever asked.

what I needed after abuse, and what I needed after I was using wheelchairs are the same… It is the same need a person has after losing a loved one, after a divorce, having a chronic illness, going through chemotherapy, or after the loss of a child. We all need to know that there are people out there who genuinely care how we feel as we are going through our struggle, and pain.  We need our family and friends to ask us how we are really feeling and be present in that moment to care about how we respond. Because when we are asked how we really are, we are nolonger fighting alone. We have fought these battles alone long enough.  It is time we see OURSELVES as warriors. And in our time of need we need others to be our warriors for us. Ask someone how they really are feeling, and then…

Be someone’s warrior.

 

 

 

Time.

I hear many thoughts on time. Everyone has a favorite quote or verse related to time. Most inspirational quotes or meditations have to do with living in the moment. They talk about the only real moment being the now. “The past is gone… The future hasn’t happened…So live in the moment..Live in the now… Let go of the past..Don’t over focus on the future…Live for today…” All of these concepts in theory sound wonderful! But all of them are working on the concept that time is linear. Linear is defined as 1. progressing from one stage to another in a single series of steps; sequential. 2. Arranged in or extending along a straight or nearly straight line. In my experience time is very far from a straight line. It is far from moving forward through a stage never to look back again. I can plan to move forward. I can be in the moment and have hope for the future. I can keep my head looking in the straight forward position, but time for me is crooked.  Sometimes it does a few loops. Time for me is like a big ball of tangled up wires. I can piece by piece sort the wires and straighten them out but there are always a few wires that keep winding their way back around everything and making it a knot again. That red wire is hot. Then it touches the green wire and  totally misfires it. Then that affects the white wire and we are back to being jumbled up again. The red wire is the past. I would love to simply cut the red wire and take it out of the mix but I can’t. Because although the past has bad, it is intermingled with beautiful. My daughter was born in the past. I met and married my husband in the past. My mom stroked my hair when I was sick in the past. I rode the waves in the ocean with my dad in the past. Cutting off the past is cutting off the beautiful. We need those memories. Unfortunately, remembering the beautiful past can inadvertently bring up the bad. Like I said. It is all jumbled up.

I’d like to live right now in the moment. I would like to have fleeting beautiful memories of the past make me nostalgic and happy and then just keep moving forward. But when you have been through a series of tramatic events that last years, time does not always work the way we want it to. Flashbacks bring the bad past to the now. It is unavoidable. Living in the now ALWAYS will involve some of the past if you have been abused because those wires in the brain we cannot always control. People will pop up as reminders, smells will be reminders, and so on. The past simply does not stay in the past because for abuse survivors time is not linear. And living in the moment is not always possible.

I have removed as many known triggers and people that bring about triggers from my past as I can. But as time moves forward, people often pop back into our lives from the past. Time is always moving forward this is true. I work daily on moving forward. It is a conscious and active progression to keep moving forward. But circumstances often out of my control bring the past to the now.

I write about the past to release the past. The bad parts of the past. The beautiful memories that come with the bad past I have sorted through as the years go by. I try to consciously bring the beautiful memories as much as possible as those are always in my control. Each revelation and epiphany I have in my healing journey makes the trauma of the past less raw. As the past will come I don’t push it back there. I actually keep the past in the now until I have processed it and then let it go. As I let it go I can more stay in the now freer of the pain that is holding me back and more embracing the beauty that has always been and always will be the strongest. Light is stronger than darkness. Beauty will prevail from the past, to the future, if we make it so.

So when that red wire fires up with a memory that is painful, I have to take certain steps to not let it hurt me again. I can’t untangle the mess unless I work through it. An example is a picture I stumbled across last week. It had two men in it that abused me in my childhood. I forgot this picture existed! Boom the past thrown right into the now with a thousand emotions and memories to go along with it. One little picture with so many faces, so much betrayal, and so much pain. All of time bunched up in a ball of twisted up wires that not only don’t allow me to be in the now but confuse what the very purpose of the future is. One picture with that much power. Prime example of how time cannot always be linear if you have been abused. Because when I saw that picture, time stopped. I felt all the hands that were on me against my will. I felt all the  loneliness of being in that place. I felt in the core of my being the tearing up of my very will to live that was my life back then. I felt everything I felt back then. I looked at all of those faces of people that did nothing to save me. I looked at two pedophiles who are still free men, unprosecuted, and just….time , really just stopped.

There will always be pictures. There will always be those people who did nothing that you will either cross paths in the grocery store or flashback to a memory of  them subconsciously. And when those people and memories come we have to go through certain steps that are crucial to our continued recovery. We process the past as it comes to the now so that the future will be endless with possibilities.

What steps did I go through? I did not ignore the past that was now present. I did not ignore the feelings that it evoked. I did not allow the past emotions to cloud my present emotions. In the past these people made me feel betrayed and alone and violated and weak. I felt controlled.  But I do not feel that way now. I am stronger now. So although those feelings emerged, I straightened out any confused wires in my brain that would even allow me to think I was that same person. I validated that I am not weak and I am nolonger controlled nor would I allow myself to be controlled by them again. Childhood emotions can feel very real as an adult when they come up intensely and abruptly. We have to validate that we survived those emotions and events and nolonger need to feel them anymore.   I purposely looked at each of those faces in that picture and instead of seeing myself as a wounded child, saw myself as a strong and accomplished  woman. A fighter. I faced that past systematically and methodically and purposefully. I straightened out all of the fired up and tangled up wires in my brain that were triggered, by feeling and validating those things that were never validated in my past. Then I destroyed the picture. There are people in that picture that never hurt me. I have temporarily allowed those people’s presence at a distance in my life. But with moving forward there always must be awareness! If at any time those people become more of reminders and triggers than a healthy thought, when I see them, then I will need to let them go. I choose who is in my life now. I don’t compromise my happiness for the sake of appeasing others any longer. It is what we must do as survivors.

Time for abuse survivors is not simple. Our brains are complicated with intricate systems of memories. Some of the past is completely blocked. Some of the past reveals itself in little sprinkles here and there when we are caught unaware. Some of the past is a series of flashbacks. Some of the past appears in a shocking bang of lightening. Some of the past WILL come into the now. Each time that happens we have a choice. We can let ourselves feel it, process it, face it, and overcome it. Or we can try and just cut that connection to the past and hope it doesn’t show up again. But it will. I have learned that it will. That child’s memories and emotions are part of us. That child suffered physical and emotional pain. I feel sad for the part of my life in my childhood that was so damaged by sex offenders and monsters.  When childhood emotions come that are raw and vulnerable, adult reality needs to be compassionate yet firmly planted and grounded in the now. We have the ability right now to give every part of that violated child a voice of strength and victory over the abuse and pain in the past.

My intention is to live in the now. Life does not always present that as an option. There may be temporary disruptions and curve balls from outside sources and from our own memories. But don’t let those moments turn into setbacks. Don’t let those distractions from the now alter the positive in the future. There is beautiful that is in my past and  that beauty is empowering.  That beauty is there when I look at my daughter’s face and remember that moment I became a mother. The word “past” does not always have to be associated with all the bad. Some of my most beautiful moments were in the past. I try to remember those as often as I can. Always let the beauty and light remind you of your incredible strength that has been with you all along. That strength was there in the worst moments and in your best. That strength needs to be recognized. We were strong in our pasts. We are strong in the present. We will be even stronger in our futures. It is something all survivors have in common. Nomatter where in time we are, it is something that cannot be altered. We are one in our strength and we are not alone in our journey through time.