When I “like” your post

When I “like” your post, this is what it means:

1. I have read your post.

2. I have heard your words.

3. I completely validate your feelings.

4. I feel the pain or joy you have expressed.

5. I respect the fact that you have had the courage to write it.

6. I don’t “like” your sorrow or your loss or your grief or your suffering. I hate that you are feeling such despair. The “like” button is simply an acknowledgment that I listened to your words but may not have the words myself or ability at that time to reply. But I have listened, and felt the words you have written.

7. “Like”, simply put for me, means, I honor what you have said and trusted us all to read.

You matter. 

I know what they told you. I know how they made you feel.

I know how it feels to not matter. I know how it feels to not belong. I know how it feels to have no one running to save you but instead running from you to leave you fighting all on your own.

They said that you aren’t good enough. They said you aren’t worth it. They said you are something you are not.

I know how it feels to feel so small that you don’t think anyone will ever sift through to find you. I know how it feels to watch everyone turn their backs. I know how it feels to sit alone crying, praying, for just one person to believe in you.

They chose their path. They chose to hurt, desert, and abandon. That is on them. Their choice is no reflection you. It is a reflection on them. They do not assign your value. They do not take away your worth. They only take away their own. And that is on them. Those who chose to blame and walk away when you needed them most is no reflection of you. IT IS NO REFLECTION ON YOU!!!

You matter. You are special. You are strong. You are brave. You are valued. They cannot see it. I do. They don’t matter anymore. They can keep walking their own path. It doesn’t involve you. It never did. You made it through without them. Their choices are not on you any longer. Their choices are there’s and there’s alone. You deserved more, better. So do I.

I know what they told us. I know how they made us feel. We can now rise above them and their words that were never true. We matter. We always did. They didn’t see it. That is their loss. But it is nolonger ours.

Surrounding myself with good. 

I have many things in my home that make me smile when I see them. We don’t have a “theme” to our decorating. We have a “that makes me feel good to look at” style 

 
I have this on a shelf in my room. My daughter drew it when she was just a teenie tiny thing. It makes me smile 15 years going strong. 


These pictures were drawn by my daugther’s good friend. We hung them in the hall. I look at them multiple times a day and smile. 


Owls, elephants, wolves… I adore looking at these animals. The owl has been a staple in our yard for years now. He has a mate and they raise their young in our back tree. We have spent more hours than I can count sitting outside listening to them. We can hear them all night in bed and I love it. 


I have always loved pottery, stones, shells, and artwork. My daughter made this lavender pottery and we collected these shells at the beach. An old friend made the gourd, she dried it and did all of the art work on it. I love looking at each of these things. A Native American woman gave me this stone. 


These two things are on the wall as well. My little wren who has sung to us every year. She has babies under the deck and we watch them learn to fly every year. She landed on my believe sign outside and I captured the perfect moment. My daughter sketched the horse picture when she was younger. I love having her art work displayed. 


Some of my other favorite things are this picture of my two dogs when they were happy and carefree! Doing agility in the back yard with my daughter. We were all healthy and well then and that picture brings me joy. This other picture is in my room. It is one of my favorite hawk paintings by one of my favorite artists. I’ve taken pictures of pictures with my iPad so none of the pictures I am posting here do them real justice. But it is just to give you the idea. An idea of the things I like to look at in my home. 

We chose not to use a “country” style or a “southwestern” style or a ” contemporary” style for our house. Not that there is anything wrong with any of those. My husband and I wanted to put things around the house that, when we walked past, brought up joy. I think we need to be surrounded by as many positive things as we can. Things that make us smile. My dresser may not look organized. It has 20 pictures on it that are favorite ones of my husband and me, my daughter and me, cards they have both given me, etc. 


I laminated this bunny picture my daughter drew when she was 3. It stays on my dresser with everything else that makes me smile when I look at it. That little sticky note was stuck in a book my best friend Laura gave me right before she passed away from cancer. I look at that note every day. 

From my grand mother aka Nana, I have many things. My favorite:


The spoon she used to stir the peas with. I use it every day when I cook and it makes me smile. And this book on my bookshelf she used to read to me. If I open it up and put my nose to it still smells like her. 

One of my most precious things is my wedding ring. I don’t always wear it because my finger joints swell. But I look at it. 


I look at it and I remember the day he put it on my finger. It was the day that symbolized everlasting unconditional love for me. 

Our lives, all of our lives, will not always be perfect. There are hardships, struggles, tragedies, illnesses, and losses. I have felt them. I do feel them. But I have created an environment where everywhere I look, I see something that makes me smile. Something that reminds me of the good. We HAVE to find the good. Even if it is just in a sticky note or a 15 year old drawing your child made. I can still find the good. The things that make me smile. I hope you can too. 

Repairing.

I sat down on my bed and there was a big crash. My daughter looked under the bed and the boards had fallen off the cement blocks. The center of the bed sags so my husband put three cement blocks under the center and two boards and that lifted the center of the bed up perfectly. As I write this I wonder if now that they fell if I will somehow plummet to the floor in the middle of the night! Because I have anxiety issues and sometimes those are SO illogical. The probability of the bed now completely breaking under my weight is I am guessing pretty low. But that won’t stop my brain from going there.  Anxiety issues are a real bitch. 

When I saw the picture that my daughter took, the one above, I remembered something. That anxiety feeling reminded me of something. When we first moved in we invited my dad over. We had this house built and we were very excited to show everyone. We picked out the floors and cabinets, wall color, fixtures, faucets, everything. Do you know what my dad said when he came in?  “Wow you guys must be wild if you need extra support under that bed.” Cue and deflate excitement. Of all the things he could have said, that is what came out of his mouth. I didn’t even know you could see the cement blocks under the bed from the doorway, but he did. 

There are certain things a father should not ever say to his daughter. 1. He should not comment on her body. Ex. ” Your hips look bigger….your breasts look larger….you look really nice and thin….you’ve gained some weight…those jeans make your butt look big.” 2. He should not comment on her sexual relationship with her husband. Ex. “Wow you guys must be wild if you need extra support under that bed…..can you even have sex if you have a muscle disease…You know husbands have needs…Have you had your first kiss yet…my daughter is a woman now… What do you think the best sexual position is.” 

Two is all I could come up with. They seemed the most important things to NOT say to your daughter. Sadly, these comments have been mentioned by one or more of my family members at one time or another. So I guess I should have rather said, “Things that no one has any business asking or commenting on.” Three members of my family have said all of these comments. Unacceptable. Instead of my family choosing to speak about sexually and bodily inappropriate things, they SHOULD have been talking to me about more…Ugh I cannot even go there. The two do not compare. I cannot speak of the things they did say in the same paragraph of the things that they did not but should have.

I cannot go back and change what was said. I can just create boundaries of what is unacceptable to me now and have a plan for what I will say and do if that happens. These people are no longer in my life but there are always others who will slip in a comment where one has no place making one. I can also, and have also raised my daughter completely and totally differently. IF she asks how a pair of jeans look on her, I will ask how they feel on her and how she feels in them. IF she asks me if she has gained or lost weight I will ask her how she feels about her weight. IF she asks me if her hair is too long I will ask her if she would feel better if it were shorter. IF she chooses to tell me about her first kiss I will smile and express my joy at her joy. IF she has questions for me about sexuality I will answer to the best of my knowledge in an age appropriate way. She knows I write a blog about my journey during and past abuse. She doesn’t know the details. She doesn’t need to. She does know about instinct and listening to it. She does know about manipulators and predators. She has been raised to love herself and honor herself and demand respect from others. She has been given many examples of inappropriate comments and we have discussed at length strategies of things to do after they are made. 

I have worked hard to overcome my body image and I knew when she was born that I would raise her in a way that focused more on values and integrity than the size of her nose or her feet. 

It is unfortunate my family did not have the same discussion when I was born. We have not made that mistake with our daughter. I hope other parents don’t either. NO daughter should have a list of sexual comments their family has made. It is not ok and it never will be. IF you are excusing this behavior or permitting it, stop now. It is detrimental to the health of your loved one. We are bombarded with enough sexuality on TV and in social life and social media. We don’t need it from the people who supposedly are there to protect and cherish us. It is confusing and abusive. All it took for me to remember those comments is my bedframe coming apart. My beach OM has been temporily disrupted with unpleasant memories. Here I am repairing one damaged memory at a time. I will keep repairing. 

Body image.

Body image is a hard subject for abuse victims. It’s all about control or rather lack of control. We had no control so we try to control how our body looks and that somehow gives us a sense of taking back our power. But it is an illusion. Grasping on to what ever control we can get will not end in success. It will end in obsessions. It will end in temporary fix where it NEED a permanent solution. We purge. We starve. We workout too hard. We get what really is a temporary “fix”. It’s like when I saw my friend who smoked and hadn’t had a cigarette all day. He took a puff and sat back and his whole body relaxed. But that cigarette was not good for him. It just momentarily satisfied him. Gorging will temporarily satisfy. Cutting carbs and running 5 miles will temporarily satisfy. But there is no fix when you focus on the exterior especially when you try to control it in a way that you think MEANS something valuable. Getting to the root of the issue is invaluable. It is priceless. I could have turned sideways. I could have cropped and filtered this picture. It is not my old “water skiers body”. I don’t want it to have a title. I don’t even want it to be a “muscle disease body”. I just want to embrace it. I want to move past it. Move to the deeper pain that requires much more love and care than what I can try and control on the outside. This was a beautiful day. I appreciated this day. It was a magical day. I had physical pain but it seemed manageable because my inner pain had lessened. My physical pain even seemed livable. It didn’t matter what the end result of me walking on the beach would be. I listened to the waves and I focused so intensely on the sound and the smell and the movement of the water that  the outside of me didn’t matter at all. I felt very little physical pain at all and what I did feel didn’t seem significant. I simply embraced the me that has no labels. No diagnosises. No past. I’ve never been able to do that before. But I discovered that just allowing inner peace gave my physical body a break from the chronic pain. I don’t know how. I appreciated the true blessing in my body even being able to do what it does now. Instead of wishing it could do more I really marveled at the strength it still has. In the past I always focused on external strength by lifting weights. I have to say that the moment I realized the beauty in the fact that I could walk at all gave me much more satisfaction than working out in the gym ever did. It was a far more peaceful feeling than a temporary “fix”. My husband and I picked up some shells and stayed until the sun was about to set. The shells are a reminder to me of the what is most important. The “look” of my physical body has become further and further down the list of priorities and that is a huge step towards healing. 



Oh yeah…total side note…We saw a pig being walked on the beach! That’s something you don’t see every day!

Your time to bloom

This azalea is quite confused. It thinks it’s spring! Even the few azaleas that I have that bloom twice a year bloom at the end of November during Thanksgiving every year. I feel mixed emotions about this little guy. He has brought color during the time of year when everything is bloomed out and yet he’s confused as to what time of year it is. I looked at this azalea this morning and I smiled at my conflicted feelings. Beauty in the midst of confusion. Blooming in his own time.

My grandmother (nana) was a huge influence in my life. She had my back. She represented safety and loyalty and love. Right before her death I told her I was pregnant. Her last words to me were, “Take care of that baby now.” She was happy for me. She knew all of the endometriosis surgeries I had had and that being pregnant was something to rejoice over. I was happy. I was with a man that I loved, a man that she hand picked for me, and I was pregnant. She passed away when I was 4 months pregnant. I had just started to show. I cried for days and days. I wailed at the loss of her. I was so grief stricken I had no idea how I would make it through the sorrow. When preparing for her funeral I was searching for a dress. The entire family would be there. Nana’s sister, her children, her brother, his children, and countless cousins and aunts and uncles. My mom pulled me aside and informed me that I was not to tell a soul about being pregnant. That it would be an embarrassment to the family because I was not yet married. That this was about Nana and not about me being pregnant and I needed to keep it to myself. She even picked out a dress that didn’t show my newly showing belly. I was confused. Here I had this beautiful exciting news and yet I wasn’t allowed to share it. I had everyone together to share this joyous time for me and to bring joy to a sorrowful day and yet I was silenced. I remember going to the funeral and mom wanted me on one side of her and my brother on the other. The perfect supportive image. The perfect family. The entire funeral I felt like I was just on display to look like something I did not feel inside. I was grieving too but it was apparently not about me in the slightest.I needed to look good, and not look pregnant.  After the funeral we all had a dinner and I wanted so badly to share my news with family that I would most likely never see again due to the distance they lived. I never saw most of them again after the funeral. We went back to my mom’s house after the funeral with the family that lived close by. I sat on the picnic table looking at Nana’s house directly across the lake and felt a deep hollow in my chest. I heard the family talking about Nana’s missing ring. I heard the disruption and I knew exactly what ring they were discussing. It was a ring Nana took off her finger and put onto mine months earlier. I used to visit her every week in the nursing home. She slipped it on my finger there.  I told them that I had the ring. My aunt remarked, “Why would she have given it to you? Why didn’t you tell anyone?” And then she started yelling at me and I left the room. I was such a door mat. But she was my aunt who was allowed to say anything she wanted, hurt anyone she wanted, insult anyone she wanted, with the excuse that,”Well you know that’s just your aunt”. Never accountable, just like everyone else in the family. We left shortly after that as this funeral seemed more about the needs of the rest of the family, not about Nana or sharing real grief.

My mom was ashamed of me. Ashamed I was a preganant. No one knew. Which is why I got no gifts, no cute baby onesies, no diaper genies, no cute booties. Nothing. When I started to really show then she told her friends and I was able to finally show off my proud baby!


I was 7 months pregnant. Finally able to tell people I was having a baby! In celebration I drove out to my mom’s house and swam across the lake to Nana’s like I did when I was a little girl. I felt the sorrow of her loss lift some that day.

When I went into labor I did not call my mother. I did not call anyone in my family. I didn’t know why. I just knew that this moment I wanted to share with my husband and him alone. I didn’t want to feel anyone else’s shame during my moment of joy. I was proud to be a mom and I didn’t want anyone to take that away from me.

Had I really taken time to tap in to the “why” I would have realized 20 years ago that not calling my parents REALLY meant I did not trust them. That deep down I knew that they did not represent safety and solace and security. This was something I didn’t want to share with them because I didn’t feel safe being vulnerable with them. So unlike most girls who want their mother at the birth of their child, I didn’t. Which is incredibly sad as I look at it now.


My dad was the first one to come to the hospital. All I remember about his visit was that I asked him to wash his hands before holding her and he said he did downstairs and would not again. When he took her I wanted so badly to say, “well you don’t get to hold her then!” But I didn’t. He also commented on how large my breasts were. Because that is a normal thing for a father to say to his daughter right? But again, I was still confused about my family. I was often silenced by them. The truth stared me straight in the face over and over and over again but I had no voice to change it. My sweet little baby, my sweet jaundiced baby was finally here.  She was only home 3 days before having to go back into the hospital to be under the billi lights. We stayed there a week.

My mom or dad didn’t offer to help me, hold the baby while I napped. I was fried. My baby cried nonstop for 4 months. The didn’t come spend the night and offer me a break. But I ignored that. At 4 months old after much sleep deprivation and much perseverance we discovered our baby had a birth defect and she had to have surgery to remove her kidney. It was the scariest moment of our lives. I will never forget the days surrounding her surgery. I remember who was there and who was not. and I was right. My mom was not there making me feel comforted. In fact, I don’t remember her there’s at all. She said when we moved 1 hours and 15 minutes away from her that it was our choice and we’d probably rarely see her. That ended up being true. I often loaded my crying baby up and drove her out to see my family. They rarely came to see me.

Two months after her surgery we talked about getting married. We wanted our marriage to be separate from the pregnancy and birth of our child. My mother immediately started planning and organizing to the point that my husband and I woke up one day and just got married! We wanted this moment, like the birth of our child, to be our moment. So we called a friend who could marry us, got the wedding certificate, and went to our favorite spot.

I picked out a sundress. Put on my tennis shoes to walk out into the woods(which I took off to get married barefooted) and my husband stopped to pick wild flowers on the side of the road for me for my bouquet.

I threw my bouquet to the trees!!!!!
It was the best wedding I had ever been to. We danced in the woods and then went to dinner at our favorite restaurant (I had to stop and breastfeed our child on the way). It was the perfect day. No one ruined our moment. I thought about why I didn’t want my father to walk me down the isle, and why I didn’t want my mother to be there, and I hadn’t yet figured it out yet. I was still confused. I knew JUST enough to keep them out of the two most important days of my life, but not enough to prevent them from hurting me for the next 20.

Year after year as my daughter grew up I was criticized. “How long are you going to breastfeed….you aren’t going to do that in public are you….isn’t it time for her to wean…..you should only be doing that at night…you shouldn’t be letting her sleep with you.” But not once did I get help. Not once did I get a nap! But I got a lot of unwanted input on my child rearing. It just never seemed to stop. There was always something. I didn’t do my hair, I didn’t wear enough make up, I didn’t iron my clothes well enough. Always. Something.

It was surprising to me when I was diagnosed with a muscle disease and subsequently my daughter fell ill, that my mother took on the role of caretaker. She made us meals, picked my daughter up from school, took her shopping, helped clean the house, and seemed very invested in the care of both of us. I felt a connection to her. I started to let slide the comments about my house, and my face, and my choices. She physically was there for us. She met us at the ER and brought us snacks. She sat with my daughter in the hospital every night while we went home and changed. She was the mother that I remembered as a child. Or so I thought.

I was never good enough. I was “sweet” Bethany. Just this week I realized what “sweet” Bethany meant! It meant “quiet Bethany”. Of course I seemed sweet, which by the way I am, but to them I never stood up for myself. Ever! I never voiced my opinion, my objection, my wishes. I never said anything. Because there was no one that was every listening. 20 years ago I knew that this family was ashamed of me and that my purpose and feelings did not matter. Maybe my mom really took care of us because she loved us. Or maybe it was something else she could further control. I will never really know. Because it all became tainted. I knew it enough to not allow them to taint my child’s birth or taint my wedding. But I didn’t know it enough to see that they were squashing my spirit. You name it, they squashed it. It took a letter to my father detailing the abuse I endured as a child and finally voicing my feelings over his inaction that finally showed me what I really meant to them. And that was nothing. Because their response to my letter was again that they were ashamed of me. I was the problem. I learned this week that it was not just the child molesters that silenced me but it was my mother and father. They never heard me. They didn’t care to. The dropped me out of there lives. So who was the dotting mother I saw those few years? A mother that can disown her daughter over finally voicing abuse, is just a surface mother.

No one in my family  wanted to hear my voice. It was easier for them that way. Now I am, at 45 years old, just learning how to set boundaries, enforce them, and let my voice be heard.

I was confused for a very long time. When I looked at that azalea today I just thought it was a perfect reflection of me. Completely confused on what I was doing but still able to find beauty in the face of it all. To still be able to bloom in an environment of total confusion is something to be very proud of. I know many who don’t see it in themselves but I can see it in them. They overcame abuse to shine. They still shined through abuse. They overcame huge obstacles to bloom and radiate and inspire. I don’t know why that azalea decided to produce a beautiful flower in September instead of March, but it was proof that there is no time stamp on when you can do anything! Find your voice, speak your thoughts, let go of people who hurt you, in your own time. You thought you were supposed to find your voice in March but maybe it took until September to finally achieve it. There is beauty in places you least expect it. I didn’t expect to see a flower today and have an epiphany while looking at it. I wish 20 years ago I would have kicked my entire self absorbed family to the curb. But I didn’t because I guess it was still March. Now it is September. Time to bloom. Finally.

I called a telemarketer a rapist

Telemarketer: “Hello ma’am we are doing a survey about our country”

Me: “I have asked to be removed off your list and yet you keep calling. I even asked nicely.Remove me now, please.”

Telemarketer: “I am so sorry ma’am I will take you off the list, but first I would just like to ask you a quick question about a survey we are doing.”

Me: “As I already stated I am not interested in this phone call, or your survey, and would like you to stop calling my house and stop calling my cell phone and remove me from your list.”

Telemarketer: “But ma’am it is just a quick survey.”

Me: “You are just like a rapist! A freaking telemarketer rapist. You don’t know that NO MEANS NO! So you just keep going and going!” I hang up as he is still speaking…

I know how it feels to not be heard. I know how it feels to have “no” not meant “no”. I know how it feels to wish I could speak but not be able to. I am working on finding my voice not just in my blog but in real life. In the last week telemarketers have called my house round the clock. 7 am, 12 pm, 8pm, and last night 10pm. My home phone and my cell phone are being called for every survey imaginable. And “no” seems to not mean anything to them. I am aware these people have a job. I also kindly tell them I am not interested. They are giving me great practice in reacting to people who do not listen to my “no”. It is an interesting phenomenon that happens in the body when you feel rage at someone not listening to your “no”. Especially if that “no” usually resulted in physical and emotional harm. So these telemarketers are quite the trigger in the last week as they are relentless in not respecting my even kind way of saying, “No thank you. ” I mean. I could hang up. I could start yelling right away. But I just say kindly that I am not interested.  Doesn’t matter. They just keep pushing. And I find that unacceptable. 

One person’s agenda should not disrespect another person’s right to not want to be a part of it. 

Telemarketers scare me. I wonder what they do when they stop pushing their agenda on people at work. I wonder after practicing NOT listening all day and practicing being disrespectful all day, how they treat other people. Are being conditioned to not care what other’s feel? Any job that requires you to disregard another person’s feelings is not a job you should be doing or that I respect. I know not all telemarketers are the devil. I’ve had about 25 though that sure remind me of rapists! 

My daughter and I were watching a movie last night and a character in the movie told an inappropriate joke. The other character replied to the joke by saying,  “That’s sick and I don’t find it funny at all. Stop telling me stuff like that.” My daughter and I then talked about the people that you run across in life, school, work, social events, that say inappropriate things. They say an inappropriate sexual comment and no one says a thing. My daughter said she wished more people were like the kid in the movie who immediately said no to the unwanted inappropriate joke. I don’t like people who get in a setting that they feel comfortable catching you off guard by saying something that is not ok. Usually you are so shocked that you may laugh, or ignore it, or just go along with it. These kind of people take you off guard and they know exactly how to do that because they are manipulators. It takes a very strong individual to call someone out on inappropriate comments. I usually walk away from them and lay in my bed that night mad at myself for not saying something in the moment. Most of us do that. Wish we would have said more, said something, but didn’t, or couldn’t. 

So I suppose the telemarketers are giving me good practice on speaking my mind when someone says something that is disrespectful to me and my choice.  It will be nice when after I hang up with a telemarketer I don’t feel like I’m going to pass out or vomit. Imagine how hard it is to say “no” in person when you can’t even do it to a telemarketer! So I am practicing, hoping to pull it off without fainting soon. It is HARD. I have been hard wired to to just say YES. I’ve got to rewire and that is difficult. 

When my daughter was 3 she was doing a split and one of my family members said,  “well that will come in handy one day!” And I said NOTHING!!!  Who expects to be at a family event and have someone say that about your child? No one expects the vile comments made to catch you off guard and they are repeat offenders because often times no one says anything. How can they? They are too shocked! But it is time that stops. No more going to bed wishing I had said something that I couldn’t. Abuse puts you in this perpetual state of silence and I am so sick of it. I would rather yell at a telemarketer and tell him that he is like a rapist than allow anyone in my life to try and manipulate me again. 

My daughter:”Mom, did you just tell another telemarketer they were like a rapist?”

Me: “Yes, I did. And I will keep yelling at people who don’t listen when I say,  “No means no !” 

If we all looked at the man who said,  “That will come in handy one day,” when my 3 year old did a split,  and told him he was disgusting, and then left, I’m pretty sure he would get a good indication that these comments were not OK! Someone should have said something even if I coulnd’t. We all knew it was wrong. 

 I am striving to be a person who uses her voice. I am striving to be that person who stands up and yells “no” until I am heard. It is not easy. But it is a start, even if it is just a telemarketer.