You are not dead.

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You’re struggling today. And I’m going to tell you something I needed to hear. My own little Come to Jesus sesh with myself. Here it is. Stop depending upon other people for your hope. Right now. Stop it. And, when you do, you will stop assigning blame to other people for the absence of hope–the destruction of your emotional and physical health. It’s an important and necessary first step.

I get it. Lately I’ve been losing sleep. Sleep is absolutely essential to being in the right headspace. So, I haven’t been there. There’s been a time now where the days were dark, and overcast and even if the sun was shining and it was 80 degrees in February, they remained overcast to me. I stayed inside myself, waiting for it to pass. Because, I know me, and I know it will. But, nonetheless, there was a drizzle. There was a constant, grey down. I couldn’t find the sun, and I would have resented it if I felt it on my face. Damn it for blinding my eyes. I couldn’t sleep and I kept busy on my phone and I kept looking and waiting for someone to reach out with the power to pull me back up…

I was wrestling. I was mentally and emotionally battling demons, internal asshole demons telling me, “You knew you weren’t good enough. You don’t deserve it. You’re never going to be good enough. You always try, you always fail. You try too hard. You give too much. It’s too late. It will never be enough. Just stay down, because that is where you deserve to be.”

Those kind of things in my head play out when something doesn’t go right, or everything seems to go wrong. I think sometimes, while we manifest greatness, we also manifest our own fallings down and failures. And, there were times where I felt like every single hit that could come–was coming at me–at one time.

I couldn’t see the good. I wouldn’t see the good. I only saw the bad, and I struggled and struggled, and I knew I was in a struggle for my future wellbeing. Coming out of this again was going to be something where I had to dig really deep and find my drive and my will and that power within, and silence my inner insecurities with a, “No. You do deserve more. Don’t fight for something that clips your wings, fight for something that puts wind beneath your wings and fills your sails. Fight for the next breath within you.”

Yeah, I did that. I do that. I let fear overshadow me. Is it a person? Is it your heart? Is it imagining something that ends up inevitably not working? Did you put your hopes–did you pin them on something outside of yourself? Because, when you do that, you are destined to fail. Pin every hope on yourself. Let somebody compliment you, but don’t let them define. Let somebody compliment your strength and your power, but don’t let them be your strength and your power.

When you start some initiative, you start from somewhere great within you. You start from a place of hope. And hope is one of the most powerful feelings that you could ever have. If they could encapsulate hope and put it in a supplement and give it to every person, everyday, we would see the world change. Immediately.

And when we start something new, when we take on a new initiative of empowerment and bettering ourselves, it always comes from a place of hope. You can bury something in the ground, take away the sunlight from its immediate presence and it can then view itself in one of two ways. And here is the power of perception. This buried thing, can tell itself it is dead or it can feel itself breaking apart and growing, consuming and nourishing something greater, an ever-reaching for that sun. For, even though it can’t see it, it knows it is there. Even death is perception. Accept you’re buried and then grow. Once a flower or a fruit, you are now a seed that can dig in with roots, steady your core with a solid stem and push ahead. REACH. Break the darkness and find the sunlight, and–that is hope.

Now once you start feeding that hope and you begin something it spurs on, you wake up every morning with that challenge in mind. The one that leads to self improvement and you go for it. You don’t think about it, you just do it.

But, then, over time, some things happen…you start to doubt yourself, maybe the results aren’t there yet, maybe your body is kicking back, it’s hurting. If it’s a physical improvement, that sort of thing, maybe there is a bill that is due that you can’t pay when you’re trying to financially reach and achieve. There’s setbacks and those are the days when you wake up and you grimace at the thought of that improvement and bettering yourself and that routine. And, those are the days that are the hardest, those are the days when you have to find that staying force within you in the absence of that feeling of hope.

Because, those realities of life are temporary and they’re acting as dirt poured back over you as you reach for the sun. They are robbing you of hope–and you can’t let them. You wake up. You grimace. But you get it done and you keep staying the course, and that is the most important thing. It’s not what you do on the days in the presence of hope, it’s what you do when you reach for it and believe it’s still there on the days when it seems as though all hope is gone.

And then you’ll wake up again one day and you’ll look at that challenge and instead of a grimace, you’ll give it a wink.

I’ve got this.

No one and no thing can steal my hope. They can’t make me less. Because I have it all within me, and it is not a piece of me that can be taken, broken, restricted. It’s me. And, I’m impossibly profound. And every foot hitting the pavement, every beat of my heart, every effort, every tap of the keys on my keyboard, it’s all resonating in this harmony of perfection–profound perfection and achievement from one person–within, in spite of, overcoming–every obstacle that comes, that stifles you and tells you to feel that maybe you aren’t a seed. Maybe you are just dead.

So today, let it be a day where you lace up your shoes and you straighten out your body, and you feel the pain here, the resistance there, the thirty minutes that are in front of you that are going to be challenging–give them a little half smile, give them a wink. And then go get them.

Yesterday, I sat down and put my head in my hands and I cried. That shoulder shaking sobbing cry. Frustrated. Feeling like I’ve sunk so far and can’t grow fast enough. Then, I got up and I grimaced at the physical pain in my legs and I pushed myself to take on the day my circumstances required me to.

Today I ran over a head’s up penny. I smiled as I did so and kept my pace. Maybe I even sped up. Because I blew on those embers inside of me. I reminded myself that I don’t need someone, or something to give me hope. I don’t need to stoop and pick up something dropped by someone else carelessly and with disregard. Hope is so much more than the value I could ever put on that penny.

Here’s the thing though. You know how you meet a person and suddenly the universe feels better? Like everything is looking up and the future is exciting? That’s hope, and that is internal. It is not something that person has given you. It is something that has always been inside of you but now you are feeding it. This is where it gets so tricky. You can’t pin the hope to the person. Nor can you pin it to the thing, the job, the raise, the trip, the goal. Because the person isn’t and shouldn’t be responsible for your happiness. The thing, the job, the raise, the trip or the goal will or won’t happen, but, where do you go from there if they are where you place hope and they depart? Attach hope to yourself and feed it, but never attach it to anyone or anything else and it will never be lost.

I have been called an alpha a few times recently. I have never been called a narcissist (to my face at least). However, one thing that bothers me are all these posts from people harboring a victim mentality and blaming the narcissist for destroying them. I feel like that is a get out of jail free pass, everyone is a narcissist so I don’t have to improve or better myself. It isn’t me. It is them. Be careful you aren’t letting yourself be a victim and placing blame. Be careful of that.

I am not a narcissist. I am an alpha. I have to guard my hope and feed it and never let anyone or anything diminish it. I’m learning that. I’m coming into my own.

I see so many women struggle through relationships. Women like me, who have walked through hell and hard times to divorce because the relationships they were in were killing them and were unhealthy. Again, they tried to make someone else happy and thought by doing that, they would be happy. Wrong.

So these people gear up and get on and try again at life. But what do they do? They go for the same man. Different name, different shape, same man. They have the same problems. They are feeding the feelings of not being good enough, caring more than he does, making him their world. Wrong.

I’m so guilty of it too. I have my own demons. I am wrought with insecurities. But, I’ve stopped feeding them. I allow myself to feel. I sit down and have a good cry when something doesn’t work out the way I hoped. Or, when I’m stressed because I haven’t found the solution to a problem I’m facing. But then I dig deep. I harness the power within. I find my guts, I find my passion and I grit my teeth and I go on, every step more powerful.

I am a woman. I am a role model. I am a mother. I am a lover. I am alive. I am a seed. I am not dead. And I am not a narcissist. And, I love me.

Ladies and gentlemen, today…do YOU.

Mama Built the Home

FeaturedA toddler girl and small boy standing at a marine's grave

Mama worked two jobs

Most of our lives

One was serving others

One was raising us right

Church on Sunday morning

And Saturday fun

And summers after school’s out

We would work in the sun

We saw daddy as the strong one

He was big and he was tough

He worked hard all day

And came home to us

His breath often smelled of whiskey

Or one or ten beers

But he could throw us over his shoulder

Without shifting gears

He sat in his chair

I would take off his boots, climb in his lap

Mom would serve him dinner

And then he’d take a nap

But as I get older

I look back and I see

It was mama with the strength

Like a solid oak tree

Mama may have seemed soft

When she would stroke our face

But there was love in that hand

And unwavering faith

Mama was the strong one

Who would have known?

Daddy bought the house

But Mama built the home

And on my way up

I got lost here and there

But I had a northern star

Cause Mama was always there

(Yeah Mama wasn’t going anywhere)

Mama’s strength was overshadowed

By a man twice her size

She calmly weathered our storms

And we never realized

Mama was the strong one

Who would have known?

Daddy bought the house

But Mama built the home

Now daddy’s in the ground

Underneath a solid oak tree

That was a sapling when we lost him

I was almost twenty

Two decades have passed

And mamas getting gray

I still miss my daddy

But I know my way

In life you find your rock

And you find your wings

Sometimes your sail and your anchor

Can be the same things

So with a strong foundation

And secure in my home

I set out raising my kids

And I’m not doing it alone

Cause Mama was the strong one

In time it has shown

Daddy may have bought the house

But Mama built the home

Motherhood: For What it’s Worth

A CONVERSATION ABOUT PERCEIVED VALUE:

A man asked a woman friend of mine why she felt entitled to anything financially when she didn’t work when they were married.

My friend asked for the house they’d lived in for 3 years: they bought it for $280k.

The man responded: No. That is too much for you. Why would I let you keep that?

My friend asked: What do you think is a reasonable price for you to let the kids and I keep our home?

The man answered: The house is worth more now. I want $200,000 or you sell it and give me half.

My friend responded: So, I will pay the mortgage, taxes and maintenance on this house and you want half? How is that fair?

The man answered: You didn’t work. I paid this mortgage for three years!

My friend responded: Alright then, how about I give you everything you are owed?

The man answered: That’s only fair. I appreciate it!

My friend responded: Yes, let’s be fair. We bought the house for $280k three years before we divorced. During that time we almost went into foreclosure multiple times when you were in between jobs or were out of town for work and didn’t have enough money to send home. My family helped out with $10k in payments. When we were divorced we were behind several months I had to get caught up on. I paid the $10k down payment by working FT remote while raising the children. We lived without A/C for a year until I earned a bonus to replace the whole-house A/C.

The man said: Ok, fair enough. You can deduct $30k from my share.

My friend said: Great. Thank you. And when you were working everyday, who did you pay to watch your 2 babies? The average cost of childcare for newborns is more than $1000/wk.

The man said: I paid no one. That was your job as my wife!

My friend said: So as the honor of doing your laundry, cooking your meals, and fulfilling all of my various spousal duties, I had the job of raising the kids. To continue being fair, let’s account for that.

The man said: I see where you think this is going.

My friend responded: Do you think so? For raising two newborns, the math adds up to More than $100k a year. You can’t hire a wet-nurse these days. To purchase breast milk you’d need an extra $75 daily as breast milk runs about $2.50 an ounce and an average baby consumes about 30 ounces daily. This increases with age. I breastfed for a total of 42 months combined which puts us just shy of another $100k.

The man said nothing.

My friend continued: Before you got home I picked up around the house. When you got home I made your dinner and served you as you watched tv. I was up and down with the babies as needed every night so you could get your “needed sleep.”

The man said: Well, the kids weren’t babies for long. It got easier.

My friend responded: Well, you are right. They were not babies for long. Their need to be held and protected carefully was replaced somewhat with a need to be followed, chased, taught, and still held and protected. I didn’t leave for a traditional job each morning with peaceful commutes, my own music playing and lunch breaks. I worked remote from home and raised the children their entire lives. I didn’t occasionally meet up with friends after work for drinks. There was and has never been an “after work.”

The man said: The kids are in school now. You have days off!

My friend said: Except I still work that other job you don’t acknowledge. The one that pays far less than yours but allows me the ability to keep up the house, run errands, take the kids to and from school, help them with homework, volunteer for the required hours annually at the school, go to their plays, attend parent/teacher conferences, take them to gymnastics and feed, bathe and get the children to bed on time.

The man said: Well, someone had to earn a decent income!

My friend said: Absolutely. And as you should by now see, raising your children did not pay me an income but had you paid someone to do the job that I did, it would have far exceeded your income. It would far exceed what you feel you are owed if I keep the children in the home they love when everything else is changing for them. In addition to not receiving an income, I received no retirement benefits from the work I did. You did though. Half of that income should be mine upon your retirement. We may need to get out calculators. To be fair.

The man said nothing.

👉🏼 MOTHERS: Know your worth and be confident in it.

👉🏼 FATHERS: Recognize their worth and be respectful of it.

Sharing this to support all my friends, family and clients who are Entrepreneurs, Business Owners and Mothers/Jugglers/Acrobats walking the thinnest wire with no safety net. #Repost

Why My Heart Doesn’t Break for You

People ask me how I cope with my heart being broken. Here’s the thing though, my heart doesn’t break. It’s learned better than to think itself so weak. It’s learned the lessons people have tried to teach it. Albeit, sometimes the student, sometimes the teacher.

Why lament over someone not living up to your ideal of him? He/she simply is not that person. No one is holding you to him. You aren’t physically bound to him. So, GO.

I get it.
It’s hard. But, it’s only hard to surrender the fantasy. It’s hard to say, “I was wrong about what I saw in you. That’s on me.” Or, “You convey a man you aren’t close to being. That’s on you.” Regardless, he ain’t it.


So, no lying in bed at night asking why you weren’t enough, why are you so unlovable. Doing that makes you less lovable. Gross. Face the facts that it’s really not you, it’s them and LET THEM GOOOOOO. (That’s go, not goo). 🤓


Or, sometimes, I stick around and try for a bit. Reach out, just because I manifested something so great, I want to make extra sure it was a mirage before I continue on my quest for true paradise in this desert of lovelessness.
And I’m not an Indian princess, I’m a camel with water stored inside me to make it through the dry spells (and an extra hump, should I need it). Kidding there, sort of.


So on this journey of life, I don’t get heartbreak…I get annoyed. Annoyed that I wasted one precious second on a lesson I shouldn’t have to learn again and again. I do find a reason to be thankful, though. I am thankful for those moments I believed in a person for me and the ensuing excitement at the rapport and the passion we were building together. But, when it inevitably loses shape and my sand castle reveals itself as such, I keep the faith. My paradise is within me, manifesting in another for moments that inspire my creator womb. So, I walk the sands of time as they slip from the cracks in the hourglass with a heart unyielding, unbroken and unbelievable. As should you.

Learn.

Volun-tears

sad boy missing dog at connections new braunfels

Go here with me for a moment. Please.

You are a child. Taken from your home. Because some grown-ups said it was unsafe for you. Strangers. They showed up in the night and woke you up and took you from your bed. You didn’t get to take anything with you. Ono barked at first, but you told her to calm down and she looked at you with her worried doggy eyes. You knew she sensed your fear. “It’s okay, girl,” you say. But you don’t know if it is. You don’t know at all.

The truth is, you were in such a dire situation–your daily reality–that this quick extraction from your home appeared to “do-gooders” as the best alternative. You are a child. You are innocent. Your life has been hard. Stability is not even in your vocabulary. But, you love your dog, Ono. You found her hungry and alone and caught in a trap, she needed you as much as you needed her. She is someone that loves you. That follows you everywhere-sleeps next to you. You can’t wait to get home from school because she does this excited thing at the back gate, where she lowers the front of her body and raises her hind-end, wagging her tail with so much raw fervor, you think she may take flight. Then she covers you in kisses and you fall down laughing and hug her tight.

But now you’re not sure you’re ever coming back. Do-gooders can’t take a dog, they say. Mom’s been gone a while now and Dad won’t take care of her-he can’t even take care of himself. If he is home he is either really angry or passed out. You prefer passed out. What is going to be Ono’s fate? Your chest feels an incredible pain and tears burn your eyes. It is cold and your aunt mindlessly puts her in the backyard and closes the door. Her food and water aren’t out there. The do-gooders and your aunt talk in hushed voices as someone puts a firm hand on your shoulder and guides you through the hallway of your trailer. You’re both careful where you step as the floor is caved through in places. Your aunt lights a cigarette and your asthma threatens to kick in. They let you grab your inhaler, but it stopped working too long ago to remember. Then you get into a car and every single person from this day forward is a stranger.

This is the reality for children born into terrible situations around the US. They have done nothing wrong but they have been victims of life. They may not even know that they are harder, more mature, or more resilient. This may be their norm, but somebody noticed. And out of the goodness of some person’s heart, reported concerns.

These children may be malnourished, neglected, they may be beaten or molested. They make their reality as livable as they can. They find joys and comforts where they can. But when it becomes noticeable to others, others will step in to stop the abuse and save the child.

So what happens then? Do we even know?

These children are brought to a shelter of sorts, where other children, ranging in age from only five years old, to eighteen, are put for up to 90 days to stay until they can be placed elsewhere. This shelter is one of many in Texas but may be hours and hours away from their home. They are given items to get by with. They attend school in the town where the shelter is and walk in with a stigma.

They are not bad kids. They are like any of us would be in this situation. Scared. Troubled. Innocent.

This is Connections. A place where volunteers and staff come to try to help these children as they are being “held” until they are sent to a foster home, an approved relative or guardian or another shelter.

If they hit 18 while in this system, they have very little chance of a successful future. They are on their own.

So what do we do? How do we help? Look at your child. What if this was their reality. It isn’t right. Nor is it fair. And neither is life. But we can rally and show them support.

I will be working closely with the huge-hearted volunteers at Connections, so I can learn where we can help most. I know they need things like new underwear, socks, toiletries, too. But we need to show love, as a community. So let’s show the depth of heart in Texas. Christmas is coming. We can’t guarantee the children that make Christmas lists will still be at Connections by the time Christmas comes. So we have to be a bit generic. But let’s reach out and show them love and comfort during this time. And let’s find ways to help. Here is a current list of what is needed most. Some of you I will reach out to directly and ask for your help. Others, I would love to discuss an initiative that you can bring to your business and in unity, we can make Connections that change lives. Our lives, and theirs. We cannot forget. Don’t even try to. It’s an ugly reality and it may feel like efforts to assist are futile. But that is how we fail, if we don’t even try. And New Braunfels, we’re going to try.

Xennials: A Generational Micro brew

A liaison of generations, conceived and born upon the cusp of change. We are like “Ice, Ice, Baby” with a little reminiscence of something familiar and classic, (“Under Pressure,”), but with an entirely different spin. We are new lyrics on an old melody. DJs of an era. Borrowing from the old, introducing the new. Forming a beat everyone can dance to.

I am a Xennial. One of a small batch, micro-brew of a generation. I see the small battles, I see the war. I see the big picture made up of tiny pixelated images. I get it. I don’t get it. I’m not black. I’m not white. I’m grey. Sooo grey.

Look at the burgeoning home school trend. I get the fear stemming from the mass shootings, but deep down, I suspect mostly it has to do with the Millennial mindset that reasonable bedtimes and getting up early is just HARD. And ew, institutionalized education. We want to be different–like everybody else.

Maybe it isn’t that way for everyone, and maybe that is the perfect way to look at life. Why are we slaves to a system that is failing us? When the affordable housing issues have reached an epidemic proportion and no American county is immune, we are no longer working to live but living to work. Minimum wage is not a livable wage. So, I get it. Let’s break the mold.

But, I don’t quite embrace all of this, even as I understand what was/is at the heart of it.

I believe in work ethic. I believe in the beauty of kicking up my feet at the end of an honest, hard day’s work and feeling that I’ve earned my evening. I believe in respecting my elders, admonishing my children, setting them up so they won’t fail in life. It isn’t Power Rangers in your underwear on the couch on a Tuesday until Mom decides to roll out of bed nursing a bit of a hangover and makes her matcha tea with agave nectar (or whatever).

So, I straddle a line some would call judgment. I feel pulled in two directions and I get both. I am not a Gen Xer and I am not a Millennial. I am some hybrid in between. The cocoon stuck dead center with a molting butterfly unfolding wings into two different generations. We either bridge the gap or are torn in two. We are Xennials.

Some Xennial traits to note: we were instilled with classic values. But, we were also raised at the cusp of technological advancement and are no stranger to it, we just saw it at a much earlier time. This makes us more of an older sibling to technology and not its best friend. We had cell phones later in college, or at least we knew someone with one. They may have also the friend that had the “Clapper” for the light fixtures in their “bomb” apartment.

Xennials knew chat rooms, played Oregon Trail, ran programs by typing prompts and learned how to build the first web pages in Java.

Xennials made mixed tapes and later, some of the more tech-savvy burned CDs or put songs on an MP3 player. We knew that it was kind to rewind and that Hastings had a free phone. Xennials stood in lines wrapped around the building to register for college classes. Xennials had rolls and rolls of used film that never were developed. But, as children, Xennials carried books, journals or balls instead of tablets. We listened to Sony Walkmans. We knew how to use microfiche and the Dewey Decimal system. Sometimes, particularly if it was raining, we would opt to stay inside and play Atari/Nintendo/Sega. The world was a lot smaller but we saw more of it in person. We looked up more.

Xennials were born between 1977 and early 1983. They are often described as having an analog childhood and a digital adulthood. If you fall within that time frame, you are likely not offended by this article. If your birth year was prior to ’77, you are probably smiling at this article as well, thinking you have embraced the digital age well and could relate more with a Xen than a Millen. After all, we are something of the liaison between the two generations, aren’t we?

Back to Wellness with Michelle Gomez

I believe, in this world, we were born into roles. There are those gifted with great natural abilities and while most are unaware, some of us are even in touch with those abilities. I say with conviction, Michelle Gomez is a healer. She is in touch with her abilities and has pursued her passion of placing her healing hands on those that suffer, guiding them back to wellness.

If you have ever suffered from allergies on an extreme level, you can relate to the feeling of frustration and exhaustion that has consumed me over the last several weeks in the Texas hill country. I have had no voice. I have a cough that simply won’t quit. Sleep is a distant memory.

I posted a sleep-deprived rant on Facebook. That was when Michelle Gomez of Michelle Gomez, Wellness Hub reached out to me. “Come in for lymphatic drainage therapy,” she offered. I was desperate. I dragged myself to her office in the Reimer Building, just off the downtown square.

I lay on her table. The air was infused with essential oils that soothed my respiration. I closed my eyes and listened to the combined sounds of fingers falling across piano keys and the heavy fall of rain. Michelle focused in silence as her skilled hands flitted over my face and neck, gently applying pressure and driving the drainage away from where it had culminated.

I thought of her hands as butterfly wings, they worked symmetrically at all times. Gently, down and up. My face was the blossom her hands did a dance on and I could feel myself opening up.

She cupped my ears and worked around them at pressure points. I could feel one open and heard a soft pop as it did so.

But what was the most remarkable part of my time on her table was that I did not cough. Not once. Typically, when I lower my head to sleep, I begin coughing harder and harder. This time I was able to breathe and fully relax.

Michelle invited me back a couple of days later for another session focused on my lungs. Another session without coughing, while she worked on my upper back and throat.

While I still cough, I feel an improved sense of being and am now curious to bring my daughter to her, as she struggles with reactive airway disease.

If you struggle with allergies, there may not be any total fix, but you can get a healthy amount of relief by visiting with Michelle Gomez-Wellness Hub.

Down but not out

Ten years later, I show no exterior scars.
A decade later, I show no exterior scars from what happened that night.

It was ten years ago this October that I figured out how playing dead could save my life. I was dating a man who twice before had indicated a propensity for violence by jumping on me and putting his hands to my throat. Red flag? Sure.

When I first met him he disclosed to me he had a criminal record for domestic violence. He elaborated on how he was blamed for injuring his (then) girlfriend when he snatched her cell phone from her hand. But he told a very convincing story of how he was falsely accused and was innocent in all of it. Another red flag? Sure.

Why did I stay after his history of violence seemed to be backed by current actions? It wasn’t because I loved him. I actually had become 100% in love with his dog that he left with me while he was on the road for work. He said if I ever left him he would kill the dog. I wasn’t sure what to do but I would never let him hurt that dog.

To this day I still mourn my dog Cali–who I managed to keep with me until her natural death two years ago. She was my first child.

One night I sidestepped into a landmine. I said something wrong that triggered a response that I couldn’t have foreseen. While moments are frozen in my mind, time has been kind in blurring much of the specifics.

So Cliff notes version: I found myself being hurdled into the brick wall of the fireplace. When I fell to the ground I was strangled unconscious.

I awoke to the sensation of being rocked and heard the sounds of my aggressor sobbing and apologizing profusely. “Wendi, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry! I’m such a fuck up, I’m so sorry.” My head was cradled in his lap as he sat on the floor rocking back and forth.

But as my eyes slowly opened, his registered surprise and then narrowed with an enraged anger and he jumped on me. My face was pummeled and then his large hands went back to my throat, strangling me unconscious yet again. Neck bruises already showing immediately after attack

Strangulation bruises showing immediately after attack

This scenario repeated over and over–even down to the sobbing, apologizing, rocking. I tried to get away and he’d grab one of my legs and drag me like discarded trash back to where he wanted me.

Cali was barking at him, so he took her and threw her across the room and into a wall. She whimpered as she slid to the floor.

It was not until I finally wisened up and instead of opening my eyes, I kept them closed and tried to shallow my terrified breathing, that he eventually left me. I heard his boots as he walked through the living room and kitchen of my house and to the garage. I heard the garage door open and smelled the smoke of the cigarette he lit. I didn’t hear him come back my way.

As quickly as I could, I got up and I silently crossed to the front door. As soon as I was out I ran as fast as I could, screaming, across the street and to the neighbors house where I beat on the nearest window.

The poor neighbor was awoken to a frightful sight. A bloody woman screaming and beating on her window to let her in.

I wasn’t followed.

The woman was in her twenties and was a caregiver to her grandmother, whose house it was. They got me inside and immediately called 911.

Everything was a blur. The cops entered my house with guns drawn and could not find him. They did find a travel bag left behind–packed with a laptop, chargers, flashlight, camouflaged clothes, running shoes, cash and toiletries. This made them believe he had every intention of killing me, that it was not a fit of rage but instead, a premeditated attempt to end my life.

I was put in an ambulance but refused to leave the dog and be taken to a hospital. So I was photographed and my injuries were documented. Swollen face, bruises forming after attack

My face swollen and already bruising immediately after attack.

I wrote my statement and acknowledged that I wanted to press charges. (Although I was told even if I did not, the police would.)

But they didn’t find him.

After that, I remember being scared. I was alone. At night I would turn off the lights in my house and walk through the dark. Even though walking in complete darkness was scary in and of itself, it seemed better than his seeing my silhouette in a window or being outside able to watch me through some slit in a curtain.

I lost weight. I couldn’t eat or drink. If I found myself in any proximity to a man I would shake with anxiety. Of course I packed and I moved away.

I called the sheriffs’ office regularly to find out if there was any information as to his whereabouts or an update on an arrest. Eventually they told me they would call with news and assured me they were working on it.

A friend loaned me a rifle and I kept it close. My life was changed.

I share this story now because I want people to know that it’s not something that happens to other people/different people/druggies/whatever. Abuse can happen to you and I.

As women, no matter how strong we think we are, if we aren’t well trained in self-defense we can find ourselves almost powerless at the hands of most men.

If you’ve been victimized and have never come forward, I want you to know you are not alone. You are not wrong. It isn’t your fault. No matter how much I never wanted to believe it, some people are just evil.

I’m passionate about joining forces with Family Promise. Maybe my story will touch someone burdened with unjustified shame. Maybe I can extend a hand to help another woman out of a dark place she was beaten into. Maybe you’re reading this and we can find the light of hope together. Learn to trust again. Let yourself love again.

Forgetting, bottling, internalizing fear and pain, knowing firsthand the sheer panic of absolute helplessness…this is what we do. But in doing so we are continuing to allow them to hurt us. The only way to stop the continuity of pain is recognize the trauma and find healthy ways to address it.

If you need a safe place, or just to talk–I’m here. There are good people here who want to help.

As we gear up for the Family Promise Bed Race 2019, I wanted to share a story. Not my story because it didn’t define me. It changed me and it’s a chapter in my life that has ended but I am putting a piece of me out there to those that I’m doing this for.

If you want to be a part of something bigger than the pain, I urge you to reach out. We can make positive changes within ourselves and for so many others, together.