A quick update

A quick update for those that follow here:
The last month or so has been busy times for this homeschooling mama. We have entered a literacy fair which takes place tomorrow. My zany six year old has made a fantastic poster to display on the book Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson. I will post a picture of the poster later. We have also recently gotten into geocaching. What fun! Letting my son embark on a treasure hunt, teaching him how to use lat/longs, directions, deduction and to spot a well camouflaged cache. There are also tons of riddles to solve and it often takes the whole team to accomplish this.
We took our first family trip to Gettysburg. The first day was cool and very foggy, which only served to add to the mystique of the area. We took off beaten paths through the woods, lined up for General Reynolds, “fired” Union cannons and ultimately fell to enemy fire. After all that work, we enjoyed a steak dinner in the oldest house in Gettysburg (Dobbin House Tavern) and then retired to our hotel room. My six year old was very excited by a shower that was large enough all three of us could have slept in there with room to spare. We met up with my uncle who I had not seen in four years or so and let J take a dip in the pool.
The next day, we started at the museum, film and cyclorama. My son was engaged and I watched as his tiny little mind was taking it all in. After the film and a short break, we completed a 3 hour audio tour which took us 6 hours due to frequent stopping and soldiering that we felt compelled to do. It was such a pleasure to take my son to the spot where his namesake earned the Medal of Honor through a remarkable act of bravery. I could see his pride when I explained to him what had taken place on that patch of dirt and that I had named him after such an honorable soldier.
My sister has finally had her baby, though there has been some family drama post birthing. I am just pleased to not be involved in the drama. I was geocaching when it all took place and (fortunately) unable to answer the phone.
I have been thankfully recovering from a little downtime. Fiona was my faithful friend, her sweet voice helping to ease very old scars. The world so often lets me down and I want to believe that my past is an anomaly. But every day I sit in this place, I watch these people interact, I read the news, I read comments on blogs and videos and I know the awful truth. My past is the past of so many women and that reality is often too much to bear.
For today, I choose not to give in. There is no past that can take away my today.

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How much?

I need to understand something. I read a news story today here about a couple of Navy sailors who raped a woman in Japan. Their defense argued that the 12 year sentence handed down was too long and excessive.

Let me catch my breath.

Excuse me? You have just given that woman a life sentence. She will spend the rest of her life trying to put the pieces back together. She will be lucky if it only takes her a few years to get back to some semblance of normalcy.

But 12 years is all they get? We really don’t take it seriously, what rape does to a person. We dismiss it as no big deal. Sure, you will have some physical damage to overcome, but after that it’s nothing, right? Dead wrong. People fail to see the years and years worth of psychological damage, the years of self doubt, the absolute havoc that this wreaks on someone’s life.

I don’t know how to explain to someone who has never been through it what it does. Never mind if that girl already has other issues.

So, exactly how bad does it have to be before 12 years is not excessive? You can get that much time for a drug charge. How much is a person’s life worth? How much is too much before we decide that the “boys will be boys” excuse no longer flies? When exactly is it okay for a woman to feel safe? Or will we keep sacrificing our women so that our “boys” can be “boys?”

Words of encouragement

You can do anything you think you can do.

I believe in you

Out of 4 billion girls on Earth, you’re in my top 5.

I could never forget you.

You’re one of my favorite people.

You are special cuz I say so.

We are proud of you.

I love you.

Sometimes we all need to hear it.

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The long Journey Home

It's not the destination....

It’s not the destination….

No one ever said life was going to be easy. It is almost a guarantee that it won’t be. Life is what it is, nothing can change that. It is all what you make of it. With all of the horrible things that happen in the world, there is one thing that remains constant: Hope. No matter how bad things get, you must have hope. You have to know that if you can just hold out for a little while longer, things will get better. That is sometimes easier said than done.

It has been 18 years. That’s a pretty long time. Sometimes, the memories are very real, very fresh. Other times, the memories are faint and distant as an echo. While the memories have maintained their distance lately, it wasn’t so long ago that they took control of every facet of my life. I lived in a black cloud, swarmed by the dark memories of my past. I was numbed to anything in the outside world in a futile attempt to make the pain hurt less. I cut, trying to remember what it was like to feel. I darted away from people when they got too close, physically or emotionally. I couldn’t imagine the idea of being touched, even for a hug or a pat on the back. My past crept into every moment of my life, filling me with fear and resentment.

This journey hasn’t been easy, but I have lifted the black cloud. It is a tiny, little inky stain that creeps on the edges of the book of my life. But it no longer covers the pages to the extent that I can’t see past it. There are triggers, a movie, a news story, a look from a stranger on the street, a dark corner. This is not a journey I could have taken alone. The very first champion of my life, JR was like a mother to me. As a small, 12 year-old girl whose mother was not yet aware of what happened, what I needed most was gentle comfort, a quiet place to hide. She gave me that. She was the same age as my mother, but soft, gentle and nurturing in a way that my mother never was. It still took me two years to tell her what happened. When I did, she was expectedly comforting, loving and eager to get me the help that I needed. My mother, controlling and harsh, didn’t understand why this woman would befriend a teenage girl. But I knew better. She was eager to give me the childhood I had lost, long before that day.

Then came high school, with all of the typical challenges that high school has to bring. JR stayed close by my side, but challenges over jealousy my mother felt to her became stronger and almost unbearable. My solution? I delved into school 110%. I studied, I joined every club I could. I filled up every second of my time, trying desperately to drown out any memories. I wanted no time to think about anything. I wanted to stay busy. Stay busy I did. I joined the Color Guard and found my second major mentor. PB was my coach and a dear friend. I watched her kids, I sat for hours at a time in her classroom after school working on my homework and hiding from the world.

It was 3 years before I told her. I called her on the phone one night (something I did from time to time) and told her I needed to tell her something. I was numb, I could barely speak. When I got it out, she was shaken and demanded to know if I was in danger. “No, I’m okay.” By then, it had been about 6 years. There was nothing she could do, I was in no danger. I never told her about the cutting. I did well in school. I dedicated my life to Color Guard. She was what I needed most: a friend. Someone I could trust and another mother-like figure to guide me, gently, through those difficult teenaged years. JR was still a force in my life, but PB was there everyday. These two women put me on a path to healing. They never broke my confidence. They put up with my ups and downs (of which there were many) and guided me, gently as a mother, through to worst times.

I can never forget what these two women did for me. Without them, I don’t know where I’d be today. It had nothing to do with strength on my part. I was completely lost, I was only surviving. These two did something amazing. They woke me up, reminded me that I wasn’t broken and set me on a path to learning how to be part of the world again. They accepted that I wasn’t like other people and they never asked me to be anything except exactly who I was. They never forced me to talk about anything but listened, encouraged me and hugged me when I needed it.

For their kindness, my life got better and I was able to eventually find happiness. With the help of JR and PB, I was able to trust the others who would start the recovery process.

To be continued….