If Father's Day hits you anything like Mother's Day hits me, I would imagine your thoughts are casting images of your unmet dreams and countless regrets of the parent you tell yourself you ‘should have' been. It's so absolutely hard not to fall prey to the father of lies on days that cast through our defenses. For now, and until your last breath you can count on your family in Christ's PRAY to be 1000X's greater than Satan's prey of lies. I sit in church as I write this letter to you, my brothers in Christ, hearing …. ‘This is my story, this is my song…perfect submission…filled with His goodness, lost in His love' being sung by a multitude of people with their souls longing to receive the validation of being relevant on this Earth. Your life, brother, is unlike any book read. Why?-- Because your story book is enteral—it lives on forever. This may seem odd or overwhelming. I get that you may be thinking ‘Are you about to get weird?' but as Frankie Mazzapica says, “No, I'm about to get spiritual”. The world of heartache that consumes a father's heart right this very moment is merely the close AND start to a chapter of your story. Your story is your testimony and testimonies replace the chaotic spiraling those falling prey to lies with JOY by casting light on TRUTH that reveals hopes, dreams, blessings, and opens hardened hearts (Ezekiel 36:26-27). ‘Test' is in the word testimony. God's in this with you, brother. He's calling upon you because HE longs for YOU because on this day, your true Father wants nothing more than you to experience His love and for that experience to go past a feeling in your heart and into a transformation of your self-image/worldview. Satan has been attacking you on all fronts. He doesn't attack weak men. He doesn't attack men unless God created you to be a warrior, intended to conquer lies and capture hearts during your time THIS SIDE OF ETERNITY. Brother, your purpose, your gifts, and yes even your failures are crucial to life right here, right now! I implore you to open your heart to the possibilities God has waiting for you with or without the status of your occupation. The sword you weld is far more powerful than anything ‘the job' brings. So many men and women like you NEED YOU to speak into the lies Satan has been using to rip their lives apart. One thing I KNOW is that He is desperate for joining his son's (YOUR) life. Right now, today, and all the days thereafter. Isaiah 49:16 “I have tattooed your name on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” Grasping onto things like addiction, trauma, resentment is like living on the dirty side of a hurricane longing to reach the eye of the storm for a quick reprieve only to be spit right back out on the dirty side. It's a fleeting moment similar to striving to 'feel happy'. Recovery (wellness) is living on the edge of the clean side-- knowing with one slip of a choice you risk being pulled right around to the dirty side again. While I can't promise the journey to Recovery (wellness) will come with lasting feelings of happiness it will offer the opportunity to experience living in a state of Joy. This path is exhilarating and taunting all at once. It's an adventure far more rewarding than the false sense of security of reaching the eye of the storm or of watching life chaotically spiral outside our fingertips while. When I make the decision to put my pain to purpose it usually finds me staring at the crossroads of choosing between one good choice and one God choice. Life is hard, brother, and walking out those hard times is meant to be done WITH your circle of support. The center of your circle is you and the Father. I'm so thankful when our heavenly Father appears to us through the life of my brothers. Men have an especially hard job as husbands and fathers and this sister in Christ appreciates your efforts to help the world see The Father through you.
Rose was born in a frozen land. She knew nothing but winter. To protect her from the cold, her body began covering itself with ice. It kept the small bits of warmth inside, and didn't let them out. Ice covered her skin in layers. Rose couldn't sense what she touched. It felt like her body belonged to someone else, someone cold and numb. Rose traveled through miles of icy lands, reaching out to things that looked warm. Flowers, birds, shiny stones. Rose was putting them into her frozen palms to see if it would warm them up. Bright colors, loud sounds, tasty foods looked warm, but didn't feel like it. Rose walked and walked, far ahead. Dark nights started to intertwine with days. She was in a new land. The snow drifts roze up to the sky and turned into clouds, soft like cotton blankets. The air was warm, yet something inside of Rose stayed cold. She couldn't walk anymore. Her legs collapsed. She layed, eyes closed. Under the eyelids was frosty darkness, deep like the polar night. Rose reached out trying to catch its endlessness in her palms. She begged to be rescued, to be warm. To find out what warmth even feels like. Then she sensed something. Rose opened her eyes. The Sun was looking at her. It was the first time she saw it. As if all the light of the world gathered in one place. Each of the rays embraced Rose. She felt the ice on her skin melting. She cried for the first time in her life. Rose could move again, even dance, like the butterfly that once visited her dreams. She could. But she didn't want to. Even when layers of ice melted, something inside of her stayed cold. As if some part of the winter still lived in her. Rose glanced up, through her tears and said: "Thank you, Sun. I wanted to feel warm and safe. I thought that when I would, all of the dark memories would melt away. I would forget and never feel cold again. But now, I want to keep them, even the painful ones. Maybe, one day I will become my own sun. And I will warm them up. I will shine on this part of me, no one else can reach, and give it love". Rose smiled. From the puddles of melted ices her reflection looked up at her. She had a crown of shiny beams around her head. *** P.S. First time posting. I'm overwhelmed and excited at the same time. Please, share your thoughts about the story! I'm ready for the feedback. And scared of it at the same time ;)
If you have the privilege as a woman to never have been sexually abused or assaulted, it might be difficult for you to understand the mixed emotions you might have towards your abuser. Let me explain better. When someone you love or admire assaults you, you might not hate them immediately, heck, you might never hate them at all. It's difficult to go from admiration and love to hate. It's also a very exhausting process. When my favourite person in the world, outside of my nuclear family assaulted me when I was barely 8 years old, I didn't know how to feel. I was pretty close to my mum so I just had to tell her. Before I did, I made her promise to not flair up. I didn't want my abuser to feel ‘bad'. Obviously, she flared up and banished him from visiting or sleeping over. This was very difficult for all of us because we really loved this person. His mum (of blessed memory) was my favourite aunt and my mum's closest sister. My brothers also didn't know what happened at the time so they didn't understand why he was banished. The next time I met him at a family function, I was worried sick that he would hate me. To give context, this man is about 20 years older than me. I remember how relieved I was when he smiled at me. It meant he didn't hate me. It's been about 15 years since this thing happened and although he took the time to apologize to me when I was much older, I almost can't stand him. It was like one day, a switch flipped in my head and I instantly became angry. But even then, sometimes I still admire him. It's really exhausting. While interning in a broadcast outfit when I was 18, I went to get this exclusive interview with a (now dead) well-known and loved musician. Apart from the fact that he was loved by the general public, I also really loved his music. The interview took place in an apartment. First, we watched him play his instrument and I videoed the whole thing with a smile plastered on my face. I couldn't wait to show my father. I was watching this man play live! This legend! Throughout my stay there, this entertainer kept looking at me funny and making inappropriate sexual comments. I was starting to get uncomfortable but we were so many in the apartment so I didn't really feel threatened. While trying to leave the apartment, this man rushed behind me, held me behind and groped me. I tried to get away from him but he held me firmly. I almost had to be forced away from his grip after I raised an alarm and I immediately ran outside. I really admired this man. I loved his music but I was highly irritated. When I got home, I still showed my family the video before I dropped the bomb. I went to bed that night watching the videos of the talented musician that I really admired with mixed feelings. The days that followed weren't any better. I had to conduct vox-pops on this man, asking people what they loved about him. I didn't even know how to feel. When he died and I kept seeing the news everywhere, all I could remember was the humiliating incident. My best friend asked me if I was okay, and my mother told me how uncomfortable she felt seeing everyone worship the man and was wondering how I felt about it. How did I feel? Was I glad that he had died? Did I hate him or dislike him? Honestly, no. Do I still think his music is great? Yes. Would I listen to his songs? Maybe. Sometimes I think about these unfortunate experiences and I'm angry with myself for not hating my abusers. I should hate them right? Imagine not knowing how to feel about a terrible thing someone has done to you because you remember all the good that they have done. If you're feeling this way, I just want to let you know that it's okay to feel what you feel. Sometimes you hate them and sometimes you don't. But don't ever beat yourself up about feeling any type of way. If you feel like you can forgive them, it's fine but if you can't forgive them, that's equally okay. I've heard people talk about how it is impossible to heal from abuse if you don't forgive your abuser but I've also read too many articles that say otherwise. People shouldn't tell you how to feel about these things, it's pretty complex so it's okay to heal at your own pace.
For someone with a short attention span, I read a lot. However, I admittedly do not finish most books but rather read books with self-contained chapters. Or if I read fiction it is a short story, my favorites being by Hemingway. And while I admire much of his work, my favorite Hemingway sentence resonates with me deeply:” The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” I, after all, was truly broken—both literally and metaphorically. In the car accident, I fractured my skull and even died (obviously resuscitated though). Plus, I lost someone who I loved in the crash. For some time, I felt sorry for myself, even telling a couple of nurses that I wish I had also died in the crash. At a certain point, however, I decided to rise up and recover from my injuries. The first objective was to regain movement in my left-side, starting with my left hand. I made the decision that while laying there in the hospital bed I would keep trying to move my hand. At first, there were no results. My secret goal was to be able to give the middle finger to my occupational therapist. A few weeks later, I rolled up to her and lifted my left arm with the middle finger extended. She hugged me and told me how proud she was of me. I've flipped off many people in my life, but this is the only time anyone was ever happy about it. Before long I was transferred to a TBI Program where I relearned to walk. About a year later, I began taking college classes, earning my BA in Professional Writing. The power of post-traumatic growth--an underappreciated phenomenon. Such circumstances are, after all, difficult, not impossible. As Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius put it, "Do not think that what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; and if it is humanly possible, consider it to be within your reach" (qtd in Greene 65). Works Cited Greene, Robert. Mastery. New York: Penguin Books, 2012. Print.
My mind is still a battlefield. The sides? Self-acceptance and self-hatred. The soldiers? Thoughts of the challenges I've overcome and thoughts of burying myself again in restrictions. The victor? It depends on the day. Anorexia, upon reflection, was inevitable. It took root when I was 8 years old and crying in bed because I thought I was fat. It blossomed when I was 10 after my dad commented that the mashed potatoes I was eating contained carbs, which would make me gain weight. It permeated my mind when a boy's eyes flitted over my body and told me I had big thighs. It began to guide my daily routine until people started to compliment my appearance. Then, it took over. Anorexia was never a voice in my head; it was more of a silent dictator. It rewarded me with an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction when my aunt compared me to a Barbie doll or my ex-boyfriend proudly exclaimed that I had the physique of a mannequin. It punished me when I disobeyed its orders. Even when I considered it my closest friend, I knew that it ruled me. I tried to "give it to God" so many times, but I was slowly destroying the body that He had given me. I stopped worshipping God because I had sold my soul to the scale. 130. 125. 120. High school graduation. 115.110. Holidays. 115. Compulsive exercise and starvation. 110. My mother's death. 105. Binges. Anxiety. Fear. Emptiness. Nothing. No emotion, no expression, nothing but the feeble cries of a body that was dying. I was dying, and I loved it. Here's the thing about Barbie dolls and mannequins though: they're incredibly fragile. And, like them, my body began to break from the blows anorexia had dealt it. My binges became frequent and aggressive. My body was trying so desperately to save itself that I felt compelled to eat anything in sight. Eating entire jars of nut butter or pints of ice cream became a regular, dreaded part of my daily routine. Even when I tried to throw up after finishing these monster meals, my body said "Hell no." I gained fat, muscle, more fear, more anxiety, and more support as I told more and more people about the demon that had dominated my life since I was 8 years old. Then, a miracle: my body began to regenerate. I slept for 10 hours each night. My period came back. I reluctantly began seeing a dietitian. A therapist came soon after. And the whole time, the number on the scale rose. Starvation didn't work anymore. I was a different shape physically, but my hatred remained unchanged. I hated myself through the pounds I lost, and I hated myself through the pounds I gained. And here I am, finally physically well and mentally sound, but still battling this mass of hatred in my chest. Do I hate myself? Maybe I can't decide where the hatred should really go. I could direct it toward my mom, but she only wanted to feel more beautiful. She didn't know that the medicine she took after undergoing cosmetic surgery would ultimately kill her. I could use the hatred to attack the society that pressured both of us to strive towards unattainable standards, but that wouldn't bring me real relief. I could talk through the hatred objectively with a therapist over thousands of appointments, but that wouldn't make it dissipate. I could take to social media in search of wisdom to diffuse the hatred, but the words of comfort bounce right off. So my immediate impulse is to internalize the hatred, aiming it inward towards myself. Eat a little less, move a little more, because those are the instructions anorexia sometimes still whispers when self-acceptance seems to be losing the battle. Maybe skip a meal. Or a day. A few days. Never eat again. If I shrank physically, maybe my feelings would shrink too. My mind was too exhausted to dwell on emotional pain when it was fighting to feed itself. That was nice. Sometimes I miss being numb. But, as I said, my Barbie body broke. My present and future are now undeniably human. Starvation wouldn't shrink me. I would remain the same size, and the hatred would only grow. A body that doesn't cooperate is an easy target for hatred. I can't go back to that; I won't go back to that. Of course, as self-hatred and self-acceptance continue to wage war, I also have to recognize that I own the battlefield. I supply the artillery for both sides, so I can determine the outcome of the battle. I choose self-acceptance. And, so help me God, it will be victorious.
As a senior in high school, introspection has become increasingly prominent, and a specific period of time that I have not deigned to think about in detail since its occurrence has been brought to mind. Thus, for the purpose of not only sharing my experience with the reader, I will do so to bring closure to myself. Like many others, my entrance into high school was marked by the formation of opinions of my own and the realization that certain things that I had been taught to believe were perhaps, not so at all. This alone caused a series of conflicts that were both internal and external, and brought about a slew of upsetting personal and family matters. However, it was in the tenth grade when things really started to go downhill. Perhaps my memory eludes me now, but I cannot pinpoint how or when exactly my mental health began to decline: not even an in-depth review of my past journal entries can give me an exact date or play-by-play of how exactly I fell into the grasp of an illness that trapped me for almost two years. What I can recall, however, are flashes of specific memories. For example, if I close my eyes, I can still remember the cold yet vague feeling of the unfriendly bathroom floor digging into my back, increasingly familiar when it shouldn't be. I can still recall that nauseating feeling of loneliness, sinking into me even when I was around others… I can still remember the overwhelming hollowness that was too much nothing and still not enough substance to fill that ever-growing lump of nothingness... I can still taste the bitter aftertaste of frustration and disgust on my tongue…the sharp tang of metallic anger, a lingering ghost of a memory. There would be stretches of time when it seemed that I was numb to everything including myself. There would be times when I was sensitive to the point that one snarky little comment would tip me over the edge and everything would collapse unto itself. There would be times when I could give a little smile and convince myself that I was doing alright, and then suddenly, I would have a sort of emotional collapse and find myself taking refuge in a bathroom stall, overwhelmed with shame. This cycle occurred again and again, and to be honest, it didn't seem to make any sense at all. I was fortunate in my circumstances and extremely privileged. I had never once been deprived of my basic needs or individual rights. I had everything, recognized this indisputable fact, genuinely was grateful for it, but the rest of me could not seem to follow my rational mind. I was still completely and utterly desolate, only now, I was only more disgusted at myself for feeling so. How could I claim to be suffering when there were those who were suffering with much less? These questions attacked me everyday, and those who have not experienced this feeling cannot truly understand the terribleness of this personal dilemma where one is suffering, knows that it is irrational to suffer, but still suffers. Now, of course, I know that depression itself is somewhat arbitrary in the selection of its hosts, quite similar to a virus. It's surprising how many overlook the obvious; that it really is an illness in the sense that it grips you often without much reason and changes you. Like a fever, it leaves you incapable of doing and feeling and enjoying, and the recovery is slow, and often uncontrollable and unpredictable. For me, this was certainly the case. Months crawled by with ups and downs, and often rock-bottoms but slowly, almost unnoticeably so, I improved. This might not be what you expect or want to hear, but I found it significant to accept that I was alone, not necessarily because others were unwilling to help, but because ultimately, they simply did not have the ability to. Though this might seem incredibly counter-productive, and for a while it was extremely debilitating, the realization that no one could truly help me except for myself became strangely empowering over time. In the end, I learned to not only love myself, but to also like myself. I turned my pain into wisdom, directed my focus outwards and focused on helping others, which gave me a greater sense of purpose. My own experience has opened my eyes to the importance of seeking to understand instead of to criticize, and I want to communicate that you must not undermine, or let others undermine your suffering. Be warned; I don't mean that you should barrel ahead in an oblivious state — you must recognize and have gratitude for what you have, and have deep empathy for those who have less, but suffering is suffering, and through it, we can learn more about the world and ourselves. Yes, my greatest enemy is myself, but in being so, I am also my own greatest weapon.
My name is Treasure - Treasure Joy. Though, it's been a journey discovering how exactly to treasure my inner joy. When I was twelve years old, I went to my first mental health clinic. My best friend called the police on me because she was afraid I would commit suicide, with all of the chaos going on in my family-life. I struggled with self-harming, which as I got older, transformed into coping through other addictive mannerisms. I was released on my thirteenth birthday with a new appreciation for the basic freedoms most people take for granted. I wish that was the beginning of the end of the calamity, but there was more beauty that needed to be discovered in all of my breakdown. Three days after my fifteenth birthday, I ended up blacking-out at a party my friend threw for me, and I was raped by someone I knew. I ended up going home that morning, told one of my other friends who was not there, and decided to get a rape-kit done the next day. My friend was out of town and couldn't drive me to the hospital until she got back, so if I wanted the rape-kit to collect the most evidence, I could not shower, brush my teeth, change my clothes, or brush my hair until I could get to the hospital. I think that was one of the most challenging adversities I've been through so far in life - to have the evil reminiscence of your perpetrator caressing your DNA, long after the moment had passed. After submitting the rape-kit, the authorities were contacted due to me being a minor. I reported my case, honestly, with a renewal of hope that maybe, just maybe, this was the turning point I had been waiting for, but I was wrong. After a month of correspondence with the detectives, all correspondence between the police and I just stopped. After leaving texts, voicemails, and having my counselors try to get into contact with them regarding my case, I was informed that the case number I had was not anywhere in their records or files - it simply did not exist. My mother's alcoholism at this time was at an all-time high, and I was struggling to make it through school. My mother was behind on rent, barely pulling herself out of foreclosure, with hardly any food for us to eat. My father lived four hours away in a rural town. After becoming an outcast in school and losing hope with the authorities, I decided to visit my father for the first time in about a year, and upon visiting for the weekend, I decided I did not want to go back. I transferred schools, and enrolled into a home-schooling program, thinking THIS was going to be the turning point in my life. About six months into the move, I began displaying all of the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. My father and his wife tried to help me on their own, but without professional help, it was no use. I ended up moving out temporarily on my own, which ended in failure. I was completely embarrassed, and decided to go back to my mother's. I quickly developed an addiction to xanax and alcohol, and soon found myself in another mental health clinic, being transferred to a rehab facility for three months shortly after. I celebrated my seventeenth birthday behind a cage, and promised myself that would be the last box I would ever keep myself enclosed in. I spent the next year struggling with my addiction after leaving rehab, only to end up meeting a stranger (who later became my abusive ex-boyfriend) whom, surprisingly, changed my life in the best way possible. This was my true beginning. I was offered the chance to assist his Cannabidiol company (CBD is the medical, non-psychoactive part of cannabis) with their launch. I even began taking the oil they sold for my mental illness, and was able to replace all of my medications with a small dose of their oil. It was the first time I did not have cravings, the first time I felt hopeful in years, and the very first time I was introduced to the concept of being an entrepreneur. I spent a year with the company after being a victim of unfair compensation and harassment, but I learned everything anyone would need to know to create a startup. I took my newfound knowledge and applied it to creating my own companies. After thousands of hours researching and persisting, teaching myself everything from library books and the internet, and a whole lot of blessings in disguise - I am now humbly considered an expert in my industry, and working with a hedge-fund to turn my dreams into an actuality. I like to think of myself as a lotus flower, because it took a lot of mud and harsh weather to help me blossom into the beautiful creation I am today. Looking back in retrospect, I don't think I would have done anything differently in my life because I've gained so much wisdom from it all, that whether my companies succeed or end in failure - I think I've gained the greatest treasure of all - more than all of the riches in the world could buy. I discovered what it means to finally believe in myself, and that's truly a Joy I will Treasure - forever.
I still remember the smell of his skin, the stench of cheap brandy on his breath, and the specks on the ceiling that I counted each second hoping that by the time I counted them all this nightmare would be over. I remember the exact moment I thought my life would end. The look of hatred in his eyes as he took away my dignity is something I can never forget. I had never been too religious but if there was a God, now was the time to make me a believer. Between counting the infinite specks on the ceiling and countless “Hail Mary's” it finally ended. I remember my lifeless body being moved upstairs. My head ricocheting off the walls in the narrow stairwell. Who cares that this girl was just violated? The party must go on. I'm carried into the bathroom and thrown in the tub. I wake up empty and full of shame.The memories of the night before haunting me, my body aches.I wake up wishing my life had ended in that moment. I look in the mirror and can't recognize myself. I find my purse and use my concealer to hide the bruises, hoping it can somehow mask the shame. I find what is left of my clothing and cover myself up as best as I can. I make my way through a maze of people who are passed out all over the floor. I wonder if he's still here, or if there's any more of me among them. I think that if I pretend it never happened that it will all just go away. The pain, the shame, the hurt, the disgust- maybe it will all just disappear. As I walk home I tell myself “it never happened” over and over. By the time I reach my house I almost believe it. I make a promise to myself that no one will know. I promise myself that I won't let him win. I will put on a smile and walk the halls at school pretending that nothing bad has ever happened to me if that is what it takes. I promise myself that no one will see my cry, except the shower as it perfectly camouflages my shrieks. But lying to yourself for months is hard. Keeping up your image is hard. Pretending you're ok when you're not is hard. Looking behind you to make sure he's not following you home from school is hard. Seeing him in the hallway, at the store, in your nightmares- is hard. School is hard. Sleeping is hard. Living is hard. I will take a pill each time I remember what he did to me, what he took from me, and what he made me. I will lock my door at least seven times just to be sure. I will stop going to school, unable to cope with seeing him. I will stop leaving my home out of fear that it could happen again. I will know what the human species is capable of doing to one another firsthand, and I will stop living. I will merely just exist. Between constant high and the night terrors that have me screaming out in my sleep, my mom knows that something is wrong. But I can't tell her. I can't tell anyone. “I can't live like this.” My mom constantly tells me. I have become a burden that she has to bear. My mom puts me in therapy and I sit there in silence each Thursday for forty-five minutes. Silence has become my specialty. I don't even acknowledge the existence of another person in the room. Instead in am trapped within the thoughts inside my head. “it's all your fault.” “Why would such a young girl go to a party?” “Why would you drink so much?” “Are you stupid?” “Just end it all.” Each day I become closer and closer to gathering the nerve to kill myself. The thoughts in my head have me spinning out of control. Some weeks I don't even leave my own bed. I lay there in a catatonic state wondering if my death would even mean anything. I write my suicide note about once a week. Each one starts the same. “I'm sorry.” I can't have my family blame themselves, it's not their fault. The silent therapy sessions just weren't cutting it- and the therapist tells my mom I'm not progressing quickly enough. But how are you supposed to progress when you're broken in two, when you don't care if you live or if you die, and when it seems like suffering is all you now know. When the shame takes over, and emptiness and disgust is all that fills you. When you dream about death and are discouraged to wake up and find out you're still alive. I tell this all to my therapist. I break my year long silence. I break my promises to myself, and I tell her everything. I tell her I went to a party I shouldn't have went too. I tell her I drank myself into oblivion. I tell her I was raped. I tell her that over the past year I haven't gone a single day without using and that most times I hoped I would just overdose. And I tell her that right now there is a suicide note tucked underneath my pillow. I leave my therapy session and go home to pack enough clothes for “about a month.” I'm being sent to a treatment center that specializes in trauma. I was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder. I never thought a label would give me so much comfort. After a year of living alone with my demons, I feel relief. Relief that it's not a secret anymore, and relief that the silence is over.
Subscribe and stay tuned.