The glitter on the cupcake

“I’m sorry,” I said.

Over the course of a conversation with a pastor and his wife one time, I must have said it several times, and it was not in reference to a sin, an offense, something I neglected to do. They engaged me in conversation because they wanted to know more about “me,” not the journalist, professional me, but the Kathy Leigh who is.

They were really good at asking probing questions without seeming nosy.

I still count them among my friends today.

Ten minutes later, I felt like I told them my life story.

So I apologized. Profusely.

“Someone must have really hurt you at some point in your story,” said the pastor. He and his wife were so kind.

“You don’t need to say you are sorry. We asked you to tell us more about you, and we asked more questions. You did not do anything wrong. There is no need to say you are sorry.” The pastor told me he felt God had a unique journey for me.

A list.

I was at a training held at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office community room for Darkness to Light Stewards of Children to learn how to help prevent child sex abuse. Scheduled to speak on my book, The Brighter Side of A Darker Thing, I was invited to stay for the entire workshop, so I did.

A psychologist who works with survivors of sexual assault and child sex abuse produced a list of things commonly found among survivors.

Saying I’m sorry was on the list.

Blaming yourself for something that was not your fault.

Hypersensitivity of your surroundings. (This has actually been more of a gift than a curse for me, has kept me safe many times.)

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PTSD.

Anxiety.

Depression.

Self harm.

Substance abuse.

Fear.

Always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Nightmares.

Flashbacks.

Triggers.

OCD. (Obsessive compulsive disorder.)

May have achieved a stack of awards and it is never enough.

And more.

I was furious.

I had no idea that many things I have been dealing with my whole life were a direct result of the abuse.

Glitter.

I love it. Gets everywhere, shines a lot. Makes you go, hmm. That is glitter.

People say they hate glitter. Messy, they say!

Well, yes, and you sure do not want to get it under your contact lense!

I guess science has learned how to produce edible glitter. You can throw it on a cupcake or whatever, to be festive.

I am at the point in my journey of healing where I am realizing that it is a blessing to recognize what generated my self hatred, self blame, and PTSD.

Write this down. “I will make no apologies for things that are not my fault, and I will instead seize these opportunities to grow. And sparkle.”

Meanwhile.

Slept in this morning, and it was marvelous. Time to read, pray, study, blog. And have some coffee.

Happy Friday, all.

The rooster is crowing louder than the traffic today.

One word

The word of the year for me is delight.

What does that word mean to me?

When I think of delight, I think of joy and happiness, twirled together with hope and belief that there are things to be happy about.

Short blog today, as I slept in a bit.

Slowly, am putting together what that word means for me, delight.

I think of the Peanuts character, Snoopy, and his happy dance when something went well. Actually, most of the time he was happy 🙂

Anyway. I think delight begins with a choice. Once our thoughts are trained to look on the Brighter Side of things, it helps us to really believe that there are things to be happy about, things that bring joy, and that life is not always as dark as we may think it is.

More on that another day.

Meanwhile. Know you are not alone on this journey.

We get by with the help of our friends.

Happy Thursday all 🙂

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The un-blog

Yesterday, I had the chance to read a blog published by younique.org, which spoke to survivors of sexual abuse, supporters of survivors, and those who wish to join the cause.

Have to say that prior to 2013, I had no idea the depth of resources that are out there .. right now .. for survivors who do not really want to join a small group, whether because of time or privacy needed in healing.

The blog was so beautifully done, and immediately, I thought of mine, and was like wow.

Mine is the un-blog.

What I mean is that writing is very familiar territory.

However, writing about something so close to my heart and my own healing journey .. is a work in progress.

But that is not a bad thing, is it?

“Stop comparing yourself.”

My inner child is stern with me. With long blonde hair secured in braids, she shakes her head and wrinkles her freckled nose.

“When will you just do you?” she asks.

“Well, you don’t have to be so miffed about it,” I said. “After all, we all get ideas about how to do things better.”

Truth is, I silence my Inner Child a lot.

She has a basket full of great ideas, probably the best of which is to stop comparing myself.

Coffee and fries.

Cardiologists will likely shake their heads, but it is a good combination for a day when something like that is needed.

Conversation.

Had a conversation with someone, and we found that we speak frequently on this matter of comparing one’s self to another.

Self, this is not allowed.

Self is always looking to do and be better and better, the bestest of the best, superb, outstanding.

“Yet I fail,” Self says.

Inner Child again furrows her eyebrows.

“Stop. Just stop.”

Self has a way of making life a living hell for the Inner Child.

Inner Child holds up a poster she has painted. Fields of flowers, dancing fireflies, sunshine, and hearts.

Hello Kitty.

A copy desk editor I knew years ago was fond of Hello Kitty. “Well, that’s real mature,” some said.

This girl was fully woman and loved child like things. Who cares?

She was one of the best copy editors I knew.

If anyone had taken the time to get to know her, they might have understood why she decided to surround herself with fun stuff.

Comparison is for apples and bananas you put in your lunch box. Will I have one or the other, or both?

Who do you think you are?

Normally a statement spewed in a disagreement, the actual premise is an interesting study.

Who .. do you .. think .. you .. are?

I write about this because I, of all people, struggle with comparing myself and wondering if I measure up.

My close friend circle is small because I have been told I am eccentric. (What image does that conjure up??? I love the word “creative,” thank you.)

Today, I will choose to un-blog this particular post, and instead, choose to appreciate my Self.

Inner Child agrees.

Who am I? What makes me happy?

A simple person. I love to laugh, enjoy the outdoors, adore God and yet wonder what on earth He sees in me. I love to create art .. whether paint, paste, scrapbook, sewing, crocheting, writing, music. I am a loyal friend. I do not like being a burden. I love conversation, but also enjoy some silence every day. I know no strangers, and yet am very comfortable in my own company.

I worry about people I love. Always fear the worst. Wish I could give them the world. Wish I could make things better.

Pet peeves, seeing people hurt one another with reckless words and actions. Wondering why there are so many people in this life that actually live alone, and never get a call from their families. And more.

Anyway.

The un-blog for today 🙂

I hear both our neighbor’s rooster crowing

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and the morning traffic building up outside. Baby birds are chirping, and our cats are asleep, for the moment.

Happy Wednesday, all.

Be kind to yourself today.

 

Forward reaches the goal

I think sometimes we’d like to wake up, and suddenly, bam. The house is clean. The car is clean. The yard looks nice. The debt is paid. Sickness is gone. The weather is great. There is peace on earth.

Most of the time, we awake to the same day as before, if that makes sense.

One day, I would like to …

Why can’t things be …

My dreams will never come true.

And on, and on.

Our heads can trick us into thinking there is just no use in working toward our goals.

Sand.

And the incoming tide.

I watched as my kids dug a hole on the beach, carefully bringing buckets of sand from the center to reappropriate it to create the wall of their castle.

About an hour later, the water came rushing in.

The castle looked different. My children’s eyebrows furrowed as their little legs ran back and forth to try to rebuild the wall.

Dreams.

I have one friend who has seen so much in 2 years time. Hurricanes. Husband’s cancer. Death of a mother-in-law, and she was first on scene to try to revive her, but eternity and God already had an appointment.

Numerous car wrecks (her husband and and teens.)

Termites. Illness. And other things that went wrong with the house.

She does not have many days off, as she is trying to catch up.

She wants to some day be able to travel again, like she did with her parents when she was growing up. And there are other dreams.

Another friend of mine is facing possible job loss. In their line of work, they almost always have to relocate in seeking a new job.

Yet another friend has been battling cancer for five years.

I surmise that she will defeat this illness. Watching her fight has taught me much about what is important.

Yesterday, I heard a story of a young man who was playing soccer and literally got hit in the eye so hard that his sight in that eye is gone forever. His soccer scholarship likewise is out the window now. Hard news for an 18-year-old. Yet I have to wonder if this setback will propel him to something even greater.

So what’s the point?

We hear the cliches of “never give up your dreams” and “anything is possible.”

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I believe it is true. That dreams do come true.

Tiny steps forward put us closer to the goal. We will look back one day and see that all our hard work paid off. That life is better than we thought it would be. That we did things we never thought possible.

Just some encouragement today for the downtrodden.

We are always moving forward, don’t forget that.

The healing of telling

“It must be hard for you to share your story, and keep repeating it,” said someone I know, who occasionally works with survivors of sexual abuse.

Yes, it is.

But I will keep sharing it.

Not for attention, as let’s face it, we survivors get various responses from people, running the gamut from shock to utter disgust.

Then what happens is a survivor sometimes interalizes that .. like it was their fault they went through the trauma in the first place.

Yet we must understand that it was not our fault, and the reaction you get from some people is justified, as they are thinking to themselves, “what kind of person would hurt a child.”

“This is my story.”

Yes.

Over the years, I have had the chance to talk to hundreds of fellow survivors.

Some say “no way, not me, I am not telling my story.”

Others ask me “how?”

Still others say they would, except it would shatter their families if Mom or Dad knew the truth. And as such, they battle daily, trying to heal from their dark secret, alone.

Still others have been surprised when they unveiled their secret, and were received instead with love and gentleness, support and understanding, and a relentless belief that no matter their past, they will still achieve their dreams.

I know of at least two marriages that were repaired because I shared my story.

Recently, I sat in on a sexual assault awareness workshop, and I could not share with the group until it was over, as I was covering it for work. When speaking to the leaders afterwards, we had a long conversation, and next year, they would like for me to share my story, and also would like for me to get involved with what they do on a volunteer basis.

As I was listening to the content, I felt I could write a book. Then my mind went to this .. what if I could create a series of simple Facebook videos just on the

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dynamics of sexual abuse, its effect on survivors, the community and their families, the many challenges one faces on their journey, as well as sharing hopeful stories from other survivors.

The last would be a challenge, for sure.

Anyway.

I was telling this person that yes, it is hard to share. But that yes, I get a little stronger every time. My heart is turned both inward to continue my healing, as well as outward to help others.

By “help,” I am not a licensed counselor. But I can tell you that even licensed counselors and first responders have come to me to ask me what to say to a survivor when they are working with them.

Meanwhile.

I have a day off today. Am drinking my coffee slowly and getting ready to spend a day with one of my daughters who moved away in January. We have a full day planned, and it is going to be glorious.

Email me your thoughts for what you would like to see in upcoming blogs.

Have a very Happy Monday, all 🙂

Resurrection Sunday and new beginnings

“He is risen, just as He said.”

I cannot imagine how surprised and thrilled Jesus’ friends and disciples were when they realized that yes, He did indeed defeat the grave.

Even more interesting is that at least 500 people saw Him after He arose, according to ancient scriptures.

Spring, Easter, Holy Week, all launch a spirit of newness around the world as millions celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

Opening my farmhouse window facing the Shire this morning, I was immediately bathed in early morning light. I could not even see the Shire for the light.

And I thought of humanity, and all our works, of all our trials and struggles, of all our endeavors to make things beautiful.

All I could see was this light.

The sun is a powerful force. We do not see its beginning. We are hopeful that it never ends, for humanity would then have no hope.

We see it, and the reflection of its rays.

But to hold it with our hand, we cannot.

All day long, it shines upon us.

A favorite mantra of mine for when things are tough is “the sun is still shining above the clouds.” Just because we cannot see it due to the storms of life, it is there.

So this resurrection. I was not there. I did not see. And yet, I believe.

Every year, the Easter season presents with a chance to declare life and overcoming, of victory and promise.

May the joy of the resurrected Messiah be with you today, and always.

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Of eggs, bunnies, and spring

Those ears.

They are irresistable. White chocolate or milk chocolate, it makes no difference.

They are the first to go.

Easter baskets are such fun to make, and even more fun to consume. The last time I had an Easter basket, I was like 11 or so.

The bunnies.

A basket must have a bunny. I don’t imagine they make sugar free rabbits, so chocolate bunnies are out, for me.

It is 5:55 a.m. and I hear a lawn mower.

The sun is not up yet, weird.

Anyway. I actually have two stuffed rabbits at home. One is a large handmade rabbit I gave to my Grandma years ago for Christmas. And before she died, she sent it home with me. I keep it on my bed. Her fingerprints, no doubt, are still on it.

I miss her so!

The other rabbit is a gift from my bestie. Small, fluffy, with beans in its little feet. And loppy ears.

Rabbit ears are awesome.

At one point, that is how we watched television.

!

Now I feel ancient.

Easter baskets themselves always brought shimmers of hope to the end of a long, dark winter.

Coloring the eggs, my great Grandma and I used to make at least 20 baskets full of candy and goodies, in preparation for Easter. Then there was the Easter dress and shoes search. Prepare Easter dinner.

The phone rang.

My oldest son, Josh, was on the other end.

He and his fiance are having a dinner at their house. So that is where I am headed after church on Easter.

Spring.

The new is here. Jasmine and orange blossoms fill the air with an intoxicating scent.

But today is the day between Good Friday and Easter.

I work today, and never know where the winds of journalism will carry me by the end of the day.

For sure, by Saturday, my system slows down. I have Sunday and Monday off. There is usually an adrenalin dump Sunday morning. What that means is it is challenging to get out of bed. Easter will be full, between ringing bells for the procession, the beautiful service, a dinner on the grounds, then driving an hour to my son’s house.

And at some point on Sunday, will in my spirit mingle with memories of the past, when my now grown up babies were young, and I told them, “Mama can’t afford an Easter basket,” and yet all four babies woke to a large basket each, full of colored

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foil wrapped chocolate eggs.

It was my way of giving them hope for the future.

Just to see them smile.

Have a good day, all.

May this day before Easter be blessed for you.

 

Loss, defined

Across the world, Holy Week services continue as Christians and followers everywhere remember the death and resurrection of the Messiah.

Good Friday is oft a mournful time. I have to confess that as a simple human being, I don’t understand why death had to be part of our holy walk.

My earliest memory of death was when I lost my sister. Without lingering on her loss, as it is still with me .. only those who have lost loved ones will understand, I admit it has affected my heaven view greatly. She is, I know, in heaven, for she passed before she even knew the difference between right and wrong, darkness and light.

There are times over the years when I panicked at the thought of her passing.

Jesus.

I was sitting in church Wednesday night, and it hit me during the Tenebrae service: Jesus saw the darkness as He walked the earth. Being in all ways man and all ways God, he not only saw all of a person’s good intentions, but the evil in the world on a level we could never see.

Loss.

His friends, the commoners who followed Him, had meals with Him, walked with Him, spent time with Him, grieved His crucifixion.

This was their Friend who was closer than a brother. He was with them on their very average day. They had many conversations, disagreements, observations. They probably even sneezed.

I know that last statement was random. But really. The common life of the common person. Fatigue, hopes, dreams, wrestling with reality and the future, uncertainty.

It is one thing to lose a friend or family member to natural causes, or disease, or sudden accident.

But to watch their Friend be killed at the hands of others .. yes. Catastrophic grief.

A few days ago.

Shared my story with someone I just met and they made the comment, “You have experienced much loss in your life.”

Survivors of abuse do experience loss in a most difficult way. Time cannot be dialed back.

A turning point for me in healing from my sexual abuse that occurred from around age 7 to about age 12 was to realize that what is done is done.

The weird thing is that until I deliberately began my healing process, decades after the abuse ended, I found I had not grieved the loss of what should not have been stolen from me.

So there was that.

And as I sat in church contemplating my life, listening (years ago) to a sermon on purity and how impure people have sex before marriage, I felt even more like a freak.

Biology class was a turning point for me. “You cannot unscramble eggs,” my professor said.

Wow.

Then there was a study on forgiveness at church by another woman who was a survivor. “There is nothing you can do that would serve as a great enough penalty for what happened to you.” She urged survivors to forgive: not excuse what happened, but instead of dedicating all of your energy to leveling the score (which for sure is perfectly natural), to instead focus on moving forward.

Truly, the stone will roll away from the tomb.

I feel something stirring in my spirit.

For a while, a very long while, I kept my secret inside, fearful of what the world would say of my terrible “loss.” Fearful of being “less than.” A freak.

Perhaps the greatest resurrection lesson for me has been that, according to my belief system, the same sacrificial Messiah died for my perpetrator. Because He was the One who holds accountable, it frees my hands, feet, mind, body, and spirit to pursue freedom and life.

What is in the tomb will look different for all of us. The secrets that lie there.

Archaeological digs have unearthed some fantastic things over the years. That is what happens when the stone is rolled away from our hearts.

The sun shines in .. a mystery is understood.

Today, I choose to fold the grave clothes of my season of loss, and don garments of praise for the season of freedom.

Good Friday, all.

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Everybody has a mantra

Today, admittedly, I am dragging. I am sure you know the feeling. Where the coffee has not yet caught up with your to-do list, and sleep seems like the best way to celebrate a brand new day.

So, a short blog today.

As you remember, my word for the year is “delight.” Encompassed by happiness and joy, the word takes on a different meaning when one is not feeling delightful.

!

Nevertheless, that word has kept me focused this year. Life is what you make it, and if you wait for it to be perfect to be happy, then perhaps you will live your whole life without experiencing it.

What is your word for the year? No worries. If you do not have one, it is not too late to start.

Spring is a wonderful time to start a new thing.

When selecting your word, think about what it is you want to pursue, a character trait, an objective.

And go with it. Maybe write it in your journal. Make an inspiration board of magazine cuttings and art that portrays your word. Look up different definitions. Look up quotes.

It is an amazing tool to help focus your journey.

Happy Thursday, all.

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The why of the what we do

Outside, the sun is up and traffic steadily builds as I drink my coffee and get ready for a new day. Tonight, at church, we have a tenebrae service, where light is extinguished in the midst of Holy Week, a chance to reflect on light and darkness, sin and overcoming, the sacrifice of the Messiah, and our own attempts at living what scriptures say should be a godly life.

Why darkness?

Darkness and light are interwoven facts of life for those who have seen trauma. We get it. We have seen darkness. We have rejoiced at the light. Relief comes when we understand that darkness, however unwelcome it may be, only makes the light, however tiny it may be, shine brighter.

Notre Dame was on fire this week. The world watched in horror as flames destroyed parts of history that although they can be rebuilt, will now look different, most likely.

The cross still stood.

Amazing.

And what Parisians did was likewise inspiring. They sang. The flames roared. They prayed. Together. In spite of.

Why would one sing when darkness seems to prevail? Why find melody midst the tears of despair?

The true test of the light within is when darkness seems to overcome that light.

“We will rebuild,” it was said.

And so we shall.

Each of us has a story. I find most people do not have perfect lives, even if it appears that way. The rich and poor suffer alike. The well educated and those who have not had formal education are the same. Everyone struggles.

May this week bring us all joy, as we press on to kindle that light within us.

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