Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home and a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. ~~~Melody Beattie
I’ve been thinking about April. National Child Abuse Prevention Month. There was nothing around like that when I was a kid. I thought maybe it would be appropriate to share a short piece from my book on that little girl and how she felt.
I WAS ONCE just a little girl and fragile. I was my parents incomplete thought in the back seat of a car at conception and the creature that would go on to ruin their lives. I was without substance, courage, appreciation or understanding. I believed I was treated so badly because I was so very wicked. I was self-serving and cared only for my own survival. I would not risk extra whippings or death to save my younger brothers. I believed I was an undeserving and worthless character whom my parents did not want and of whom God disapproved. (p.226)
In some cultures, and in our fairly recent American past, a black armband signifies that the wearer is in mourning or wishes to identify with the commemoration of a comrade or team member who has died. This use has been significant to me for the last few years as I have pondered over the fact that I live. Many like me did not.
I will be wearing a black armband, made from simple fabric store ribbon, throughout the month of April out of respect for those children and as an awareness that it happens all too often. I will wear a blue ribbon tied with it to commemorate the blue ribbon month of April. I hope you will join me. April is after all National Child Abuse Prevention/Awareness.
We often identify ourselves by what happened to us. Tough to admit isn’t it? But true in many ways. We all have our own opinions concerning what we deserve, who we attract and how we go about our lives. We make assumptions based on so-called truths we were taught as children
I recently read an article that has been on my mind for a few days. It was concerning who we believe ourselves to be. Much of the article was a little over the top for me in a new age kind of way, but the question stuck.
WHO AM I NOT?
I was once told by one of my counselors that the most difficult thing to do is look into the mirror and see yourself. This is especially difficult for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I was afraid to see who I really was. I was sure that I was not a very nice person. But, she helped me look. Who do you see? A child? An adult? A caring loving, thoughtful person?
Might it be easier for us to assemble a list of what we are not before building a list of who we are? Take a serious, inventory of who we are not. This is not to be confused with a list of things like I am not a doctor, lawyer, rich, poor etc….
I can start this to show you!
- I am not selfish
- I am not stupid
- I am not ugly
- I am not to short (My parents equated little with failure to thrive)
- I am not self-centered
Make the list as long as you like. Take days! Weeks! But get it all out. Then ask whose voice you heard in your head as you recited those negatives. I guarantee it is not your voice. For me it was my father, his friends and my mother. For you ….. only you can answer that.
The point is now you know who you are not, you will have a better chance of making a much more positive inventory of who you really are. You could have a trusted friend help you out. If you are in counseling you could talk about the possibilities there.
Who am I? This is ultimately the most important question we can ask.
For me, who am I? became who do I want to be?
“Endeavor to live so that when you die, even the undertaker will be sorry.” Mark Twain
After the show last night, which just happened to be an interview with my Publisher, I found myself thinking instead of sleeping! This happens often. But this was not random pondering about life as I drift off to sleep. This was important. Michelle said something important that I have not articulated very well, or at least as well as she did last night.
Everyone, yes, EVERY ONE OF YOU, has a story to tell about your life. You should write it! Write it even if all you do is (very carefully and lovingly since it is your life) place it in a box in the attic, garage, storage… pick your place here. Write it with your own words, your own feelings, thoughts, joy, pain, and even confusion and bad grammar and spelling. Write it for your family. Write it for your children or grandchildren. Write it for the history of your time ! Your lifetime!
What we didn’t talk about last night was that with texting, social media and instant everything we now have for communicating we are losing our stories and our history. We don’t write letters that are tied in ribbon and saved in shoeboxes. So much of history is discovered in writing. What parts of our lives will they tell in 75 years when we are gone? Who will tell the future about us here in the past? Politicians? Entertainers? No one?
I hope that your story will be found an old box, or in a thrift stores (if they still call them that) or maybe some dusty attic. I hope that these are treasured when they are found.
I hope that in 75 or 100 years they read the story of a survivor and think what a pioneer you were to actually write it down. To be one of the first to talk about it even if only in pen and paper.
I believe that history teaches us how to move forward. If there were mistakes made in the past they will never be corrected if they are kept secret. Hard to move forward if you can’t figure out where you have been.
I would beg you to write your story if you were here in my kitchen tonight. The good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t forget the joys and miracles they are so important. If you want to really look at your life, this is a great way to do it. It is safe. It is private. And in all that honest writing you will find the good parts too!
Dream Big, Live Large and Believe… XOXO Annie
Lots of conversation on my FB age about blame lately. Holy moly do we ever know how to take the blame. Guilt runs in the blood.
I ask you to please comment, write, vent… I want to hear from you. i know that while I was in my years of healing, I absolutley felt guilty and to blame for so many things. However, an interesting observation began to take hold thanks to a wise therapist. I did not blame one person I was ever in group with. We told our stories, cried, got mad and all the other expected emotions came out. Never once were we as kind and understanding to ourselves as we were one another. How about you? Don’t you think you deserve to be treated as well as you treat another aching soul? I think you do.