#DomesticViolenceAwareness, #MeToo, #ReadersFavoriteMiami2018, #TeamKimandJessica, Domestic Violence, EMDR, Grief and Loss, healing, Hope, Love, Onsite, Sexual abuse, Tom Petty, Uncategorized

Decade Review: 2010-2019

The beginning of a new year brings lots of thoughts about the past 365 days. As I started to think back over the last year, I realized not only did January 1st bring a new year, it also brought a new decade. I tried to think back to the start of 2010, and where I was in my life, and I couldn’t believe the changes that had taken place. So many so that it is hard to remember who I was. A stranger in a strange land.

2010 brought with it the continued grueling, agonizing grief that came from the loss of my grandmother. It would bring the year anniversary of the most painful loss of my lifetime. It would also bring the push I needed to seek counseling when the pain became too much to bare. unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at what followed, the counseling did not help. It was the reminder I did not want that I could not trust counselors, and the reason I had not stepped foot in an office since the court order had ended when I was in foster care. By the end of the year I knew if I wanted help, I would have to learn the skills to help myself. I met with admissions counselor at Springfield College to talk about the Masters in Mental Health Counseling program…and applied.

2011 began with an acceptance letter into the graduate program, soon followed by a full-time caseload of classes, because my motto has always been “Go big or go home.” Chaos was what I was used to, and this sure helped fill that requirement. Receiving As in my first few classes gave me the reminder that I was good at something. The year also brought hell to my son as the bullying continued. He started to get physically sick when we took the road that led to our house. No one wanted to help. The way out was found with the loss of our home; taken by a fire that destroyed everything we owned. Life had to start over; there was no other option. The insurance company gave the option of rebuilding in the same spot or finding a house somewhere else. The choice was an easy one, and we found a house down the road (less than a half a mile) from where some of the worst physical abuse of my life occurred.

2012 brought strength. As the kids’ lives started to settle down in school, I began to find myself. For the first time in my life I was able to see how I had been treated. The fog from the gas lighting started to lift. I took the new found strength and purchased tickets to see Tom Petty live in concert in Orlando, Florida. My first time to see him and my first time on an airplane. I didn’t know it then, but this would be one of the major stepping stones of my healing journey. If a lifelong dream could come true, anything could. I held on to that belief as the journey continued. The year also included a shakeup in my career. As my degree was getting closer and I learned more about ethics, I knew I did not want to stay somewhere I felt like I was settling. I left a job I held and had loved for six years to pursue something more; more money, more responsibility, more chaos.

2013 changed my life, maybe even saved it. As I learned who I was and what I didn’t need to deal with I knew what and who I didn’t want in my life. The year brought another Tom Petty concert, this time in Saratoga Springs, New York. It brought new friends, courage, and more strength than I knew I could handle. Three days before graduation my now ex-husband was arrested and removed from the home for physically assaulting me. The arrest gave me the protection I needed to get the divorce papers started, and set the motion for a safe life for my kids, pets, and myself. Safety did not come right away, but I knew I never had to allow him to put his hands on me or the kids again.

2014 was the year I got my name back! The divorce was finalized on May 30th. My first time at Fenway Park happened on August 31, 2014 to see my third Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert. This was the year I also started writing my memoir. I wrote 25,000 words and had to stop. I knew I couldn’t write my truth while my mom was alive. It had always been my job to protect everyone else’s feelings…this was no different.

2015 changed my status from lifetime Vermonter. A move I never thought I would make moved me across the river to New Hampshire. This was the year I started on my healing journey. A friend told me I needed to clean my third eye…I didn’t know what she meant, but I knew who to ask. I met with Sali Crow, which started the process of uncovering years of my buried trauma. Through this process it made sense to meet with a therapist. There was way too much to leave unattended. This was also the year my world went black, crashed around me, when my youngest daughter told me her father had been molesting her. Suddenly, I was that seven year old girl who was being molested again. While I protected my child, the hurt, anger and rage seared my skin as I thought about my seven year old self, and how my mom blamed me for the abuse…how she watched the abuse happen right in front of her. This nightmare sent me into a deep depression, and brought back every unresolved issue I ever faced in life. This was the year I found out what I was made of.

2016 put me in a position to learn Reiki, so I could continue on my healing journey, and help my children with theirs. It was the year I was able to see and acknowledge the abuse and trauma my mom caused me. I took a step back, and put some distance between us, so I could began healing old wounds. It was also the year I felt at peace with my gram’s death. On April 20th, ten days after the seventh anniversary of my gram’s death, my mom took her last breath. I was able to be by her side when she left this world. I was also able to tell her that I forgave her (and I meant it). The last words she spoke to me were, “I love you.” And for the first time in my life, I believed her. After my mom died, I sat at my computer and wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I finished the first draft of my memoir by June, submitted it to an editor and waited. When it returned I read through the corrections, but I didn’t have it in me to go back to those places I needed to go. I was emotionally exhausted. My reward for completing a life long dream was an overnight trip to New York City to see Mudcrutch. I was the closet I had ever been to Tom Petty, and the night was magical. A small venue with acoustic music, that was a trip I am grateful for.

2017 brought the time I needed to rewrite my memoir. It also brought a trip to Nashville, TN to see Tom Petty with some online friends I had been talking with for years, who understood my love of the band. It also brought four more concerts. Two of them with front row seats, and a few guitar picks from the band (and Dana), one tossed right from Tom’s hand after he finished playing Free Fallin’. My memoir was published in September, and my book launch party was scheduled for October 20th, Tom’s birthday…October 2nd brought heartache when we learned Tom passed away. I was not sure how I would get through the event, but I pressed on, and honored the man who help save my life so many times with his words. The year finished out with a proposal from the only man who had ever shown me love and respect.

2018 was stated off in an airplane headed to Los Angeles, California to appear on the Dr. Phil show. I had been lead to believe we were going to be talking about my memoir, but soon learned that not to be true. My sister, step-father and I talked about the sexual abuse we experience as children. He admitted the abuse he had done to my sister, although in a twisted, victim blaming way, but denied what he had done to me. This experience brought many things with it. Clarity, healing and understanding. It also brought a trip to Tennessee where I spent a week at Onsite in their Healing Trauma workshop. This would not have been something I ever would have been able to do for myself, and it gave me the understanding of how many people there are who know what it’s like to live a life of trauma. I understood that I am not alone. And for the first time in my life, I understood my strength.

2019 introduced me to EMDR therapy, and helped me process many of the traumas that left me with PTSD. Luckily, I responded well to this type of therapy and it helped mend many years of hurt and self doubt. I had many break through in my sessions. It was the year I married a man who has loved me and never hurt me emotionally or physically. It also helped inspire me to help others share their stories and bring awareness to domestic violence. The year ended with the loss of our sweet dog, Belvedere, who taught me that the love was worth the pain.

After going through the years and events, it is easy for me to see I am not the person I used to be. I have learned so much about myself and the world around me. The healing journey is one that does not end as life twists and turns. I look forward to the years ahead to see what adventures and lessons they have in store. Here is to the next ten years.

Depression, EMDR, Grief and Loss, healing, Hope, Love, Onsite, Uncategorized

April Is Almost Gone

April is almost gone, just twelve days to go. Usually, grief latches on as the calendar page turns from March to April. Depression soon fills all the creases and crevices from my inside out, leaving little room to breathe. The pain of knowing what April stole from me was unbearable, no matter how healed I thought I was. The pain was still there, taunting me from a far off place.

This year, my therapist and I started using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing ) therapy. EMDR is used to help people who have been through a traumatic event reprogram their thoughts, beliefs, and reactions to the trauma. This process helps remove the block a person created in order to cope with the traumatic event. Once the block is removed, healing can begin.

I had heard about EMDR, and saw it used when I was at Onsite last year. It was just by chance that my therapist asked me if I would be open to trying it. I wasn’t sure it would work, but I decided to give it a try–I had nothing to lose.

The first session was just days before April 1st. It was perfect timing to test the results. If April could sneak past me, without depression following it, I knew it was working. The first part of the session was used to create a safe space, and a feeling that I could pull up if I needed to. Then I was to think about the two most upsetting memories or beliefs about my gram’s death. That was easy, because, even after so many years, the guilt still haunted me. My first belief was that I killed my gram. A nurse at the ER even cast the blame on me. After my gram’s surgery, I had not filled her prescription; mostly as an order by my gram who just wanted to get home. The following day, I forgot to fill them after work, and then she was on her way to the hospital in the back of an ambulance. I was told it was irresponsible to not get the prescriptions filled, and it was my fault that my gram had a heart attack. My next regret was that I did not follow the ambulance to Dartmouth when she was transferred. I wanted to, but my gram insisted that I go home to my children; who were eleven months, three and five years old. I felt guilty that I listened to her. I felt guilty that she arrived at the hospital alone. I felt guilty that I wasted minutes I could have spent with her.

As I explained these thoughts to my therapist, I told her, “Logically, I know I didn’t kill her.” But logic doesn’t always come into play when there is trauma. The doctor at her bedside after she died told me it was not my fault. And, if I had not listened to her, and followed the ambulance, she would have been angry at me. I know these things, but the guilt was overpowering.

During the session I went through that day step, by step, and pulled up memories and feelings that have been swirling inside of me for the last ten years. I cried. I smiled. I felt sensations throughout my body. I was exhausted. It felt like years of pain and memories were lifted out of me, shook around, and re-positioned. I seemed to have responded to EMDR quickly, and effectively.

The following days came and floated by. The dread that usually arrives with April was not there. I was able to think back to those last few moments with my gram without the overwhelming pain, without the longing, without the deep sadness. A few tears fell, quietly, and quickly on the ten year anniversary. But, they stopped as soon as they started. I felt comfort and even smiled at some of the thoughts that came. 

She was ready, and she knew I never would be. She picked how and where she wanted to die. She was in charge, and went peacefully. There was nothing more that I could ask for. She deserved to die with dignity. After ten years, I let her go. I let her go, and accepted that she will never leave me. Her love and guidance are with me everyday. And, for the first time, I actually believe this.

Since her death happened on Good Friday, Easter has also haunted me. This year, as we approach Good Friday tomorrow, I am free. I am free, and so is she.

#ReadersFavoriteMiami2018, #TeamKimandJessica, Child abuse, Onsite, Resoluntions, Uncategorized

2018 In Review

When 2017 slid into the finish line, I was nervous that 2018 would have a hard time living up to all the greatness from the year before. On January 1st, my apprehension was confirmed when I received a call that an important man in my life had passed away. The knowledge of this loss took the wind out of my sales. There was no way 2018 was going to be a good year.

There is no doubt in my mind that this mindset helped pave the way to disappointment throughout the year. How could positive thoughts come, when grief was so close? One more loss, added to the sea of those gone before. After so much loss, you would think that it would take the sting away a little…but it didn’t.

Depression shadowed a lot of the previous twelve months. A lot took place the last 365 days, things I had never imagined possible. Here is a condensed recap:

January: I reached out to The Dr. Phil show, hoping to share my book with more people. A week after the first contact, my sister and I were in the air to Los Angeles. In the few days leading up to the trip, it was a whirlwind of emotion, and false hope. We had to dig through photographs, and documents that had been put to rest for some time. It opened wounds that had been hidden for years. In the midst of the pain, there was hope. Hope that my goal of getting my book into the hands of people who needed it most would come from this. Hope that needed healing would take place for my sister, myself, and even my sister’s father.

By the end of the trip to California, the familiar feelings of rejection had taken up space in every ounce of my being. The broken promise of talking about my book helped the inadequate feelings to creep back in. Depression lingered, as the internal voice mocked me with the reminder that I was not good enough. The memories, and truth of my childhood swarmed around me, beating me lower and lower, until the thought of getting back up became too overwhelming. To read more about this adventure: A Peek Into The Monster That Ate My Mommy    and   #TeamKimandJessica

February: The show aired in February, and our secrets were exposed to the whole world. Yes, they were in my book, but so far, the audience was not very large. There was no turning back. There was no hiding. Shame. Fear. Guilt. All the emotions circled me as I sat to watch the trauma from January take over the screen.

Through the trauma came healing. After seeing my step-father on TV, I was able to see the real him. For so long, even after all the hurt he had caused me, and my family, I was able to understand the depths of the damage he caused. I no longer looked at him and felt sorry for him, for what he had become. For the first time, I was able to see him for who he was, and look past the why. He hurt me. He hurt my sister. He hurt my mom. He did not deserve my pity. He had my forgiveness, but I did not owe him anything else. February brought freedom.

April: The Dr. Phil show had said they were going to offer my sister and I the treatment we needed to heal. This is where Onsite comes in. The offer of healing was only as deep as Onsite could provide. A week long, intensive therapeutic retreat, to work on a year’s worth of healing in seven days. Looking into this, I was skeptical of what could really be done in seven days, but I was willing to give it a try. What could it hurt?

Onsite is still an experience I am trying to process. I physically detoxed trauma while I was there. Deep healing, and even deeper connections came from the week there. I let go of some deep seeded thoughts and beliefs. I went in to the week, ready to give it all I had. A chance of a lifetime would not be wasted.

To read about this adventure find the four part post, beginning here: An Adventure Awaits

June: Only weeks until my 37th birthday, and depression circled around me like vultures on a carcass. I could not shake it, no matter how hard I tried. The 26th anniversary of my dad’s death took center stage. He was 37 when he died. How could it be possible that I was going to be the age he was when I lost him? Time was a funny thing, and I was not ready to laugh.

To Read more about this go to: 37 Days Until 37 Years

July: Depression continued to hold tight as my birthday came and went. Through the fog, I was offered a job, where for the first time in many years, matched my heart. This was the job that I had held out for. Director of the local Senior Center. Without Onsite, I do not believe I would have felt worthy of such a position. I had just enough confidence to say yes to the job offer.

September: On the first day of September, I found out that my memoir, The Monster That Ate My Mommy, received honorable mention in the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. This was also the month when my new job began to feel like home. There were so many great things happening, and for the first time in a while, the depression lifted.

November: Leading up to November, I was unsure if should attend the award ceremony for Readers’ Favorite. I was hung up on the idea that it was a pity award…negative self-talk had a tight grip on me. When I was able to shake it off, I knew I had to go. This was not just any book…this was my story. These words went deep. It was a lifelong dream, that I had accomplished. I had to go. To Go Or Not To Go? goes into much more detail about that adventure!

December:  The last month of the year brought much reflection with it. A buried secret became unearthed, and threatened to take away the progress that has been made in the lives of my children and myself. For a split second, anger took over my thoughts, revenge was all I could taste. I wanted to hurt them like they had hurt us. I went to bed full of rage, and guilt, and woke up full of peace. I am not sure why the change happened, but it reminded me that I hold the power. It is up to me to react, or not. It is up to me how I allow others to affect me. It is up to me.

I take this lesson, and all the others from the past 365 days, into 2019. I have big plans to better myself in many areas of my life, but the most important, the most productive thing I can do is to allow success, allow good things to come. Think positive, and dream big. I am ready for what the next year has to offer.

Never forget to find your joy.
Onsite, Uncategorized

Perfection

lrg_dsc00977Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. — Vince Lombardi

I heard about this concept when I was at Onsite. I had spent my whole life chasing perfectionism…which undoubtedly leaded to many feelings of being unworthy. Perfection is almost always out of reach. It was what I chased after, and never got close enough to. What I didn’t know then was, it was all leading me to excellence.

Excellence.

Excellence leaves room to be human. It gives way to the idea that things happen. Life might not be what I had hoped for, but there is still good to be taken away. I might not have graduated with a 4.0 from the graduate program…but I did overcome a lot of awful things while completing my Master’s degree…and still managed to earn a 3.86.

It has always been easy for me to say…thank you…but…it should have done better. Yes, but…I could have tried harder. All that time I pushed away the compliments and hung on tight to the failures I saw. They were comfortable. They were what proved to me that I wasn’t good enough.

Learning to embrace excellence helps me let go of unrealistic goals I will never reach. It helps me enjoy the life that is before me. It takes the pressure off, and I can see things differently. It takes away the need to control things that are out of my control.

Excellence still takes hard work and determination. Excellence is worthy of praise. I will strive for excellence, and let go of perfectionism. And I will set attainable goals.

Leaving perfectionism behind, one stressful act at a time.