#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.

#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.
#ReadersFavoriteMiami2018, Uncategorized

Seven Similarities Between My Trip to Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards and My Memoir, The Monster That Ate My Mommy

1. Never Being Good Enough

Receiving Honorable Mention for The Monster That Ate My Mommy, left me feeling like I wasn’t able to meet the mark. At first, I felt that the award was proof that my book wasn’t good enough, that this was a pity award. Maybe they give everyone who enters an award. Was it really even an award?

After talking with others, I was able to see it was an honor, for my first book, to receive this award. I was not ungrateful for receiving the award, it was more that I was unable to accept the praise, much like many other times in my life.

This helped me see there may have been other times in my life that the opportunity to shine has been there, and I quickly pushed it away. I didn’t feel worthy enough to accept the praise. I did not allow others to share in these moments with me. Pushing people away in these moments allowed me to never feel good enough. Winning this award helped me accept the praise. Like many times in my life, I decided against comfort, and pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, and decided to go to Miami to receive the award.

2. Alone in the World

From the moment I decided to go to the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards in Miami, Florida, I had a gut feeling it was going to be challenging. When I tried to find someone to go with me, I was reminded just how small my circle is. I thought of the people I would want to share this experience with, and knew most would not be able to go. Much like other events in my life, this was going to be an one I would have to celebrate alone. This realization made me feel alone in the world. When the dark cloud this cast over me was lifted, I was able to see I was mistaken. I do have people who wanted to go with me, but they were unable to for various reasons. I may not have a large group of people to turn to, but the people I do have, are genuine. This is another time in life where quality is more important than quantity.

3. Nothing Ever Goes Right

The week leading up to my trip to Miami, the forecast was clear. There was no snow or rain in sight. I felt confident if I remained positive, everything would work out. I would make it to my destination safe, and on time. An uneasy feeling sat in my gut. I tried to push it out, and replace it with positivity, but it wouldn’t budge. I was not sure what was going to happen, but I felt as though, something was. I wrapped all the Christmas gifts I had already purchased, with the morbid thought that at least the kids would have gifts from me…if I was to…not make it. The more that thought crept in, the more I tried to talk myself out of it. Nothing was going to happen.

The days leading up to my flight brought snow into the forecast. Not just a little snow, but a nor’easter. Maybe this was a sign that I shouldn’t go. I still, was unwilling to give up. I had made up my mind that I was going to make it, there was no other option at that point.

I tried very hard to keep my thoughts positive as I woke up on Friday morning to see the plane was on time. Sitting in my seat, the uneasy feeling remained. I knew it was too soon to think everything was going to work out as planned. As we sat on the tarmac for an hour, my forty-five minute layover continued to evaporate. Still, I held on to positivity. I knew I would get to my destination, I just knew it would not go as planned.

When I missed my connecting flight, I felt defeated. As I looked around, I noticed there were many others who had missed their flight as well. As with learning I was not alone in living with trauma, I saw that I was not alone in this. I was alive, and well. Stressed beyond belief, but I was well enough to run to the needed gates, and be on this adventure in the first place. My creativity and quick thinking got me to where I needed to be. I may have taken the long way, but isn’t that the most memorable anyway?

4. Never Give Up

A theme from my memoir is never giving up. When things get bad, some part of me always believes they will get better. Stress, chaos, inconveniences, pain—the list goes on, all manifest with your reaction. I take time to feel the angst. I let the darkness swallow me for a while. I let the ground crumble beneath my feet. But, I always manage to find strength to keep on going. From simple things, to horrendous acts of abuse, I keep looking for the light. This situation was just one more to add to the list of things that kept me fighting. Giving up has never been an option.

5. Finding One Person

Another theme from The Monster That Ate My Mommy is the importance of having one person. I was fortunate enough to be greeted by another author when I arrived. She was gracious enough to let me sit with her during the presentations, and then we kept running in to each other. She was always welcoming. Talking with her felt like we had known each
other for years.

Before meeting her, I felt very isolated, and alone at the event. Since I had arrived late, I didn’t have the chance that others had to mingle and get to know others. As I walked into the room full of other authors, and their guests, I felt so out of place. Until Naomi. With her friendship, I no longer had to pretend to fit in, or feel like I didn’t belong. She helped make the event comfortable and enjoyable.

6. Influenced By Fear

After the weekend I had, I was more than ready to go home. After the awards ceremony, I went back to my room to pack, so I would be ready first thing in the morning to leave. When I was finished, and finally settled down enough to get some sleep, I heard a noise. A scurrying sound came from my bed. When I looked over, I saw a black lizard running down the wall…right next to my bed. It was 11:16pm. I knew the last shuttle to the airport was at midnight. I changed as quickly as I could, threw the last of my belongings into my suitcase, and hurried to the lobby. By 11:42, I was at the airport.

My plan was to go through security, where I figured I would be safe, and try to get some sleep. As I entered the airport, the desks were all empty. There were no lines, and all the security check points were closed. I found a security guard to ask him how I could get checked in, he told me they opened back up at 4:00am. That was more than four hours away. My heart sank as I looked around. There was no way I would be sleeping in the lobby of the airport.

My anxiety increased as I walked around the airport. There were people sleeping in chairs, and on the floor. I found a place to charge my phone next to a man charging his. As I plugged in my phone, I immediately felt uncomfortable, and unsafe. I was not sure if I was tired, or if I had a reason to feel unsettled. After a few minutes of the feeling not passing, I got up and walked down the hall. I passed more people, and more seats, until I found a place that felt safe. The more people present, the better I felt.

As the hours passed slowly by, I regretted my decision to leave the hotel so quickly. I had not taken the time to think things through. A small, harmless lizard had chased me away, into a potentially dangerous situation. As with my life, there were many times I acted before thinking, and was left in harm’s way. I ran from one fear, only to encounter many more. My impulsivity has served me well in many situations, but it also sent me in directions I should not have gone in. Some times in life, there should not be hesitation…just action. While other times require thought and planning.

To jump…or not to jump? I never know, until I land.

7. The Rising Phoenix

A review I recently received said, I struck her as a Phoenix.  Despite the horrific physical, emotional, and sexual abuse I survived as a child, with each negative I still rose again, like the fabled bird determined to rise above the circumstances. These words helped me see, that no matter what, I always persist. I am not able to give up, and find strength when I need it most. This is because I believe. I still struggle with believing in myself, and that is why it was so hard to see the magnitude behind the award. I earned it. With every bruise, and tear. With every loss and love. With every single thing that happened, and every word I wrote, erased, and wrote again, I earned the recognition. The hope I hold is what keeps me going. A Phoenix
rising from the ashes is the perfect symbol for my life, because I will not let anything keep me from reaching my dreams. Not even my own self doubt.