Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


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Delayed Childhood

Life can be strange, but wonderful at the same time. We all have different experiences and so many factors contribute to making us who we are at this present moment. Some of those experiences have been amazing and life-changing, while other experiences have been desperate, but still life-changing. Many of us remember tears and laughter, ups and downs, victories and setbacks–a constant cycle of “good” versus “bad” in the constant cacophony of a our individual worlds. Looking back, I see situations that, at the time, I perceived as bad, and I mean REALLY bad, but they ultimately worked out for my good. I also see situations that I thought were good that were actually wolves hidden in sheep’s skin, and I probably should have never gotten involved. Either way, the experiences shape us and prepare us for what is to come. So, as I began to ruminate on life and the roller coaster it has been, I realized that some things that I had going on now were due to my delayed childhood.

The low self-esteem issues that I never dealt with caused me to be a hesitant and uncertain adult. I began to think I was not good enough and that no one could ever love me. I did not think that anyone would value my opinion or what I had to say. I shrunk back from attention believing that people would realize I was worthless, and begin to treat me as such. I did not believe in me. This was all because growing up in foster care, not everyone believed I would be anything. I remember the one foster parent who was talking to someone else (thinking I would not hear about it), who said I would not graduate college. Instead, I was supposed to end up pregnant and drop out of college; thus, in their eyes, becoming worthless. I remember that same foster parent telling my boyfriend at that time that he was too good for me, and me finding out just how low I was thought of by the person who was supposed to be my parent. Over the years and various homes, each time they sent me away, I felt I was not good enough. There had to be something about me that made me unworthy. No one wanted me. Or so it seemed. But then, HE wanted me. He showed me attention. He said nice things, but then he too showed me I was worthless when HE took my childhood innocence. HE cared about what he could get from me, but even he thought I was disposable. So, I grew up way too soon. I rehearsed what had been said and done. I believed it. So, when I finally came to a place of realizing that even I have a purpose, I denied it. What if what “they” said was true? What if I really am not good enough? What if I try and fail? What if no one cares? What if I really am as worthless as “they” believed I was. What if I fail God? What if no one values me? What if….? So, somewhere in there, I really believed that I was not enough for my journey, and that I was not built to succeed.

But piece by piece, God begin to put my “puzzle” back together. Here and there my confidence was built. One person at a time, my heart begin to mend, and I began to believe that maybe, just maybe, I was good enough to make it to the end. Peeking around the corner, I began to see the warm glimmer of hope. Timidly I stepped out on a faith road, and inch-by-inch, I began to make my way towards a tiny light I saw on the horizon. Then one day, I looked up from my travels, and I looked back realizing just how far I had come. But, then the reminders began. “Just because you made it this far doesn’t mean you will finish,” is what my mind told me. I had a Sherman Clump moment from one of my favorite movies when the memories became too much. Instead of giving in to the noise, I shouted within myself, “Yes, I Can!” So step-by-step I began to believe. As each memory resurfaced and each reminder threatened to envelop me, I fixed my eyes on the light and repeated to myself, “I Am Enough. I Am Enough. I Am Enough!”–until I believed it.

So maybe you are traveling on your journey, and everything in life tries to tell you that you will not make it. Maybe your childhood was delayed like mine and all of your stuff from then seems to be coming up now. I am here to remind you that YOU are enough. You can make it. You will make it. Even if it is an uphill climb and a daily mantra you have to recite, YOU have to believe in you, and know that if you can keep your eye on the light in front of you, you can succeed. Life can throw some hard blows. Things can be bitter and desperate, but they can also be enlightening and amazing. Bitter with the sweet, yeah, I know. But in the end, you win. So pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Set your eyes on what is in front of you, and refuse to lose. You ARE enough.

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Depths of My Mind

I learned something today. Want to know what it was? If you’re still reading, I assume you do, so thanks for joining me. 🙂 I learned today that I am not crazy, and that’s just as I thought. Today I took a Trauma/Brain class, and in the class we were discussing the effects of Trauma on the brain. We talked about how trauma can be chronic and something that can change the very nature of our DNA, as well as how we think. As we delved into the topic, I began to remember things that happened to me as a child, and I began to understand the reasons behind some of my actions since childhood. The trainer asked us to give examples we could think of regarding some of the effects of trauma, and as people in the class gave their guesses on what the effects could be, I remembered vividly my lived experiences.

I remembered being separated from my mother and being put in foster care. I remembered, even before that, before I was taken away from my mother–the environments in which we lived and in which my brothers and I developed. I even went back and thought about the big, black snake that caused me so much fear as a young child. Most vividly though, in the discussion of how certain experiences change our DNA and how we think, I remembered the molestation. I thought back to the first time my brother’s friend got a little too friendly, then to another time when a friend of the family tried to show their “love” for me, but it would not go as they planned, and then to another time when my supposed “cousin” at one of my foster homes tried to make me feel good…and while I longed for love and attention, some part of me just knew that none of this was right. But, it all came from somewhere. There were others, but those experiences specifically gave me a distinct distrust for men, and even for anyone who claimed to love me. In the depths of my mind, I began to think that no one could just love me without first wanting something from me. I even thought that maybe if I let people “love me” the way they wanted to, I would feel something other than empty. My experiences changed my life, and they made me weary, but they also left me vulnerable.

So vulnerable, in fact, that I made many mistakes as an adult because I really just wanted to be loved, and when I did not feel loved, I took whatever I could get. I hurt others because my voids were so deep that it did not allow me to understand how others could feel. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to feel something besides empty, but the emptiness grew.

Many years have passed since the molestation and since the moments that stole my childhood, but the trauma was still there. I have noticed through the years that I have reacted a certain way to people and situations, and I have seen things a certain way because of my past. Ideally, I could snap my finger and change the circumstances of my childhood, but that is not realistic; however, I have learned to be intentional about changing my mind in specific moments. Now that I have matured, I have come to understand that my life has purpose, and every experience has built me into the woman I am today. I am perfectly imperfect, and my experiences have grown me in a way that I may not have if I had not gone through what I did.

Sometimes things happen that we do not understand, and many times we act without delving into the reasons why we respond to others and situations. Traumatic situations change us, and they scar our hearts/minds. We have to remember, though, that we are not our pasts. We are more than what happened to us. We are no longer that person who was powerless. We are valuable and loved. We deserve love, and we deserve it in the right way. Acknowledge your past and the effects it has had on your present, and work to change your behaviors as you can, but also give yourself some slack when things trigger a memory. There is more. YOU are more.