Monday, June 29, 2009
The word my finger landed on for that speaking exercise was sex.
If you take a minute, read each word listed above and think about it you can probably remember a time in your life when you have seen through media (TV, movies, music, books, newspaper, video games, etc) and personal life experiences how each of these words relate to sex and can probably add a few more of your own.
The difference between you and I is that ALL of my experience with these words come from personal life experiences and the recurring theme has been fearful.
That said I am looking to change that as I work with the Speakers Bureau and continue the healing process involving some of the most difficult times in my life centered on date rape, abuse, domestic violence, etc.
What I found to be most enlightening and eye opening was sharing this process with my husband and the conversation we had on a man’s perspective of these words that I expressed.
He totally understood my feelings and we had a long discussion about how a man might perceive sex as I have described it, including what would make it fearful to a man. It truly helped me to get an insight into the mind of “a man” being as they have long been an enigma to me and a huge contributing factor to my outlook on this word and what it means.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I quit, really I do. I refuse to let myself be in this position again. What a joke those words are. I promised myself when I left my ex-husband that I would never let him hurt the kids or me again and during this whole custody thing I've tripped up time and again and been hit square between the eyes by him but today has been the worst. Part of this is about me and my demons too. Sores I was willing to bet Vegas style on that they were healed have had the scabs ripped clean off and are pouring out blood. For the umpteenth time my heart has been ripped apart and left hemorrhaging at the scene.
But what can I do? Pray and let it go? I can't, not right now. I'm not super-Christian; my flesh is still stronger than my spirit and the need for vengeance is running through my veins. Yet I've been castrated by my conscience and so I will cry, rant, rave and wallow for my child and my inner child and then I will pick myself up, tap further into resources that can help me try to explain this to my children and try to implement this with the least amount of tearing apart as possible. Because, that is who I am.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Wounds I thought healed have been ripped open. Forgiveness I extended has been yanked back and buried.
I am a mother bear on the brink. I am speechless and thoughtless. Angry and embittered. My soul is on fire and literally my mind cannot even begin to comprehend how I'm supposed to break the news to my child/children.
My ex-husband and I have four children together. We have sole custody of one and he adopted the other three. So for the 6.5 years of her existence this child has known him as "Daddy" and at some point during this custody/visitation battle he has decided that he doesn't want her to be included in his visitation with the other kids because he's only her legal guardian, not her father. I was informed last night that he wants overnight visits with "3 special young ladies" and the "court appointed guardian" for the children is in agreement with this. WTH!!!
To say that her life has not been easy is an understatement. She has big issues, attachment disorder, is in counseling at our expense because its out of network and we struggle with her on a daily basis as we try to help her become the best she can be in spite of all the setbacks she has had in her life and now I have to hand her one of the most devastating ones of all. Rejection from a parent.
My soul empathizes and sympathizes with her because I have been there and have struggled with that rejection for most of my life. To this day there are times when it still looms larger than life and renders me breathless and that's after years of counseling, resolution to a relationship I can't change and acceptance of what I could get verses what I want much less needed.
This could potentially tear the children apart as there will be resentment at being left behind, jealousy over what activities take place during the visits and taunting which is part of life especially between siblings. It has the potential to create greater aggression and hostility in this child that no amount of love and counseling can abate.
To say that we have been dealt a low blow is an understatement. Again I must say that our justice system at times is a joke. No true thought goes into what is in the best interest of the children only what suits the parents.
In regards to the parents - well, I think there ought to be a special place in hell for the "parents" that use their kids as pawns in relationships; that disregard the responsibility they have been given when they agree to bring a life into this world and then walk out on that life, abuse them or worse reject them at a whim.
God help me because right now there are no words from man that can calm the raging waves threatening to overflow out of me.
B - Book you're reading: Roadside Crosses - Jeffery Deaver
C - Chore you hate: Cleaning bathrooms - I'm a germaphobe
D - Dad's name: Jeffery
E - Essential start your day item: Prayer
F - Favorite way to exercise: walking outside or at the Y
G - Gold or Silver: Both I like them together
H - Height: 5'9"
I - Instruments you play(ed): None
J - Job title: Executive Assistant
K - Kid(s): Jamar, Sydney, Kyra, Antonio, Justice, Mikayla & Victoria
L - Living arrangements: Own a house
M - Mom's name: Shirley.
N - Nicknames: Mom, Mommy, Honey, Baby and probably a few I don't know about
O - Odd habits: I can't skip buttons, snaps, etc. It's a compulsion.
P - Pet: None
Q - Quiet or Loud: Quiet. Unless I'm ranting
R - Right or left handed: Left.
S - Siblings: 3
T - Typical dinner: Mac n Cheese and hot dogs for the kids, spinach salad w/salmon for me
U- University: Virginia Tech - Go Hokies!!!
V - Vegetable you dislike: Artichoke, water chestnuts.
W - Weirdest talent: I'm still alive and kicking despite everything that has happened in my life
X - X-rays you've had: My lungs, chest, feet, wrist, hips, shoulder
Y - Your favorite place to visit: the beach
Z - Zoo favorites: tigers
Friday, June 19, 2009
Much like Toastmaster's we had to take a word and come up with a one-minute speech on that word. The caveat was that we had to close our eyes and place our finger on the page, whatever word our finger landed on was the word we were to use.
Now we were on the honor system here. There was no one looking over our shoulder to see what our word was so if we had wanted to choose another word we could have. For all those that know me... well then you know that I kept the word that my finger landed on in spite of the fact that the room spun around and I broke out into a cold sweat. I mean how could I possibly come up with something to talk about for one-minute about this word.
I took a deep breath, dove in and here is what I came up with.
Mind numbing, shocking, humbling, fearful, frustrating, disbelieving, relieving, intense. Angry, enjoyable, shameful, fun, fearful, exhilarating, life altering, freeing, awesome. Fulfilling, longing, passionate, soul shaking, earth shattering, hurtful, fearful, fearful, fearful. Self loathing, suicidal, worthless, longing, completing, exciting, good, bad, indifferent, alive.
What was my word?
Dear Kim Dunham-Christian,
Hello to ALL! Before anything else, I would like to commend each and everyone of you for your courage in sharing your experience and yourself as we work to create the first ever state-wide Speaker's Bureau for survivors of sexual and domestic violence in Virginia. Your words and the knowledge that you have gained along your journey have the power to bring healing and hope to so many. Your presence and your willingness to share your experiences can bring about much needed progress and change to a culture that, far too often, turns a blind eye on the trials that face survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Silence has been our enemy for far too long. Together we can make our voices heard!
The Survivor Caucus of the Virginia Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Action Alliance has reviewed your application and would like to invite you to attend our first Speaker's Bureau Training...
When I received this email I cried because there was finally a way for me to make a difference; an opportunity to stand before the General Assembly, local legislative bodies, schools, churches, etc. and let them know that there is a name, face, and voice for Domestic/Sexual Abuse victims in Virginia.
We had a training session two weeks ago and to say that it was intense would be an understatement. I met 8 wonderful women who have been affected by domestic/sexual violence in their lives as victims or advocates and they each touched me in a way that I can't begin to describe.
I knew accepting this would be a challenge but it was one that I felt I was ready to take. I wasn't wrong. It opened up a lot of wounds that I'd like to keep closed but they won't ever heal that way so it was/is much needed. I heard stories similar to mine, more horrific and heartbreaking but also stories of victory, survival and thriving that boosted me up and let me know that greater things are out there for me.
I received hope that one day there will be no more demons haunting me, no more nightmares, no more fear and total healing and forgiveness for everyone involved. I received hope for a brighter future not just for myself, but for all the victims that have been silenced in the past.
As we stand up and tell our stories, their stories, we can bring about a change in the way society views us, handles and supports us as we strive to break the silence, break the chains of bondage that keep us in the dark or cowering and living in fear from our abusers.
And where there is hope, there is light to show the way as we walk out of the darkness.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The last time I got this was a month ago and yes, I did forward it on but I also kept it in my "in" box and have referred to it frequently during the past couple of weeks. I keep thinking that the more I read, ponder and meditate on it the more it will become a part of me and then when I reach the ripe old age of 90 I too can put a check mark next to all of them and feel that my life was a good one.
I took the liberty of highlighting the ones that touch me the most in blue, the ones in red are the ones I struggle with but am working on.
Take a few minutes and read/re-read this list for yourself and see where these rank in terms of how you're doing in terms of learning a few of life's lessons.
Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:"
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick; your friends & parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.
22. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ' In five years, will this matter? '
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a "gift."
Friends are the family that we choose for ourselves.
Right now there is a recurring theme in my life - I am "chewing/contemplating/reviewing" and trying to sort out where I've been from where I'm going. I feel that this is the opportune time for me as I start my newly married life with my husband. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to start over; to be given another chance at love w/another person (as we all have the love of God) which is something we all desire but not all of us find in this lifetime.
I haven't had a life of dreams. To me it's all been about survival. Surviving my childhood. I couldn't wait to leave home and get away from all the demons that haunted me there. Then it was getting through my 20's and trying to find myself. When I hit 30 things skidded to a halt with the untimely illness of my dad and his death. At 35 I was having another baby and moving back home to Richmond from Virginia Beach and again it was about surviving with 3 kids, a full-time job, school and my first marriage. Fast forward 10 years, 10 kids, 2 jobs, 2 years of staying at home with my babies, the breakup of my abusive marriage and here I stand:
Happy, thriving and DREAMING of a future filled with so many possibilities it boggles my mind.
Not the dreams of kids - $$$, big houses, fancy cars, vacations around the world but dreams of many great moments like this past weekend with friends and family - making memories that last a lifetime.
Dreams of my kids, grand kids, and time with my husband. Dreams of seeing them in college, getting married and asking for our advice. Dreams of many more mornings of seeing the sunrise, feeling it caress my skin and warm the earth. Dreams of reaching out and serving in the community and giving back to everyone that assisted me when I needed it most.
Just the idea of dreaming is a blessing in itself because it's not something I ever let myself do. I refused to have those hopes and desires only to see them dashed but now, well if they don't all happen that's OK. I'm going to enjoy the journey that gets me there. One day at a time, one dream at a time and no pressure to attain them but permission to enjoy it to the hilt when/if I do!
One of my favorite weekly columnists from Canada, Sheila Way Gregoire, had a column about dreams that I have been thinking about since I read it. I totally agree with her thoughts about changing what you dream about as your life changes. Look at me - not only am I changing my thoughts but making them better, more fulfilling and less intangible.
How about you? What dreams have you had looming over your head for years that weigh heavy on you because you haven't fulfilled them? Isn't it time to let them go or rethink them so that they will bring you joy, hope and inspiration not heartache?
Dreaming New Dreams
May 22, 2009
Last weekend my husband brought home the movie Marley & Me thinking that since it was romantic, it would naturally lead to romance. Unfortunately, the length of the movie threatened his intended result, and he confessed later that he found himself whispering under his breath, "Die, already dog. Hurry up and die!" But Marley took a while to succumb, and I, who am not particularly a dog person, still found myself tearing up.
Marley & Me , though, isn't really a dog movie. It's more about what it means to be at peace, even with a dog that eats answering machines without chewing. The focus is on columnist John Grogan, who has made all the right choices. He marries a good woman; he lands a good job; he has wonderful children. But despite making these correct choices he's restless. He had a certain vision of himself, and now he's hitting forty and he's not that person. And as he stares at his friends and family at his surprise birthday party, he wonders if he has failed.
Last weekend, right before we watched this movie, my family and friends threw me a "Forever Thirty-Nine" party. They figured doing it next year, when I really will be forty, would be too difficult because I'd be expecting it. So last Sunday my best friend unveiled a scrapbook of my life, people told stories and roasted me, and in general I felt extremely appreciated.
Such events, though, do cause you to examine your choices. And all too often, when we go through this exercise, we look back on our lives and find them wanting. Yet perhaps the reason this examination is so painful is because we use the wrong measuring stick.
In that scrapbook, the 23-year-old version of me in the graduation gown had a certain vision for my life. I was supposed to be the CEO of a hospital, or the director of a think tank foundation. But here I am, homeschooling my kids, putting dinner in the crockpot, folding laundry, writing columns, and raising money for an orphanage in Kenya. Not exactly what I had planned. That doesn't mean, though, that it's wrong.
Many of us feel restless because we haven't achieved our dreams, but I think what we miss is that we are not the same people who dreamed them. I am not fresh out of graduate school with visions of Toronto skyscrapers in my head. I'm a small town mom with a tent trailer.
There's nothing wrong with dreaming, but the dreams should be about looking forward, not looking back. When I hit forty, I won't have achieved many of the things I thought I would. But I've achieved different things. True peace comes not when we tick off everything on our life's to-do list; it comes when we get comfortable in our skin, make choices that reflect our values and who we are, and then live out those choices, in the nitty gritty, day by day. There's nothing wrong with assessing your life and making changes, but make sure those changes reflect who you are now, not who you thought you'd be once.
I am not who I was. And my dreams, though they seemed big then, were really quite small. They didn't involve two blonde teenagers who still like to hold my hand when we walk. They couldn't see the changes trips to Kenya would make in me. They didn't know how a small tombstone tucked in a country cemetery would change my heart. They didn't realize how being married to my best friend could bring a satisfaction so much deeper than any paycheque or title. And so I am different today, but I'm comfortable with it. And as I approach middle age, that's really the best gift I could have.