LA Skyline

I had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles, California for work recently. I attended the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault conference and it was a wonderful experience. There was a time difference of 3 hours from the east coast, so I decided to work out in the morning before I actually attended the conference since I was still on east coast time. The first morning I went to work out I realized that the gym was on the 26th floor of my hotel. So because I had such a great view I proceeded to look for the Los Angeles skyline. There were windows that were all around but I couldn’t find the skyline and didn’t know why. Then it hit me I realized I was actually in the skyline my hotel was the Sheraton Downton Los Angeles Hotel. Even though the people around me couldn’t hear my thoughts I was still really embarrassed, because  I was looking for something that I was never going to find  because I forgot where I was. This reminds me of how I sometimes search for validation from the outside world and constantly looking for answers whenever the answer is right there within me. Sometimes I seem to forget whose I am. I am a child of God I don’t have to search the world for my answers.

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Chicken and Waffles

In preparation of my book signing I told some of my friends that I wanted to serve chicken and waffles and they gave me a look. My first thought of chicken and waffles is Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles restaurant that I would frequent in Atlanta, GA. However, my friends, being from Maryland, only think of the opposite of something that would be considered upscale. There was a disconnection in our way of looking at the same situation. I missed the connection that they were making and they doubted my idea of what a nice event would encompass. Eventually, we all figured out where we were coming from and the situation was resolved and now we joke about it! However, that situation makes me think that there can be so many disconnections within our communications with others. We could say a phrase or mention a word and it strike a nerve within someone else and we might be clueless. It is so important that we keep our lines of communication open. I have been guilty of not always sharing my feelings and that leading to bitterness, but if I had only said something the issue would have immediately been resolved. I think that is why I feel that it is so important for people to use their voice. I know what it feels like to feel like my voice is gone or insignificant. I refuse to be in that place ever again in my life.

The Pacifier is Hiding

My three-year old has had a pacifier since day 1. She was definitely co-dependent on it and refused to give it up. Even when I’d say don’t you want to be a big girl she’d reply with the cutest face, “No mommy I’m a baby.” The fact that she could articulate that, made it obvious that it was time to let it go. Then our daycare provider made us leave the pacifier in the car once my daughter turned 2 1/2. So she was going from 7:30-3:30 without a pacifier.  My husband was adamant about her keeping the pacifier at home until she’s ready, but he said if she lost the last pacifier we had it was over, no more pacifiers. One day I was in the shower and when I got out my daughter was watching television in my bedroom with no pacifier. I kept asking her where it was because it was almost time for bed. I then told her that the pacifier must be hiding from her to make it into a game. She had no idea where it was and then her dad starting looking frantically. I, on the other hand was calm and secretly excited until that night…She was the worst sleeper for about 2 weeks, but things got better and now she’s fine. This made me wonder what is my pacifier? What things, emotions, feelings am I holding onto that need to leave. When other people look at me they see that I am too mature for certain things and I recognize it too but as a comfort, I want to hold on to my “pacifier.” Whatever my “pacifier” is from complaining to unforgiveness,  it has to go! Many of my friends and family thought I hid my daughter’s pacifier and I’m going on the record and saying I did not hide her pacifier. I’m glad it’s gone though! But I am responsible for the negativity that you will see disappearing from my life! I am totally responsible for those disappearances with the help of the Lord!!

It’s Not You, It’s Me

I’ve heard that “It’s not you it’s me,” is a common phrase that someone says when they want to break up with someone and they dont want to hurt the other person’s feelings. I recently went to the dentist and had a terrible experience with a deep cleaning. The hygienist took forever and made a lot of negative comments that made me feel awful. All of my other dentists made me feel like i took pretty good care of my teeth so what was up with this lady? I was tempted to cancel and go to another dentist to avoid this particular hygienist, but in the end I thought maybe I’d get someone different in that office …and then that day SHE walked in. She began to examine my teeth in the same manner but her feedback was different, which i thought was odd. I told her that I thought her process was thorough and she chuckled and said yeah I have obsessive compulsive behaviors.

Then it clicked…so the first time I was embarrassed and ashamed about my teeth, but she made it clear that she has to get EVERY piece of plaque on every patient’s and it’s something she’s working on. That made me think about how that applies to everyday life. Sometimes when people repond to us negatively it isn’t even about us and because of our own insecurities we respond from a defensive place. So even though the phrase, “It’s not you, it’s me,” is clique,  sometimes it’s true. Try and respond from love and see if you notice a difference not only in your life, but in your interactions with others. There’s a reason why Jesus said love your no neighbor as yourself.

And speaking of Him, the thorough cleaning that the hygienist conducted reminds me of how He takes His time during the process of growing us. He doesn’t rush through anything even if He realizes it may be painful for us, He knows in the end its for our greater good. I’d rather all of the “plaque” in my life be removed so I can be more like Him!

Pain Sometimes Comes Before Healing

I have been physically injured a few times in my life and afterwards have had to participate in physical therapy.  In case you haven’t been in physical therapy before I am here to tell you it is AWFUL and PAINFUL. Initially you go to the doctor broken and hurting and wanted some type of relief and then the doctor writes a referral for physical therapy and some medicine to ease the pain.  The doctor realizes that you will not be able to bounce back without strengthening your muscles and that any other type of treatment will only ease the symptoms and not the root of the problem.  Once you get to physical therapy the physical therapists have you perform certain exercises that target the place where you are broken. This basically makes you move the part of your body that hurts the worse and it seems impossible. As you continue to go to your sessions you then see progression and then they may increase the intensity of the exercises and you can see that the new patients are doing your old exercises.  You start to become the expert and realize that maybe there is some type of method to the madness. The last time I was at physical therapy another patient saw me grimace and he told me that the pain is the only way that I will be healed.  I gave him a look because it didn’t make sense to me. Why do I have to feel worse before I can get better? I realized at that moment I can also take that same concept to emotionally healing.  Sometimes we are broken and then in order to “feel better” you have to first face your problems and the issues that come up and that is truly painful. I realized that emotional therapy is necessary for healing. We have to sometimes fight for our healing!

Let the Walls Fall!

I have experienced so much pain in my life so in my defense to keep that pain from happening again I built many walls that act as defense mechanisms. Once I was healed from some of the pains I allowed my walls to crumble to the ground.  At first I felt naked and afraid because of my vulnerability. I knew that because my walls were down there was a possibility that I could be hurt once again but somehow I felt so free and liberated. I never knew that my walls/defense mechanisms actually had me in bondage.  I learned that it was harder to have the walls to prevent being hurt than just dealing with the pain itself. It is much easier said than done because I have had the defense mechanism for many years and it was engrained in me that I needed to guard myself. I learned it takes work to hold up the walls but dealing with the pain is a little easier. I realize that the walls are debilitating and crippling to me instead of helpful. So LET THE WALLS FALLS!!!

Avoidance Only Delays Your Healing

I was in a training for sexual assault victim advocate training and the trainer emphasized that sexual assault can lead to PTSD. She continued to explain that sometimes with traumatic events people tend to push things down and not deal with them, but the things that happen in our pasts are always there, lurking if not addressed. The analogy that I visualized was like a beach ball that you are trying to hold under water. Sometimes pushing the ball down seems to make us feel better even though it is a strenuous process. You can push it down, continuously but it always eventually slips and  manages to pop right back up from underwater. This is similar to the issues that we push down it’s hard to hide the traumatic events that happen to us but we think that it is easier to push it down. However, no matter how hard that we try, the problems always rears its ugly head. As hard as it may seem we need to face our issues because avoiding the issues only delays our healing. Don’t allow your issues to be like the beach ball. Take the courageous step of facing your pain in order to obtain the healing that God has for you.

ITS NOT MY FAULT

In January of this year I was at church and was taking off my coat while talking to some friends at and suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my arm. We were joking around about something so as I’m laughing I’m telling them that my arm really hurts and then one of my friends sees my arm. I looked down and realized that in the middle of my arm there was a ball that wasn’t supposed to be there. Someone popped my arm back into the socket but it came out 2 times after that. I wore a sling for about 3 weeks and had to attend physical therapy. This situation reminds me of a when some people are sexually assaulted. They are doing things as normal i.e. on a date or walking down the street and then someone attacks them. They weren’t doing anything to make you think they should or even could happen. However, the sexual assault happens but just like i was the innocent victim in the coat situation they are the INNOCENT victims in the sexual assault. The doctors were baffled by my arm, they said that it was a freak accident that this happened. I will say that I’m more careful when doing anything where I have to stretch my arm out but it wasn’t my fault. Nothing that a victim can say or do makes them responsible for his or her own rape. No outfit, flirty behavior, or attitude of a victim should lead anyone to believe that someone deserves to be sexually assaulted. Victim-blaming is very common when someone is sexually assaulted and that is wrong. It’s time that we stop blaming the victim and start holding the perpetrators responsible for their own actions. I will be the voice for every sexual assault victim and shout, “IT’S NOT MY FAULT!”

Hidden Pain

I feel that during my life I have experienced some pain that is indescribable. It is actually something that I do not want to talk about particularly because this pain that I feel is hidden.  The thought of the pain is enough to make tears well up in my eyes. The lack of trust in my life has led me to feel that I did not want to share this pain. There have been times that I did share and I was almost dismissed or the person would change the conversation and they would simply take about themselves. This pain was something that basically festered on my insides. It was something that is hard to deal with on a daily basis. No matter what has happened in my past, I am expected to have the ability to function in everyday life. I am expected to flourish even though I have had experiences that are unspeakable. Those feelings of pain have taken me to some dark places. I never told anyone about this hidden, dark place when I would frequently go to this place. God had to step in order for me to completely rid myself of this dark place.  The dark place was alcoholism, depression, feelings of suicide, and a few other places that I did not want anyone else to know.  I wish that I would have never been raped and that I would have never been in those dark places and had to go through the hidden pain. However, I thank God that I this hidden pain was exposed and that I no longer have to carry the pain with me through the rest of my life. I thank God for being with me on this journey to a rape victim survivor.

The Girl Who Cried Rape

We are all familiar with the story of the boy who cried wolf. So I want to talk about the elephant in the room, there are people who think when a person says that they are raped, they are lying because honestly there are some people that do lie about rape. I know that some people after having sexual intercourse feel guilty maybe because of religious beliefs or maybe the sexual encounter was an act of infidelity. Rape is not something you say if you feel guilty after sex, rape is when someone forces you to have sex without consent. Rape is when someone throws you on the ground, rips off your clothes and penetrates and you have either said no or you have shown non-verbal cues such as not participating or squirming trying to get away. Rape is not something to use as a scapegoat to receive pity. When people use rape as a medium for their own benefit, it takes away from those that are truly victims and need help. It makes them go inwardly and not want to say anything and suffer for years and sometimes decades alone, afraid to speak up and tell their story because of the flack that they will get for saying they were raped.  The percentage of false reporting is actually exponentially low, but it happens and we no longer need those individuals using rape as their excuse. Allow the true victims to have a voice and be honest about what truly happens to you.  This is not written in hate or anger, I am only trying to ensure that those that lie about rape face the demons that are truly haunting them and bringing truth towards the topic of rape. I pray that those that are victims of rape gather enough courage to get help so that they one day can become a survivor and not have to be concerned with the stigma of thinking that no one will believe them. I’ve felt that way and it is a way to silence a victim and keep things buried only to fester and brew negativity within. The elephant in the room had to be aired out and the smoke cleared. There are truly victims that are out there that need our help to transform from a victim to survivor.