I’m watching the world today and it angers me. It angers me because I see a bunch of “victims” on my TV….daily…hourly….moment by moment. Now, I’m not going to bash them in this blog because we hear it all day long from everyone. We know the society we are living in, as deplorable as it might seem to be, and I don’t need to repeat what I’ve been saying about them, or what others are saying about them. You all GET IT.
Instead, what I want to do is tell you a story. MY story. And explain WHY I CHOSE NOT TO BE A VICTIM.
If anyone could, and should, by all rights, be someone with the victim mentality, it would and should be me. The stuff I’m about to tell you, publicly, is personal – and not something I usually like to talk about openly. It’s a pride thing for me. What happened to me as a kid is more of an embarrassment to me than it was something I chose to use for sympathy. I understand I don’t have the most horrifying story out there and that others had or have it far worse than me. But to give you an idea of how bad it was for me, the social workers I dealt with as a teen were befuddled by me; they could not understand for the life of them how I wasn’t a drug addict, a drunk, or violent solely with the understanding of all I’d been through as a kid. Now, those people deal with a lot of troubled kids. I astounded them.
I come from a background of a fatherless home, living with a mentally unstable mother. We were poor, living on welfare, sometimes not having food at the end of the month when the money was gone because mom’s cigarettes and soda were more important. My mother didn’t drive. She was emotionally abusive in some of the most horrid ways. She was neglectful. She was down right mean sometimes and never said sorry, and “I love you” was rarely, if ever, shown or uttered. It was a control thing for her. I didn’t understand this then, but I do now: she was severely damaged from something that happened in her life that crippled her emotionally and mentally. I don’t know what that was, but I understand whatever it was, it destroyed her inside – and could have easily destroyed me (and my siblings), along with our children. All 3 of us, myself and my siblings, chose to take the higher road and BREAK THE CYCLE. We CHOSE NOT to be victims of our circumstances. My brother is a successful man with a beautiful home and family and my sister enjoys the same, working in the accounting field.
I’m not going to go into detail, but to share some basic things that happened to me as a child:
Mom would often surprise hit or kick us, in a quiet moment, when we did something she didn’t like. I remember getting kicked hard in the back while laying on the floor, watching TV because I didn’t make my bed properly one day. It knocked the wind out of me. She loved to grab me by the hair and drag me to a different place in our home when she was angry. To this day I cannot handle people touching my hair or my head in certain ways.
When I was 12, I had a bad stomach flu in the beginning of the summer which hindered staying by a friend’s house for a few weeks. Mom decided she no longer wanted me with her, and proceeded to call an old neighbor I babysat for to see if they would take me in for the summer. They agreed and later became my foster parents for a time. I will never forget the court hearing regarding where I should live; my mother never showed up and that just screamed to me “she hates me, she doesn’t want me…..she couldn’t even show up to fight for me.” She was accused by the judge that day of “neglect”. That tore me up inside more than people know.
My father wasn’t much better. I met him finally when I was 11 and he also was badly damaged. I’m assuming it was from the Vietnam war but I really don’t know for sure because he would never open up and talk about anything. He was a violent drunk at times and as much as I loved him and wanted to be close to him, it just never happened. He threw me out also after living with him for a year (when the previous mentioned foster home didn’t work out – too much drunkenness there and marital trouble). Dad throwing me out started because I mentioned to my social worker an incident in which my father came home drunk one night and started throwing shot glasses at me because he wasn’t happy about a progress report I got from school. It was a minor thing and the alcohol blew it way out of proportion. When my social worker brought it up to my father and step mother in a “family meeting”, they proceeded to holler and scream, calling me a liar, calling the worker a liar, and literally, physically threw him out of the house. Feeling without protection at that point – I ran away (I was 15 or so) and ended up homeless for over a week. I broke down and called mom and went back to her. The worker took me back to dad’s to get my things and maybe work things out. I found my things in 2 paper bags out on the front step and I was not allowed in the house. My dad came outside and I apologized to him and all he would do is stare off in the distance as I cried, pleading for his forgiveness.
Back in my mom’s care – that lasted about 3 months. I came home from school one day to find my things again out in paper bags in the yard – doors all locked. She was inside and refused to let me in – no reason given. I found out later that it was because she found my diary and read something negative I had said about her years earlier.
I was homeless again….for another week. Friends taking me in, SNEAKING me in, giving me what little food they could, letting me sleep somewhere in the house, hidden from parents and we would return to our high school the next day.
I was also sexually assaulted twice as a little girl by 1 – a stranger and 2 – a neighbor.
I could go on and on for a long time the many, MANY stories, but this is a blog, not a book. I just wanted to give a basic outline to some of the things I had to deal with growing up.
Most people think I was a bad kid and probably deserved what I got. Not true. I was a respectful, quiet, shy normal kid who got good grades and followed the rules. I feared authority like you wouldn’t believe because that’s what was instilled in me. “Children were to be seen, not heard”.
Again, there was SO MUCH MORE, but I want to get to the point of this; why I chose NOT to be a victim.
I could have….very easily. I could have followed in the footsteps of my mother or father. I CHOSE not to because I WANTED MORE for myself. The thought of living on welfare and going without again made me cringe. The thought of throwing my life down the toilet steeped in alcohol or drugs turned my stomach. I DID end up in many bad relationships BECAUSE of the damage done to me by my parents, UNTIL I found myself….and Jesus. I view my childhood as I was “the throw-away”. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
We all have choices. And I guess the biggest for me is that you can choose to focus on what’s behind you, or you can live in the moment and look to the future. You can choose to forgive, or you can choose to rage on, only hurting yourself. You can let your childhood and what you experience in life to completely define you, or make you a better person because of it. You can choose the higher road, or travel down the path that your life lays in front of you in default.
I didn’t choose my parents or my life. None of us do. The only thing we can do is grow, learn, and better ourselves for it. Or not. Again, it’s a choice we make.
My daughter, husband and I just watched “The Blindside” the other night. Every single time someone watches this movie that knows me, they tell me I’m JUST LIKE the character of the mom in that movie – LeeAnn Touhy. She’s bold, brazen,tough, and doesn’t let too much shake her. But she also has a soft, tender hearted, compassionate side, which is clearly portrayed in the movie. I take pride in the fact that people think I’m just like her. But as I’m writing this, I’m also reminded that I started out like Michael in the movie – a shy, beat down, respectful kid who too was a victim of his circumstances, just wanting a chance at something better. He was given a chance….by some awesome, very loving people. I TOOK my chance and put my foot down at about the age of 34. I changed my life forever, with the help of friends, Jesus, and His promises to us. I was a victim, fighting to get out until the day Jesus said to me “I created you. You are beautiful to Me and I love you.” That moment changed my whole life and I realized I deserved MORE than I was allowing myself.
I’m now married to a very loyal, loving, selfless husband, and 2 daughters that love their mom and KNOW that she loves them. CYCLE BROKEN.
I have gone from being a lost victim, blindly searching my way through this thing we call life, KNOWING in my heart there HAD TO BE MORE – to now striving to teach others that they can do what I did – pull themselves from the muck and mire, feel loved, love others, IN THE RIGHT WAY, and do the right thing – always. I strive now to teach others in any way I can how to stop their own chaos. I CHOSE THIS – to help others….instead of being a victim.
I write these blogs not for my fame, or my betterment, but all of yours. This is what I’ve become; someone who sees the beginning does not always define the end, and you can too.
Is there something holding you back in this life? Do you have emotional baggage from your past hindering you from moving forward or feeling like you’ll never change or recover from something that happened to you? I’m here to tell you that you can….it’s all in what you want, what you focus on, and who you surround yourself with.
I’m not rich, I’m not famous, but I am at peace and have joy in my heart. Much of this is due to my faith. The other part is due to the better choices I made for myself and letting God lead me. I’m tough, I’m bold, I’m brazen, but I also love very deeply. It’s a far cry from what I learned growing up.
You can choose to be weak, or you can choose to be strong. You can choose to be unhappy, or choose to be happy. You can choose MORE, or you can choose less.
My experiences are why I get so angry with those who choose to remain a victim. I know in my heart they’d be so much happier if they chose to be winners and BREAK THE CYCLE.
Psalm 37:11But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
God gave us a brain, a heart, and free will. USE THEM.
Peace to you all, today and every day.