Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My name is Jaimie, and I am a soldier.























When I was 18 years old I married my sweetheart and became an Air Force wife. Throughout the next 5 years we welcomed 2 beautiful children into the world and transitioned from the Air Force to the Army.






















I was completely unaware that my poor husband, Scott, was dealing with demons.  Bi-Polar Disorder and PTSD racked him with torment for years.  After his discharge from the Army things only worsened.  As he tried to combat the effects, he slipped deeper into the black pit of loneliness, despair, and pain.  I watched, helplessly, as my husband lost himself.

We tried over and over again to get him some help, but it was too little too late.  Scott couldn’t take it any longer.  He quit his job, withdrew from classes, and shut out family and friends.  Eventually everything came crashing down.  He climbed into a hole where I could not follow.  The only thing he could think to do was walk away.  And so he did.  He walked away from me and from the life we shared.  Even then I knew that it wasn’t a malicious decision.  He never intended to bring me any pain.  But he couldn’t live that life any more.  

I sold nearly everything we owned in order to pay the past due bills which continued to come pouring in.  I stopped answering my phone to escape the debt collectors.  Each harassing phone call reminded me again of how I had failed him.  I should have seen it sooner.  I should have done something!

But in the end, there was nothing I could have done.  We did all we could do.  Sometimes there is no easy solution. 

The kids and I moved in with my mom 400 miles away, and I searched for work to support my family.  I begged Scott to come back and to get some help, but he just wasn’t ready.  We were so fortunate to have some friends take him in.

I thought that was the end for us.  I loved Scott more than anything in the world, and it devastated me to see him suffer.

I was working three jobs, trying to pay all our bills and take care of my children.  After a long day of work I would come home to cradle my poor young son who was convinced his daddy was gone forever.  The pain all around me was tearing me up inside.  I blamed myself for everything and figured this must all be a punishment.  

Maybe if I had been a better wife Scott would have been okay.  Maybe if I had seen the severity sooner…

But it wasn’t my fault.  And I finally came to realize that.  I broke free of the guilt and the shame and the pain.  I decided that I was not going to be a victim any longer.   It was time to take control of my life for myself and for my family.  For weeks I prayed for help to know what to do.  

But this time, instead of waiting for things to happen around me, I took action.  I fought to bring Scott back and get him the help he needed.  And this time he was ready.  It was the first step in a long and difficult healing process that we are still working on.  We found a doctor who reached him on a level that no one had been able to before.  He moved into my parents’ house with us, and our relationship began to heal.  My love for Scott grew more than I ever thought possible as I watched him take those extremely difficult steps toward getting better.

One afternoon I was watering the plants at work in the Garden Center of Home Depot- It was the only quiet moment my crazy life afforded me.  As I stood there the inspiration came to me, clear as day.  I knew what I needed to do.  And it terrified me.

It seems that Heavenly Father has a way of placing us just where we need to be to conquer our fears.   For many years I have had hanging in my bathroom a picture that says, “The situations and experiences we face in life reflect what Heavenly Father really knows about us and what we need to make weak things to be made strong.”  The next few months of my life were absolute proof of that.

In January 2011 I enlisted in the US Army to be a combat medic.  

My name is Jaimie, and I am a soldier.





























Boarding the airplane to basic training was the scariest thing I have ever done.  I was leaving everything and everyone I knew behind.  I was facing a challenge that I needed to complete on all on my own.  But I was ready.

In March 2011, halfway through basic training, I broke my pelvis and cracked my tibia.  The doctor told me I would probably be sent home with a medical discharge.  My heart was broken all over again.  
I couldn’t let my family down.  I knew that I was where I needed to be.

As I returned back to the barracks on crutches, I told myself that I would refuse to give up.  They would have to force me to go home.  And that’s what I did.  I fought, and I pleaded, and I prayed.  Over and over again.  After three days I was given the okay to continue, with the warning that at any time I could be pulled out and sent home.  I would have to lose the crutches and do it on my own. 

The pain that followed is hard to describe.  Just marching to breakfast brought tears to my eyes.  But I refused to give up.  I had some amazing friends who pushed me and stood by my side.  That’s one of the interesting things about the military.  The friends you make and the bonds that you form are stronger than I could ever possibly explain.  I would give my life for these people, and I know they would do the same for me.

One morning, a friend of mine overheard the Drill Sergeants talking to me about the upcoming ruck march.  We would be walking for 16 kilometers (about 10 miles) with 45 lbs of gear on our backs.  They were afraid that I would hurt myself further.  The last girl that did the march with an injury like mine had shattered her hip.  I promised them I would stop if the pain became too severe.  Somehow I knew I would be okay.  My friend piped up and asked to carry me the rest of the way if I had to stop.  His request was genuine.  My leaders were stunned.  He was willing to carry me and my gear, possibly for miles, if it meant that I could finish.  Of course, this isn’t allowed, and I would need to do it on my own.  But the sacrifice he was willing to make is indicative of the character of the people that I have been so privileged to serve with.


My friend who was willing to carry me























I began that final ruck march with the determination to reach the end.  Every time the pain became too much, I would think about my family back home and how much they needed me to finish.   There were times I felt as though I was gliding and my feet weren’t touching the ground.  At one point it didn’t feel like me walking at all, like I was being carried.  I felt a great peace in my heart, and I knew I wasn’t alone.  As I crossed the finish line and completed that final task, my heart was full of joy.  

Unfortunately, the long road wasn’t over yet.  Halfway through my AIT training (where I would learn medical skills and become certified as a medic) the injury flared up again.  This time it was more severe, and I was sidelined.  I spent 8 months in rehabilitation, the whole time away from home.    

When I was going through a particularly hard time, and I felt so utterly alone, my dear sister Katie sent me an excerpt from a talk that she had read.  The speaker, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, talked about finding the beauty in what is around you, and not always waiting for something better.  He referenced the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when all anyone wanted was a golden ticket.  The people were so busy looking for the precious golden ticket that they no longer cared about the simple joy they previously received from chocolate itself.  His loving reminder to “Forget not to be happy now,” really affected me.

It was then that I realized I don’t have to trudge on through my trials and simply endure until they end.  For years I kept thinking, “If I can just push through this and get through it now, I will be happy later.”  But I was cheating myself.  I know now that I can enjoy myself through my trials.  I can find happiness amongst stress and grief and pain.  I don’t have to wait until things get better.  I can be happy NOW.

Shortly after my rehabilitation began, Scott and the kids put what remained of our meager belongings in storage and moved into an extended stay hotel near me in Texas.  I was able to see them a couple hours during the week and several hours each weekend.  It was important to Scott that our family stay together as much as possible, and he is the one who made it happen.  It was the best thing we could have done at that time.























When it was all said and done, I was gone for over 17 months before we were permanently reunited and moved to our first duty station together.  The forced long distance relationship created a bond between my husband and me that I wouldn’t give up for anything.  

When I made the decision to join the Army I knew it would be hard.  I expected to camp out in the middle of nowhere for extended periods of time, eating awful food.  I knew I would be shooting weapons (something that had previously terrified me).  I knew I would have to push myself physically, and I would have long periods of time away from my family.  I expected to learn about being a medic and a soldier.  

What I didn’t expect was to find myself.  

I have learned to make the best of what I have.  I can trudge through the mud with a pack on my back and a smile on my face.  

I am not helpless, incapable, or afraid.

My name is Jaimie, and I am strong.

I can climb mountains.  And I can overcome!  













The last few years have brought countless ups and downs.  Sometimes things are good, and sometimes they are really hard.  I have missed birthdays, parent teacher conferences, holidays, and special events.  And while that would have been devastating a few years ago, we have learned to make the best of it.  We celebrate special occasions when we can.  We go on mini trips together to take advantage of the times that I am home.  We work around the times that are good for Scott, and we do what we can when they are not.  We have found what works for us as a family, even if some of it is a little unconventional. Through it all, I am hopeful.  I am no longer a slave to what is happening around me.  I control my own happiness and the success of my family. 

I understand now that life NEVER goes as planned.  There are bumps and cracks in the road that I cannot yet see.  But I am no longer terrified to face them.  I know that the true beauty of life is in the adventure.  You always hear that when life gives you lemons, you are supposed to make lemonade.  Well, sometimes you can’t make lemonade.  And you don’t have to, because lemons are beautiful all by themselves.  You can enjoy them for what they are.  Trials can also be blessings.  I am grateful for the path that life has given me, and I am grateful for the man who is holding my hand as we walk this road together.  

My name is Jaimie, and even though my life isn’t perfect, I am happy.  

























**Remember the purpose of the "My Name is" Series is to open our hearts, to interact, to uplift, to support and to grow. Jaimie will be reading the comments and I know that she welcomes your love, words of encouragement and support.

*Jaimie, words simply cannot express how much I needed this. Thank you, thank you for blessing me with your words. You are an amazingly strong woman, wife, mother and soldier and I have been strengthened by your approach and outlook on life. I am blown away by your resiliency and courage- both physically and mentally- and your undying loyalty to your sweet husband and children. You are an inspiration! I am honored to know you. So honored.

Read other stories of inspiring women in the "My Name is" seriesHERE

Follow My Name is Jacy on FACEBOOK to stay up to date :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Seeing People as People




















Yesterday was a very significant day for many people in my religion- men and women alike- and my mind has been engulfed in it. 

I read the articles, I watch the news clips, I scroll down my Facebook feed…And then I make the grave mistake of reading the comments; comments that seem viscous from all sides of the spectrum.

As I read the words, I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. 

I want to lash out and retaliate.

 I want to treat them (anyone who seems insensitive or bully-ishexactly how they are treating others so I can prove my point even further (whatever that "point" may be). 

I want to attack because I feel attacked. 

I want to correct because I am convinced that I am correct and my way is the right way!

So, I write out my words in the comment box… and I don't hold back…it feels good to release everything I feel. But I don't hit publish. My finger hovers over the publish box, and as tempting as it is, I don't double click. Because I start to notice something deep within me:

When I feel I am being mistreated, the easier it becomes for me to (or want to) mistreat others. Except, I try to convince myself that I'm not in the wrong for mistreating other's because this is all a consequence of how I've been mistreated.

(Does this resonate with you?)

I battle back and forth between if I should post the comment or not. 

I decide to let my pulse slow a bit and I step back to reread the comments that angered me just a few moments earlier.

Ironically, I notice that the feeling deep within me, the one about mistreating others because I have been mistreated, most likely fits almost all the other people who are commenting, blaming, and accusing.

They are lashing out and retaliating.

They are treating others exactly how they complain others are treating them to prove their point even further (whatever that "point" may be).

They are attacking because they feel attacked.

They are correcting because they feel they are correct and their way is the right way! 

And all the while, the only thing happening is a twister that is spiraling out of control, one where we are inviting and encouraging the very thing that we're all complaining about.

Talk about counterproductive.

While this has been a tragic few weeks for many of my friends for varying different reasons, the most tragic part is that I feel the value in our humanity is slowly diminishing. And this isn't just about one particular issue… or blog post…. or comment…. This is a common occurrence, one that we see in regard to politics, religion, mommy wars, etc. 

I've had a post sitting in my drafts folder titled "What's With All The Meanness?" and I've been neglecting to post it for months now. The timing just never felt right. But now, I just can't not post my feelings on the subject because I think we're forgetting one core truth: that each of us, every single one of us, are PEOPLE. 

People just like me…. People just like you…. People with feelings, insecurities, hurts, hopes, families, ideas, dreams, etc. On all sides of the fence, we are all people.  Real people.

I don't have the answers or the solutions to the world's problems or heartaches, nor do I pretend to.

But I do know that the peace begins with one person: 

Me.

It may seem impossible for one, small, insignificant being in all of this to make a difference, but I beg to differ.

It begins with me. 

It begins with you. 

It begins with us.

The only way we can create change for the better, is by working on ourselves.

No matter what your beliefs are… no matter what the issue… no matter what the conflict… Try looking at people like they are people, just as you are.  Try recognizing people as people, just like you are. And most importantly, try treating people the way in which you'd really like to be treated and see what it does?

Everything aside, follow the Golden Rule.

Does it prompt you to go back and delete the mean-spirited, attacking words in that comment box?

Does it help you to rephrase, or re-approach the situation with a different tone?

Does it nudge you to take a moment/hour/maybe even a day to calm yourself and collect your thoughts before going any further?

Does it soften your heart to feel less aggressive, hostile and defensive?

Does it help minimize that fuming anger, and instead, spark a little bit of empathy and compassion, even toward those you may strongly disagree with (and maybe even people we feel have wronged us)?

For me, the answer to all of these questions is yes. When I step back and strive to see people as people, people who are JUST LIKE ME, it's an amazing paradigm shift; one that takes conscious effort and hard work, and one that is not always easy.

The purpose isn't to drive home a point, and always be right, regardless of who's in our way, or who feels what. Nor is it okay to mistreat other's because you have been mistreated. (What good does that  realistically do in any situation?)

The purpose is to strive to see people as people in all we do, even in our disagreements, and in our hardships. Because the moment we lose sight of that, we are not only aiding the divisive war, but we are, our very selves, creating the exact thing we are hurt by.



Friday, June 20, 2014

Register for The Togetherness Project's Next Conference!

Get your friends together, make your travel plans made and BOOK YOUR TICKET as soon as possible because we'll be gathering at the Zermatt Resort in the beautiful Midway, Utah.

And also, we are HONORED to announce that Ashlee Harmon Birk from The Moments We Stand blog will be joining us and sharing her story with us (among many other amazing people)! 

 Find speaker details and registration information on our website www.togethernessproject.org

I simply cannot wait!

Friends… dear friends of mine… I need you to do me (and Togetherness) a BIG favor!

Please, please, please share this information with anyone and everyone! The best way is to share it from the My Name is Jacy Facebook page. I'll have a shareable image that you can simply hit "share". Or you can write your own blurb and include the website (www.togethernessproject.org). Or I suppose you can share this page, too :) However you do it, please just help us spread the love! We want to reach as many women as we possibly can because NO ONE should have to endure this alone, and there is a whole community of AMAZING women rising above.

We're all in this together, whether you're directly affected or not and by sharing this, you are helping the GREATER GOOD :) Many women, marriages and families are positively affected by the work we do, and the willingness of so many to be brave and open about things that are HARD to talk about.

Thank you, thank you!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My name is Heather and I am walking out of a refiner’s fire

My name is Heather… and I am walking out of a refiner’s fire.



















I admit my life has been easy.  Two great parents, a fantastic sister, no divorces, no death or disease, and opportunities abounded.  I married an amazing man and started a charmed family life.  We struggled with infertility and although it presented hardships and challenges, after 6 years we adopted our first child. (My husband will tell you that is a glossy version and that it was actually really hard.  It was hard, but that’s another article entirely.)  Our son made everything hard go away.  He brought such joy and love that I could easily move forward putting the “infertility trial” away.  Three years later we had a miracle surprise pregnancy and our daughter was born. Cruise control is on, A/C pumped up and I am rolling down easy street.

Easy street ends, sometimes drastically, sometimes slowly, but inevitably it ends and two years ago I hit the dead end of my own personal easy street.

My husband had a prompting. A spiritual experience that directed us to start foster care classes.  I went along.  I trust my husband, and if he felt strongly then I would see where this takes us… until it gets hard.  Then I would want nothing to do with it.  We completed our classes and then waited.  Secretly I prayed and hoped that a baby would just drop in our laps so this foster care idea could just fade away.  We were approved as foster parents at the end of December and then on Monday January 23, we got a call.

Little girls.

Parent’s rights should be terminated soon.

Adoption.

Drugs and Alcohol.

Domestic violence.

Current foster home not working.

FOUR SISTERS.  

Move right away.

We went to our local child services office and met with the caseworker.  Step one of a good foster care worker: downplay everything.  Make this “opportunity” sound too good to be true.  We asked if we could take a few hours to pray and think about this.  We went for a drive and talked about the changes this would mean to our family.   How would our children adjust?  Were we ready for two or FOUR more children?  Was this the right step for our family?  The answer came and I dropped my husband back off at work.  Back to the Child Services office I went, and one more meeting with the caseworker.

“YES” I said,  “We will take the two older girls and if you end up needing us to, we will take all four.”

Then I left….  And NOTHING. Tuesday came and NO contact with the agency.  Wednesday came and around 10am I got a call from the adoption worker,

 “I hear the 'L girls' are coming to live with you?”

“Yes”, I said,  “We told the caseworker we wanted to take them in, but I haven’t heard so I guess we will see.”

She sounded surprised, “You haven’t heard from her?”

“No” I said.

“Oh" followed by a long pause,  “Well they are coming and when I talked to her in the office she said they would be there around 4:00pm.”

“OK…" long pause, "well, we’ll be ready.”

The last thing the adoption worker mentioned, “It will be all four.”

“O…K!” I replied.

Then we SCRAMBLED.

Back to the store I went to buy more bunk beds, bedding, pillows, etc.

I called my husband and told him to "plan on 4".

He said “I will be home at 3 o'clock then.”

“No…. I mean 4 little girls are coming!”

It was easy to open the door to these adorable, traumatized, little girls that were upset and hurting.  It was easy to find them a bed, buy new clothes, get them some toys, etc.  Temporal things are easy- they come and they go. The brakes hit when I had to be fully and emotionally invested, even when my girls weren’t.

We went from 2 to 6 kids in 48 hrs.






















Now our family consisted of children ages 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10. Now I was dealing with therapy, caseworkers, lessons, different schools and preschools, melt-downs mine and theirs, church, our business, and everything else in between.  We had turned our lives upside down and I started to lose myself.  Because of certain behaviors I became stricter.  I had to get on a rigid schedule and my carefree life fell away.  I became vigilant in my parenting.  I was reprimanding, setting up boundaries, and trying to meet everyone’s demands and needs.  I was drowning.  I may have gone under a time or two and wondered if it was worth kicking back to the surface.  How do I help my four girls, who need me desperately, not to fail as everyone else prior in their lives had?  How do I help my two children who just want me to be the mom they are used to?

Who am I? 

I am a tired, drained, rigid, frustrated, angry, and lost person.

How do I overcome this?  Where can I turn for help? Who can I trust?

For the past two years I have lived in a glass house.  I felt like everyone was looking in and seeing the dirt, the mess, the chaos, the discord, and I had no way to stop it.  I was trying so hard to be Superwoman, and failing at it over and over.  We do that to ourselves as women you know.  We are trying to be everything to everyone and often losing ourselves along the way.  I finally hit rock bottom.  That’s a hard and scary place to be.  It means the reservoir is all dried up and yet life is still moving around you.  I had some choices to make.  I met with a good family friend who helped me to see that rock bottom isn’t all bad. In fact it starts to allow us to receive personal revelation on what we need and how we can be helped both spiritually and emotionally.  It also offers the opportunity to build again and start to heal.  

The sign at the end of my road wasn’t really a dead end, but rather a narrower two lane highway.  I started to see tender mercies.  A meal dropped by.  A friend who just hugged me when all I could do was cry.  A husband who built me up and said "don’t give up, we need you!"  Parents who kept calling saying "you are a good mother, keep going." A text from my sister just saying she loved me.  A gratitude journal from a friend that she had kept for me, about me.  But most of all, a loving Heavenly Father who kept reminding me through each of these acts of service that He loves me.  I am valuable and I have a divine mission!  My mission is to help each of my children recognize their potential on this earth and to rise from the refiners fire with me and to stand as a forever family.

My name is Heather… and I am a Mother. 

God intended me to be so.































**Remember the purpose of the "My Name is" Series is to open our hearts, to interact, to uplift, to support and to grow. Heather will be reading the comments and I know that she welcomes your love, words of encouragement and support.

*Heather, this is beautiful and so are you. The world is a better place because of amazing people like you and your husband, and these little beings are blessed beyond measure. Your story moved me to tears because I know it's undoubtedly hard… but you are doing something so remarkable… so selfless… Thank you for sharing the raw, yet very tender parts of your life. It's inspirational.

Read other stories of inspiring women in the "My Name is" seriesHERE

Follow My Name is Jacy on FACEBOOK to stay up to date :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thoughts for a Step Dad on Father's Day

Two years ago, I wrote this little tribute to my Dad on Father's Day. Since the time of writing those words, nothing has changed…. not one thing… except that my love for him has grown even more. I didn't know that could even be possible, but it's true. I honor my dad even more today than I did then. I feel blessed beyond measure to have my dad in my life; not only as a father figure, but as one of my very closest friends.

Dad, if you are reading this… I love you… so much… You are the best daddy in the whole wide world.  I sent you a card in the mail, but it'll be late :)
***
Today, I also celebrate a different kind of dad (one that I don't think gets a whole lot of credit); the step dad. 




















This is a very special role (one that I had never given a moment's thought about, until it had become part of our life).

The other night, Seth and I sat under the stars of a little Italian restaurant with our friends (she has three children and he has taken the role of step-father). As we talked about everything under the sun, we also discussed how it's not easy being a step-parent. It's not easy coming in mid-game and trying to find your place, your balance, your role in it all. It's not easy figuring out how to parent another person's child, especially when you've never had kids of your own.

My heart bursts with joy whenever I see Little Dude and Seth in the backyard playing catch, or pulling weeds together out front, or skateboarding in the culdesac.

Tears welled in my eyes when after a year of Little Dude calling Seth "Seth" he one day, out of the complete blue, walked over to him, hugged him and said "Goodnight Dad… I love you!"

I'm at peace and feel so much comfort when Little Dude tells people with PRIDE that  he has "two moms and two dads and a lot of people who love him."

Blending a family is a hard gig… and sometimes it can be a deal breaker for many people… But it's not for us…. it just is. And it's working so naturally and wonderfully and we are taking it one day at time. But it is HARD WORK. And that is why those moments, the ones that melt our heart and seem too good to be true, those are what keep everything afloat…. those moments are the moments we look forward to and cherish…. those moments give us all a sense of peace and hope and love… those moments generate sincere smiles and grateful hearts for one another and the roles we play in each other's lives.

Being a step dad takes no ordinary courage.

I have witnessed Seth sacrifice so much for the Little Dude. He knew the moment he married me that life as he knew it would be over. Gone are the days of quiet nights, a kid-free house and the ability to uproot and just go and do whatever. Instead, Seth willingly signed up for becoming an insta-dad, Kindergarten projects, homework, reading chapter books, baseball and soccer practices, super heroes, school talent show auditions, time out chats, goldfish crumbs, a sticky backseat of his car, and cartoons instead of Major League Baseball. His Saturday's (what were once golf and leisure) are now spent kneeling down in the outfield and coaching Little Dude while he plays left field in the t-ball game.

Being a step dad takes no ordinary love, either. Because falling in love with me also meant loving and being committed to my son, too. This has, hands down, been the sweetest evolution I have ever witnessed in my life time. So tender. So priceless.

Thank you for being brave and delicate in a situation that most definitely has its hard parts, Seth. A role that doesn't get much credit, your patience, sacrifice, love and support makes our world a better place. 

We love you! 


And a big HUGE Happy Father's Day to all the step dads out there today!


XOXO

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My name is Ashlynn and I am a proud mama bear.

My name is Ashlynn and I am a proud mama bear.






















After school on a Monday my daughter came home telling me she no longer liked school and asked when it would end so she didn’t have to go back.  She had loved school so I was a little confused.  The next day, December 11, 2012, my 4 year old told me her vagina hurt.  I asked her if she had fallen on it or sat funny at school?  She hesitated and said she fell on it.  She told me what had happened with some boys at school.  I asked if she had told her teacher, she said no but that she wanted me to.

Later that night I called my father-in-law, who is a LCSW and he suggested I use dolls to have her role play what had happened at school, thinking maybe she would show me what happened.  He encouraged me to go to the school to report the incident but not to look too deep into the situation because of their age and that the activities seemed age appropriate for curiosity. So the next morning, I met with her teacher and the principal.  My daughter was happy about this.

After school that day, I went to my friends house (since my husband was out of town) and I got some dolls.  My daughter showed us what happened at school and it matched what she had said the day before.

But then she went on telling and SHOWING us what happened when someone comes into her bed. 

My heart sank as I looked up at my friend, hoping we would know what to do with way more information than we were prepared for.

I asked her to tell me more.

Was her sister with her?

Yes.

I asked her if she remembered who it was?

Yes.

She told me the name of the person. I asked again and she said the same name. I asked if it could be someone else other than who she was saying? It was the same name she had already told me.

Right after she answered the question, she stood up and walked out of the room saying she wanted to go home.

So we got in the car and started driving 4 hours away to my parents house. Literally 30 minutes later, my daughter was sick and by the time we got to my parents house, she had a fever and was coughing.  We didn’t sleep all night and by 5:00 am the next morning, I was in the ER with her 104 fever.  She was quickly diagnosed with Croup and was given 2 breathing treatments before they sent us home.  We spent the day snuggled on the couch with my parents watching movies and playing. My husband’s boss found out what happened and sent my husband home 2 days early and flew him directly to us! Amazing. She starting getting better and we headed home after a couple of days.

I had called the police from my parents house and started the process.  We scheduled the interview at The Children’s Justice Center and the interview went well but my daughter did not disclose anything at all.  After the interview she got sick again and cried that everything was all wrong.  I explained she had done nothing wrong and she was just sick.  We held her for hours.  She began having fits of horrible anger.  She would tell me she wanted to die so she would not have to think about bad things in her brain.  It killed me to hear the pain and anger coming my from little girl.













Once we found out who had done this, we immediately limited our contact with the abuser and all those associated with that person.  We wanted time to figure things out before the accusation came out publically.  It was hard on us and it was hard on those we loved.  They were left in the dark, they were hurt and they were worried but I wouldn’t do it any different.  We HAD to focus on ourselves, we had to protect our girls & make them feel safe.

Since she had told me about all of this, I had cried every single day– always when she wasn’t around to see my tears.  Then I asked the leader of our church group to come give us all a blessing and ever since the blessing, I stopped crying.  My husband and I truly felt Heavenly Father wrap his arms around us, guiding us with patience and love.

Two weeks after finding out, I also joined a gym.  I have used fitness as my drug.  I punched, pedaled and lifted my way through the pain.  I became stronger mentally, emotionally and, as a bonus, physically.  This saved me.




On December 18th my daughter started "play therapy" with a professional therapist who specialized in child abuse.  She really enjoyed going and went 1-2 times a week.  Sometimes she wanted me to sit in and sometimes she wanted to go in without me.  All sessions were recorded and I was sent the summary afterwards.  Slowly we started to see her become the girl we used to know.

But the nightmares had started quickly for both girls.  They went from sleeping through the night to waking up every.single.night crying and scared.  Her therapist suggested we redecorate her bedroom or move!  So we redecorated and that helped but the nightmares continued.  So we started "worry time" shortly after my daughter started therapy.  Each night we talk with our girls privately before bed asking about their day.  Sometimes our talks are filled with silliness, while others are filled with fear and crying.  "Worry time" is something I recommend to all parents, even if your kids are mentally healthy!  It is such a great bonding experience and helps our kids know we can help take away their worry and fear.

I remember seeing my daughter progress quickly in therapy, but I was still trying to truly accept that this person I loved would do this to my daughters.  I believed my daughter from the moment she told me-- no hesitation whatsoever.  However, accepting WHO was not as easy.  Our abuser was a loved one, close to us all, loving, sweet, and seemed totally normal.

She … yes, it was an adult woman … who showered my girls with gifts.  I remember numerous times asking this loved one not to bring gifts because it was always extravagant and made me uncomfortable.  This is grooming at its finest.  When we'd go out,  I'd offered to get a babysitter so she wouldn’t have to stay home, but she'd insist on babysitting the girls as a favor. All the signs were there, but were shadowed by the trust and love we felt for her.

Although my daughter was doing great in therapy, she was still not disclosing.  Sometimes I wondered what would cause more physiological damage to her? Letting her not tell anyone again and not dealing with it? Or for me to shake her shoulders and make her tell!  It is beyond frustrating to know why your child is hurting but then to watch them build a wall around that hurt, not letting anyone else in.  I was doing all I could to help her but it was incredibly taxing on us all.  I dealt with the side effects, and our new life of therapy and worry, every single day.

This has become a part of me,  just like it is part of her.





























Then in February, the doctor said that we needed to make a decision: we needed to decide if we would ever see the abuser again. At this point we hadn’t even talked to the abuser since before we found out.  We took a weekend to pray and think it over but kept coming back to our gut answer: NEVER AGAIN!

What does never again mean when it is a loved one? 

 It means you miss weddings, parties, funerals, holidays, and any family gathering.  No more family pictures.  It sounds harsh but we want what is best for our daughters.  We can forgive but we won’t forget … for our own safety.

On February 4th, just days after we told our daughter she would never have to see the abuser again, that she would always be safe, she disclosed to her doctor and to the police.  She just needed to know she was safe before she told anyone else.  The state had no choice but to press charges – not us.  On February 20th the abuser was arrested on 3 counts of sodomy.  It was a whirlwind of emotions.  Our loved ones quickly became aware of WHY we had been so distant and quickly rallied around the abuser and abandoned us for months.  We were heart broken to say the least.

Once she was released, she refused a lie detector test.  We were devastated but learned that child abuse cases are the worst – there are no wins.  So rather than fight it civilly, we chose to alert those who came into contact with her so they could choose to protect their children or not.  We forced no one to believe us or to side with us.

Instead, we decided to focus on healing and moving on. We started marriage counseling in April after we felt comfortable leaving our children with a babysitter.  It helped a ton!  We were carrying such heavy burdens that we needed it.  We also started family group therapy.  We met as parents to talk about progress and tools to help our children while our kids were in age grouped classes learning how to cope and fight off future problems.  It was fantastic and I feel very lucky that we had so many resources available to us.













I feel so blessed that my little 4 year old was brave enough, in the 10% of those who tell, to tell me what had happened.  She has a tender heart and wants to be good and choose the right.  I feel blessed when my girls wake up and tell me they had good dreams.  I feel so blessed seeing the change a priesthood blessing can bring to a family.  We have all felt such comfort and peace.  My daughter has that light back in her eyes … she is becoming more outgoing again.  It is still on her mind but now she tells me and we talk it out. I am blessed with a now 6 year old daughter who knows more about her emotions than most adults.




**Remember the purpose of the "My Name is" Series is to open our hearts, to interact, to uplift, to support and to grow. Ashlynn will be reading the comments and I know that she welcomes your love, words of encouragement and support, as well as any questions you may have.


You can follow Ashlynn as she talks about her fitness journey, and how she's coped with all of this, on her sites:

Instagram: http://instagram.com/mamabear.fitness


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mamabearfit

*Ashlynn, thank you for you bravery and for your example. I am so honored to know you and I admire your willingness to not only fight for your girls, but for creating awareness on such a difficult subject. We cannot heal if we brush things under the rug…  ou are a beacon of hope and light to so many!

(Read more about the "My Name is" series, as well as the stories of other inspiring womenHERE)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Long Beach and the "My Name is" Series

Good morning friends!

Thank you for all of your love yesterday. It meant a lot.  Little Dude is such a good and happy little boy- he is sure blessed to be surrounded by so much love :)

I'm in Long Beach today, sitting in our hotel room, while Seth is at a business appointment right now. It's a little bit overcast today and there's a nip in the air, but it is glorious regardless.






























I'm super excited to tell you that the "My Name is" series starts up again tomorrow! It's going to be amazing, so be sure to check back tomorrow- and every Wednesday. (If you're new here and don't know what I'm referring to, read all about it HERE.)

Hoping you're all doing wonderfully!

XOXO

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Hard Part





























Last night, Little Dude and I had our scheduled phone call while he's away for the month. I was counting down the minutes until 6pm.

I anxiously grabbed the phone and dialed. The moment he answered the phone, I was SO excited to hear his little voice! It felt like home.

"HI BUDDY! How are you?" I squealed in excitement (as we hadn't talked in 5 days).

"Oh, hey mom" he said with a monotone voice.

"Hi! What have you been up to?" I cheerfully asked.

"Um, not much. Hey, um, can we be done talking now? I really want to go play." he said.

I was so excited to catch up with him and hear his voice and let him know how much I loved and missed him and he was just…. indifferent… indifferent to the call… but even more difficult, indifferent to me. It was like pulling teeth to get him to visit with me for 9 whole minutes. I could tell he was just totally over it. 

We visited about a few things and then he asked again "Can we be done? Has it been long enough, yet?"

"We can be done, Little Dude. I am so glad you are having so much fun!"

When I hung up the phone, I said "I love you, I'll talk to you soon…. okay?" and he said "Okay, bye mom."

Click.

Can I be honest today and tell you that I just felt a little bit sad?

No matter how much I prepare myself, those moments are always unexpected and difficult.

I know he is happy and is having a wonderful time away… and that is the MOST important thing… and I know he loves me… of course I do… but there are times when this whole thing just stinks.

So, instead of feeling too sorry for myself, I'm going to do what I learned to do 4 years ago as a Pioneer Woman. I'm not going through a divorce again, nor am I trekking across the plains as a single mom, I'm not killing my own buffalo, but I am navigating through the foreign territory of being away from my little guy and I'm learning how to cope and deal with those hard moments when I miss him and the moments when it seems like he couldn't care less about me.

But as I've said before, a million ba-jallion times…

"This is what I've been dealt so buck up, chin up, and keep on going!"

And that is what I'll strive to do :)


Friday, June 6, 2014

Exciting News Today!




















To all my Togetherness kindred spirits (those I personally know already, those I haven't had the chance of meeting face-to-face yet, and those who are suffering silently and alone),

This day is for YOU! 

Actually it's for US! 

SO…. SAVE THE DATE! 


Because The Togetherness Project's next conference will be held:


October 11th, 2014 

Midway, Utah! 

www.togethernessproject.org

*Details to be announced soon*

(photo credit: Steve Thomas)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...