#BeYourOwnHero ~ When the cry of Rape is Silenced.

Having read about all the women coming forward about the certain famous man who they say molested them or raped them years ago, I am disturbed by the way these women are treated. THIS is why women do NOT come forward to begin with – they are always treated like it is their own fault.  Any women or girl who ever hears the words “Don’t tell anyone” , has sadly found it is almost far worse TO speak up than to have actually followed those instructions. When you tell, you become like Dorothy when she pulled back the curtain and the Wizard of OZ was exposed as just a little man. Someone who is raped becomes a black spot on someone’s nice clean white page, and  it is easier to hope that spot just goes away then to actually acknowledge HOW the spot got there to begin with. This is a long blog – it is an actual published short story. I hope it helps someone to know they are NOT alone.

 Abuse is the most neglected and uncomfortable topic there is. If someone has been abused and it is finally coming out into the open, the chances are really high it has been happening for a long time. It was NOT banished at first sight. You need to know that at the very FIRST sign of abuse, it is very likely more will follow – TELL SOMEONE IF IT HAPPENS ONE TIME! The word “abuse” by definition (dictionary.com) is: “maltreatment: the physical, psychological, or sexual maltreatment of a person…mistreatment, cruelty, violence, ill-treatment, exploitation, neglect, abuse one’s authority, corrupt, improper use to unfairly gain benefit.”

 The ones who have suffered at the hands of an abuser keep silent for many reasons. Most of the reasons are the same in any abuse story – you think the abuse will stop. You think somehow it is your fault. You fear judgment and shame. You don’t have anyone you trust enough to even tell. Maybe you even tell and are called a liar. You think you deserve it. These are ALL legitimate REAL reasons people have for staying in abusive situations, and worse than any of those is if they fear for their own life or the life of someone else that they love!

Why do people feel shamed? Forgotten. Lost. Hopeless. Maybe even suicidal. Because they don’t feel free to tell the truth! Because they fear judgment! You are not going to tell someone your deepest, darkest ugly secret if you think they will reject you. You are not going to tell your family. Or your relatives. Or your church. Or a boss. Or anybody that you are pretty sure will cast you aside. Whether intentionally or not, you can be made to feel that it is NOT okay to tell the truth. Strangely, you can be the victim but be made to feel like the abuse done TO you was somehow YOUR fault.

 So you carry your secret. And no one knows. But the secret will eat you alive from the inside out. It never goes away. Ever. This then carries into every crook and cranny of your life, and into the small things that you never share.  We teach by example that the truth is too painful, and too much to bear. It may not be intentional, and certainly not done out of malice or cruel intent. It is just learned behavior, all born from abuse. And on and on it goes from generation to generation. BUT somewhere down through the ages there WILL arise heroes to rescue those locked away in their own private dark dungeons, and to protect generations to come. (The hero in this story is NOT the fire-breathing dragon!)

For our brave Dragon Slayer, the abuse started early in their life – and their long unanswered question from way back then till now, has been – WHY didn’t they tell? Why did they carry that secret so long? Why did they allow that dragon to keep standing there, mocking them? First of all, it was clear to them that no one really wanted to know the whole story, nor waited around to get details and truth. No one EVER wanted to hear all of it. It was not referred to, talked about, or fixed – and then as time went on it was decided that it was the fault of a child. Keep it a secret and maybe it will go away. It is easier to just pretend the secret wasn’t there, or that it was somehow the fault of the carrier of the secret; the secret of sexual abuse.

There is nothing worse than to trust someone who betrays that trust sexually. It destroys you as a person and it changes who you will become. In order to ever find your way back to some place of innocence (before it was stolen), you must see the sexual abuse as the powerful dragon that it is – that has breathed its fire down on you for so long – and you must slaughter it.

A fire-breathing dragon could come in any shape or form or vibe. They could show up just once, or they could take up residency. They are after what they want, and how they get it is irrelevant to them. BUT if someone IS coming at you more than once, they are going to most likely be smoother. It is kind of the terrorist mentality of laying in wait for the right time for the attack, no matter how long it takes. The dragon will always start out by being nice. Of course – you catch flies with honey. Or candy. Or a few bucks. Or new toys. Or sadly, just that little bit of attention every human craves. Who would think a hug is any more than just a hug? It so should NOT be any more than what it is. Dragons generally don’t walk in the room and announce their presence. Oh eventually they will show off their firepower, but first they want you to trust them.

Let me start by saying that no one should be allowed to touch you inappropriately and unnecessarily, and certainly NOT without your consent. (Private parts of our bodies are to be just that – private!) And if IT happens, you need to tell – the very FIRST time. There is no hoping it was a figment of your imagination, a bad dream, or a fluke event – if it happened once, once is TOO much. TELL SOMEONE. The problem in this taboo subject is, mostly this happens to children who simply do not know how to even tell someone, or how to protect themselves, or how to help themselves. You have to wonder why the abused /molested/ raped don’t tell on their abuser/ molester/rapist. Fleeting moments of the years before the abuse actually starts, can go often goes unnoticed and with no warning of there being impending doom.   It is someone stronger than you taking what they want, when they want it, and then not paying any attention to you until they wanted more. 

First of all you need to understand that dragons may not stand there in front of you looking all mean and nasty. They have a good handle on holding in their bad breath, till needed. They may be smiling and appear happy, and the victim may confuse the dragon’s sexual desire towards them, as approval of them.

If you have been abused, or molested, or raped, you remember the places it happened. It is like if you were bullied at school, the mere sight of any schoolyard will bring you into distress. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not just for battle weary soldiers – it happens to anyone who has faced an enemy of any size or caliber. Whether bullying, war, or sexual abuse – you can be triggered right back to that moment by a familiar setting. THE kicker is that somehow it can all get twisted to where you think it is YOUR fault! You have to excuse yourself for having been naïve, or for being afraid for your life, or covering for someone else, or for simply being a child who didn’t understand what was going on! Maybe you were just too young to have a clue of what is right, and what is oh so wrong! But if you never talk about it and you never expose it, it gets buried deeper and deeper into the threads of who you are. This need NOT be so. There IS hope, and it comes from breaking the silence. Fire-breathing dragons need banished from our kingdoms!

 Many more than you realize, are carriers of dark secrets. They are convinced if they scream, no one will hear them anyways. We all want to look like all is well, and sadly think that is the way to survive and the peacekeeping thing to do. Maybe we think the ugly truth would rock too many boats and destroy that picture-perfect-front. Somewhere there has to be a hero to come in and save the day, and more times than not it will have to be the actual one who needs saving!

Picture what you think it would look like for a knight in shining armor to come in on a white horse to save you. Would he make a lot of noise, pushing all enemies out of his way? Charging in to save the day, wielding his sword in defiance? IF we would break the silence the dragon wants to keep us in, yes – we could be our own knights in shining armor! At the end of the day, who wants to save you more than YOU?  If someone is abusing you now, or has abused you years ago   – it is time to SCREAM BLOODY MURDER. Go tell someone!

Make a lot of noise! Silence gives the dragon power to grow – like blowing up a balloon. Your silence inflates it to grow to unspeakable heights. Ok so what if the person you tell doesn’t believe you. Tell someone else. Keep going – keep talking – keep screaming, until someone hears you! Our Dragon Slayer grew up thinking these subjects were not discussable, that no one wanted to know truth, that no one really cared anyways, and that truth destroys. Sadly when they finally tried to tell, they were made to believe it was their fault, so to this day they still hide things. It is a hidden fear that if someone knows the truth and that literally can mean ANY truth, they will be rejected or judged. Gee, wonder where that thought process came from. All secrets do is to breed more secrets! Truth is meant to set you free, not make you a meal for a dragon. Because they never understood that concept, they would still leaf through a sort of soul-scrapbook, long after the actual abuse was over! The scrapbook was inside of them – it was all the shame, the fears, the unanswered questions, the insecurities, the confusion, the unfulfilled longings of heart and body, the cry for real love, the rejection, the degrading of self worth, and the never ending self loathing. Battle wounds. Scars. Burn marks from the fire. It still was ruining their life from the inside out!

 The ugly dragon of sexual abuse rules and governs one’s opinion of their own self. It destroys relationships. It spits its poisonous venom all over things you hold dear. It huffs and puffs – until one day there comes that moment – maybe it is brief BUT it is long enough for you to lift up your head that hangs down, look the dragon square in the eye – and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. It is when the victim inside of you, long beaten down, stands up on the inside. You know, the moment you acknowledge it and face it, it begins to immediately start to lose its power over you. The guilt and the shame was NEVER yours to carry but the more you carried around and kept the abuse a secret, it was like it fueled the fire in the dragon. It inflated his ego. There finally comes that day when you are just DONE. Maybe you have tried for years to just get a frail whisper up from your soul. Maybe you tried to scream and nothing came out. There may be no rhyme or reason why all of a sudden a rush of reckless COURAGE comes reeling out of your broken soul, and you take that first step to coming back to life.

Dragons want you to believe you are less, that you are weak, that you don’t have a voice, that you don’t deserve pure love, that you are the wad of gum on the bottom of a shoe. Dragons are bullies.  It may take years but there WILL come a day when the voice of that  one who was abused WILL scream! Finally! NO MORE! They will finally have the strength and the courage to stand up for themselves.

The first step to becoming a dragon slayer is to admit there WAS a dragon! Stop trying to hide it. This just feeds it and makes it stronger, and then it will NEVER go away. You need to literally say things like this out loud: Yes I was molested! Yes I was bullied! Yes I was abused! Yes I was raped! Yes I wanted to kill myself!   Yes. Yes. Yes. This should immediately light a fire in your heart to begin to stand your ground. Hold your head up, even just a little and scream out: IT WASN’T MY FAULT!

Stand up for yourself! Someone abused you? How was that ever your fault? Someone bullied you? How was that ever your fault? Someone raped you? How was that ever your fault? Someone molested you? How was that ever your fault? Time to take back your life. Even if it is in bits and pieces and shattered, it’s YOUR LIFE! Take a deep breath and reclaim what is rightfully yours.

If you don’t feel like you have any other person in the world that cares, then YOU care! YOU be your own hero! You can SO do this! I am telling you, you CAN! Be your own fan club! Be your own cheerleader! NO DRAGON DESERVES TO HAVE THAT KIND OF POWER OVER YOU! Doesn’t it make you mad to think of someone overpowering you? Aren’t you tired of carrying the secret? Aren’t you tired of being made to feel you could have/should have done something? Aren’t you tired of that abuse being what defined WHO you have become?

 So, repeat after me: NO MORE. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am not living in EXILE anymore. I have no shame. I am throwing off my tattered, dirty clothes and putting on some royal robes. Oh yah, and maybe a tiara. Then I shall fearlessly go stand out on my balcony! I am a dungeon dweller NO MORE! OFF WITH YOUR HEAD DRAGON! You shall rule me no more. I fear you no more. I don’t give you any more of my time, my heart, my self-esteem, and my memories. I banish you to outer darkness! No more dragons hiding in the corners of MY Kingdom!

You slay the dragon first by acknowledging it is there hidden in the shadows. Then you scream at it. It is actually more scared of you than you realize because YOU hold all the keys to its existence. If you cease to let it have power over you, it dies. Plain and simple. If you pull out your sword of self-worth and you approach it, it will quiver in fear. The dragon is now exposed for the evil that is! Darkness cannot survive in the presence of light! Light banishes it. There is a reason why abuse is shrouded in secrets and lies. Once it is exposed, it can be done away with! No.More.Secrets.

Oh thou brave dragon slayer, if this is YOU– whether you are 17 or 29 or 52, this is YOUR moment to shine! This is your moment to take back what was stolen from you! This is your moment to end the torment! This is your moment to be the king or queen of your own kingdom! Many of us are dragon slayers, and there are MANY more waiting in the wings to get their swords polished! For the sake of yourself AND generations to come, there are kingdoms to save, dragons to be banished, lives to be reclaimed, and futures to be lived in peace.

Remember ~ You are your own hero, and at the end of the day, no one wants to save YOU more than YOU!

 

Im not afraidIf you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE and online.rainn.org.

 

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#NotTheMovieFrozenJustFrozenChicken

(Excerpt from #365ReasonsNotToGiveUp, to be released in October 2014)

We raised chickens once (key word is ONCE), when our kids were young. It was an interesting experience to say the least. There is nothing more intimidating than to be eye to eye with a chicken that is staring you down. I remember one cold winter’s morning finding one such chicken lying seemingly dead at our back door. (It brought new meaning to the words ‘frozen chicken’.) The kids were upset that the poor chicken was so cold, or should I say so dead! It was kind of hard to explain that concept to them, as they carefully picked it up and carried it in by the wood stove to get warm. (A soft blanket was involved.) I had NO idea where this whole scenario was going.

As time went on, the chicken (who apparently was NOT dead after all), thawed. (So many chicken jokes I could insert here…) It shook snow and ice off its feathers, raised its head and looked at its adoring, cheering fans! (And you ask, now what!) I promptly marveled with them in the miracle of the chicken that came back to life in their care, and then had them quickly return it to its pen. The moral of this story is: don’t judge a chicken by its frozen feathers. It just needed a little loving care (and some heat) to revive it back to its original state. Don’t we all; don’t we all?! (wink/wink) Image

#FrozenDoesntMeanDead

#HeavenIsForReal

Ten years ago I lost my husband Jack Morgan Channell, on the evening of Easter Sunday – April 12, 2004. I remember thinking how whatever day you lose someone always becomes that dreaded day of the year, and that if it fell on a holiday it would forever dampen that particular holiday. When Jack died on Easter, it struck me that it was such a wonderful day to remember him on. Easter. To me it is most certainly NOT about the Easter bunny (I have  no problem with egg decorating, egg hunts, and Easter baskets. and I love marshmallow peeps.) BUT I do think it just isn’t about all that. I am not even sure how a rabbit got into the translation!

Easter is the day we celebrate that Jesus was resurrected from the dead! Death had no power over Him, and because of that we are offered the same gift! Granted, I understand not every one may believe this. I for one, DO! I believe my husband passed from this place (earth) to another place (heaven) with just one breath. You take that one last breath here, and the next breath you take in eternity.

Because I know what my husband believed, I know where he is. I never for a minute stop missing him, but knowing where he is is a tremendous comfort. I don’t ever wonder if he’s wandering around the earth, or lost in space, or somewhere alone. Not for a moment. I know he was absent from his body, then present with God. Having said that, it has always blessed me that he passed away on Easter. Easter doesn’t always fall on the same date, but it is close enough that I associate losing him with the holiday.

So, while my family will of course be sad again this year, and 10 years is such a long time to miss someone, and to see all the voids he left that will never go away, I felt like God gave me a personal gift this year. (ok, not just for me…..but, it sure seems like it could be. :)) It was my first service  in OneChurch International in LA, where I live now, when it was announced that the producer of a new movie coming out,  would be speaking that morning and sharing about the movie!  The name of the movie was – HEAVEN IS FOR REAL. Of course that caught my attention! I had heard of the book, though never read it, about a little boy who had a near death experience and went to visit heaven. I could not wait to hear about it!

DeVon Franklin currently serves as Senior Vice President of Production for Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures and  Entertainment ,and was the speaker at church that morning. He talked about making the movie, and shared what it was about. I was so excited that a movie about heaven was coming out! Heaven is spoke of in the Bible as OUR HOPE. There’s a reason for that – when this life is overwhelming, over the top stressful, and maybe even feels hopeless, God meant for us to keep heaven on our mind and in our hearts , to be our driving force to keep us going, and get us through! Not matter what happens here, this life is but for a moment. Heaven will last for all eternity. It is His gift to us. (that none should perish but that all should have the gift of eternal and everlasting life.)  It truly is our hope!

I walked out of service to a film crew standing there, wanting volunteers to talk about what heaven meant to them. I felt a tug in my heart that I should say something. So, I waited in a line. A lot of people left, as we had to wait till the next service was over and it was quieter to hear those being interviewed. I still felt to wait. So, I went in and sat down for service no. 2, which was as good as service no. 1. Finally it was my turn to look into a camera, and share what heaven meant to me. To sum it up, I shared how I had lost my husband 10 years ago, and that the past 10 years had been very difficult for my family. I shared that if NOT for my belief that Jack was in heaven, and that we would all be together again, I could not have gone on. I said how of ALL the movies about God coming out this year, I felt THIS one was the most significant. BECAUSE IT BRINGS THE MESSAGE OF HOPE.  And we ALL need hope. Heaven IS our hope, that there is more to life than just our mere 70+ years (more or less) on planet earth. I hugged the interviewer afterwards, and said – Thank you for letting me do this. I felt like I got to do it in Jack’s honor. It was NOT a sad thing anymore; God had turned my mourning to joy.

As I turned to leave, I looked over to the movie poster to see when it was coming out in the theater. Of course. The movie about HEAVEN was coming out for EASTER. Of course it was. No irony for me there! (looking up and smiling and waving to Jack and Maren and Lora and Floyd and Edith and Mark and Helenore and all the ones cheering us on to our hope of heaven. No more tears.)

🙂 This Movie is In Honor Of All Those Who Have Gone Before Us! Image

#FeetAreAnOddPlaceToShowLove

I truly hate when I hear judgmental words. I desperately try to keep my thoughts, opinions, judgments, and needless words to myself. I usually find if i was to say them, they would probably be wrong anyways, or based on something I didn’t know enough about to give my opinion in the first place. (insert deep breath….)

I will offer one example, although I could think of…well, hundreds! When you hear the words ‘Skid Row’, you instantly think what? I will say it. You think ‘drunk laying in the street’. And go a bit further, and most people would at least think to themselves, that the drunk doesn’t deserve help. He got himself there; his problem.

I call that a misplaced judgment. We don’t know all the details of his life. We have no way of understanding the deep level of pain or loss or abuse or tragedy, that drove him to the street. Oh, and even if it was a failure that took him down, still we have no right to judge. Something broke him into shattered pieces. It didn’t probably happen overnight. It was a long, dark process of a downward spiral.

So, should we judge him? No. Should we care about someone who is down and out? Yes. If we cease to care, we cease to be human. And where does humanity end up? We all make mistakes. We all fail. We all could be in someone else’s shoes, and boy ~ THEN would we ‘get it’. Maybe we didn’t end up as a drunk in the streets, because we made good choices, had a lot of love extended to us, kept our noses clean, and life was just, well – good to us. In THAT case, we need to take our full hands of love, (and clean noses) and go lift up the fallen.

I go to a church right in the heart of Hollywood called OneChurch LA ,who is taking care of homeless people on  Skid Row, on a weekly basis. I LOVE that they refer to this place as Hope Row. Everyone deserves to have the FREE gift of HOPE extended to them!  This Easter,OneChurch LA along with some other organizations, are taking extending hope and love a little further than I have ever heard before….they are going to go down there, and wash the feet of those in the streets!! I have no words for this. Most people in general do NOT like feet. No , really. Unless you are privy to get to go get pedicures on a regular basis, or blessed with rare pretty feet, most of the human race would not be thrilled with washing someone elses feet. Just sayin…..

Well, let me put it into perspective. They are going to wash the feet of those who others have forgotten their names. Maybe a bar of soap has NOT seen their feet in….weeks, or months…..For someone to come and lovingly do that, could bring some much needed dignity back to someone who feels less, and feels forgotten, and feels like trash. What an amazing gesture of humility and love. Ever heard of the actual ritual of foot-washing? (and no, not at the local spa.)

Here you go ~  “When Jesus had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place. `Do you understand what I have done for you?’ He asked them…. `Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet’ ” (John 13: 12, 14)
In the days of dusty roads and open-toed sandals, feet often became dirty, and it was the job of the lowest servants to wash the guests’ feet. But Jesus set an example of service by doing this job Himself!! His actions spoke a silent message of love, that said~

NO JUDGMENT HERE.Image

#ToBeGreatYouMustServe

#WhyNot

courageI just left home. No, I am not 18. I am 57. 🙂 I am moved 3000 miles away. AND it’s my first time ever, to live on my own. My journey thus far ~ from a family home to college. From college to marriage. From marriage to 6 kids. From there, loss of husband, and now empty nest. There is my life in a very small nutshell. So, nope. NEVER lived on my own. Till last Saturday. Just me. 2 heavy suitcases, and 2 carry ons, and “20 seconds of insane courage”! haha! (Favorite movie quote from ‘I Bought A Zoo’.)  🙂

20 seconds to walk on to the plane, to move 3000 miles away. Is this a forever move? Probably not. I am guessing it’s just another chapter in the book of my life. Am I excited? yup! VERY. Am I scared? yup! VERY. Did I  chicken out? NO. 🙂

Telling anyone this, just to say ~ sometimes the only way to break out of your comfort zone, is just to do it. It is so easy to do the easy thing; to stick with what is familiar, and secure. And for sure, there is nothing wrong with that. There are times and seasons where we are meant to stay put, and others when we are meant to do something different/change/move. It takes wisdom to know timing.  If you are a mother of 6 kids, you just can’t decide to up and move away on a great adventure. Definitely NOT time. But, when your 6 kids are on their own, sure! Another quote from ‘I Bought A Zoo’ ~”Why not?”

#BraveOrNot

I am relocating 3000 miles away from where I have lived for, oh….my whole life of 57 years. East coast girl going west! NY to LA. I have people telling me I am so brave…blah blah blah. I don’t feel brave. I don’t think Brave is even a feeling. To me, it is a CHOICE. Kind of like, jumping out of  a plane. Yup, definitely feels like that. Again, remember I am NO spring chicken. A young person who is all of 18 packs his duffle bag, grabs his guitar, a roll of quarters and with hopes and dreams, moves to Nashville. Just a feeling? No. A choice. 

David the shepherd boy probably didn’t FEEL brave when he looked up at Goliath ( you know, the GIANT). He surely felt  very small. (literally) BUT he CHOSE to be brave; to be the ONLY one who would face the giant. He CHOSE to put himself in harms way. He CHOSE to take a risk. (again, key word GIANT. I have visuals of he could have stepped on poor little David). 

We all have moments (or even just ONE), where we can be swallowed up by fear of the unknown, and it can paralyze us from maybe THE greatest moment of our life. David killed Goliath with one.small.stone. One. Small.Stone. He took a risk. He chose to take the road less traveled. (armies of big adult men were standing behind him NOT in support, but quivering in fear). Was David brave? Yes, very much so. But it was a choice to be that way. Not a feeling. The FEELING, I think, came after, when he cut Goliath’s head off !!!!! 🙂

Maybe you want to write a book, go be a singer in Nashville, become a great artist, travel the world, save the dolphin, be a missionary to parts unknown, or just be the best server at Wendys, whatever you choose to do, choose to be BRAVE. 

The definition of BRAVE is ~ “ready to face and endure danger or pain” Or, in some other words, to endure being uncomfortable. Or willing to pay the price. Don’t just hope to feel it, CHOOSE it. In the words of John Wayne ~” Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyways.”

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