Mom?

Today marks 8 years since my mother died. Over the last four months I’ve loved her, missed her, hated her, loved her some more, and just wished I could talk with her. I’m glad she no longer suffers and I’m glad that she didn’t have to see me go through the things I’ve gone through the last couple of years. She would have been livid if she knew all the stuff her ex-son-in-law put her daughter through. I don’t think it’s possible to never need your mom again. I’ve wanted to ask her so many questions. I’ve written her a letter that she’ll never be able to see.

There are so many things I would talk to her about right now. With my eldest getting married in a few days, I’d start with apologizing for how I behaved when she was planning my wedding without my help. That would be where I start. But, if we had time to sit down over a cup of tea I think I’d go back to where things really went wrong. I’d ask her why she disappeared when I needed her the most. I’d ask her to explain what was going through her mind when her husband decided I shouldn’t keep my baby. I’d ask her how she could have possibly allowed me to let someone kill her first grandchild. I’d ask her where she went, after telling me that she’d help me anyway she could. I’d ask her why she wasn’t strong enough to stick up for me. I’d ask her why she put up with my dad. I’d ask her a lot of things.

I’ve forgiven her for most, if not all of it, but I still wonder why. I know my father was a difficult person to live with and one that you just never argued with. I don’t know what went on behind in private. I do know that I learned that I was to be subservient to my husband from him. And at the same time I never once doubted that both of my parents loved me.

It’s interesting, when I look back on it. My mother tried to tell me to love myself, but she was late on that. My father? He still lives and I’ve mostly forgiven him for many things yet I still want to know why. Why did he make me choose death? I’d like to understand what possessed him to think that it would be better. I know my mother knew, there’s no way that she couldn’t. I know she knew because she had already given birth to three babies. She knew what I was going to have to deal with. She insisted I get help, help I never got until this year.  My father, though? Did he not realize that forcing me to go through that would end up with me hating myself for the next 30 years? Did he realize that for all but the last three months that I truly believed that I was a murderer? How could a father choose to put his child through that?

Then, there’s the other side… If I talk to him will that open new wounds? Did he understand the implications and just think that he needed to make it happen anyways? Was he trying to protect me in his own way? There’s forgiveness there for him. Still part of me wants to know why. Why did you let your baby girl out of your sight? Where were you? Why didn’t you protect me? So many questions. No answers.

Questions I don’t really want answers to, not yet. Someday? Maybe. Maybe I’ll sit and talk with him on it one day. I haven’t yet, but I might. What would you do?

Thanks for reading,

me

 

No More Silence – Finding Freedom

Let me tell you about my daughter. She’s about 27 years old now I think.  Her birthday may be coming up soon, I forget.  Regardless her age, she’s beautiful, she’s smart, intelligent, and full of life.  She got married a few years back and she has a beautiful baby girl and a boy who is about to turn 3.  She’s happier than she could ever be in her life right now.  Her soul has touched thousands since her conception.  She has had friends in grade school, high school and college and she even went on to get a master’s degree. I don’t know what it was in, though.  It doesn’t matter because she’s happy.  She’s in a good relationship with a great guy.  She helps make me the great mom that I am today.  I guess she learned a thing or two from me because I can see that she’s also being great with her own kids now.

When she was younger she had a few hobbies going.  I think she  really enjoyed running, climbing and being outdoors. She does like to be outdoors though, probably because her mother always made her go outside to play.  I always send my kids outside to play.  She’s pretty well-rounded… I know I’m a decent mom and I know that I have let her make some mistakes but I wouldn’t let her hurt herself too badly because we all learn from our mistakes. She loves staying home with her kids too.  I loved that too. I totally wanted to be with my children more than anything in the world. You couldn’t pay me enough money to make me work so that I would miss my children growing up.

My daughter is a huge part of who I am.  I loved her the moment I met her.  Her soul has marked so many.  Many have no idea that she’s even left her mark.  Her mark is on me, for this I am tremendously grateful… it is on her siblings, her father, and her grandparents too.  Sometimes her mark is a bit hard to see but that doesn’t mean its not there.  Her mark has been stamped on dozens, maybe even hundreds of people.  Her soul has touched at least that many and more.  The very fact that I have the honor of being her mother, even through all of my failures, I thank God for daily.  The fact that she has impacted more lives than she will ever know, I wish she could understand.

I would love to show her how her very existence is a blessing.  All women, children, all people, should know how very much they mean to those around them  All should have the opportunity to realize their own power.  As I wait and wonder, I can see her potential.  I want only to bless her in a way that allows her voice to be heard.  I want to help her become known for the beauty and the gift that she truly is.  I want others to see her as I see her.  I’m not blinded by love, I know she has her faults… I know that I do as well.  But I may be blinded by love after all… because I know that she has good too and that that goodness, that greatness, deserves to blossom.  I wish you could meet her,  my angel.  But you can not,  for her life was but a wisp in the wind.  Her impact,  global. She, and her brother,  have continued to live on despite the world’s forces to prevent their growth.  Their lives were but a breath of air,  their souls eternal. I miss them daily,  hourly at times…yet,  in their memory I live. I can see their impact,  feel their presence.  I know that I only see but a tiny spark of who they are,  who they could have been…I know,  though,  another thing… my love for them has never waned and so I want to celebrate them for who they were,  who they are, and who they continue to grow to be. They grew inside of me and were taken from me physically,  yet their souls joined forces with mine and together our souls have moved mountains.   The future holds so much possibility it is hard to imagine. To be understood, and to understand, are gifts that many have no idea how to give.

My children give me life.  All of them, some continue to breathe and some don’t but all of their beings are an integral part of who I am.  I have been silent for too long.  Silence kills.  It has been killing me years.  It has been preventing me from taking a stand, from helping another.  I have been angry and hurt, guilty and withdrawn.  These emotions have not empowered me.  They have caused me to stop myself.  The emotions have ruled for too long.  My choice now, to speak.  To truly speak what needs speaking and to do what needs doing… this choice is by far one of the most terrifying and most freeing choices I have ever made.  Life.  I want to breathe life into those who surround me.  I want those who know me to truly embrace their goodness, their love, their lives… their power.  There is no room for silence any longer.  Silence is a disguise, a shadow.  Silence prevents people from taking a stand for what they believe in.  Silence hides secrets… and secrets kill.  Secrets took the lives of my first two children… the secrets of rape, of abuse, of family, of fear… When a mother’s children are dying she screams for all the world to hear.  She fights for their lives.  She begs for mercy from God, from others… She finds the strength to do things no one ever thought was possible.  But if there are secrets… and silence… then there is death.  Stop the silence.  Scream.

me

Life and Death

I have always wondered about life and death.  I’ve considered both and what they mean.  Living?  is that Life?  Dying is that death?  I’d hazard a guess, no.  Just because your body is breathing and because your heart is beating and because your brain is performing functions, that’s not living.  And death?  Death is what people think of when all of those functions stop.  But my thoughts? no.

Living is when you get up in the morning and you cannot count your blessings because there are too many.  Living is when you are willing to be hurt in order to be happy.  Living is when you use your brain and your body and your heart and your lungs in order to dream, play and love and cry.  Living is when each and every day is a blessing, whether disguised or not.  Living is recognizing that you are in fact alive and not just a random robot performing predictable, habitual activities every moment of every day.  Living is thinking outside of the box, trying new things, loving even when it hurts.  Living is caring so much that you feel powerless.  But living is Not powerless.  That would by dying.  Living is full of power.  The power of knowing emotions that have so many names that you never say your “OK” anymore.  You feel what you feel.  You feel anger and hope, love and despair, excited and bored.  Living is knowing that pain actually has its place and doesn’t have to be avoided.  Living is learning new things.  Living is the power to make life meaningful.

Dying on the other hand is quite different and more common than living.  The person who gets up in the morning, drives to work, works all day, drives home… only to sit in front of a TV and then go to bed and do it all again… So many people have no life at all.  These are the dying.  These people have given up on living, it was too much work.  These are the people who grow “old”.  Or think they are old at 30, 40, 60, even 80.  These do not realize that life has opportunity, even as we age.  Dying is waiting until some future that never comes before doing something you love.  Dying is giving up on being healthy.  Dying is never trying to excel anymore.  Dying is pessimistic, vile, and ugly.  Dying is accepting the fate of the doctors rather than fighting for life.  Dying is sitting in the dark waiting for sleep to come, wondering why you even bother anymore.  Dying is giving up.

I found myself dying.  I had just the tiniest spark of life left in me.  When I left my house for a time, a weekend away… that spark would ignite again.  But just as soon as I returned the spark would nearly vanish.  This scenario repeated over the years until I started to feed the spark inside more.  This tiny little spark of life, of hope finally began to flame.  The fire inside of me grew over the next several years, scorching the despair, scorching the cobwebs in my brain.  This fire grew and grew until I was finally able to break loose of my chains.  Chains that wanted to drown me.

The hard thing about living is that living has extremes.  Living has hate and love, fear and peace.  Living hurts.  Living allows pain to have its place, but with pain comes happiness.  Living is hard.  It’s easier to ignore your feelings, it’s easier to stay with the devil you know.  Living is scary, too.  Living means going into the unknown and trusting that it won’t at least be worse than what you do know.  It means trusting that there is a chance now for something better.  Living has hope.  Living means you allow yourself to be vulnerable.  So many who are dying have built fortresses around themselves in the hopes they would never feel again.  But I learned something today.  I learned that those fortresses don’t stop the feelings they just don’t let you define them.  Instead of feeling the pain you feel tired.  Instead of hope you quit before you start.  Instead of being vulnerable you feel lonely.

I enjoyed my fortress that I had built.  I enjoyed it so much that I protected it, guarded it.  I let no one know who I was.  I refused to allow the slightest hint of vulnerability.  Now, though, with my vulnerability I feel fragile.  My walls are but crumbles of ruins now.  My feelings are so many I cannot even count them.  In a single day I may feel sad, happy, angry, lonely, scared, tired, exasperated, love, hope, despair, loneliness, pride, peace, and even hate.  Being alive means feeling the extremes and accepting that they will pass and return again.  It’s hard, it’s scary, it’s wonderful and it’s worth it.

Are you alive or are you no more than a robot pretending to be alive?  Are you willing to take the chance again?  Are you willing to let your walls down?  Allow the possibility of peace and love and adventure again?  Yes, you might get hurt but pain is so much better than nothing at all.  Are you willing to trust yourself like a child does?  Children are the best at being alive.  Be like a child and trust your heart again.  We adults trust our brains too much.  Your heart will not lead you astray.  It may lead you to things you’ve never thought of before, it may lead you down roads you’ve been scared to go… but it will always lead you in the direction you should go.  Is it easy? No.  Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Thank you for reading,

me

Scared

Scared.  What is it that is so scary? The leaving, the going it alone? The chance of being hurt, physically, emotionally? The fear of making a life long mistake?  The fear of the unknown.  What if you had done something different? What if you had tried just one more time?  What if you didn’t give up? Give up?

They say insanity is trying to get different results by doing the same thing over and over again.  If you’re like me you have done everything you could think of, you’ve tried what others have suggested, you’ve done everything in the book… Speaking of books, you’ve read them all too… Maybe you were too sensitive or maybe you really did misunderstand? You can question yourself until you die but it won’t do any good because the truth is you really have done all you are capable of and you really do deserve to be happy and it really does take two to make a relationship better.  I’ve said I’m on this train and it’s your choice to either get on with me or get run over.  My husband decided not to participate.

Truth is you made the best decisions you could, given the circumstances. Given the way life was, it made sense. Sure, some of those decisions weren’t really good in the end but that’s OK too.  So many of us are used to being held to an impossible standard, first by those who we thought loved us and then by ourselves.  Does it really make sense to expect perfection when you don’t even have all of the information? Why is it our spouses didn’t have to live up to the standards they expected of us?  If yours is like mine he expected quiet when he wanted quiet, to play when he wanted to play, sex when he wanted sex. He wanted so many things but he never actually told me what it was… “If I really care I’d know him well enough to actually know what he wants.”… I’m sorry. Last time I checked I don’t read minds. I’m fairly certain you don’t either.

So why are we scared? We are scared because it makes sense to be. Finally we are listening to our own feelings and finally we are discovering that they actually mean something. We have been led to believe the impossible and so when we are confronted with truth it’s hard. It’s time to get to know ourselves. It’s time to figure out on our own whether we like country music or Japanese food or whether we like swimming or the color green. We have been told what is good and what is right, it’s time we decide that for ourselves. We wore things he decided he didn’t like and then tossed it away. We have kept our hair long, or short, because of how he reacted to it. We have let every decision we ever made be based on whether he approved or not. It’s time for a little insubordination, is time to try new things, meet new people, play new games, wear different clothes… Get our hair done or have our nails painted. Or maybe we won’t. Maybe we’ll put our foot down and decide we are good enough, absolutely perfect, just the way we are.

What we won’t do though, ever again, is cower to a childish, pig-headed bully. We won’t ever put up with that again. We will learn how to take care of ourselves and we will do what we have always known was the right thing to do, what we were afraid to do before. Our children will respect us more because they will see our transformation and they will learn from our mistake. They will learn to have a certain amount of love and respect for themselves that will help them in their lives. They will be able to hold their heads high because they know that they are worthy. You and I are worthy.

We deserve to walk with pride, a certain self-confidence that others will envy. Think of it this way, the only reason you are alive today is because you chose to be. You could have called it quits many times, when you were harassed or abandoned. Even the fact that you didn’t kill him, that in itself is something to be proud of. You didn’t act on your hate, because I know there was hate. It’s impossible to live for years with someone who constantly chastised you and not hate them sometimes. And if you didn’t hate him it’s likely you hated yourself. Take pride in the fact you chose to live. Now it’s time we learn how to live our best. Now it’s time to love ourselves.

Wrote this a while ago, but felt that it might be of help…

thanks for reading,

me

Trust Your Heart

Trust your heart it sees things your brain refuses to see. Listen to your heart it knows things your brain doesn’t know. Your brain only sees so much, but your heart fills in all the gaps. Trust yourself. Trust what you feel. Understand that your brain doesn’t see it all, doesn’t know everything. Sometimes it tells the truth when your brain has been lying, especially if you’ve been lying to yourself for years.

You are going to be okay. You are already okay. You are already perfectly imperfect for God has made you so. God has made you whole. You are meant to be amazing for you were created by the Creator of everything. Playing small just diminishes your value. Learn to love. Trust your heart.

I started thinking, I started realizing, I have not forgiven myself. I have been taking responsibility for everything in my life.  A good thing somewhat but not so good if it includes from the time I was born.  Good if I gave equal credence to the good as the bad, maybe.  Bad, though, if I fail to recognize outside influences, forces for which I had absolutely no control.  I have been punishing myself; either by accepting punishment, or by encouraging punishment because I did not see that I had value.

But I do have value. I am worth it. I am an amazing person. I have so much love to give. I have hope. I am smart and beautiful. I deserve to have good things. I deserve to be forgiven and I did not deserve to do this alone. I have to talk, not for you but for me. I don’t know how, I do, I guess. Just open my mouth and start talking, but I’m not ready. I don’t know what will make me ready. I may never be ready. What I do know is true, is that I can continue to hurt and I can continue to feel this and I can continue to punish myself until the day I die; or I can deal with this, I can face my demons, confront my past, and live.

I can live without the blame.  I can allow myself to feel anger and hate and still be OK.  I can allow myself to experience my feelings so that they do not brew.  I can quit being numb and allow myself to experience life, the good and the bad.  I actually felt anger the other day that was righteous rather than reactive. I actually got angry. I allowed myself to truly feel and it hurt.  But for once I didn’t blame myself, the first time. When I didn’t blame myself I had a tremendous amount of peace. This peace is new and weird and odd and uncomfortable, but not bad. It’s just different. It’s a different feeling than I’ve ever had that I can remember. I’ve had moments of peace, where I could forget things, but this peace has me remembering at the same time. That’s new. I don’t think I have felt this before. I can’t remember, anyways.

As I begin another day, I pray that I can allow myself to feel the entire spectrum of feelings that come to me.  I am finally learning to cry again and experience life again.  Allowing myself to be true to my heart helps me to love my babies more deeply and will ultimately help me to be the person that I dream of being.

thank you for reading,

me

The Beginning of Peace

I’ve been writing almost constantly.  I’ve been confronted with my past and I am finally in a position to look at it more closely.  My life is an amazing life.  I have had opportunities given me that most have never seen.    I have lived in different countries, known different cultures.  As a child I was given the room to explore and to learn.  Nothing was denied me.  Sure, I wasn’t given things, but I was encouraged to think and to never give up. I was encouraged that if I wanted something bad enough that there wasn’t any reason I couldn’t work my way there.  Everything was possible.  I was allowed to believe that I could be anyone I wanted to be.  I could be the president or the carpenter, all I had to do was believe in myself and to never ever give up.  My parents let me learn what I needed to learn.  They always gave me encouragement to try new things.  Yet they always encouraged honesty above all us.  If I was to do or be something I was to do it with integrity.  They gave me all that they could give me.  But in the process they gave me freedom.  The freedom to make mistakes too.  Unfortunately the freedom they gave was to a child.  A child who didn’t have the ability to always make the right decisions.  And so I made a bunch of bad ones.  Now, three decades later, some of these things have decided that their time has come….

Our bodies have a way of getting what they want, either that, or they just quit.  If we don’t feed ourselves they yell, if we don’t drink enough they slow down.  If we constantly ignore them they finally begin to scream, it may take years before you hear it but they do.  They scream.  My body’s screaming finally became loud enough that I couldn’t hear anything else.  So, given the support structure I have already designed for other reasons, I decided to take the time to listen.  I decided to speak my secrets quietly and authentically.  I decided to face my demons head on.  I really thought that I could handle it.  I was right, but not like I expected.

Demons.  What exactly are demons?  The Frank Perretti books show demons as physical beings that cannot be seen.  Physical beings that if you could see them look just like the pictures in story books with their ugly faces, wings, and talons.  These demons would attack someone who was a threat to their king.  They would literally hook their talons into the skin of the backs and shoulders of those who needed to be stopped.  These demons would fight over the souls of the saved and would whisper in their ears discouragement and lies.  They would whisper things like, “you aren’t good enough”, “murderer”, “you have no right”, “you are stupid”, “they don’t love you”, “you are worthless”…. on and on until their prey would fail and quit and so no longer be a threat any longer.  These demons only have power because they are unnamed and unrecognized for what they are.  Their names are Fear, Blame, Guilt, Hate, Murder.  They have no real power because of their lies.  The person they are attached to is a threat because they know they have no real power.  The only power a demon has is in its secrecy.  Once a demon has been known it can no longer keep hold of its victim.  The victim, though, is weak and must heal or the demons will come back.

Some of my demons are Blame, Hate, Anger and Fear.  These and I have had so much time together they seem like old friends.  I know them better than I know myself.  Their talons have been in my flesh for so long that the wounds that they made are festering.  As such, my body has been screaming and now I can finally hear it.  For every bad there is a good.  If this weren’t true I would be doomed.  The angels fight and when recognition comes they gain power and so their fight has finally turned in their favor.

For all of these years the demons have been whispering into my ears and the angels have been yelling to be heard.  They have been yelling so that I would hear the truth instead of the lies.  These little thoughts that run across my mind, things like. “I can do this,” “Be gentle with yourself”, “trust your gut”, “believe in yourself”, “you have permission to cry”, “permission to be still”, “permission to love”, “permission to say no”… each of these was countered by my demons.  I could hear them both.  For so long, though, the whispers of the demons were so much louder than the shouts of the angels.  The demons’ whispers would use my life’s evidence against me.  The demons would scare away those who I wanted to lean on.  Or they would convince me that I was not worth the effort.  The only choice I could make was to quit.  I quit listening to my heart, quit listening to my soul, quit feeling, quit thinking and tried to forget.  In self-defense, I quit.  I may have quit but the angels never did, and somehow I heard again.  Somehow I felt the possibilities of peace and of hope like a whisper, like a breath of fresh air.  This whisper was different, this one was not scary.  These whispers started to grow in my stomach and have, little by little, gained strength.  They gained just enough strength to let me believe that I could be authentically me, that I could actually face my demons.

Ah, demons don’t like to be shrugged off.  In my naivety I thought I could handle what I started.  In my naivety I thought it would be easy.  I spoke truth and my body shook like a dry leaf in the wind.  The fires of hell found me and began to sear at my body.  My entire being has been put in the coals and as I try to continue, I find that I still have the strength to write.  And so I write.  Facing my demons on paper is only slightly better than facing them in person.  My demons are furious and hungry.  They fly around me and stab me with their talons, scratching me and scarring me.  They are the ones yelling now and they will not win.

me

Happy New Year! – 2016

The new life… It’s a new year.  Everyone is celebrating.  This year is truly a new one for me.  This year is my first that I can truly remember being free.  The changes over the last year were hard.  Last New Year’s I was in a hell that is hard to describe.  On the evening of the thirty-first of December of 2014 I knew already that I wanted freedom.  I knew then that I needed that freedom like everyone needs air to breathe.  I yearned for it, I dreamed of it, I ached for a chance to be free.  My entire being was begging for freedom.  I knew the source of  my pain, of my prison.  I knew some of the depths of the rabbit hole that I was in.  I already knew then that I deserved, needed, to be free.  Yet, at that time almost no one else knew, only a select few people who I could trust and who I knew would support me no matter what.  These few people and family were my life line.  These people did not just offer their support but also their encouragement, their time and their resources.  These people are part of the reason I am still living and breathing now.  Without them I would have never left and if I had never left I would certainly be dying.  My abuser was mostly not physical.  I prayed sometimes that he would just hit me so that others could see my pain.  My need for freedom and peace and safety pushed me forward.  My love for my children kept me from quitting.  What others saw was a happy marriage with a happy wife.  What I saw was despair in every corner.  I could name the symptoms, I could show you the dead dreams and the missed opportunities.  The hardest part was the feeling of being completely and utterly alone.  Each time I told someone was a challenge. I firmly believed that no one would believe me and that I deserved to be treated the way I was treated.  I believed it was all my fault and I was embarrassed to not have the perfect marriage that everyone “thought” I had.  I felt like such a failure.  If I had only done my job right, behaved the right way, spent money just so, or cooked and cleaned as I was supposed to then everything would be fine.  I believed that my husband stayed with me out of pity and that no one else could possibly love me the way he did because no one would ever be able to put up with my faults the way he did.  The thoughts of an abused person make no sense but they are so very real.  I fight these thoughts still, but thankfully they are less intense.

So, now it is a new year.  A brand spanking new year.  It’s 2016.  It’s been a long ride coming from the end of 2014.  The last year is one that will go down in my history as one of the toughest and one of the best years of my life.  At no time have I regretted moving out.  At no time, since I have left, have I wanted to move back in.  I have not once wanted to speak with him.  I have not once wanted to have anything to do with him.  I am required to deal with him because of our kids, but minimally.  I have grown so much during this season of transition.  I have learned that I am worthy of respect.  That I am lovable and even pretty.  I have learned that I am deserving and that I am a good mother.  I am having to rewrite my past with truth to correct for all of the lies that I have believed.  I am learning to trust again, myself first and then others.  I am learning to take care of myself.

New challenges come frequently.  How do I have the electricity turned on and in my name?  How do I pay for groceries when I have no money?  How do I let a bill go unpaid so that we can eat?  How do I explain to friends why I left?  Do I explain?  How do I stay sane?  How do I take care of the kids without his “support”?  How do I get medical insurance, dental, eye insurance?  Who do I have fix the air conditioner?  The car?  Why do I need new tires?  How do I stop and take a break?  I have met all of these challenges.  I have excelled despite his promise that I’d never survive without him.  How do I face him?  That was the hardest.  How do you face your abuser?  His presence could be smelled in everything.  Like a rat, he was always pissing on my life. Even when he wasn’t around me his ghost would remind me of my faults and failures.  Every time I can’t pay a bill I am reminded of him.  Every time the children have to go without I am reminded of him.  Every time I have to say no because of finances, I am reminded of him.  Even when I make decisions that have nothing to do with him, I am second guessing myself.  I’m not trusting my own judgement.  My judgement obviously had some faults, right?  I mean, why on earth did I stay with him so long? Right? Wrong.  My judgement is good.  I made the changes that I made when I was able and ready to make them.  I had to be careful for the safety of my children and myself.  I had to be prepared to leave.  I also had to understand the rabbit hole that I was in.  For someone who has never been in that hole, it must seem difficult to understand.  Good.  I pray you never do!  That hole is full of twists and turns.  It’s dark and scary.  It has no logic to it and it will make you crazy.

So, this is a new year in a new season of my life and I am free.  This year should bring the absolute divorce that I look forward to.  This year will bring me closer to completing my goal of becoming a pharmacist.  This year will bring many more new beginnings and many more chances to learn and to love and to live.  I look forward to his hold on me slackening.  I already am basking in the sunlight and I am already breathing fresh, clean, uncontaminated air.  The bars to my prison cell are gone.  The prison, a memory.  I no longer fear going home and I no longer fear the future.  My future and my children’s future will get better.  Already I have proof.  I am not just thinking wistfully.  I know my life is better now and continues to improve.  I am grateful.  I count my blessings continually.

Thank you, dear reader, for being a part of my story.

me