Words Are Important

Words Are Important

As someone who has been physically and emotionally (verbally) abused, I’ve come to accept that words are triggers for me.  No matter how tough I thought I had become, no matter how thick I though my walls were, words still manage to lay my heart bare.

Growing up, my defense to hurtful words was to either slay you with my own vast array of vocabulary and wit, or I’d withdraw, depending upon how strong I was feeling at the time.  I’ve never really been a fighter, although I can certainly more than take care of myself if needed and I generally do not hesitate to fight for others, I rarely fight for myself.  You see, in my house growing up, “fighting” for yourself meant the consequences were only magnified.  If I just shut up, retreated to my room and remained as invisible as possible, things were easier.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that I generally take words to heart more than I should.  Put more simply, I take things personally.  I know now, that its a byproduct of being abused for so many years.  It’s always a work in progress; it’s always me reminding myself to take a breath, to ask for clarity, to step back and process it as if it had nothing to do with me personally.  I’ve gotten really good at that, but there are still times when words tear me apart.  If that makes me “weak” in some people’s perception, than so be it.  If people think I’m too sensitive, oh well.  I say it makes me more sensitive to the emotional needs of others, or rather more compassionate.

What my experiences have taught me, though, I apply to my relationships with others.  Words can hurt.  Words can’t be forgotten.  Words cannot be taken back.  Once you put them out there, it’s done.  I weigh my words very carefully because if I care about the person, I certainly don’t want to hurt them by saying something in the heat of the moment that isn’t meant and certainly isn’t the representation of love that I want to show.  I’m not perfect.  I still say things in anger or frustration, but those times are few and far between anymore.  If I do, I own up and apologize and I do my very best to never do it again.

At the same time, I’ve also learned that at an appropriate time in a relationship, I need to have this conversation with that person.  If I don’t let them know, I cannot expect them to be cognizant of it.  Again, I realize there are always times in any relationship when things are said in the heat of the moment and if you’re mature enough, it can be talked out.  If I say something that hurt someone’s feelings, you better believe I say I’m sorry.  I’m sorry means: I’m sorry that what I said hurt your feelings even though it was not intended that way.  I’m sorry doesn’t mean: I’m sorry you took it the wrong way.  There is a subtle, yet important difference in those two statements.  The first accepts that while you didn’t say something to be hurtful, it felt that way to the other person and you don’t want them to hurt.  The second statement is not truly you’re sorry for anything – it neatly lays the blame for the hurt at the feet of the person you claim to care about and it is therefore their fault they hurt.  Yes, we are all responsible for our reactions to everything, I agree.  We own how we respond.  I own that sometimes harsh or blunt statements do hurt me.  I own it.  However, I also think that in relationships, if you truly care about the other person and you are aware of their past, you make an extra effort to be more gentle with your words.  And if you do say something that hurts, just honestly say I’m sorry.  It’s not a contest, it’s not who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s compassion.  Honestly, I’m not looking for who is wrong if someone says something that hurts me, I’m looking for them to just acknowledge that I am hurt and the compassion to show me they care.

This world is cruel enough.  Be compassionate and understanding of other people’s backgrounds.  Differences are beautiful, but compassion for those differences makes you astonishingly beautiful.

Living In A World With Made Up Memories

Living In A World With Made Up Memories

As a child I was in a serious accident (motor vehicle vs. pedestrian, I was the pedestrian).  Among multiple physical injuries I suffered, was a head injury resulting from my head impacting and shattering the windshield of the car and then slamming on the pavement when the impact sent my body flying through the air.

While my physical injuries healed with time but the resulting trauma to my brain has lasted.  I have learned to function and deal with the side-effects as best I can, which have included severe migraines, speech and motor processing issues and the usual arthritis that tends to creep in to bones that have been broken.  The one effect I have never been able to recover are the majority of my memories before age twelve.

As a teenager and young adult, this never bothered me.  I have very few legitimate memories of my childhood, my “memories” are stories told by my siblings or parents of when we were little.  It’s hard for me to listen to someone talk about when they were little, things they experienced, fun they had.  I don’t have any memory of those things.  At other times, I am grateful for the lack of many memories as I do not remember first-hand the abuse I suffered at the hands of my father.  I have plenty of those memories from after my accident to make up for the lack of them before.

I’ve had embarrassing, self-conscious moments over the years when I have difficulty getting words out when speaking in public.  There have been times in public when my brain simply will not process what to do next, simple things like how to take my next step.  One of these such incidents occurred when I was in college.  I was climbing the stairs of one of buildings heading to class at a high traffic time when my brain simply shut down. I stood in the middle of the stairway not having the ability to move out of the way, to step up, to even verbalize what was happening.  Luckily my good friend was walking with me and realized in a beat what was happening and simply took my arm and said gently “lift your leg and step up”.

These experiences have made me ultra conscious of what other people experience and my reactions to their seemingly odd or abnormal behavior.  I have no idea what they have experienced in their lives, what medical issues they may have or what is triggering their behavior.  What I do have the ability to do, is treat them with respect and dignity, to not make fun of or gossip about them.  Each of us have a story and most of the world will never know the majority of our chapters.

My purpose of writing this brief post is to say that you have the ability to be the change, to treat people with respect & to not judge someone based on their physical or mental capacity.  Everyone is beautiful in their own way and there is no way that is better than another.

#BeTheChange #BeKind #ShowLove #BeCompassionate #YouAreBeautiful

The Lies We Are Told

The Lies We Are Told

Growing up I heard a lot of horrible things said to scare or justify beliefs and behaviors.  Things like people were gay because they had been abused or they didn’t have a father or mother.  Any excuse that could be had to nullify the possibility that maybe gay people were simply born that way.  I’ve never understood why it is so difficult for them to accept that it’s possible for someone to be born with the biological desire to be attracted to and love someone of the same-sex.  Why?  Some people are born with brown eyes, some with blue and others with green.

Oh, I’ve heard all the cherry picked Bible verses used to support the “sin” of homosexuality, and as a child I believed them.  I believed them because I knew no better, it’s the only thing I had ever been told.  The longer I’ve been away, the more I’ve realized that in a manner of speaking it is like being brainwashed.  For the most part, I didn’t know what other ways of thinking there were.  I also was terrified to even think about anything that went against what was preached.  I know now, that everyone chooses to interpret the Bible differently.  No one truly knows if it was truly divinely inspired or just a book of stories (many which were taken from other cultures) to make a religion.  In my recent post It’s Just Me – I haven’t Changed I discussed the many fallacies of those cherry picked versus.

These “reasons” the Christian community has used for “why” people are gay are the main reason I have rarely spoken of the fact that I was sexually abused by two different people as a child.  I felt like if I spoke about it, especially around my family, that it would be used as an “excuse” or “justification” of why I was gay instead of focusing on the truths of the matter.  The first being that I was BORN gay.  I was not made this way by the fact that I was sexually abused.  I was not made this way by the fact that I had a physically abusive father.  I was not made this way because I had a largely absent mother (she was always travelling for work).  I am exactly who I was created to be.  The second being that it diminishes the reality that they have a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin who is gay, PERIOD.  Rather, they could then say well my cousin is gay, but she was abused as a kid so she probably hates men.  I do not hate men, nor do I do not want to be the “man” in the relationship.  I simply have no physical or emotional attraction to a man.  I am just me.

When I say my family was ultra-religious/conservative, I’ll expound upon that so you understand that gravity of what I was dealing with in my family & community arena.  Several of my great-grandfathers were pastors, two of my uncles are pastors, three of my male cousins are pastors & my brother is a pastor.  There are more missionaries in my family that I can even begin to count, including my own mother, who spent seven years as a medical missionary in Nigeria.  Her uncle is buried there after spending most of his adult life as a missionary there.  Another of her uncles spent his entire adult life there also.  My mother’s family is very well-known as her family was instrumental in starting a Christian college in Northern Indiana, which 60+ years later is very well-known in the Christian community.  At one time in the early 90’s there were thirteen first cousins attending the school, including my brother.  The administration building is named after my family as is one of the upper classmen apartment buildings.   I followed shortly after.  I grew up going to church camp every summer for two weeks.  I spent every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday at church.  My grandfather was very well-known in the community as he and my grandmother ran one of the largest producing dairy farms in the U.S.  I couldn’t go anywhere without someone saying “Oh, you’re an (my grandparent’s last name) or oh you’re XXX’s granddaughter or XXX’s daughter.”  The amount of pressure to be “perfect” was immense.  And being gay was certainly far from perfect.

All of that combined with the “shame” attached to being gay kept me from discussing the fact that I was molested because I felt it was attached to that shame. I also didn’t want to give anyone that power to say that’s what made me gay.  Unfortunately, I’m sure not discussing it wasn’t very healthy!

When I realized that one of my male cousins (who co-incidentally was adopted) was gay, I realized that he took a lot of the pressure off me because he “shattered” the “perfect” image of our family.  Then I began to realize though, the damage it had done to him.  My heart breaks when I think about what he’s gone through and how it’s affected his entire adult life.  I’m sure they could say “oh he’s adopted so it must be something from his birth family” but he was a newborn when they adopted him.  So then, in the conservative theory, it must be his home life – either he had an absent mother or father or he was abused.  None of those are true.  I began to think about it more.  Their philosophy is that it’s either the way you were nurtured (or lack there of) as a child OR you chose to be gay.  I don’t think he would have chosen to be gay, or at the very least, pretended to be straight after the shame and degradation he’s gone through from his parents.  So that leads back to the way he was nurtured.  That can’t be true or it would shatter the “perfect” image that our family worked so hard to maintain. They certainly couldn’t admit to that, it couldn’t be something they did that made him gay.  The truth of the matter is, he’s gay because he’s gay.  He just is who he is.  He’s still a fantastic human being, but he’s a human being that’s been led to believe he’s living a life of sin his whole life and that has taken a toll on him & I can hear a lot of bitterness when he talks. Who can blame him?

About a year ago, one of my cousin’s son’s came out to me on Facebook (in a private message) and asked for some advice.  He then promptly came out on Facebook for the whole world to see and has never looked back.  That’s not to say he has not dealt with fallout from our family.  It truly saddens me the lack of Christ’s love that they portray in their dealings with him.

Over the years, I’ve watched other “scandalous” things occur in our family like divorce, alcoholism, sex before marriage, etc. and it’s come to help me see that I was so afraid of  being the one that messed it all up, when in reality they were all just living a facade.  Their own families had issues.

My memories before age thirteen are very fragmented due to a serious accident I was in at twelve.  I’ve either subconsciously blocked out who the first person was that molested me or the accident took that memory from me.  However, I very clearly recall who the second person was and to this day I have only told two people.  I sometimes wonder if he ever thinks about it and if he thinks I don’t remember it because of my memory loss.  I don’t let it rule my life other than to be hyper aware of the fact that there are people in your life that may appear to be one thing, but in reality are hiding ugliness.  It’s usually those people who either go to the extreme of shaming others with perceived flaws (like being gay) or they stay silent because they have a guilty conscience and know they have no right to throw stones.

Being gay is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is being the victim of abuse.  The way you handle yourself and your presentation to the world is everything.  You can choose to be bitter and angry or you can choose to show love and live your life happily.

Always remember – you are perfect (created the way you were meant to be), you are beautiful (with all your flaws), you are worth it (and should be treated as such), you are special (just like everyone else is).  Don’t ever let anyone make you feel differently.

 

Who Am I? Things I’ve Learned About Myself


In general, I’ve always been a pretty private person.  I am an introvert by nature, but one who has mastered the art of speaking in front of large crowds & classes.  I can function in a large group, but I prefer small groups of people I know.  I can work a Pride crowd, talking to strangers and hand out flyers like a pro, but deep down inside still lurks the past.

I was blessed (although at many times it didn’t feel like a blessing) with a mind that functions at a very quick pace and I never had to put much effort into school.  When I was in 1st grade, I was tested and moved into an accelerated learning class beginning in 2nd grade.  Even then I was bored.  To make matters worse, I never really seemed to “fit” in with any group.  My family wasn’t wealthy so I never fit in with the “cool” kids because I didn’t wear name brand clothes & shoes.  I didn’t fit in with the “girls” because I wasn’t girly enough.  I was picked on as a lot of kids are, but what no one on the outside realized, was what I was also dealing with at home.  When I say I was picked on, I mean it was so bad that my older brother actually taught me how to defend myself and fight.  He would let the neighbor boys fight me (sometimes 3 on 1) until he felt I couldn’t hold my own anymore and then he would step in.  Combine this with an abusive home, it’s no wonder by the time I hit college people were literally scared of me.

I went to 4 different elementary schools and by the time I reached the last one (mid 5th grade) it was time for basketball tryouts and it was a predominantly white school.  I think the tryouts were actually on my first day at the school and I don’t think any of the other girls were too thrilled when I showed up.  I was a newby and I loved to play ball.  I had spent the last 3 1/2 years honing my basketball skills with my African-American friends at my prior school, where I was the minority.  They had accepted me, respected me, defended me and now here I was in a new school starting all over again.  I was an outsider again.  It was that awkward point in your life when your hormones are kicking in, etc.

6th grade was really a turning point in my life, starting with my accident.  It was the first, clear memory I have of my father ever verbally “attacking” me.  I won’t go into details about the accident but it was a pedestrian vs. motor vehicle (guess which one I was).  I remember immediately before impact and nothing of the actual accident.  I did regain consciousness immediately upon impacting the pavement and sliding to a stop.  When my parents reached the scene, the first and only thing I remember my father saying was chastising me for being “so stupid”.  My mom made her usual excuses for him saying “he was just scared.”  I didn’t question her, but those words had a huge impact on my psyche.  Now, as an adult and mother, I look back on that situation and wonder how a parent could be so cold.

7th grade was a nightmare for me.  I got the worst case of chicken pox my pediatrician had ever seen, compounded with pneumonia.  I literally had them down my esophagus (they could see them on the x-ray they took for my pneumonia).  Even though I did not scratch, I was left with MANY scars from it, which a lot of them were raised (they think this was caused by my high fever).  A lot of those scars were on my face.  You can imagine, a young kid with scars all over their face is going to be subject to bullying.  Mine didn’t come just in the form of school kids but also from kids at our church.  It got so bad that I had to threaten to kick the pastor’s daughter’s ass if she ever said another word.  I also ended up getting scarlet fever that year. I missed over 60 days of school that year due to illness.

8th grade wasn’t much better for me.  I became depressed.  My parents were rarely home (which wasn’t any different from the rest of my childhood), which made it a ton easier to not go to school.

By 9th grade I had pretty much given up on myself.  I still got A’s in school although I rarely put any effort into assignments.  I was so depressed that I skipped school constantly and stayed in my room a lot.  No one seemed to care.

By the beginning of the 2nd semester of 10th grade, I convinced my mom to let me drop out of school.  I still continued to get good grades, but my unexcused absences had exceeded the number allowable to maintain your credits.  The principal informed my mom that they would yank my credits for that semester.  Several of my teachers fought for me because they could see the potential in me, but it was a hopeless case.  I didn’t see the point in continuing to go to school if wasn’t going to get credit for it.  I convinced her I would go to summer school and make it up.  That never happened.  Life was getting infinitely worse at home.  My mom travelled all the time so she was rarely there and my dad was rarely either.  It was during this time that my father spoke probably the singular thing I will remember my entire life (and no it wasn’t I love you, because I don’t ever remember hearing him say that as a child).  We were arguing in our kitchen and he screamed at me that I was worthless and I would amount to nothing.

Those words still haunt me at times.  But those words also made me mad.  I was tired of people treating me like I was worthless.  I made up my mind that I was going to do whatever it took to graduate high school on time, with the grades that I needed to get in to college.  I moved out of my parents house at 17 and in with one of my older sisters. I finished 3 years of school in 2 years time and started college in the fall of ’93 with a huge chip on my shoulder.

Deep down inside, I was still a little child desperately seeking the approval of her parents and so I did everything I could to hear those words that every child wants to hear.  “I’m proud of you.”  I had developed such a “hard” persona that I never let anyone close to me, never trusted anyone.  I was unapproachable.  As the years passed and I was away from home, I had softened my outer appearance and I actually had people tell me that they had been afraid to speak to me as a freshman because I seemed so angry.  My outer shell may have softened, but inside was a wall of steel.  I was determined to never let anyone close enough to be able to hurt me with their words & actions.

I grew up in the shadow of a very well-known, respected and large family.  I never felt like I fit in and the pressure of keeping up appearances grew to be unbearable.  I was hiding the very core of me because I felt I was dirty, a sinner and worthless.  These feelings were compounded by the actions of some very hypocritical leaders in our denomination when they found out (by no choice of mine) that I was gay.  This was simply unacceptable and they made sure that many of the pastors in our district knew by sending out a letter to them and purposefully excluding any that they knew were related to me (which was quite a few).  This was devastating to me and I have seldom been inside a church since.

I’ve carried that shell for almost 20 years.  There have been many other things in my life that have contributed to it aside from the things I’ve mentioned.  I have lived a long distance away from where I grew up for 16 years now, purposefully distancing myself from all of that.  I do not have a lot of “friends” but rather “acquaintances”.

In December 2014 my father’s health began to decline and I was forced to face some demons.  What kind of legacy did I want to leave this world with?  What kind of person did I want to be?  My parents had not prepared for their deaths, even though both were 84.  My father went in to hospice in January 2015 and the reality of his death faced my mother and siblings.  They had no arrangements & no money to pay for them.  I knew that I did and I had to take a hard look inside myself.  Everything inside me screamed “Too damn bad, why should I help you when all you did was make my life miserable?”  When the time came and he passed, my mom called me first.  I told her I would call my siblings and as I hung up the phone I knew I had a choice to make.  Would I perpetuate a legacy of hate or would I lay it down and choose love.  That choice took me only seconds.  I chose love.  I paid for my father’s funeral, I went to his funeral (although I did not stay for more than about 10 minutes of the service) and I tried to put aside the anger that boiled inside of me.

As I laid down that anger and hate, I’ve been handed a new start.  I’ve decided to be different, to live differently, to love and to allow myself to heal.  It hasn’t been easy and I have a long way to go.  I have spent the last 10 months learning to be different in my relationships, especially with my girlfriend.  It’s incredibly hard to allow myself to be open because it gives the opportunity to be hurt.

People have asked me why I choose to write storylines the way I do.  My answer is this.  Life isn’t all fairy tales and princesses.  Some people have wonderful lives and never know pain, but the majority of people, especially in the LGBT community know hurt all too well.  I want to be able to connect with a character and in order to do that, they have to be human.  In my life experiences, human is broken, hurting, afraid and imperfect.  All of those things have made me who I am.  It also makes me extremely sensitive with my interactions with others.  If we believe that fairly tale endings are the only way to be happy with ourselves, then we need to reconsider.  You can achieve happiness even if it’s peppered with struggles, pain and differences.  Happiness is what you make of it.

Whatever your life experiences are, you are beautiful, you are special and you are loved.  Differences are beauty.  You may not be good at everything, but you are capable.  You may not be what society deems as pretty or “hot” but you are beautiful.  Life is so much more than physical appearances and words on a page.  Romance isn’t all roses and candlelight.  True love isn’t about being perfect.  It’s about seeing each other’s imperfections as beauty.

You are loved.  You are beautiful.  You are worthy.  You are special.  You are perfect.

Your Huddled Masses

Your Huddled Masses

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Oh, but not you, you’re Syrian and there might be a minuscule chance that you’re an extremist terrorist. What, you’re only 5? You haven’t eaten in 2 days? You don’t have any clothes? Sorry, we are a Christian nation, we only accept those whose views are our own.

Wake up people. These are HUMANS. Do we need to help our own homeless, our veterans, our impoverished? YES! Does that mean that we throw aside our compassion, kindness and love for anyone else? NO!

This is not a Liberal ideal, it’s a HUMAN ideal. If you’re a Christian, it is a CHRISTIAN ideal. You are commanded to love one another. There is no distinction on WHO you are called to love.

Are we risking an attack by allowing in refugees? I’m sure that’s a possibility, but do you not think there are not already those here that wish to kill us? What about our own United States citizens (and I’m not talking about Muslims) who kill our citizens every day yet we do nothing?

Let’s be real, this isn’t about the safety of our population, because if it were, we would have stood up when Oklahoma City happened, Columbine happened, when Sandy Hook happened and put a stop to the opportunities & means to kill people like that. This is about fear and about bigotry. Yes, we are ALL afraid. No one wants another 9/11, I don’t think anyone in this country would argue that. But allowing fear to drive our decisions about compassion, kindness and love is EXACTLY what these extremists want.

Stop watching the fear mongering media and start looking at yourself in the mirror. What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? A legacy of hate & intolerance or a legacy of love & compassion?

Finding My Niece – The Search

Finding My Niece – The Search

It was just about this time of year, 15 years ago, that I received the most amazing phone call at 10 p.m. at night.

16 years ago my older sister asked me to do her favor, which in my opinion was an honor, not a favor. After a year of fruitless trolling of adoption boards for Indiana I thought that I would not be able to complete that “favor”.  That “favor” was to find my sister’s daughter that had been adopted at the age of 3 in a ridiculous twist of fate.  My sister was 14 when her baby was born, just a kid herself but wanted to keep her baby.  Unfortunately fate had other plans.

That phone call changed everything. It was from a mediator on one of those many adoption boards I had posted on, telling me that they had a message for me.  That the woman sending the message thought she could possibly be the person I was searching for. She turned out to be correct. That woman, was my niece.  I had searched for my niece for a year but my sister had searched for her for dozens of years wondering what had become of her baby girl.

The next night, I spoke to the woman on the phone comparing family traits, trying to determine if she was indeed, my niece. The question was answered for me without 1 shred of doubt when I downloaded her picture later that night. It was like looking at a blonde haired, blue eyed version of my sister. I am so thankful that my sister asked me to find her and I am so thankful that my niece’s husband happened across one of my posts on a board. After so many years of wondering what had become of her little girl, my sister was finally able to know that she was okay, and got the added bonus of 2 little girls named Brooke and Paige. Now, 15 years later, I’m happy to say that my sister has been able to watch them grow into beautiful young women.

So thank you, Francie, for being brave enough to reach out to me and for being willing to allow my sister to know you again and for allowing her to know her beautiful granddaughters. You will never know how truly special of a gift you allowed me to give her. It just so happens that this same month, 13 years later, I would adopt my own special boy – it seems to be perfectly timed.

For all of you out there searching, don’t give up.

New Beginnings & The Human Side (Sequel to New Beginnings)

New Beginnings & The Human Side (Sequel to New Beginnings)

New Beginnings has been released in paperback format (previously available in eBook format only).   You locate a retailer via my website

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Sam Evans has hidden herself behind a curtain of other people’s expectations, afraid to be her authentic self.  Can a life-shattering tragedy be her 2nd chance?  Will she be brave enough to allow herself happiness?


The Human Side (Sequel to New Beginnings) is available in eBook format and will be released in paperback format before the end of November.  You can locate a retailer via my website

TheHumanSideCoverNew


Shawn Evans has steel walls up around her heart, that is until she fell in love with Rebecca Johns.  Will she be able to let go of the past and have a future?