Have you ever seen those late night commercials with the beautifully perfect women, asking lonely people to call the 900 number to “chat”? They portray these ads as if you are calling the expensive phone number to chat with a perfectly hot, lonely bombshell, clad in sexy lingerie.
We all know that SHE is not who will be on the other end of the phone, if you are desperate enough to call the number. Instead, it is most likely a stay at home mom, or middle aged woman, trying to make money to pay her bills. They probably receive commission per call, or a low hourly wage for answering the phone.
That is a case of Smoke and Mirrors. It is not real, not authentic, and far from genuine. It’s marketing and manipulation of the human mind.
Inspiring Others Shouldn’t Be Smoke and Mirrors
I struggle often with my writing, especially when I am reaching out to survivors of abuse, and making attempts to inspire them. By inspiring, I mean that I reach out, to show them that they can pull out of the pain and sadness. You can love yourself.
There are no miracle cures and no magic beans.
I know that I can be seen as inspirational, because I survived a lot of shit in my lifetime. It may have been 3 and a half decades ago, but, some days it feels like yesterday. Other days, it seems it was all just a nightmare, and never really happened.
The key to inspiring others, is to be REAL. Be authentic, open and honest. You don’t need a gimmick, or snake oil. You don’t need to present yourself as some kind of goddess or mysterious unicorn. You just need to be yourself.
This was a learning curve for me.
I often joke about being Wonder Woman. I am obsessed with her and what she represents. Even as a small, abused child, I was convinced that I was a super hero. I wore my blue bathing suit and red socks, with my yellow skipping rope tied to my side, and I WAS WONDER WOMAN. The imagination of being her, got me through a lot of tough shit. I am still a huge fan, and still collect anything and everything Wonder Woman.
But again, that is not reality. I am real. I have fought so hard to be who I am, and now I want to help others get through their shit.
So, How Did I Get Here?
I worked damn hard to survive my past.
There were a few other factors, of course, but I chose to take a different path, after I hit rock bottom as a teenager.
My childhood was hell. I was bullied and abused -sexually, mentally, physically and emotionally, by everyone who told me they “loved me”.
I never trusted anyone for most of my life, and I felt lonely all the time. I felt self pity and fear, constantly.
I drank a lot of alcohol and tried suicide. I have struggled with eating disorders and mental health issues all of my life.
But I have pulled out of it all and not only SURVIVED… I HAVE THRIVED.
> I got professional help. I went to therapy for a year or so, and got back in touch with what life is supposed to be about. I even underwent hypnosis, which was effective, but terrifying. (That’s for another article)
> I allowed myself to find LOVE. I met my ex husband when I was 17. Not only did his love and kindness show me what happiness was, his mom took me under her wing and taught me what a mother is supposed to be like. She and I remained best friends for over 18 years. She past away in 2006 and I still feel her with me, every day. When she left this Earth, our marriage crumbled.
> I went to school. I got education on Early Childhood Development and learned about meeting the developmental needs of infants, toddlers and preschool children. It was a huge eye opener for me, and it was a pivotal experience for me to learn, not only how to raise my own child, but how my parents should have raised me. I also studied brain trauma in children and discovered A LOT about myself. Trauma affects a child’s development in more ways than most people understand.
> I faced my demons. I put two of the abusers in jail. I went through 3 trials and watched as they were taken away, in handcuffs. It was the hardest thing I have ever went through. My father had 2 trials, because the first ended in a hung jury. We went back and fought again, and he was put in jail for a year and a half-(give or take). His brother went to jail for 3 years. Another pivotal point in my life.
> I became a mother. Having my daughter and being responsible for raising a child, in a healthy, loving family was a struggle. Had it not have been for my education, I would have been an absolute wreck. My mother in law guided and supported me along the way, and repeatedly told me I was a wonderful mommy. It still brings tears to my eyes, remembering her words.
> I persevered. I just kept going, and didn’t look back. I worked hard at my jobs, and tried to focus on staying positive. I finished my secondary education while running a daycare, raising my daughter, and being a wife. Everything I did, I reminded myself that I was my daughter’s role model and wanted her to look up to me, and be proud of who I am. I am still very driven, although some days my anxiety takes hold of me. But I always try to keep on learning, taking on challenges, and not allowing myself to let my past slow me down. It’s all in my rear view mirror now.
My daughter is now 25 and often tells me that she is proud of me. It makes me weak in the knees.
> I found my passions. Children and writing are my two great passions. I thrive in environments surrounded by kids. I strive to make sure that they are all healthy-mentally, physically and emotionally. My career allows me to ensure children are safe and loved.
I write– for many reasons. I write to help others and to help myself sort through life. Writing gives me the freedom to turn thoughts to words, and emotions into stories. Children and writing are not only passions, they are gifts that I give to myself every day.
> I live day by day. The future is unknown. We ONLY have today, for sure. Yesterday is behind us. It took me many years to let go of the past, and to stop stressing about what the future may hold. Each day, I count my blessings and tell myself I am OKAY. I absorb the safety of my home with my partner Dave and thank my lucky stars that I made it to where I am.
> I accept my own imperfections and mistakes. It became easy as a young adult to blame everything on my parents and my upbringing.I used it as a crutch, in order to take others for granted. I could lose my temper, and make an excuse, or binge drink, and whine about my horrible, shitty life. It wasn’t until my marriage crumbled, and I started life with someone new, who didn’t KNOW my past, that I started to realize how often I used my past as a defense.
I now know that I am the only one to blame when I screw up. My past doesn’t affect me anymore, as I shoved it all in the trash, years ago. Now, I stand for myself. I am accountable for what I say or do, and how it affects others. It has become liberating to let go of that sad little girl, who was lonely, beaten and shamed. Some days, it is terrifying knowing that I am an independent adult, especially when life is stressful. But instead of making excuses, I now take ownership. My stresses are JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE’S now- finances, work, work/life balance, health- The usual. It is so wonderful to only have those problems, compared to the problems my inner child endured. I am quite content to have the same struggles, as most people in the world.
> I build healthy relationships. I have learned to be intuitive when it comes to toxic people and behaviors. If I feel I am in a relationship or friendship that makes me resort to feeling intimidated or coerced, I get out. I surround myself with people who I enjoy being with. If I find someone I can trust easily and feel content with, I keep them close to my heart. If I feel supported and empowered, and can provide the same for others, I keep them close as well. I purge anyone who makes me feel inadequate or pressured. There is no sense wasting life on people who don’t value you, or who you can’t value.
> I help others. If anyone has suffered from abuse, of any kind, in their past, or even right now, I am HERE. I may not have every single answer, and every single abuse case is different, but the mental challenges are the same. I will always listen with an empathetic ear, and will always do my best to help.
That’s it. Authentically me, with no smoke and mirrors, no gimmicks and no miracle cure.
I am simply ME.