Tag Archives: Cuban Missile Crisis

It’s Just Like Riding A Bike

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I don’t remember learning to ride a bike, but I do know how to ride one. I remember spending a lot of time circling our neighborhood with my friend as a kid. It was a special kind of feeling so be so free flying around on two wheels. I remember the joy in helping my children and grandchildren learn to ride. I watched them experience that first sense of freedom. Throughout my life I have owned bikes from time to time. It is true, you know-you never forgot how to ride a bike. In fact, there is a well-known cliché that says, “It’s just like riding a bike.”

This morning I walked into the office building where I worked until last September. It had been a huge part of my life for a very long time. I am going to be working there again part time. I saw a few old faces as I entered the building. One of the women and I joked about the elevator that seems to have a mind of its own. I made my way to my office area and walked in to a truly familiar setting. Honestly, I have been a little nervous about coming back. I wondered if I would remember everything. I made my way to the desk and logged into the appropriate software for the different systems. I sat back and was ready to go. The Executive Director walked by and said, “It’s so good to see you here again. Sorry I have to run but I have a meeting. Love you.” I laughed as I replied, “Nice to see nothing has changed.” Another coworker arrived and we began chatting about some clients and ways  of dealing with them. We talked about old times and caught up for a bit. There were only a couple of technical things I needed help remembering. It felt good to be back.  It’s just like riding a bike.

In January, I became a freshman at the College of Charleston. I am a bit older than most of the students; actually I am bit older than many of the professors. I haven’t been in a college classroom in over forty years. I took some classes at a technical school years ago, but that was nothing like this. I have had to remember how to read schedules, find classrooms, take notes, study, do homework, write papers, and more. I wondered if I would remember everything. So far I am doing pretty well. I am making much better grades than I did in high school.  It’s just like riding a bike.

In September last year, I became single again. I have had to learn to live single. I am very fortunate to be able to live with my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson so I am not truly alone. There is an old country song, “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed,” and that is a change. I have to think about things like work, car repairs, paying bills, taxes, retirement, and health insurance by myself. I buy groceries for one and I cook for one, that is if I ever cook.  I spend a lot of time with friends and we eat together often.  I wondered if I would remember everything I needed to live single. I am adjusting and finding my way. It’s just like riding a bike.

March is the month of two significant losses in my life. Today is the anniversary of my “other” mother, Mamma Pearl’s death and earlier this month was the anniversary of the death of my best friend. As I look at my life changes I know more will come. I know that close friends and family might move away and some may die. I know there will financial challenges, physical problems, issues with aging, and life challenges. I have faced them all before. I have had some huge obstacles to overcome, but I did. I have a God, friends, and family who never give up on me. I wonder if I can remember everything that has helped me get here when those times come. I think I will. After all, it’s just like riding a bike.

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Strapped In

When I ended my last blog post, I was standing in line waiting for the roller coaster ride to stop and allow all of the people who stood in line for an hour in order to be humiliated by a camera taking a picture with their faces distorted in a scream at 62 miles per hour and dropping over 140 feet, to unstrap and leave the ride. Some come out laughing, some in pure joy and others in total hysterics.  There are a couple that I will move away from quickly in fear they will lose the scrumptious hot dog lunch they recently consumed.   Some children are begging already exhausted parents to go back and do it again as others swear never to ride again.

It is time to walk across the gate, sit in a seat, and wait for the attendant to harness all in the seats and pull down the steel bar that will keep us safe through out the ride.  I have to put my faith and trust in this contraption and engineering talents of the creators of the machine.  Even though I think I will be safe, I definitely have some fear.  My heart is racing, palms sweating, and mind trying to prepare me for the inevitable movement of the ride.  I look around and see my friends strapped in beside me.  I see the employees of the park checking the equipment and preparing to take the controls.  In just a few moments, the slow gentle movement of the roller coaster will begin.

In my last post I compared events in my life at this time to the ride.  Several friends left comments of encouragement.   Don’t know whether to laugh, yell, or cry…or all three at the same time! Throw your hands up and ride the wind? I suspect that means you were ready for the change. Good luck! Close your eyes and remember to breathe. These were just a few of them.

My friend Joyce said, “They are the newest coasters. Those babies lock you in nice and safe. Great for the loops!!!! Right there with you sister!!!! :)”  That made me stop and think.  Right there with you…that is what I need to remember.  Not only do I have super strong straps and metal bars but I have people taking the ride with me. The friends and family who are riding with me all have something they bring to help me.  They have taught me about facing fear, about seeing my own strength, about love, laughter, faith, and more.  They have helped me see that even if I lose my shoes (or my lunch) it doesn’t change who I am inside.  No one can take that from me.

The next few days are going to be like the ride.  They will be filled with anticipation and fear.  There may be tears and moments of uncertainty. But, I am ready for the ride to begin.  I see all of you surrounding me.  I am securely strapped in.  I am ready to go.

A Victim’s Choice

One of the things I love about the Olympics is hearing the incredible stories of some of the athlete’s lives.  I have been following the story of Kayla Harrison, who just won the Olympic gold medal for Judo.   Here is a small piece of her story.

Yet winning gold has not been the most difficult challenge of Harrison’s life. When she arrived at Pedro’s training center in 2007, she was an emotionally devastated 16-year-old who had suffered years of sexual abuse by a former coach. She lacked self-esteem, had suicidal thoughts, and hated judo because the sport’s small community whispered about the abuse.

Like many survivors of sexual and physical abuse, she found someone to trust and help her heal from the abuse. She found a champion to help her fight.  Then she found the courage to share her story. In the article she says, “I wanted to tell my story and I wanted to get it out to victims all over the world,” said Harrison, originally from Middletown, Ohio, who first discussed her sexual abuse publicly last fall. “I wanted people to know it was OK. It was definitely therapeutic. The first time I told the story I cried the whole time. It got a little bit easier every time.”

 Social media and the press have shared her story since the Olympics began.  Someone made this comment on a site yesterday, “The key word here is: SURVIVOR… She chose to NOT be a VICTIM!”  I often hear this type of statement when someone shares a story of healing.   It is a statement that while I believe to hold truth, is also a statement of condemnation for someone still struggling with their life.

I had my choices taken away from me the first time someone sexually abused me as a young child.  I had no choice when an adult hit, slapped, or threw me down as a little girl. As the abuse continued, my choices disappeared.  When I was an adult, I only knew what I learned as a child.  I had no defenders.  Those who might have made a difference, made their own choice not to interfere.  I did not CHOOSE to be a victim.  That was a CHOISE someone else made for me as a very little, scared, helpless child.

I didn’t wake up one morning and say, “I think I will be done with this crap and be a survivor.”  Like Kayla, someone came into my life and helped me find a way to heal.  Yes, I had to make the choice to do the work. I had to find the courage to tell my story.  When I was an older child, I tried to tell someone but they didn’t (or chose not to) hear.  The biggest fear is sharing my story is the fear of not being believed.

Today I am a “thriver.”   I am also a victim of childhood sexual, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual abuse.  For me to say, I am not a victim, is to deny what happened to me. I survived.  Surviving means I lived through it and continued to exist; just exist.  Then someone reached out, believed me, saw my pain, and helped me tell my story.  I became a “thriver”.  I started to flourish and grow.  I found support and I found a way to reach out and support others in their journey.

This is my truth and this is how it works for me. If you are finding your way or have already become a “thriver”, find what works for you.   Most of us will never win an Olympic gold medal, but we can fight to reclaim our right to choices.  Today I have the choice to live my life as a “thriver.”

“We can’t control what happened, we can’t control what has been lost. What we can control is how we fight to take that control back, and the voice within us is powerful in doing so….”      Cathy Gipson

An Inside Out Day

Everything today has seems out of  sync. Yesterday was such a great day.  A meeting at work was cancelled allowing me to go to lunch with a friend.  I was able to make some positive plans about some things happening in my life.  Last night was a time with a friend and some play time with kids.  After a very stressful week, it was a nice reprieve.

This morning it seemed as if someone had turned everything inside out. I won’t bore you with a lot of details but waking up late and a car that wouldn’t start were just the beginning.  Later in the day I had an emotional breakdown.  I am not allowed to talk about some of the things going on right now.   I have only a couple of people who know my situation and I feel that I am leaning on them so much.  I am so grateful for their support.  I talked with two friends who live in other states that I haven’t seen in a long time.  I realized just how much I miss them.  Plans for a night away were washed away by thunderstorms.

In the middle of all my chaos, the news was filled with the tragedy in Colorado.  I read about the events in a couple of news articles.  The events were all over facebook and Twitter so hard to escape.  The first blog post I was read was from Jan at simpyjan.  She quoted a blog by Janet Oberholtzer.  Janet shared some of the things people should never say when someone has experienced a loss.  She asks the questions, “Any other suggestions of things to say or not to say?”

A few people apologized for feeling bad or upset about events in their own lives after such a tragedy.  Others stated that none of us should feel  bad about our trivial problems after something like this.   Trivializing our own pain and grief in life doesn’t change it.  Our feelings are what they are.  My pain doesn’t go away because someone else has pain or loss.

Please know that I understand the grief when someone dies.  There is nothing like the kind of pain and sorrow that brings.  I lost three very important people in my life in one year and there were days I didn’t think I could go on.  The tragedy of the events that occurred are overwhelming and incomprehensible.   However, that doesn’t mean that feeling bad after a day like today is wrong.   No one should be told their problems and pain in life is trivial.

“Catastrophes or tragedies like this, or natural disasters  create a collective sense of responsibility or loss, and individuals often have a hard time shutting it out,” says Sharon Chirban,PhD.  People react in different ways to disasters and traumatic events. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to think, feel, or respond. Be tolerant of your own reactions and feelings, as well as the reactions and feelings of others. Don’t tell yourself (or anyone else) what you should be thinking, feeling, or doing.”

My heart goes out to the community in Colorado.  Another blog post Jan shared today was by Rachel Held Evans.  It is a simple prayer, “Wrap them in the worn quilt of your compassion.”   No more need really be said.

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Our thoughts are with the loved ones of victims & survivors of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Incidents of violence such as this can lead to emotional distress such as overwhelming anxiety, anger, confusion and fear (including in children and teens). Those who have struggled to recover from past traumatic events may also be at risk if painful memories are triggered. The Disaster Distress Helpline (a program of SAMHSA) is available for support: call us 24/7 toll-free at 1-800-985-5990 or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746; calls and texts are answered by trained, caring counselors from call centers across the U.S.

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