Friday, December 20, 2013

Be Beautiful, Be Bright

So, it's been usual.  I think if I avoid it that maybe it will just go away.  Yeah freaking right.

I had a really awesome counseling session today though, and I really wanted to get my thoughts out.

I have been reading the book The Right to Innocence: Healing the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse, and I recently got to a chapter entitled Releasing your Anger.  That is where I stopped for awhile, because I am angry... very angry.  I'm literally angry at just about every person in my life for one thing or another... but let's be honest, I've mostly just been angry at myself.  I've been angry that I can't stick to a healthier diet or make the necessary changes that I need.  I've been angry at myself that I can't lose weight, that I am always late to work, that I am not a better mom, that I don't clean like I should, or cook like I should, or always follow through like I should.  I'm just angry... all the time... and I don't want to be anymore.

The downside to being so angry at yourself, is that often times it becomes displaced anger.  I'm angry at myself for waking up late, so I displace that onto my two year old who is feeding off my anxiety and having a hard time getting her shoes on and out the door.  I am angry at myself for eating that burger and fries, so I displace my anger onto my husband for simply wanting me to be healthy.  I am angry at myself for not being as efficient as I would like at work, so I displace my anger onto a coworker for not being as stressed as I am.

Silly.  I know this.

What's awesome about this particular chapter in this book is that it validates the anger, because as long as it's directed at the right person, it can be very therapeutic.  The author makes mention that many times an abuse victim will be overweight as an outward sign of an inward struggle.  We don't love ourselves on the inside.  We feel unworthy and dirty, so oftentimes, as in my case, an abuse victim will pack on a few extra pounds as A) a barrier or a defense, and B) to reflect how we feel about ourselves on the inside.

After describing this tendency,* the author gives the reader an exercise to complete.  (I haven't done it, but I will be this weekend hopefully)  In this exercise you are supposed to sit in a quiet and calming place.  The abuse victim is to then focus on all of the people that he/she is angry at... parents, siblings, friends, children, spouses, etc... while thinking about whether or not the anger is appropriately placed, which in most cases, it is not.  Unless those people deliberately put you in harm's way, or were the abusers, there is no need for anger at them.

The next step to the exercise is to then visualize the anger and self loathing you have towards visualize the yuckiness and unworthiness and guilt and shame that is built up inside you.  You then visualize reaching down inside of you to gather all of the gunk out and then make a throwing motion towards your visualized abuser.  While it sounds a bit silly, she says to actually pretend to throw it at your abuser so that your body feels you throwing it away.

In going over this exercise/visualization with my counselor, he recommended very strongly that I complete it soon.  Even though I was just a little girl, I have carried a burden of guilt around with me my entire life since the abuse happened.  I have blamed myself, even though I would never blame any other little girl or boy for what happened to them... but I have blamed myself...

As I was crying quietly in his office, my counselor asked me why I thought that HE thought this was an important exercise for me... and it clicked.  I said, "...because this is not MY burden to bear.  this is not my mistake.  this is not my guilt.  this is not my shame.  this is not my sin.  this is not mine to carry... it is his, and i have been carrying it for him for 21 years... and I am tired."

I told him that I didn't want to carry it anymore, because I didn't want to feel like that anymore.  I told him that I know I have a beauty and a brightness inside of me.  THAT is what I want to carry around and identify with.  Throughout the course of my life, you can see how I feel about myself through my eyes.  There are times when my eyes are dark, and there are times when my eyes are bright.  I want them to be bright more often than not.

At the very end of my session today, my counselor said he wanted me to keep what I said as my mission statement to "Be Beautiful and Be Bright" every day.  Whether that means that I don't yell at my daughter, or that I put on make up, or that I wake up on time, or that I go to the gym, it doesn't matter.  The only thing that matters is to do something that shows light, and not darkness.

Be Beautiful.  Be Bright.

*This tendency to pack on pounds is only one of the many struggles abuse victims find themselves in.  They also can often develop bulimia, anorexia, self mutilation, alcohol or drug abuse, and many other self desctructive behaviors... all with the purpose of self medicating or as an indicator of self loathing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I came across this song recently and have really connected to it.  Thoughts?

Who Am I?

Recently my counselor and I have not really touched the subject of my abuse.  I think he sensed that I needed a break.  Healing from something like that is incredibly taxing emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  I needed some time away from it, so we have been mainly focusing on my need to be super woman.

I want to do it all and be it all, but I have learned that because of the abuse I tend to focus my time on things that I have the most control over.  I don't like feeling out of control, which is what your abuser takes from you.  What that means in my life at this time is that I focus mostly on work, which means that in turn, my relationships with people suffer... even my most important relationships with my daughter and husband.  As I'm sure most of you know, it's REALLY hard to control a 2 year old girl and a 40 year old man.  They just don't do what I want them to do ALL the time!  Let's be honest... very rarely do they do what I would like them to do!  ;)

So, not only have I been putting in nine hour days at work, but I would come home and open my computer up and work...and work... and work... and work some more.  I would work instead of take advantage of the few precious hours that I had with my daughter.  I would work instead of spending time with my husband after the baby had gone to sleep.

I would work because I was good at it, and it was a way for me to excel at something and not have to focus on the broken parts of myself.  However, that was causing more parts to break.  I was on the brink of a mental breakdown... like crazy town breakdown.  In talking to my counselor he asked me two very important questions.  First, he asked me if I got paid extra for working at home.... No.  Second, he asked me if that was more important than spending time with my daughter and husband...again, No.  So then why was I doing that?!

Another thing that it was doing, is that with me being focused on everyone and everything but myself, I had lost who I was.  I look in the mirror and see a shell of who I once was.  A bigger shell because I've gained weight, but just a shell.  There is no more sparkle in my eye, there is no more vibrancy.  I miss that.  I miss me.

We made some goals.  1) No more working from home.  2) Pick up a new hobby.  3) Spend time nurturing important relationships. 4) Nurture myself to re-find myself.

We made those goals three weeks ago, and here is how I am doing.

1) I don't work from home anymore.  Every once in awhile I will, but for the most part, work stays at work.

2)  I have not decided on my hobby yet.  I'm toying with a couple ideas though, so hopefully that will come soon.

3)  I spend time with my husband and my daughter in the evenings and on the weekends.

4)  This is the hard one.  I have been doing some pretty small things that I enjoy, like I read a book and started eating healthy.  I've lost a few pounds, so I'm happy about that.  I have a long way to go just like with everything else, but I know I can get there one step at a time.

The thing I am having the most trouble with is figuring out who I am anymore.  I really like who I used to be, but I am not that person anymore.  I have a husband.  I have a daughter.  I have an entirely different perspective in life due to those paradigm shifts.

However, I do have another blog that's more our family journal (I'm horrible at keeping it up though).  I was writing an update post earlier, and saw the little blurb I had written about myself off to the side.  It says:

hi! my name is karly and thanks for stopping by! i am a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a teacher, and a friend. right now i call the desert of Arizona home, but the SOUTH will always be my true home as it is indelibly etched into my heart and soul.

I think that's a good place to start, but let me ask those of you that know me.

Who do YOU think I am?

it's been awhile crocodile

it's been a very long time since I last posted, and the winds of change have been a blowin!  Here are the highlights...

1) I got a new job!  I am not an online high school teacher.  I teach in the electives department, and they already have me branching out from Spanish.  I not only teach Spanish, but also a career exploration course, and they have also allowed me to teach a middle school course based on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.  That's probably my favorite class so far, and those middle school kids have some amazing things to say.  It's like this world hasn't jaded them yet, and I hope they stay that way.  As with any job there are things about it that I really like, and things about it that I don't really like.  I am making more money though, which will help us to get out of debt sooner, but it's tough because it's full time so that means less time with the booboo.  We were so sad to have to leave Jenny's, where Lae had been going for two years, but we found a full time situation that is just about as close to Jenny as you can get.  Eventually I will be able to phase out of the office and work part time from home, which will be really amazing, especially if we would like our family to grow anytime soon.

2) I got a new nephew!  Well, I guess I should say I got a nephew, since I didn't have any before.  It's so surreal that my baby sister now has a baby, but it is the truth.  He is chunky, and smiley, and perfect. I never appreciated Laela's baby cry more though.  That kid has got some lungs on him, and he is not shy about making sure everyone on the block knows he is ticked that mom isn't getting that milk to him fast enough!  Seriously though, cutest kid ever.  (after Lae of course)  :)

3)  Krista moved to Florida!  I'm insanely jealous of her new office view that looks out over my grandparents' property along the Orange River.  She moved down there to look after dear old gram, plus she was due for some change and a new adventure.  I am super duper sad she is like 6 times further away now though.

4)  JJ's grandmother, affectionately known as everyone's Nana, passed away two weeks ago.  She was essentially JJ's mother, so it's been very hard.  Booboo and I flew out there to see her while she was still living.  That meant we didn't get to attend the funeral, as we just didn't have the money, but we felt it was more important for her to see Laela, and for Laela to see her one more time.  She was an incredibly special lady to everyone that ever knew her.  The obituary written by Aunt Jean was one of the most touching tributes I have ever read.  I will add that as a post as well.

5) We moved and hate our new apartment.  Epic. Fail.  We cannot wait until our lease is up in May!!

Welp, that's all I can think of for now folks.  More soon....hopefully.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Well, I did what I always do... I have been avoiding this blog... because by avoiding this blog I have been avoiding change.  I have fallen back into old destructive behaviors and thoughts.

I have lost sight of my goal.

Believe it or not... this sucks.  Big surprise right?

Attempting to heal from what happened to me requires me to go to a place that I have been trying desperately my whole life to get away from.  It requires me to go back.  To experience what happened to me over and over again as I strip every part of it away from me.

So I have been avoiding it.

But, I have an amazing counselor that called me to the carpet recently.  I love that he doesn't mince words with me.  I love that he holds me accountable, and reprimands me when I don't do what I say I'm going to do.  THAT is what I need.  I don't need someone to coddle me.  I need someone to expect and demand change.

We made a breakthrough this past month though.  I have come to realize that I still am desperately holding on to that little girl inside of me.  I realized that I haven't attempted to change or heal before now because in some skewed view of the universe I felt that I would be letting her down if I let her go...that I would be telling her it was okay what happened to her if I let go.  I want her to know that I see her.  That I hear her.  That I know her.  That I love her.

But I have to let go... I have to let HER go.

I now can see that by letting go and healing, that I am validating her in a way that I can't by holding on. By healing, I am telling her that what happened to her doesn't define us... doesn't control us.  I am taking power away from HIM and giving it back to US.

I don't have to push her away and hide her, because she is a part of me.  But, I must live in the present, and I must show her that she has more power than she thinks... that I have more power than *I* think.

I heard this song in church last week and it really struck a chord (no pun intended ;) )  Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


First, I just wanted to thank everyone for their outpouring of love and support for my post the other night.  It was extremely difficult to put that out there, but I believe it's part of my healing process.  I don't really have any "successes" to report, other than everyone is still alive, which in my book right now is pretty darn successful!  :)

Anyways, tonight I had an interesting experience.  I am incredibly sick, and have been for about four weeks.  I've been alternating a stomach bug and bronchitis.  It's pretty awesome... no, actually it's not.  ;)  I asked for a priesthood blessing* tonight, and was so grateful that my home teacher was able to come over at 9:30 pm and help out with that.  I asked for a blessing of health, but got so much more....

Like I said in my previous post, I have been extremely angry at God my entire life because of what happened.  I am STILL angry, but I'm trying not to be angry at Him.  It is NOT His fault that someone exercised their agency for evil.  He DOESN'T want things like this to happen, but if he intervened, he would "cease to be God."  He gave us our agency, and unfortunately must watch with sorrow as horrible things happen.  Now, I know that's the right answer.... that's the thing... I KNOW the answers to all those deep questions about life... but I don't *feel* them.  His atonement is not "written on the fleshy part of my heart.

This is one of the things I am trying to work on... letting HIM take over and take it away.  Well, it will never truly go away, but HE can make living with this trauma bearable.  I know he can, but I don't know how to trust people, much less a God that I cannot see... though I have felt Him.  I don't talk to Him much about what happened to me... in fact I don't talk to him very much at all, because I'm scared of being vulnerable.  I am scared of opening up and really starting to heal, because I know it's going to be ugly and painful.  However, I did ask him recently to allow me to have a spiritual experience.  I just needed a little push from Him to let me know that He would be there when I was ready.  Well, I think I am *almost* ready.

Tonight, during my "blessing of health," I was actually given a blessing of comfort.  The words that came out of a man's mouth, who doesn't know anything about my situation, came straight from the Spirit.**  He said things that only God would know, and he recognized my innermost struggles and the wounds in my soul.  However, I was also promised not only physical healing, but a healing of that wounded soul as well.

God is great.  I know he is there.  I know he knows MY name.  I know he is waiting for me to take the first step, and I'm almost there... almost there.

*for those of you that are not of my faith, you can read about priesthood blessings here:

**you can also read about our beliefs on the Godhead here:

Friday, May 17, 2013

it's been a year...

yes, it's been a year since my last post.  i've been putting off writing this post for many reasons, but i'm tired of excuses, and it's time to tell my story.

let me add in a disclaimer here... this is a tragic story about what happens all too often to innocent children... sexual abuse.  i have been seeing a therapist for a few months now, and i talked to him a lot about this.  he is happy that i want to share my story, but he told me to be careful because many times we can experience "vicarious traumatization," meaning that someone else may be traumatized by my story.  that is obviously not my intention, so if this topic is too hard for you to stomach, i would suggest saving this post for another time.

after years of trying to deal with my trauma in many different ways, i have decided that face it head on, and learn to heal the wounds that were left on my soul so many years ago.  i feel strongly that part of my healing process is to tell my story.  there is a nine year old little girl inside of me that has been screaming in my head for the last 21 years, and it's time to acknowledge her and let her speak.

you may be wondering why i would want to do this in such a public place.  why would i want to share some of the most intimate and tragic details of my life with people other than my family?  the answer is simple.  i am pissed as hell.  it makes me furious that little girls and boys have to go through this... to have your innocence and trust be shattered in the most traumatic of ways.  did you know that 1 in 3 girls (and 1 in 7 boys) is sexually abused in some form by the time they are 18 years old?!  let me tell you that statistic again.... ONE in THREE.  i feel that as a society we don't talk about it enough, which is also why i am sharing this here.  it's one of the "unspeakables," which for me only fosters a sense of shame and guilt for the victims.  if my story can help even one other person to start on their healing journey, then it is well worth any of the scrutiny or criticism that may come of this.

i was nine years old when i was sexually abused by an older, male cousin.  it only happened one time, and for that i am grateful.  i know others who have experienced abuse far worse than what i went through, but that doesn't make what i went through any less traumatic.  as a young girl i was not emotionally ready to handle what happened to me.  i felt worthless and dirty, and i didn't want anyone to know... so i kept it to myself for the next five years.  when i finally told my parents i felt like i was somehow broken, but i didn't want to admit that.  i've always been the "strong" one, so i refused counseling, which looking back now, was a decision that i will always regret.  i then fell into a dangerous and destructive cycle as i tried to "treat" myself, which really just meant i tried to pretend it didn't happen.

pretending it didn't happen just made everything worse.  i was shattered into a million pieces on the inside, but i put on a happy face for everyone around me.  i was an athlete, a good student, a good friend, but this little girl inside of me was always yelling at me to fix her, and i didn't know how.  i went to church on sunday, i went to early morning seminary* every day of the week during the school year, i went to mutual on wednesday, and i went to EFY and girls camp every summer...but it was all for show.  i was angry at God, and because i was so angry, i felt unworthy of His love.

i was fifteen years old when i had my first drink, and over the next 11 years i fell into an awful pattern.  my life would be going good and i would get spooked because i "didn't deserve" a good life, so i would go out and do something to self-destruct. i also would attract, and probably even sought out destructive relationships, where i wasn't treated very well at all.  i did this because i blamed myself for what had happened to me, which in my mind translated to me deserving everything bad that happened to me... whether at my own hand or at someone else's.

Now, i know it wasn't my fault...well i guess i should say i'm starting to believe that it wasn't my fault. i am at the very beginning of what i know is going to be a long and painful journey.  i feel so blessed to have the family that i do for support and the counselor that i do for guidance.  and i also feel blessed to have this outlet to share my journey.  i know i set this blog up as somewhere to make and achieve goals, but i am so incredibly far from that.  at this point, i am going to be focusing on doing a couple things every day that will make me feel better.  i'm going to be trying to replace destructive thoughts and behaviors with positive thoughts and behaviors.  i am also going to use this as a place to talk about counseling sessions, and any thoughts i have about what we talked about.  i am taking my life and turning it upside down and i am excited for what is in store.

recently my sister came to visit and brought me a present... a piece of her art.

i had seen her working on this piece over the last couple years and always liked it.  i also always thought it was a drawing of her.  when she gave it to me she told me that the girl in the picture, was in fact, me...that she has watched me over the years as i've fallen and climbed and fallen and climbed... and that she was proud of me.  i love this picture for what it represents right now in my life.  i have been in the valley of shadows for awhile now, but i feel as the girl in the picture right now.  i feel i am climbing up into the sunshine and even though it hurts, it feels good.  i know there are some mountains in front of me that i still need to climb, but i'm finally ready for the challenge.

*for those of you not of my faith, seminary is essentially an early morning religion class that lasts your four years of high school, mutual is our midweek activity, and EFY and girls camp are religious summer camps.

Monday, January 14, 2013

"What's Mine is Yours"

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away...

Thursday, January 3, 2013


*sculpture of the unborn child by Martin Hudack of Slovakia*

When I shared this photo on my Facebook wall on December 15, I shared it because it was beautiful and touching.  I have a few friends that have experienced miscarriages at various stages of pregnancy... in fact I shared it from the wall of one of those dear friends.  I shared it to show my love and support of all those (1 in 4 mind you) that have had a loss.  I also shared it because I had just found out that I was pregnant... about 5 weeks along, and I knew what it was like to love that tiny bean growing inside your belly, even before it had a heart, or a face, or even it's "flippers."  :)  I had never lost a pregnancy, but I could only imagine the pain that would accompany losing one.  Laela was my first, she stuck, and now she's turning TWO in 8 days! (oh cruel time, please slow down)

We bought Laela this shirt to tell our family on Christmas Eve, and I told a few friends and my sisters... even though I wasn't supposed to.  I was SO early along, but I was SO excited and just couldn't hold it in.  We were so excited to be growing our little family.  We were worried about finances, but this baby wasn't *planned,* so we were convinced it was "meant to be."  

Christmas eve rolled around and we put Laela into her shirt and sent her into my parents room where they were getting ready for Christmas Eve dinner with family friends.  She waltzed right in, with the rest of us lurking in the hallway to hear the reactions.  Nothing happened for a few minutes and we started to get impatient.  Then we heard, "Wait a minute.... what does that say... look at this... is that saying what I think it's saying?" and them my mom came running out to the hallway crying with excitement.  We of course had a great laugh at her expense since she was the "last to know"... as usual.  FYI to everyone out there... if your little girl has sisters she's extremely close to, they will be the first to know everything for the rest of their lives.  Being a sister is a very special bond.

Christmas morning arrived, and not like anyone planned.  Kaycie's husband Alex had come down with the flu and was having relations with the porcelain throne just about every half hour.  We decided to postpone Christmas until the next day because Laela really didn't know what was going on anyways, so what did it matter?  We went about our day watching movies, taking naps, taking turns playing nurse to the sick one, and spending time with the fam.  Then something went horribly wrong... with me...

JJ and I went to the ER about 6 pm, and we were there until about midnight.  Around 10:30 pm we got the devastating news that there was no longer a heartbeat... no longer a pregnancy.  I started praying... not very nicely I might add... asking why this had happened.  I know I was *only seven weeks along* but I was already extremely attached to that little bean.  Laela would pat my belly and say "hi baby!" just about every day.  How was I going to tell her there was "no more baby," and would she even understand?  At that moment I heard a voice in my head tell me that this was "for my good and to take a huge burden off of my shoulders at this time."  I protested, saying back, "but this is my baby... this is Laela's sibling!"  The voice then very quietly and reassuringly said, "There will be more."

As I grieved the loss of this baby in the arms of my husband, I knew that this precious spirit was back in the arms of their Heavenly Father to wait just a little longer for a better time to come to our family.  I marveled at the miracle of our body... that it can create life in the first place, but it can also take care of and protect itself if something just isn't right with the pregnancy.  My body was not ready physically to be pregnant again... there are some things I need to do first.  I also thought about a dear friend that had just given birth to her *rainbow baby* that very Christmas day.  Babies born after a loss are referred to as rainbow babies because they are the rainbow after the storm.  

The next day we celebrated *Christmas* by opening presents.  My husband, who was going to buy me a food dehydrator, still wanted to have something under the tree for me.  He went out in search of something on Christmas Eve, and this is what he found...

Who knew the significance that this would really have?

A few days later I was given a poem by one of JJ's cousins who knew all too well what I was going through.  It's called "Just Those Few Weeks" by Susan Erling

For those few weeks - 
I had you to myself.
And that seems too short a time
to be changed so profoundly.

In those few weeks - 
I came to know you...
and to love you.
You came to trust me with your life.
Oh, what a life I had planned for you!

Just those few weeks - 
When I lost you,
I lost a lifetime of hopes, 
plans, dreams, and aspirations...
A slice of my future simply vanished overnight.

Just those few weeks - 
It wasn't enough time to convince others
How special and important you were.
How odd, a truly unique person has recently died
and no one is mourning the passing.

Just a mere few weeks - 
And no "normal" person would cry all night
over a tiny, unfinished baby,
Or get depressed and withdraw day after endless day.
No one would, so why am I?

You were just those few weeks my little one.
You darted in and out of my life too quickly.
But it seems that's all the time you needed
to make my life so much richer
and give me a small glimpse of eternity.

With all my talk about "meaning" and "reason" and "miracles," some may say that I have great perspective and seem to be *healing* well.  I am trying.  However, there are days that I don't want to get out of bed.  There are days that I want to cry all day long.  But, all I need to do is think about her....

...this precious girl that is right here in front of me.  She is my everything.

God lives.  He loves me.  He has a plan for me, and he will bless me with another sweet baby in His time.  Until then I will wait, I will watch, and I will wonder, but most of all... I will love.