“Joy” Chose Me

I have a dear friend, who struggles every day with one of those lifelong heartbreaks. My friend – we’ll call her “Joy” – is one I’d consider one of the best and closest. We have walked through life together and I’d like to think that our friendship is better than the mutual everyday friendships you’d have with many acquaintances. In fact, I know it is because last night on the phone – she told me so.

Now “Joy” adopted a son approximately 5 years ago at birth. He was one of the greatest blessings to “Joy’s” family. At the time, “Joy” and her husband had 3 older children (2 graduating high school and one entering junior high). She had always hoped for another child – and now – this baby was literally dropped into her life and she was so happy. But just a few months into his life, something was wrong – terribly wrong. He began to cry often as if he was in pain. He was inconsolable, so “Joy” took him to the doctor. After many tests, baby boy was diagnosed with Sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT) which is a teratoma (a kind of tumor) located at the base of the coccyx (tailbone).

choose joy Since then “Joy” and I have remained close. Still, I am not as close to her as I’d like, and in all honesty, it is because I feel helpless. I don’t understand this diagnosis. I don’t understand what this does to a little boy, nor do I know , or can I pretend to understand the endless nights of changing out medicines alone, spending several weeks per month in the hospital, learning sign language so that my son can communicate better with me, attempting to pay for a private nurse that I cannot afford, and the many other things I don’t even know to list here. I am helpless.

Over five years have passed, and I still feel helpless. After a phone conversation with “Joy” last night, I still hung up the phone feeling helpless. I wanted to know what it is that people can actually DO for them. Sure, I know fundraisers are always beneficial, but they died down a long time ago. After all, what child normally survives this type of diagnosis for this long. What a blessing! Those who jumped on board to support this family have long gotten busy with their lives and forgotten about the daily struggle of my friend and her family. While I know that the medical bills for this little boy are beyond anything this family can ever repay, there are more daily needs that they have – that no-one even is aware of. For instance, they have a house payment every month that they struggle to pay. I know that they have struggled to pay it every month for five years! This home and his room are all this little boy knows and he is comfortable there. I also know that “Joy” is offered 70 hours of paid nursing care for her son per week, however, she only has a 40 hour a week nurse because the company that sends the nurses doesn’t have any RN’s available for two reasons. First, they cannot keep them staffed because they cannot afford to pay them what they are worth. Second, where “Joy” lives is 35 miles from the main city and beyond the distance that most nursing staff is allowed to drive for their job.

This lack of nursing help means that between the hours between 5 P.M. and 8 A.M. “Joy” is the sole caregiver for her son. Her 2 oldest children are in college now with jobs and families of their own. Her youngest child is in high school and while he helps, he has responsibilities of his own. Her husband works full time to attempt to support the family on one income. When he comes home – he is responsible for the many things “Joy” cannot do, such as being an effective parent to their high-schooler, tending to the house, and helping with their son as needed. “Joy” spends her days by her son’s side, and spends every day attempting to make the house clean enough for him to crawl around (he has lost mobility due post surgery tailbone nerve damage). This is a huge daily chore in itself because he needs to be in clean environments so that his tubes do not get contaminated with dirt. She takes him to multiple appointments daily and meets the needs that only a mother can meet. She spends her nights attempting to sleep, but only getting minutes of sleep at a time because her son wakes hurting, or his medication pump goes off, or he needs his diaper to be changed. She doesn’t rest. She doesn’t spend time with her high-school child. She doesn’t have time to communicate or build on her marriage.

There is a potential that as you read this blog, you realize how helpless this all seems. Not only do I feel helpless, but I am. I cannot provide “Joy” with anything more than an honest friendship that can listen to her heartache and empathize with her story. Adding to my helplessness is “Joy’s” helplessness when we discuss her life mission. The heart of a woman who is drained, lonely, and never allowed to rest is kept alive by the blessed livelihood of her baby boy. Her joys are found in small and deliberate moments. Her appreciation for life is summed up in the quiet sleeping breaths of her son. Her mouth never complains, yet it fights for his very life. Her stress is buffered with small bouts of laughter and harsh sarcasm on the phone – when she attempts to make jokes to keep a smile and keep from panicking.

More than anything, I have learned so much from my friend and she continues to teach me about love and life every day. While I feel helpless as we talk into the wee hours of morning, I must admit that I am the one most blessed because “Joy” chose me for her friend and continues to choose me – as helpless as I feel.

Maybe now you know why I have called my friend “Joy” in this blog. For joy is not found in the money we have or the goals we achieve. Joy is found in the life and breath of those around us, and somehow, my friend has mastered the art of joy in what she hopes is a lifelong fight to keep her son alive.

Posted in Cancer, Counseling/Societal Issues, Hope, Joy, Know me, Moved Beyond Myself, My Thoughts | Tagged | Leave a comment

The “Trouble Next Door” That No-One Sees

The TV Show the "Trouble Next Door" presents a family with seemingly insurmountable issues and surrounds them with neighbors who are willing to help, had they only known.

The TV Show the “Trouble Next Door” presents a family with seemingly insurmountable issues and surrounds them with neighbors who are willing to help, had they only known.

How many of us truly know and care about the trouble that is behind closed doors in the lives of others? Many of us have those that we would consider close friends, yet when it comes to knowing the trouble that faces them daily, we hope to stay as far away as possible.

Each of us have friends who experience an array of life experiences that bring heartache. Some may be life changing, but recoverable events of trauma – such as a job loss or break up, a divorce or economic struggle. Others may be more permanent such as a tragic accident with long term physical or mental affects or a medical tragedy that will take its toll in the form of cancer, Alzheimers, lukemia, or something similar. But sometimes, there are those things in life that each of us can never recover from, such as the death of a child, parent, or a spouse.

As you read this blog, I’m sure you are thinking – as I am – of the list of tragedies and struggles that you have been through in your life. You even have the ability to categorize each of them and can identify the trickle down affect of pain and heartache that they have caused you in your life.

Still, the greatest tragedy we must realize, is when we lose ourselves to the tragedies of life. We just cannot seem to recover! Tragedies often become the silent pain that destroys us. These tragedies could be major life altering events, or personal heartaches that you cannot seem to move past such as personal loss, dysfunctional family issues, a crushed spirit, a loss of faith and spirituality because religious people have let us down, or our own personal anger and bitterness. The list can continue to grow on and on. In the end, tragedies consume us and can render us unable to get back up and stand on our own two feet.

We all understand tragedy in our own way. The best outcome for us to live a wholesome and productive life is to deal with tragedy, learn from it, prevent future recurrence of self-inflicted heartache (where applicable), and then begin to help others move through their tragedy in the same way.

Many of us do not know – even in the best of friendships – how others experience life. We have been taught to put on a strong face and have it all together. Boys are taught at a young age to suck it up and stop crying – they turn into the men we marry. Then we wonder why so many women spend half of their marriage trying to get their husband to talk and show emotion. Girls are taught to be pretty – to put on that pretty dress and smile and dance. Then as women, we smile and continue the dance, even though our hearts are aching for something real – something more.

This post comes to mind after I watched a late night television show one night this week. The show was called “Trouble Next Door” and is about a struggling family who lives surrounded by members of their community, yet hiding behind closed curtains and the walls of their home. Once the family tells the viewers about their current personal story, as a viewer you wonder how they are surviving. How do they live this struggle day in – day out? How can anyone not know that this family needs help?

These individuals are in our communities. They work with us. We see them at the grocery store struggling with their children. They are our parents, our friends, the people we sit next to in church, the guy you flipped off this morning, the kid in the seat next to you in your college math class. These people are the red head at work that you can’t stand, and the gossip who has to spread everyones business all over the office. They are the parent who sits alone in the hospital night after night wondering how their other children are doing at home, while they sit with their cancer ridden son at the hospital, totally consumed with him. This man is the guy who lost his job last week when he was laid off, and the woman who is a divorced, single mom with no experience to work. They are you. They are me.

The show challenges an individual in this family to appeal to their neighbors/community for help. Letters are sent out to the individuals who live near this family’s home, informing them that there is a family in their community who is desperately in need of help and asks them to consider attending a meeting at a certain place and time to offer their help. Next, you see a room filled with people. Neighbors who have come together to see how they can help. Now I must confess here that my first thought was “wow, I wonder how many of these individuals who showed up are here to be nosy, and how many are here to truly help.” However, when the family member walks in and goes to the front of the room and starts sharing her/his story, there is not a dry eye in the room. You see, this is because there is a depth inside most of us that remains untouched in daily life. The show progresses as some community members begin to tap into their own resources to meet the needs of the family in their community. Some offer their professional services, such as a woman who stepped up to offer her planning skills – a profession that she has been offering to families for 20 years. A man offers to step in and take the older boys (who do not have a father) roller skating. Another woman who is in her 70’s and very lonely, invites the family for baking. Other community members step in and begin to meet small every-day needs that this family has, and in turn relationships are created, a load is taken off of the family, and life does not seem so overwhelming.

The point is, we need to know that we don’t walk alone. We do not necessarily have to feel as if we are understood, but we do not want to walk alone. We do not have to have people around all of the time, but we all need emotional support. We need someone who cares enough to hear us vent. Not necessarily someone to solve our problem, but someone who cares that we are struggling.

As a social worker, I am continuously interested in learning about people. How they’ve struggled, how they’ve succeeded. How they rise above devastation and continue to thrive. I’m interested in learning what tragedies have come to them and how these tragedies have touched every facet of their life. Finally, I’m interested in teaching individuals about hope and the importance of inner peace. I’m interested in teaching them another way to view their life and the tragedy that comes. But even more than this – I’m interested in just listening and being a source of strength when one feels as if they walk alone.

The “trouble next door” is that people that are loved by someone struggle alone. The trouble with each of us is that we all know people who struggle alone and just don’t take time to realize it.

Allow me to push each of you reading this blog toward a sense of others. Allow me to encourage you to begin to work through your tragic heartbreak in whatever ways cause you to find healing and peace. Whether it is confronting an individual, asking for forgiveness, attending counseling, making life changes, choosing not to live your life in a questionable manner, increasing your education about a certain topic, or just choosing to let things go and move forward. Once you are able to find your core strength to move beyond your tragedies and not be consumed by them, the healing can begin to flow through you and toward others who are in such desperate need of a fresh look on life. Each of us has the possibility to offer this healing.

What is your tragedy? What are the experiences you cannot overcome? Do you know any individuals who walk through life with incredible odds facing them daily? If so, what can YOU do to make their life just a touch different? I am interested to hear your stories.

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Shadows of Sadness

Rest in Peace Nana June 23, 2013... Remembering my kids "Nana" and the faithful way she was "Mom" to me even though my marriage to her son fell apart. Such an angel on earth.

Rest in Peace June 23, 2013… Remembering my kids “Nana” and the faithful way she was “Mom” to me even though my marriage to her son fell apart. Such an angel on earth.

It seems as if sadness remains in the shadows during parts of our lives. Just when we think we are going to get a well needed break, sometimes the shadows of life creep in and bring more sadness our way. These are moments in life when we are most tested to prove the strength of our inner being to ourselves. These are also the moments when we must come with great honesty and allow ourselves to feel the heartache and mourn within.

For me, there is nothing more devastating than human loss. Whether it be in the form of a devastating breakup, moving away from those you love, or the loss of human life, nothing crushes the heart more than this type of loss. Nothing hits us to the core in a way that human loss does. That final goodbye, the reality of regrets, the guilt of relief, the emptiness of the soul – these are the pains that become life’s story of loss. These are the pains that cause us to sit and reflect, mourn so deeply, regain our strength, and return stronger and more determined to make life more peaceful, more fulfilling, and more filled with loving relationships. For we know that time is so short.

Many things can affect us in our lives, and most … in some way or another, can become a story of strength and healing as we begin to process and make changes in our future. However, human loss – for me – is something I will never feel strong enough to handle. So in these moments, for now, I will just sit back and be quiet and allow my heart to ache, embracing those I love and cherishing the time we do have in this life together. For we know not what tomorrow brings.

Posted in Hope, loss, Moved Beyond Myself, My Thoughts | 2 Comments

“Freedom Comes With a Price… Freedom is NEVER Free.”

Most of us have heard these words stated in the context of celebrating the brave men and women who fight and lose their lives in honor of preserving and protecting the country in which we live. However, these two thoughts have taken space in my head and reverberated in my mind over and over again in the past week. These thoughts relate to my life in a very personal way, in fact, these thoughts relate to each of us in ways we often don’t understand.

The need for freedom is never recognized without the realization that there is something to be freed from. For instance, when your country fights for freedom, it is fighting against the very ideas, concepts, people, and hostilities that your country feels are necessary to expunge in order for the individuals to live within the realm of their rights and choices in life.

The fight for personal freedom automatically reveals that there is something in our lives we need to be freed from that is holding us back. When we realize this, it becomes apparent that our fight is for something much more important that freedom. Our fight is for “OURSELVES!”

A few days ago I posted a blog that brought full circle the many facets of my life that have created the woman I am today. Since that post I have had over 10 emails, Facebook messages, and texts flowing in from people who, like me, have been through circumstances in their lives that have threatened to destroy their innocence, strip them of dignity, and question their value and place in life. I have also had numerous new “follows” to my blog – individuals I do not know, but none the less, individuals who connect with me on some unknown level.

My job forces me to encounter hurting people every day, like the man who came out of his home for the first time in 6 years to get help because he needed to start healing from his past, and the woman I was able to sit with until symptoms of her withdrawal passed. People who are suicidal, heartbroken, devastated … and are doing nothing more than existing in life. They are all around us.

Freedom in our lives is not free. Often it comes with a tremendous price. In healing from things that have been done to us and healing from our past, there is a price for freedom from the devastating grip of those memories and impositions. If we do not strengthen ourselves enough to confront those things that destroy us and defeat us, the price is the effects of the wall we build around ourselves. This wall causes us to lose sight of who we are, lose sight of individuals who truly know how to provide quality friendships and healthy strength. It causes us to lose our mind, stuff our emotions, make our body sick, lose sleep, and ultimately forget who we are. For some, it causes devastation and death – often in the form of suicide. Let me say that NO tragedy you have experienced at the hand of another individual is worth you forgetting who you are.

The price of freedom for an individual who must deal with their inner pain is often too great to master alone. This is why, often, we see a fight for freedom that is done with an army. For those of you who wish to find freedom from your past mistakes, past trauma’s, past abuse, past pain … you cannot do it alone. This also means that you have to tell someone and allow someone to build an army of support around you so that you can begin to heal and find strength. This army should eventually be individuals – often just a few – who have your best interests in mind, do not judge you for your mistakes, do not throw Biblical curses at you, and can love you for who you are where you are. You don’t have that? Write me. Your army should be one that will protect you at all costs, but also help you face the truth about yourself no matter what pain you have to walk through together to reach your point of acceptance and joy and enable you to move on.

A counselor once said to me, that our brain is like a computer hard drive. Sometimes we have everything stuffed in our head and our emotions or trauma block us from being able to compartmentalize it – or in simpler terms – cause us to be unable to put it in its own folder. When we can filter through our past and our pain and put these items in different folders in our head, we know they are there and we can deal with them one at a time. However, most often, those who have been hurt are unable to sift through the mess of emotions, people, physical pain, heartache, and devastation in order to process it all and put it aside into its own folders.

In order to achieve wellness and freedom, the price for you is that you have to find just a touch of inner courage to start the process of rebuilding your own life without worrying how people will look at you or what they will say. You have to begin the process and stop protecting other people and understand that YOU are the most important part of your life – and if YOU do not have control over your own life and the strength to manage, compartmentalize, and file away the many things that keep you down daily – you will never experience freedom.

In working with individuals who are struggling with mental health issues, depression, or addictions I often see a common thread. There is pain and devastation that is underneath all of the outward signals of these issues. Our body was not intended to stuff pain and trauma, rather, it was created to thrive in peace and love and acceptance. Our body tells us early on, that we are in a situation that is too great for us to handle alone. Sometimes it is by tears or anxiety, other times it is by the sense in our right mind that we need help. In listening to our body and finding an army of support … we can heal and move forward. If we don’t, many times we become very sick and life becomes an unbearable burden.

I had someone tell me recently (while sitting in my office in order to receive treatment) “I am happy.” As the tears rolled down her face, I looked at her and stated “…Well you don’t look happy.” This young lady had spent so much time attempting to look happy and be strong for everyone else, and in the process was lying to herself,everyone else, and losing herself.

Is the freedom to be happy and move on, worth your time and effort to begin with small steps to heal? Maybe up to this point it is not worth the pain and you’ve got everyone fooled. Maybe you could never let people know that truly, deep inside, you are not happy. I must admit, it is such a scary task to start processing our lives. Especially for someone who doesn’t know who they are any more.

But is it worth the price? The price can either be loss of your life and yourself so that you can continue to live in your past, or healing and quality of life through this hard walk that will free your heart, mind, and emotions and cause you to move forward. The choice is yours.

Posted in Counseling/Societal Issues, Effective Communication, Fresh Morning Thoughts, Hope, loss, Moved Beyond Myself, My Thoughts, Restoration | Leave a comment

How is Your Day Today?

In the midst of heartbreak the past few months, here is one thing I have learned about myself. I now know how to answer people who ask me “How is your day today?”

As a current intern for my Masters in Social Work degree there is something that has become very obvious to me in working with those struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues. What is obvious is that I am doing great today. My life of heartache and heartbreak, my worst day – is no match for someone who is struggling with mental health issues or hiding behind substance use to numb the pain of their past. I am a survivor, I am blessed beyond measure, and no matter how tired, sad, or broken I am today… I am having a good day!

Additionally, in the past week and a half, I have had days in which I am deeply saddened and grieving inside. While grieving, I want so badly to tell people how someone special to me has just left this earth after a strong fight with cancer. I want life to stand still for a moment and I want the time to just cry – and so I have taken that time as needed. But on the outside… life does go on, and while mine is standing still, I can still say my day is great today filled with tremendous hope, life, wonder, and blessings. For this I am thankful.

Posted in Cancer, Counseling/Societal Issues, Effective Communication, Hope, Know me, loss, Moved Beyond Myself, My Thoughts | Leave a comment

When Your Dad Has Cancer…

Thoughts race as I board the plane in Georgia with my family of 5. I’m not thrilled that I am heading for a quick 4 day trip to the west coast to see my dad under these conditions.

Last time I visited him I traveled alone, August 2011. I spent 2 weeks with dad and my 3rd younger sister to help her tend to him after a 10 hour surgery to remove pancreatic cancer from his body. She is all he has out there, and she is exhausted. I returned from that trip exhausted after leaving him in ICU to return to my somewhat normal life. Oh how I wanted to forget that trip. It took months to regroup and try to find some normalcy in my view of life and my responses to my own personal family. I swore when I returned there – IF I returned there … I’d never do it alone again.

Getting off the plane in California was amazing, because I knew our oldest daughter and her husband would be there to surprise her brother and sister.  They drove down from their Air Force Base to spend the weekend with us and see my father. What a welcomed joy and relief to an otherwise heavy time. I just wanted to cry when I saw my daughter and son-in-law but I was too happy to cry!

Our family... together at last again. San Francisco Airport.
Our family… together at last again. San Francisco Airport.

On our travels to see dad,  we traveled through the city and enjoyed some great picture-taking moments. Another highlight of my day. Still… I felt compelled to hurry and head to my dad. I had spent 3 months with my mind and emotions tossing between going to see him or not going … can I handle seeing him or not handle it … is he going to be sicker and more miserable or nicer and trying to act well? I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew he had been battling this cancer for about a year or more and I knew he probably lost weight. I just braced for the worst.

Walking into my dad’s apartment … finally. I was feeling hesitant, nervous and sick to my stomach – yet, I wanted to RUN to him. Such mixed emotions. Opening the front door, I was so glad to see his dog. Silly I know… but his dog brought me some joy and a sense of calm – for a split second – when I walked in. Then I looked up and around the corner came a weary and frail man… not the man I expected nor remembered. Who can prepare for what cancer does to a person? I thought I did well… but inside I died that moment from a broken heart as I have never experienced one before.  To further worsen my overwhelmed thoughts… my sister (who cares for him endlessly) walked in behind me and went about her business in everyday usual fashion.  To her, he is just “having a good day” or “he’s having a bad day.” To me … “look at this man, he is dying before your eyes and you are behaving as if this is normal?” In her defense… she has been an amazing strength to him. This just wasn’t going good, but as I reached out and hugged him in his pajama pants and 4 sizes too large t-shirt, I kissed him on the cheek and was so glad to hold him. My heart broke … yet I stayed strong.

When your dad has cancer, time stands still. You realize that there is nothing more important than life, and you are angry that something so dreadful is sucking the very life from your loved one. I didn’t want to go see my dad, and I put it off as long as I could, but I’m so glad I got the chance to see him and hold him. I know that sounds terrible that I put it off as long as I could, but until you have a parent who is dying, you’ll never understand the temptation to act as if what is happening before your eyes is not really happening. We lost my mom 6 years ago… and I did the same then also. You walk in such a daze, yet reality is so fresh and blatant that it sucks the very strength out of you.

100_3652Dad’s birthday is in 8 days … a leap year baby, he turns 65. We celebrated him with some cake and presents the night before we left. While I hope for another birthday… I’m not counting on it. Unfortunately, I can’t count on much of anything these days except the fact that this dreadful disease is stealing life from my dad and I can’t do anything to stop it.

Needless to say… I’m so thankful I had some moments with him this weekend. I got to spend some time with my sisters also – well we were missing one – but we enjoyed the time with him.

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We all went out to dinner and dad really seemed to enjoy his food. The trip wiped him out, but he was excited to get out of the house. What a trooper he is!

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Dad and My family

I’m not sure how I will handle the coming days – in fact – I’m scared to death and feel like my dad’s little 10-year-old who needs him to just tell me it’s all going to be ok. But it’s not. There is an array of mixed  emotions that go along with having a sick parent. Emotions such as anger and grief, frustration and exhaustion, love and pain, tenderness and sympathy, regrets and relief, forgiveness and restoration. While some moments I want to reach out and embrace my dad, other moments I want to pretend that my life is normal and this is just not happening. I’m learning that the only way to survive this loss is just allowing myself to feel this pain and moving through each moment of it with an incredible gift to myself – GRACE! Grace to know it’s ok to  experience these emotions and strength to forgive myself when I don’t know why I just want to run away and forget this is happening. I continue to pray that I am compelled to love in the face of fate’s devastation.

Posted in Cancer, Know me, My Thoughts | 3 Comments

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Facebook Overload: Who Knew Cleaning Up My Life Would Cause Such Emotion?

Sometimes you have to make the choice to slow down the jumbled mess in your mind and learn to grant yourself the gift of simplicity and quiet.

Most who know me, know the struggle I have with Facebook.  I am a person who suffers often from what I call “Facebook Overload.”  Throughout the years, facebook overload has caused me to become emotionally spent in the lives of people in which I cannot even make a difference.  My facebook friends list is so large (425 people) that I’d venture to say (after sitting here and figuring it out) that 2% of the “friends” on my friends list are individuals who intimately know me. These individuals are in contact with me on a daily basis, have my cell number, text me, and call me when they need a daily pick me up. Of my friends list, less then 10% of them (40) are family members. Of these 10% family members, I talk to none of them on facebook on a daily basis, and I have contact with these 8 every day or every other day.  2 of these 8 are my daughters who live away from home and have their own busy lives, 2 are my other 2 children who live at home, and 1 of them is my husband. The only other 3 I talk to on facebook, or a few times a week, are my 3 sisters.

So why facebook? I don’t know. Anyone who knows me knows that I have professed to HATE facebook for years.  I hate the time it takes from my otherwise busy schedule. I hate finding out that people I know on facebook are not the same people I know off of facebook. I hate being dependent on social media for interaction with my family. I hate the vast array of friendships that are not friendships, rather acquaintences with people that I’d rather not associate with. I could go on and on. Ultimately the bottom line is that I don’t belong on facebook.

What do I love about facebook? Sharing photos with my sister and being able to see her life in pictures. If I didn’t have a facebook, I could always “Lurk” from my husbands account. “Lurk” is her word for me because though I was never on chat, she’d see when I was on by small comments I’d make on other peoples posts and “find” me out there anyways. She was always good at that.

My final point…  I have deleted my facebook for a second time and this time, I have emotions about it.  I feel as if I am having withdrawal symptoms. I feel as if I have cut off my contact with the world, as if I NEED facebook to survive.  I feel empty, lost, and well… like an addict who has had his object of dependence removed.  I feel as if there are people out there who will miss me… but not people I will miss mind you. The only thoughts in my head after the previous sentence are these “you really feel people know you are on facebook enough to miss you when you are gone?” The answer is… I will probably have a handful of people who will notice I’m gone from facebook in the next 2 weeks and they will text me. The other thought is “the people I should miss on facebook when I deleted my account are people I have contact with through cell phone and texting – I won’t miss a thing!” The other 400+ people know how to find me by other people or by address or phone if they want to maintain a relationship with me.

For me, facebook takes major life events or major monumental topics and just makes me feel as if I am losing my mind. Currently, I am in a Masters of Social Work degree program with a goal to become a LCSW and provide counseling and therapy for people.  I’ve learned that facebook is a great place to start merging your education and observations with people who fit different diagnosis, problem descriptions, and labels.  This makes me incredibly insane. Add to this my family background, my life’s experiences, the trauma’s I’ve experienced in my own personal life, my failures, my successes, and my spiritual roots, values, and ethics that create the person I am, and there before you is a recipe for disaster!

Facebook…. a conglomeration of a few of my 425 friends PLUS my post regarding the generalized outlook of any topic that appalls me EQUALS a painted picture of myself as a know-it-all fanatic who is intolerant and unsympathetic.

The truth is, my family and friends – my true friends (the ones who have my cell number and can text me or call me any hour of the night to wake me and I will be by their side)…they know me. They know I am not intolerant. They know I have love so deep in my heart for people and humanity that it is unending.  They know that I am a helper and counselor at heart, one who wishes to see other people not live in pain and desperation due to their circumstance.  They know I am a teacher and educator and long to see people learn and thrive with knowledge. My friends and family are not phased by my “posts” on facebook, because they know where I come from and where I am going. They know that those who are phased… are the ones who need to hear what I have to say most.

What I’ve learned about facebook from my current perspective is this. A person who desires to teach and invest so much of themselves into the lives of other people may find themselves overloaded with the issues and opportunities that facebook presents. Facebook has become an open forum that seems to overstimulate my mind and emotions to highs that I don’t think I know how to handle any more. In light of major issues, I cannot handle 425 people conversing back and forth on a spectrum of hate and intolerance to love and Godly mercy. I don’t even know how to fall into that category except to find myself frustrated with attempting to understand, save, and solving 425 people of the worlds problems in one night!

One might laugh by reading this. I’m sure it is easy for my readers to think “why put that type of pressure on yourself?” Or “no-one expects you to save or solve anything… we are just out there to have a good time!” But think of it in this light. Place a computer programmer in the midst of a broken computer program running on a screen and tell him to watch the issues he sees and not fix them.  Tell a teacher to sit in a classroom of struggling first graders who cannot do something that seems so simple as adding two numbers and ask her to sit back and not say anything to help them understand.  Tell a mother who see’s her child doing something the hard way to sit back and not intervene in showing them a better way that will save them time, effort, and give them a way to complete a task with little frustration.

If your view of life, people, heartache, situations, circumstances, numbers, or spirituality… holds experience or education that can make a situation better for someone you love or something you care about, it is nearly impossible to let the passion sit inside of you and let things go. Unfortunately, we are not equipped as one person to handle 425 people’s comments and issues on any given day. Thank God I’ve realized that now… even though I still feel as if I’ve learned it too late.

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Know Me…

I’ve come to realize that while I have many acquaintences, there are very few that “know me” for the person I truly am.  This morning I was told by a friend of almost 28 years “I don’t know how you do all you do. Seriously.”  Even after 28 years, she didn’t understand what makes me tic, what makes me have drive in life and never give up.  She didn’t understand where my passion for others comes from.  This was my time to share with her the depth of my heart. Here how the conversation flowed:

Her: I don’t know how u do all u do. Seriously.

Me: I think I love people so much and care about them so much that I just keep going – including my kids

Her: That’s it! The hate and anger I have bogs me down. :/

Me: What? That’s terrible! Why do you have so much hate and anger?

Her: I don’t know. I wish I did. Maybe it’s because I’m not around u enough.

ME: Oh gosh don’t know if that is it. But it’s the people who have hurt me and people I hate what they do to other people who make me more determined to put myself out there an attempt to help other people. And most of the time I succeed. There are some people that I hate everything they are due to my experiences (because they hurt people in ways that are unimaginable and painful) but once again, even they make me more determined to put myself out there and help people.

Each of us can help people. First- to learn not to be like those people. Second- learn not to let people like that ruin their lives and stand strong. Third – learn that there is a standard of treating people that makes for trust and great relationships and happiness, and fourth, help people realize that they can change the world in simple ways just by changing yourself – both your world and the lives of those around you.

I spend every day pouring into my kids and my friends and other people, just trying to help someone see there are quality choices in life that will make their lives worth living and full of joy. My kids and my husband get it. But there is a world of hurting people and a world of closed minded people who just can’t get it yet. This is why I learn and educate myself and try every day to make a difference in someone’s life, because people deserve to be happy and not a product of their negative environment. But it takes work and learning what and who to allow influencing your life.

We all make mistakes, we all falter, but without my true friends, I would not have been able to pull myself out of the devastating life circumstances that have made me who I am today. Now it’s my chance to pay it forward and attempt to interact with people and help them become all they can be. I guess that is why I have chosen the field I am in and strive to understand it and people every day. People don’t always make the right choices or say the right things, but sometimes it is simply bringing it to their attention and giving them a more desirable way to present themselves that allows them to soar in life. That is my hope, to teach and admonish, to provide wisdom, and hopefully model this behavior every day.  When I don’t model this behavior each and ever day, even I have trusted friends and others who are stable, loving and strong to bring me back to center and make me realize I need to refocus and change my heart.

Ultimately, my closest friends know the many devastating things that have turned me into the person I am today. From loss to rape, from abuse to finding women at a battered women shelter who were willing to care for my battered sick and pregnant body and my crushed spirit as well as my 1 year old. From a divorced alcholoic father to not one but two abusive marriages to alcoholic men. These are the things that devastate us and bring us anger and hate, or cause us to become passionate about the world around us and passionate about confronting those who abuse their right to use their selfish spirit and decisions to destroy others.

When you have been influenced by people whose bad choices have impacted your life in ways that you never deserved or dreamed, you want to shed light on individual strengths that people have and empower them to become better, choose better, trust in a higher power, have faith, learn to trust, build healthy friendships and make good decisions.

This is where my passion and my faith take me. This is where my heart speaks from. This is where my opinions don’t matter – and my vision becomes clear that there are hurting… devastated… lost… hopeless people out there and I don’t want to be the one who pushes them over the edge and pushes them away from life, faith, hope, and intense love.

I feel God has granted me vision for the hurting and those who need just one person who can tame their opinions and judgments so that this person can then provide a trusting place where the hurting can reach out and find strength, healing, and a direct access back to life, purity, faith, hope, and love. I hope to become that person as I grow with wisdom throughout the rest of my days.

Posted in Know me | 2 Comments

“Facebook Has Blocked Your Ability to Request Friends”

I have had nothing but trouble with Facebook friend requests for some time now. As if this is not enough stress, this social media outlet tortures me with it every time I sign on.  Today, I took the bait.  Don’t know why, but maybe someone will read my response to them – or not. Here is a word for those of you out there who have hundreds of friend requests just sitting in your in-box … and you plan to never do anything with them – MY DAUGHTER! Just deny their request and move on.

Give Friend Request Feedback –
Not so sure they want it but here goes!

  • Please let us know why you’ve sent friend requests to people who don’t know you: What an amazing accusation and assumption that is probably incorrect for the thousands of people that they send it to!
  • (For requests sent in the past six months)
  • “You’ve been blocked from sending friend requests temporarily because multiple people you sent friend requests to indicated that they don’t know you or have left you pending in their request list for too long. We’re sorry.” Temporarily has now turned into several weeks.
  • Thanks for taking the time to give us feedback. Unfortunately, we can’t respond to individual feedback emails, but we are reading them. Wow, then why answer your question?

MY RESPONSE TO FACE BOOK THIS MORNING WHEN I LOGGED ON…

I am a 42 year old woman who NEVER sends a friend request to people I don’t know. Recently, I have tried to go back and locate people from high school, such as my best friend, our old neighbor and her husband, my husbands best friend.  In the process, I sent facebook requests to those that I saw that I had been looking for – for years.  Many of them accepted me right away. I can still name the ones who haven’t, and many of those requests just sit there just pending.  I’ve actually gone to their pages and it still states “Friend request pending” which means they have just left my request there with no response. I cannot account for that, yet it stops me from adding people I wish to add in the future.  Truly, the people who have friend requests just pending should have a penalty for not responding to them, and those requests should time out and be dropped if they are not answered within a week.  That way I don’t look as if I’m stalking people, requesting friend requests from people whom I do not know (which is never the case), and I would not be typing this ridiculous letter to someone out there who will not respond (From the statement below this box that states “Unfortunately we can’t respond to individual feedback emails but we are reading them.”

I feel that if you have the time to individually block me and not observe my activity and WHY I am blocked from requesting friends, then you should take the individual time to respectfully consider exactly how many friend requests have gone unanswered and how many have been rejected – and then notify me that this is the case.

To top this off, I  logged onto facebook this morning and it said “Add friends whom you know” or something of the like, and named all of these people – most of whom I know – that I could click “Send friend request” to and ask to add them.  I found my 20 year long pastor on there – the one I haven’t seen since he buried my mother back in our home state some 5 years ago.  When I tried to add him – at YOUR offer – it reminded me that I am blocked because I supposedly “Sent friend requests to people who don’t know me” in the past six months and brought me here.

Please know that if my work did not require me to administrate their face-book page, I would not have a face-book.  For so many reasons and more, Facebook has been a nightmare instead of a social network that promotes connections, friendships and positive experiences.  It’s definitely not worth the time I spend to write about issues such as this.

Unfortunately, there are many people on face book who are on here to restore friendships, not beef up the number of “friends” in their list to see how high the number goes. I’m just one of those who has been affected by a computerized program that lacks human touch and administration, and apparently, I’m just one of thousands.

PS. When is the last time face book took time to look at this page and many others regarding this feature. This is really really sad!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/You-have-been-blocked-from-adding-friends/108299462551143

Posted in My Thoughts | 8 Comments