Dirty little secrets

I have eluded to the fact that my world has not been all that great and the road not so smooth.

I have plenty of dirty little secrets in my closet, that for most of my life, I have gone through extreme measures to keep those secret very very very protected and locked up.

You see, I always feared people finding out the truth. The fear of what will they think of me, will they judge me –NO I know they will judge me–, what if what if what if! The fear of people knowing the “real” story of me was crippling. I spent much of my days portraying one persona while covering up the reality.

I grew up in a small town, Cocoa Beach, Florida.  Born and raised in this tiny little town. My dad had no filter- he still doesn’t.  So everyone in this small town always knew my business (our business).  They still do 🙂

Growing up I didn’t realize how people probably already knew my story, looking back I realize that my efforts and worry were futile because my dad was good about announcing everything to anyone anyways 🙂

So anyways, I would venture to say most of my childhood friends had no idea of exactly what my life was behind closed doors.  Then around my teen years I hit a patch where I just didn’t give a flying f**k and had no filter and spoke anything and everything that was on my mind.

Then I hit an age where I said, oh shit, what have I done.  Realizing too many people had learned of my dirty little secrets, I packed up and moved. I ran. It’s easy to run. Fresh start. Leave everything behind. But you know what, running doesn’t FIX ANYTHING.

It took me a few years to figure this out though. So I ran aka moved quite a few times before returning to Cocoa Beach to face “my shit”.

I am now 36 years old.  From the ages of 17ish-present I have struggled with the flip flopping of talking and being open vs. PROTECT YOUR SECRETS AT ALL COSTS. It would come and go in waves.  Only a few of my deepest closest friends knew the truth.

I would analyze and reflect to determine why I was so worried if people knew the truth and it always came back to a few things: being judged, what will people think, can’t hide behind false perceptions anymore, no take backs, will my reputation be tarnished, the list goes on BUT it really all boils down to my concern of society and what they would think of me. I mean heaven forbid someone knows that my life isn’t PERFECT and that I am human and have my trials and tribulations and succeed and fail sometimes. Heaven forbid I AM NOT PERFECT RATHER I AM HUMAN!!

I was always so so concerned with my image and professionalism that I didn’t allow myself to be open about what made me who I am and what I am.  About 2 years ago my name was trashed online.  After spending my life personally and professionally keeping my image 100% —boom there it is my name trashed online.  Attacking my looks, my professional, my character, my person— the exact things I have spent my life maintaining.  I am not going to lie— what came next was deep deep dark days for me.  Wind knocked out of me, can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t breathe.  It wasn’t pretty at all. My closest friends will tell you- I was unrecognizable in both my personality and demeanor.  The online attacks came only a few months after the personal behind the scenes attacks that followed on the heels of a gruesome vicious discovery about my husband’s latest affair.

Life was a blur for many months. I reacted and responded in ways that I am definitely not proud of and quite honestly never knew possible for me.  I will tell you this, devastation and tragedy and sheer desperation will cause you to act in unexpected ways.

I slowly, very very slowly, started digging up from the grave I had fallen into and what began to happen  was freeing and amazing.  While I am not happy about the events that transpired, I will say that they forced me to make a choice 1) stay in the grave and live a oh so tragic and depressing existence or 2)grab myself by the bootstraps and pull myself up from the pit of despair like I had done so many times before in my life.  ONLY this time I was determined to also do something I had never had the strength to do before and that was STOP HIDING! STOP PRETENDING! START TALKING OPENLY and FREELY!

And that is exactly what I did.  Somewhere along the way in this journey I found myself with an opportunity to compete for a spot on American Grit season 2 with John Cena…..AND I DID IT!!! Boom, talk about sticking to your guns. I mean doesn’t get much more serious and businesslike then taking your “shit” to national tv and being 100% open and forthcoming!!! I have to tell you it has been a freeing experience.

When I tell you that I have not one BUT 2 Master’s degrees, own my own Licensed Private Investigation Agency,  am a college professor, a certified positive discipline educator…. what picture do you paint? What do you think of me? Think about it, go ahead draw some conclusions?

So let’s talk about these dirty little secrets for a minute.

  • I am a former foster care kid! My first stint in foster care was at the age of 8 and it was not a good situation. As a teen I was shuffled to so many foster homes and group homes, that I lost count.
  • I divorced my parents aka emancipated to get out of the foster care system.— up until recently my own children (including my almost 18 year old) had ZERO idea that I had ever been in foster care!
  • I am a survivor of sexual abuse and child abuse WHICH MEANS I was also a victim.
  • My mother abandoned me….. and when she did every so often pop back into my life, it wasn’t good.  She is a piece of work and has been a driving force in a prime example of the type of mother I don’t want to be.
  • I have been homeless as a kid.
  • I had my first child at the age of 18! By the time my son (now 17) was 6 weeks old, his dad had taken off and left us.
  • In 6th grade I was an attempted kidnapping victim
  • I have witnessed indecent exposure (ie grown men pulling up next to me as a kid and “jerking” it) several times. I had the smarts enough to grab the tag number, call 911, and later identify them. One of them sticks in my head to this day, as a Lockheed Martin employee with a family who had been caught more then once. To this day I pass the hotel where I id him from a cop car and I think about that.  I have always wondered what happened to him… meaning if he went to jail.
  • As an adult, I found myself in a domestically violent relationship that ultimately ended up with the man waiting for me in my home with a loaded gun one evening.
  • As an adult, I found myself in a marriage I was so so very lonely in but to crippled with fear and self doubt to stand up for myself and leave.
  • I struggle with letting people walk all over me like a door mat.
  • I struggle with not feeling good enough, wanted, loved etc.
  • In my marriage I experienced infidelity multiple times and I can say the devastation of infidelity rocks you to your core and drives you to heartbreaking places
  • I DIDN’T GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL, yep this 2 master’s degree individual has a GED!!!
  • I hope to go to PhD school one day, life dream and goal!

 

Statistics say I should be a hot mess! Have multiple kids, a criminal record, dropped out of high school, not gone to college etc.  Don’t get me wrong I have some hot mess issues and moments but all things considered I am a pretty well put together, well rounded individual! I am the first in my entire family to go to and graduate college.  I put myself through college (AA, BA, MS, MA plus a massage therapy license).

I have come a long way worrying about and protecting my “dirty little secrets”.  I later went to work for DCF as an investigator, the same exact office that had come and investigated my home and removed me so many times over. The same office that had assisted with bouncing me from home to home.  I have worked many years to face my past and find my voice but it has been a whole new level of work since August 2015 when my world crashed in on me in unthinkable unimaginable heartbreakingly painful ways.  I have found a voice and although sometimes I want to put duct tape over that voice, I have realized that there is freedom and growth in finding your voice and owning your journey.  Owning the events in your world that have made you who you are and brought you where you are today.

So, I’m putting it all out there. If my story reaches one person in a positive way then it is worth it! I am putting it all out there and am no longer concerned with what my name looks like online or on paper, or what others may think of me, or being judged because if you take the time to get to know me in real life then you will truly KNOW ME! Not the events that are part of my story!

 

Homeless +Acts of Kindness

The homeless population holds a special place in my heart. You see when I was growing up there was a period of time that I didn’t have a roof over my head. No one in school knew and would have never guessed it! No one would have guessed it! To this day when I tell someone, their jaw drops and as I sit here this second I have a family member who has no home.  Before you jump to conclusions, my home is always open to them…but for their own personal reasons they do not wish to leave where they are and come to my home.  I don’t have to agree with their reasons but I must respect their reasons.

I am all to aware of the fact that we are all just one wrong turn, one move, one devastating tragedy or event away from being homeless. We often walk around thinking it will never happen to me….but the truth is  you never know what card’s you are going to get dealt in life.

Life is messy. Life is unpredictable and you just never know what sudden turn or event is going to change your life forever (be it positive or not!). So, the homeless population holds a special place in my heart.

Last year July 2015 my family and I took a vacation to Colorado.  We have gone there several times and each time we travel around the state to several different places.  This time, we went to Colorado Springs. There was a really cool parkour event going on downtown.  We sort of stumbled upon the event and of course our 3 kids were hooked! So we spent virtually the entire day there in the park playing on the playground and watching the parkour competition and of course for the next few weeks EVERY WHERE WE WENT the kids were doing their own “awesome” version of parkour while excitedly yelling parkour 🙂

Anyhow, we went to dinner a few blocks away from the park/parkour competition. Like always, my food came and I immediately boxed half of it. I had ordered some vegetarian wrap sandwich thing.  I wrapped half of it up and saved some of the dipping sauce and chips that came with it.  Ate my other half….the whole time boasting about how good it was and was looking forward to eating my other half later!

We finished eating and went back to the park with my leftovers in hand.  As we got there my teen and I quickly spotted a younger man who was clearly homeless going through the trash cans. He would pick up bags of chips and rub his hands inside the bag to get the little crumbs and eat it. He picked up subway wrappers for crumbs. This man was HUNGRY!! He wasn’t faking it. He wasn’t standing on the side of the road “begging” for money and then leaving you to wonder is he really getting food. He was HUNGRY!! My son and I sat there for a few minutes and both sort of got teary eyed at how hungry he must be. I grabbed my husband and handed him my left over dinner and said, go ask this guy if he would like it. Let him know that I haven’t touched that half…. it was important to me. I didn’t want him to feel like I was giving him some of my half eaten food. I wanted him to know that he was a human and worth a true meal not some half eaten garbage.

They took my food over to him and he was quick to grab it and immediately sat down and within what seemed like seconds it was gone. My son watched him and commented as the guy scrapped every last drop of ranch dressing and crumb out of the container.

Meanwhile I am feeling “bad” because of all the food we had left over it was my boring crappy no meat dish and it was only half the dish at that. 🙂

I looked at my husband and son and saw a subway across the street while I stayed in the park with the kids.  I told them, go ask if he would like to get something else to eat. They walked him to subway. As he was ordering he tried to order a 6 inch sub and my husband told him, no- get a foot long, heck get 2! The guy was in shock.  Then bought him 2 footlong subs, some chips, and a drink and a $20 gift card.  They sat with him for a few minutes as he shared a bit of his story and how he has ended up on the streets.

It was a conversation piece for the rest of the evening. More in an educational way and me for the first time ever sharing my story with my son of how I once was “homeless” and didn’t have a home as a kid. This man was on my mind and heart all day and night long. Low and behold the next day we saw the same guy walking into a 7-11 gas station that was about a 15 minute car ride from where we saw him the day before. It was nice to see him again. I still think about him often.

It was a valuable educational piece for our children, especially the teen.  It was a reminder of how we take things for granted.  That half a sub we throw away because it had mayo and we said no mayo or the chips we toss because they are “stale” …someone else would eat those things and not complain one bit. In fact, they would be grateful. Makes you realize life is really about perspective sometimes and being grateful versus entitled.

This story came to my heart today as I came across this story: You can make a difference—homeless acts of kindness

I challenge you to take opportunities to connect and make a difference in someone’s life. Next time you see someone rooting through trash for a meal or sitting looking sad and down in life, rather than judge them, be thankful for what you have in life, grab their hand–TREAT THEM LIKE A HUMAN BECAUSE THEY ARE, and feed their bellies!