With this blog, I am endeavoring to follow the guidance of the (capital U) Universe, and now appears to be the time where I back things up a bit. Before I start I want to say that I have been through years of therapy and spiritual  recovery, and the way I feel about my circumstances in life is decidedly not how I have always felt. In fact, if you told me ten or fifteen years ago that I would feel the way I do… I would have been highly skeptical of your sanity. I wouldn’t have believed that the peace of true forgiveness would ever, ever, ever be available to me. So I know how I sound to you, if perhaps you had a similiar (read: not so great) start to life.

The details are not particularly important, I know there’s all types of suffering that children go through on a daily basis. What I will say is that bits of my story are hard for me to believe sometimes when I relate them to others, even now. Or especially now, I’m not sure which. A not-so-surprising fact is that much of my childhood memories are gone. I remember enough to relate my story to women (and an occasional man, when I speak at a public level) that have suffered from the same loneliness and isolation that seems to go hand in hand with abuse of any kind, at any age, any stage of life.

I also must be sure to say my youth was not a crapfest 100% of the time. I particularly treasure the time I spent with my cousins. (Kristina, Danah, Kim and Pete – thank you for your wildly different personalities and all the love and fun of those summers we spent by various pools, sans parents. Ironically, I think we all were safest when we were together in our world, isolated from our ill- equipped guardians for long, sunny, heavily chlorinated periods of time.) Just like me, they were forced out of true childhood – extremely quickly! – and true to our diverse characters, we all managed in our own ways…

Reading this post back, I realize now is the time where I give you a disclaimer: Because my faith tells me that I’m meant to tell my story in order to help others be free of theirs, I am about to lay some heavy stuff on you. Feel free to stop here if you’re not in the mood to follow me down the rabbit hole.

I’ve been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from my early years. You may (but hopefully not) be able to relate to the feeling that danger could appear at any moment, from any direction, and that letting your guard down was just a guarantee that it was only going to be that much worse when you remembered why you had it up in the first place.

Regardless of what was happening to my physical body or my young spirit, I was dealing with a third antagonist in the form of my own mind. I felt shame and disgust toward myself. I had no trouble making friends with kids my own age, but I lived in fear that they would find out the “truth about me” which would obviously repel them. And then they would tell everyone else and the whole world would know how awful I was, and I would be abandoned and no one would ever love me. As melodramatic as it is, I know a lot of people that have dealt with this fear.

So that is how I used to live, nay, survive. I was pretty sure everybody knew stuff I didn’t about life and how to live it. Confused and unable to ask for help, I fumbled along the best I could. I had always learned to take what life gave, grin and bear it… yet deep inside I held a seed of hope. A secular upbringing didn’t prevent me from believing that there was “something out there.” It never occurred to me that I could make a conscious contact with that higher power, or that I could put my faith in it. Still, I never gave up that seed of hope for a true life, one where I felt okay.

Whenever I think back to my younger self, I take a moment to send her love and a message of hope, reassurance that she is going to find a solution to the problem that is her life. I promise her that if she just holds on, great things are coming her way in the form of unconditional acceptance, peace and safety. Who knows? Maybe that’s why I was willing to continue to struggle through. I like to think so, and the fact that I’m able to honestly assure my past self of her happy and secure future makes my heart swell with gratitude.

I’m so proud of that scared and strange girl that I used to be. She was tougher than she thought, she worked harder than she believed she could and she got better, in spite of her fears and doubts to the contrary.

Today, I truly believe that my experience was given to me by divine intention, so that I could bear witness to what can happen through faith and perseverance. Admitting that I needed help (and gathering the courage to ask for it!) was the beginning of a lifetime process of attempting to become the best human I possibly can. If just one person that reads this post starts to trust in their own ability to truly be free, then it was all worth it.