We Are Strong. You Are Strong. I Am Strong.

My life was filled with abuse, betrayal, struggle, broken hearts, and lies.  I didn’t let it define me in a negative way.  I used my struggles to become the person I am today….I didn’t know at the time I was tough.  I never saw myself as strong.  I didn’t see myself as someone of any worth.  I was told by people all around me that I would never be anything or anyone.  I was told all the time that I wasn’t important, wasn’t worthy, and wouldn’t succeed.  Maybe their definition of success was wrong….because here I am now.  I’m strong….I had to find my strength, but I did.  I am worthy…..I am loved….and I help other people find that.  I’ve made mistakes, and I’ve taken wrong turns.  I’ve believed in people who never believed in me.  I have hit rock bottom. I found myself alone too many times because I believed what they all told me.  They were liars.  They were there to bring me down…..and they couldn’t.  It may have seemed at times that they did…..but I always got back up.  But not always by myself….there were many hands that reached down to pull me up to where I am today.  True people….with good hearts.  I’m here today….the person I am today….because of everything I went through in the past.  I let it define me….but only as someone who doesn’t let their struggles bring them down.  As a person who overcomes.

Don’t let your past define you in a negative way.  That is just too easy.  Use your past as inspiration to move forward stronger and wiser.

Katie.

Unchanging Bonds

Yesterday I gathered with a group of people I consider family as we supported our friend at the memorial service for his son.  This is no ordinary group of people…..but co-workers who learned to lean on each other through all the good and bad times in our lives.

I worked for 13 years at the State of Michigan as a case worker.  I processed applications for food assistance, Medicaid, disability, and emergency services.  I handled caseloads much higher than I should have, and I came home most days exhausted and emotionally spent.  13 years of hearing people at their worst.  Most of the time I was yelled at by clients and/or managers.  I was cussed out, threatened, begged, and hardly ever thanked.  It was the best and worst job I ever had….something I had hoped would be my life long career…..but that wasn’t meant to be.

The relationships I made during my time there are still strong.  We are the only people who understand what we went through on a daily basis.  We went through hell together.  We went through milestones together.  We laughed to try to forget how hard the days were.  We saw each other be treated like machines rather than people.  And we always supported each other.  These people became my family.  And even though I’m no longer there, our bond is still that strong.   A place like that changes you, it makes you different, and no one else understands that.

As we all sat together and cried as our friend expressed his love for his only son in front of a crowded church…..I was reminded of our deep bond.  I cried for him and his loss….and I felt that loss.  This was a person I called my work husband.  He is truly an amazing person, someone you can always count on, and it broke my heart to see his pain.  As I hugged him afterwards….many times….it was like no time had passed…..even though a million things have happened since I last saw him.  But people like this…..time doesn’t change how we are together.

Ironically…..today is the anniversary of the day that I started that job.  January 13, 2003.  16 years ago today I started a job that would lead me to people I cannot live without.  No matter the outcome of that job…..I will forever be grateful for that.  And they all feel the same way….we need each other.  Time or distance will never change that bond.

Katie

Are You Thankful?

Now….I didn’t ask what you are thankful for…..I was very specific with my question.  Are you actually thankful?

Anyone who has gone through hard times will tell you that it’s not easy to find a reason to be thankful when you are in the moment.  The difficulty you are facing is what consumes your every thought and feeling…..but even in those horrible times, there are reasons to be thankful.

Was I thankful that I went through cancer?  No.  Thankful that I had to go through aggressive treatments that nearly killed me?  No.  Thankful that I’m still living with the effects of cancer treatments today? No.  But I’m here.  And let me tell you, I am thankful for that.  And looking back……I’m thankful for so many other things.

I’m thankful for friends and family that never turned their back on me.  I’m thankful for medical professionals that worked tirelessly to save my life.  I’m thankful that I grew as a person through one of the hardest times of my life.  I’m thankful for the opportunities that have come my way and the friends I have made because of my journey.  I’m thankful.

I know what you are thinking….it’s easy to look back and say you can be thankful, because you are no longer in it.  I know.  You are absolutely right.  We go through horrible awful times….and this post isn’t trying to take away from that.  When we are broken, down, out, defeated, and just done……you don’t want some happy person coming along telling you to count your blessings.  I’ve had those people, and I want to throat punch them.  Everyone gets to have their feelings.  You can sit in them and feel them….but you do have to come out.  That is when you look around you and find at least one thing to be thankful for.  That one thing will keep you going and get you started.

Life is really sucky right now.  Maybe it’s that time of year….or maybe sucky things are just happening all around me right now.  People I love are going through awful things.  People are losing their lives.  People are being diagnosed with diseases that can kill them.  People are facing hardships that can crush them.  I feel it.  I am too.  And it’s so much easier to sink in to my broken heart and stay there.  I’ve been trying every single day to be thankful.  Some days I don’t.  Some days I just can’t.

But I am thankful.  I have a beautiful family, and they are all safe and healthy.  I have food to feed them and a house to keep them in.  I have friends that are like family.  They lift me up when I’m falling.  Right now I have my health, migraines be damned!

I’m no Mary Sunshine….but finding at least one thing to be thankful for while you are going through hell can sometimes give you a glimmer of hope.  And that glimmer is what you go toward to get yourself out of it.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, where ever you may go.

Katie 🙂

Another year…..

This is something I will always write about…..because it had such a great impact on my life.  Another year will come and go…..without my baby sister.

I’ve talked about her before….we lost her a couple of weeks before her first birthday from meningitis.  It devastated our family.  She would be 29 this year…..and it’s just one of the really weird things that line up for this year…..

I was 10 and in the 5th grade when she passed away 11/9/1990.  I remember the day….it was a half day at school on a Friday.  I was excited to ride the bus home without the high school kids…..we got to sit in the back when they weren’t there.  This year…..my oldest daughter is 10, in the 5th grade, and has a half day this friday, the 9th.  Crazy, eh?  She was also named after my sister, her middle name is Rebecca.  And just a little bit of a stretch….I had Hailey a couple of weeks before I turned 29…..    I can’t help but look at my daughters and the relationship they have with each other.  I’m so extremely thankful I had all girls…..because I missed out on having a sister in my life.  I love seeing them together and knowing they have something so precious.

And at this age……I can look back and see just how many “sisters” I have and had in my life.  They always say that if you can find just a few close friends in your lifetime you have been extremely blessed.  I can say that I’ve had so many amazing women in my life that I can call sister….and even though I still feel heartbroken over the fact I didn’t get to go through life with mine….I’ve had so many women to step in and help fill that void.

So in this anniversary month where I remember my sister, I also count my blessings.  I have 3 beautiful daughters who will get that sister relationship, and I have so many beautiful friends that are like sisters.

Katie 🙂

 

Let’s Talk About It….

There have been two very public people who recently lost their lives to suicide.  And yes…..I said lost their lives.  They have made public a very real issue in our world, one that is still so hard for people to talk about openly.  There are so many misconceptions about suicide and mental illness.

I used to be that person.  The one who thought you just had to snap out of it, and you would be fine.  That taking your life was just a coward’s way out.  I thought all of this even after I had my own time of crisis my first year in college.

I truly thought if I snapped out of it and everyone else should be able to do the same thing.  Then life hit again…..and it got bad again, and I couldn’t just snap out of it.  I found myself falling in to myself…..deeper and deeper.  Life was crazy around me and it helped me fall further…..until I actually had to get help.  Mental illness runs in my family.  Depression, anxiety, and I’m sure other undiagnosed things.  I truly believed that you only had to change your attitude and you could be fine.  I also had people all around me telling me…..just count your blessings…..you are better off than most…….you are stronger than this.  Those are people who just don’t know and have never experienced it.  Or they are like me, and don’t know yet just how bad it can be.

Going through cancer and living with my new normal life after gave me a new perspective on life.  Life is complicated, difficult, heartbreaking, and just so damn hard.  And sometimes you just can’t help the way your mind works against you.  When I was going through therapy a few years ago, I told her about something I heard that made it all click for me.  Your brain is another organ in your body…..and just like your heart, or liver, or any other part of your body…..it can get sick.  And when you get sick…..you treat it.  Sometimes your mind truly plays against you.  It doesn’t mean you as a person is bad…..but your brain is sick and makes you think some terrible things.  Some people never get over what their brain is telling them and it becomes overwhelming.  And your brain will tell you that you don’t need help.  Overcoming those thoughts to get help is one of the hardest things……and I will never again look at someone to dies by suicide as weak or as a coward.  Something is wrong and they never got the help they truly needed.  This is controversial!  There are people who strongly believe they are cowards and selfish.  I used to be that person, even in the midst of my own personal trials.

You know when a person you love isn’t well.  You can tell they are different, changing, or in a bad way.  Sometimes you have to be the person they need…..the person who steps in and helps them realize they aren’t alone and they need some help.  Getting help isn’t a sign of weakness.  And getting help can literally be life or death.

NO ONE IS ALONE!!!!!!  Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help, ask for a listening ear, lean on those that are willing to be there.  We have seen recently just how deep those feelings can go, no matter how successful you are,  loved by the world you are, rich you are, or strong you think you are…….this hits everyone.

My heart breaks for those who didn’t realize it didn’t have to be so hopeless……but I also have a better understanding for those thoughts that are hard to fight.  Honestly…..I struggle daily with thoughts that creep in and I know what I need to do if they become to overwhelming or strong.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you feel lost, alone, and hopeless.  I may not have the perfect words or solutions…..but I’m a willing listener and supporter.

Katie.