I was just cleaning up around here and found a few relics from a life long ago. It was less than a year ago when that life came tumbling down…but it may as well have been 10 years ago from today.
I am ashamed to type this part because I’ve never been a victim. I still refuse to be one. And, this part is necessary so here we go.
The last few years of my life were wrought with a special form of abuse that was exploitative, manipulative, and aggressive. I let the wrong people into my world and and as a result I completely lost everything. While there was one primary culprit, there were others. A pack mentality developed among them and I was ganged up on, teased, taunted, bullied, and picked apart. By the time I became very sick, they pounced. I was left with nothing but wreckage when it was all over.
When the pack moved on, I had no idea it was preparing me for something far more wretched than what I had already experienced.
I have a friend who I’ve been close to since we met in camp in the fifth grade. She has held me while I grieved relationship losses, she’s held my hair back while we were young and in our 20’s (and of course, took the required blackmail photos). She’s celebrated with me when celebrating was necessary and talked and listened when that was the best medicine of all (shoot, it still is). She’s THAT person for me. I wouldn’t have made it had it not been for her guiding light, her love, and patience.
Why am I writing about this here, though?
I’m writing about how horrid things were because I’m scared to do it.
I’m writing about how horrid things were because…well…it could have been a lot worse.
I’m writing about how horrid things were because I am thankful for my horrid experience.
The days and weeks after March 4 at 1:07AM were a blur.
Without realizing it, I narrowed my focus and expanded it only when necessary. The only person I had in my line of sight was Brad. I’d never been thrust into such trauma. I remember my brain moving at lightening speed; assessing and reassessing need and planning accordingly.
It was intense.
There were so many questions and condolences and media and questions and condolences and media and…it could have made anyone’s head spin. I was flooded with information beyond my processing capabilities. On top of that, I still had to tend to my business; care for my clients, their families, my employees.
Then, one morning, I was in my office, and I saw an email under my “family” tab. I hadn’t seen that light up in a while so I clicked on it. It was from someone I love dearly. This person knew I was involved with Brad and that we were together even before most people knew. Technically, the person is no longer family but will always hold a special place within me. The message was short.
I’m so glad…that you have found your place; you have moved forward and have even a greater purpose than you did from days past…Walk forward…with life less complicated than it needs to be…This is your place and your gift…You prioritize the heart.
It was loving and while it welled my heart, it tightened the space between my chest and my neck almost instantly. At first I didn’t believe them. I didn’t think I was worthy of such kind words. This person went on to share, later, they were sure had I not experienced my past, my current set of circumstances could have been far more challenging.
I’ve had folks tell me they weren’t sure about me at first. Some people thought I’d kind of…disappear. I was told it was because, well, who in earth can handle something like this when the relationship is brand new? Others shared they thought I was going to try and steal the limelight. I was told it was because, well, it’s Brad and…well…media…
I so appreciate their honesty and candor. I do. I love these people. The only thing I wanted to disappear was this tragedy and I couldn’t do that. So, I created a safe place for Brad wherein he could disappear. The only thing I wanted to steal was more time. More time for all of us.
Looking back at my haggard and recent past, I have clarity and realize that yeah, it could have been a lot worse.
Had my friend not been there for me I wouldn’t be here for Brad.
She carried me when I fell last year; she (literally) held me up when I couldn’t hold myself. She helped me find my strength, stability and sense of self, again.
Though fragile on the exterior, she helped me light the fire deep in my belly and solidify convictions. She didn’t let me quit on life and reminded me. She reminded me who I was, who I am and what I’m capable of. Because of her, I made it through and was able to be present, wholly and fully, for someone who needed it.
So, I’m writing to thank my friend and encourage you all to take a page out of her playbook, and…one out of Maddy’s. There is so much more to be gained by being kind instead of being right.
Being kind is a gift we give to others when we receive it from others too.
Thank you, my friend. I love you.