Top twelve life lessons

  1. Root for the underdog.

This lesson is particularly valuable, which is why it will be my #1 motto. I first admit that I am an underdog. In researching children from single parent families, particularly those who experienced abuse, it is possible to get stuck or to rebel. When you root for the underdog, you believe that hard work and human connection can move people forward. As a teacher, I always root for the underdog student. Find those with barriers and be the never-ending cheerleader who believes in them. Whether your struggles are in school or society, I root for you.

  1. Be who you needed when you were younger.

As a child, my grandfather was this person for me. I remember sitting fearful in fifth grade to receive my social studies test back. When the teacher passed it back, I turned it over without looking at the grade and stuffed it inside my red folder. I came home from school and told him that I knew I failed my first test and could not look. He told me to pass him the folder and he looked. He said, “I am so proud of you because you got 57% of the test correct.” It changed my way of thinking and helped me realize that people are proud of who you are based on what you put in, not based on perfection. Identify who has shaped your life for the better. Everyone needs a constant friend who tells them they are kind and beautiful. More importantly than having this friend, be this person.

  1. Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse “I love you.”

This is a quote from one of my favorite songs, but it simply states so much.

  1. Forgive.

This is one of the most loving things you can do. Do not hold onto bad feelings. A few years ago, I made the decision to forgive the males who hurt me in college in that hallway. How did I do it? I found it within myself to think of everything I would say to them if I ever saw them again. I wrote it down. I then determined that I didn’t realize my own courage until I experienced this. Sure, I could have done without this happening. But it made me realize the importance of staying connected to others. I dropped the ball and found that I distanced myself from friendships because at the time, I couldn’t allow people to know this happened to me (shame). Over time, some of my friendships came back. I am sorry for allowing this event to cause me to become withdrawn and scared. But, over time, you see who comes back, which are the relationships you can trust.

I wrote a forgiveness letter that I never sent, but one that empowered me to move on. I chose to forgive them because I believe that people can change.. I wouldn’t want someone to be punished for choices they made. I wish that they move on and do good with their lives.

  1. Smile.

Smile at everyone you meet. It spreads warmth and light. Smiling at strangers can make someone’s day. Everyone’s smile is unique and it is a gift that spreads joy.

  1. Give.

I was recently at a graduation speech where the superintendent stated, “Giving is the highest form of living.” I agree with this. You can give things like your time. You can give praise. You can give words of encouragement. Give to people who need it and also give thanks to those who stick by you. Give a compliment to a stranger. Give an anonymous note or compliment to a company about an employee. Tell someone a story to make them laugh. Give a live happy note to someone who pushes carts at a grocery store to keep them going. For every compliment you receive, give four to others. For every time you complain, give four positive affirmations.

  1. Write letters and send them.

Write letters to people and make it part of your routine. Write cards of gratitude and also forgiveness. Write positive messages to people just because. I like to do this with my letterboard. It can really make a person’s day! I also like to leave notes in mailboxes at work. I write notes to students all the time. Leave a note on someone’s windshield for unexpected kindness. Write a poem. Too often people only communicate with text. Letter writing is a lost art, and it is powerful.  Put something in your handwriting or create something and watch how much more meaningful it is. Included in this post is a note from a student, written seven years ago. This student experienced abandonment from both parents. This student had behaviors that made him difficult to manage. I requested to have this student in my class. He had a great year!

It was the first and only student I shared my story with. At the end of the year, he wrote me this note. I kept it and will always cherish it because it was a student I reached. “When I grow up I want to be just like you.” “You are my number 1 role model and I am a BIG fan of yours.”  If you write to me, I will always write back.

  1. Set your own expectations and finish lines.

This came with the tough lesson that I cannot meet some of the unreasonable expectations that others have for me. I love making lists with lofty goals. I avoid self-criticism for not completing everything on my lists. I like to set a lot of finish lines so I can continue to work hard and stay motivated. The best lesson has come with removing morality when it comes to expectations. There is not always a right or wrong, or a good or bad. Doing what is good for you is the best way to approach and to set expectations.

  1. Show up for others.

When a student or any person asks me to show up for something—a show, to talk, to listen, for coffee, for a walk—the answer is always yes, whenever possible. Yes, I will come see your Christmas show. Yes,  I will sit for two hours to hear your ten word solo in one song! Yes, I will surprise an old student seven years later at a band concert. Yes,  I will drive an hour to see you for five minutes. Yes, I will video chat you when you are receiving your chemo treatment.  Showing up and being present for that person is a way to show you care. And when you empower others, you amplify your impact.

  1. If you have been invited to the room, you belong in the room. If you belong in the room, you have a seat the table. If you have a seat at the table, you have a responsibility to speak. Do not sit at the table you have been invited to and not speak. Let the room hear your voice.

Words are your power.

  1. If you have been lucky enough to be endowed with the gift of resiliency, take each lesson or life blessing and move forward. Do not get stuck feeling the weight of baggage. Get up, go forward, and do good.

12. Know your inherent worth, and remember it when people choose to walk away. ❤

Number 12 is a continuous work in progress because it is one of my biggest fears. I have tried to protect and guard myself if I feel like someone is about to walk away. But it is through trusting relationships that I can share this and feel accepted. When I decided to start seeing a therapist to talk about my anxiety, she asked why I was there sitting on her couch. She said I have already, within myself, done a lot of work. I believe you can always do even better.

My current list includes conquering anxiety through recognizing my three main anxieties.

  1. Fear of abandonment
  2. Fear of hallways in apartments or hotels.
  3. Fear of being wrongly accused (because of pictures/false accusations during court in college)

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The Other Side of the Door

Generally at train stations you see parallel tracks, each leading in different directions to go to different final destinations. In my case, you can take a train into Philadelphia or away from it. I believe that these tracks can serve as a metaphor for different pathways we take in our lives.

When we set a goal, it is easy to think our brains are wired in that once we get on these paths that we cannot hop off and cross the tracks into bad habits. For some of us, once we get started we believe we have the past in the rearview. But the truth is, we can often get stuck, reverse, fall off the tracks, and head in the opposite direction, despite how far we are. And for some of us, it is a lot more abstract to know when we have conquered our inner most battles, arriving at that final destination.

In my life, I have found that body image is a place where I can become stuck, particularly after a big setback. When I attended college, I was pretty much average in size.

After my episode in the apartment hallway, I discovered that my connection to my body seemed very distant. I experienced what I would describe as a lack of control in the aftermath of the experience, leading to uncomfortable feelings.

For years, I have worked on developing healthy habits to conquer these feelings. About three years ago, I developed plans to lose weight, and did so successfully. But I found that no matter if I met or exceeded my goals, breaking bad habits is easier said than done.

I consider myself determined to the max. I love staying focused and committed to goals. But sometimes no matter how far we get away from bad habits, we are still not immune to going back to bad places. Most recently, I experienced the loss of someone very close to me—someone who always viewed me as beautiful. Staying connected, supporting other people, and forgiving not only others, but yourself, is a way to stay focused and on track. In my previous post, I talk a lot about ways I stay connected to students, friends, and the impact of writing letters, and showing up for people.

The tough thing is, no matter how far we come from bad ways, thoughts, or habits—the other side of the tracks is generally running, right there on the other side of the tracks.

When I first began teaching, I assumed the position of a reading specialist who hung one of my favorite poems on the door. I start off each year with this poem, and place it on my door so that students can see that they can do and become anything if they feel connectedness and take risks.

The Other Side of the Door also sits on my book shelf at home. Wherever you are going, stay on track through connection to yourself and to others.

🙂

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I got this old guitar and a brand new set of strings

The months following the February incident were very lonely, desperate at times, and scary.  There was a lot happening around me and inside of me, and I was continuing to live alone as an RA and not talk about the event with anyone.

I remember walking into Statistics class the week after the event. A group of girls were talking about what had happened to someone who went to the off campus apartment. There were many whisperings, some misconstrued information, and rumors about who was involved. I sat in silence saying nothing.

I had an unspoken agreement with the people at the party that night that I did not want the information to get out. I knew the other girls involved in the Sunday incident were on the same page as me. I felt more at peace feeling that an out of control situation was somewhat within my control when it came to speaking about it. This was until Amanda became implicated. Amanda was high drama, had a very big mouth, and would have been one of my last choices to talk to about this situation. Amanda worked part time in the security office at college. I realized that there was a papertrail, but I was assured from campus security that this information would be stored in a secure file that would not be accessed. I put trust in this and crossed it off my worry list.

Before long, many, many people were coming up to me and saying they had heard what happened. Some people even started pointing and making eye contact when I would walk by to go to class. I quickly determined the common denominator in how everyone had known about this event. One by one, people told me, “Amanda told me.” Amanda told you?! How did Amanda know? Then the truth came out. Amanda had gone into the secure file because of her own curiosity, and read the reports. Yet this same Amanda, never acknowledged a single word of sympathy, support, encouragement, or a sign of friendship to me.

So what did I do? As a pretty shy person who keeps things private, I recognized within myself that I needed to own the story. I needed to come to terms with it, accept it, and be okay with what other people may be thinking or feeling. Even if there was a misrepresentation of any facts.

I began meeting with Michael over and over. He would ask me the same question, but he would change the wording because he knew there was something I was not telling him. He recognized very early on that my trust was shaken. I went back and forth to 18th and Vine where he would replay the event with me, over and over. He spoke about what would happen in court. He told me that the college was not yet cooperating with sending the videotapes, but that footage was subpoenaed, so it would be coming. The thought of that scared every part of me. I didn’t want anyone to see what had happened. I didn’t want to see or hear it. I didn’t want to put anyone through that. I had a difficult time talking to my family vaguely about that night. Having them see what happened sounded completely invasive and shameful. Maybe if I downplayed the event, it would make things better for me.

Then one night I was at home studying, and there was a knock on my door. I opened it up, and to my shock, was Michael, unannounced. He came over around 6:30, after he had worked all day. He was 28, working 60+ hours a week. He explained to me that he needed me to be 100% truthful, leaving no details out. He said that he was going all the way, to the fullest extent of the law, and that one of the juveniles would be turning 18 before court, and the other would be turning 17, and both would be tried as adults. He explained the necessity for me to talk and to be completely upfront and honest to keep them off of the street. I began to talk, regardless of how vulnerable, frightened, and shamed I felt.

For a series of dates from April until July, I went to and from 18th and Vine hoping the case would go to court. Each time, until the late July date, it was continued. I would take the train with my mom, completely sick in my stomach to have to face these people again. There were times in the back and forth commuting, that my mom would get upset with me. She wanted everything to go away, and was willing to be present, but not to talk about what had happened that night. I knew she was frustrated with having missed work many days for the possibility of the case being heard. But I needed my mom more than ever. I respected her wishes for me to not talk about it with her.

Finally, it went to trial in July. The day of court, a woman approached me before entering the courtroom. She told me she was a rape and sexual assault counselor, and that it was very important I speak to a professional about what had happened. The woman pulled up a chair and told me to sit. My mom grabbed my arm, and said, “do not talk to her.” I complied with my mom’s request. I didn’t talk to the therapist. I didn’t talk to anyone at all.

During the trial, each girl was called into the court room separately. I was the final, of all of the girls.  We had to identify the people before us again. We had to go through all of the formalities of court.

All I could see was the person in the red shirt. And he never took his eyes off of me. The entire time.

I was asked questions that were painful to answer. I answered each one honestly and openly. The judge was a woman. She sat there, stunned, as I described the worst night of my life. The videos were there. The courtroom was full. Family members of of perpetrators stood, facing me. The families of the other girls sat there. The fathers of the other girls sat in horror, watching. Most impactful, a male police officer from the Philadelphia Police came to show support. He cried the entire time. He later hugged me and told me, “if you were my daughter, I would be so proud of you.”

After I spoke, there was an opportunity for the people who did this to me to speak. They were each represented by a public defendant. I stood, relieved, knowing I had spoken the hard truth in as much detail as psosible. Then, things took a turn I did not expect.

The public defendant of the guy in the red shirt began to defame me- a total stranger, someone who never met her, someone who experienced trauma from the person she was defending. She hurled out accusations about me that were false and unfounded. She stated that I was drunk, under the influence of alcohol, and that it was consensual. She said that the facts and video misrepresented what had happened. She dug up pictures of me from college that were posted of me with my friends on a website called webshots. She flashed the images, out of context, of me, among friends, doing what people in college do.

The pictures and deceit did nothing to hurt the case, but they hurt me as a person. I was not a party girl. I had to work extremely hard to remain in school there. It meant I was taking hefty loans. It meant I was working summers, throughout the school year, and that school was my top priority. I couldn’t believe that someone could be so malicious to use this against someone who did nothing wrong. I didn’t ask for anything. I didn’t agree to anything. I screamed, I kicked, and I did everything to get away.

“Then why didn’t you call the cops until you knew the party was over? It was because you had to sober up.”

With each passing statement, I felt more and more sick. None of this was true. I didn’t call the cops because I cared too much about what other people thought.

The judge put a hault to every statement that was made. She said, it didn’t matter what I was wearing. It didn’t matter if I was underage drinking. It didn’t matter what was said about me. In fact, she said, shame on all of those who told me not to call the police. The police do not care if underage drinking is happening when a major crime has been committed.  I realized at this moment, that the judge was right. None of that did matter.  And I allowed myself to become manipulated into thinking that having my voice was wrong.

The two males were tried as adults. They were charged with 4 acts each. They were sentenced to jail for 4 years. The 13 year was sent, due to age, for a psychological evaluation, three years in a juvenile detention center, and alternative education upon returning back to school. I was provided with restraining orders at the assistance of the judge and the lawyer to protect myself and my family for three years. I could renew it yearly if I felt I needed to.

Why did I choose to talk about this if it is something that is in the past, a painful time, and something that led to a lot of self-shaming? 

For many months later, I continued to see those faces in my sleep. I continued to live my life in fear that something bad would happen to me if I walked alone. I continued to develop anxiety that I shouldn’t walk in a hallway alone. The feeling comes back every time I visit a hotel. The feeling comes back every time I walk upstairs in an apartment building. I developed a fear of taking pictures that may be used out of context. I developed deep insecurities about my body. I didn’t feel comfortable having more than one drink so I could be ultra aware of my surroundings.

My relationships were significantly impacted from this event. Growing up I always walked on the straight and narrow. I began to succumb to many unrealistic expectations—not talking to anyone about anything that could be perceived as “bad”, and to move on as if it never happened. For me, moving on meant walking away from many friendships because I couldn’t bear to pretend it never happened, but I was told it was wrong to talk about it.

I tried to resume to life as normal following this. I started to really suffer with body image, believing that the way I looked had something to do with what happened to me. Immediately after court, I started taking diet pills in an effort to lose weight. I wanted to look different, especially when it came to my body. I wanted to change sizes so I could wear things that were not memories of that night. I quickly recognized that this was an unhealthy and dangerous way to feel more secure, so instead I joined a gym.

I sought male friendships where I could feel trust, and regain positive interactions. I started with writing a letter to two males I went to high school with. I wrote long letters and they were mostly about gratitude, but also addressed what had happened to me. I never sent the letters and I realize this was a mistake. I realize that friendship would have helped to restore my faith in humanity, and would have allowed me to develop more authentic relationships. Right now, I still am not able to talk to my mom about certain topics, most especially this one. It gets in the way of having an authentic relationship when you cannot talk about how you are feeling or about the things that impact you daily.

So many years later, I realize that talking is healthy. I am not defined by something that happened to me. I had courage to deal with these ghosts. I handled the trial with grace and bravery. I have learned the value of supporting others, allowing them to feel and say what they do, and that it is important to take the time out to talk to people.

Back then, I pulled back from many of my relationships and friendships because my trust in humanity was strained. Now I believe we can never truly know what a person’s demons are, so we should always treat people with kindness, compassion, and fairness.

I have also learned that it is good to forgive, and we should forgive, even if we never received an apology.  As an educator, I recognize that the youth make mistakes- sometimes big ones, sometimes life-changing ones. Finding forgiveness in your heart to hope that wisdom was gained is something I try to do.

When Kevin’s mom passed away about two years after the event, I still reached out to connect with him. I was very stunned to receive a long letter back, one where he expressed deep regret for his actions that night. I don’t have a single bad feeling toward him.

As for Nick, I heard nothing. I am at peace with that because I know, when this all ended, things worked out for me better than I could have ever expected.

If someone asks me to talk, I will always make time to talk to them. I value trust, and even though it takes a long time to build, when that trust exists, you can show up and be yourself. I make sure in all of my friendships and relationships at work that I can be someone who offers safety in being around.

I believed for a very long time that this event would make me unlovable. When my grandfather was alive, he would tell me that I would find people who would consider it an honor and privilege to be around me. And if I didn’t feel that, it wasn’t right. He always saw the good in every person and in every situation. I know he would be proud of me.

This situation helped me to refocus on finding the good in people and in life. There are always Amandas out there. Finding forgiveness towards those who hurt you is challenging but crucial. It is not an act of weakness, but a very loving act.

Being truthful and honest is a reminder that your words are powerful and have impact. Words are very powerful and can damage a person if honesty is not chosen. But only when we are brave enough to rally with the truth and explore deep, murky, unchartered waters will we realize our own strength.

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All my windows still are broken, but I’m standing on my feet

February 18, 2006.  I was a junior in college on a Saturday night. I was an RA in L C Apartments on Sherbrooke Boulevard. I was single and had a large circle of friends. I had plans that evening to go out to dinner to a Mexican restaurant in the city with two of my friends. We did go, and we got back early. I was invited to a party that night in apartment C1 in DA Apartments, an off campus apartment, one block from where I lived. Most of my friends were there. For the purpose of this story, only the names of the males involved will be changed.

I got home at around 8 PM that night. I did not drink a drop. I was wearing a kelly green tank top, a sweater, and jeans from American Eagle. I went back to my apartment and started doing homework. I received a series of text messages telling me to come to C1. I didn’t want to go. I realized I had borrowed a shirt from my friend, Colleen, who lived in C5 and was at the party. I sent her a text, and she told me her apartment door was unlocked, and that I could drop it off. I decided to go, and although I had better judgment, I walked alone.

The structure of the apartment was set up where there were 2 apartments on each level. C1 and C2, stairs, C3 and C4, etc.

I arrived outside of DA Apartments and out of the corner of my eye, I saw some shadows moving towards me. I immediately had an eerie feeling, but I continued walking since I was already there. I noticed the door to get into the C building was propped open. Very aware of my surroundings, I walked in and quickly removed the door stopper. I felt immediate relief in knowing that no one could just walk into the building. So I thought.

I could hear the music blaring, but I walked past C1, and continued walking up the stairs. I ran into C5, dropped the shirt on Colleen’s bed, and started to feel uneasy about walking back. I remember thinking, “everyone is drunk,” so I knew I would have to walk back. I shut the door behind me, take a deep breath, and get ready to leave and go home, without ever stepping into C1.

I push the door open, and on the other side is a face from the shadows that lurked behind me. I stood there frozen. There is a face looking at me, in a bright red shirt. The hallway lights are dimming, and all I can see are his eyes. I didn’t know what to do, so I pretended that seeing three males in a hallway waiting for me was normal. I started to walk down towards the steps.

Before I can take two steps, the body of the male in the red shirt comes closer to mine. The male takes my body, lifts me up, and slams me into the concrete wall behind me. Just then, two more males, part of the same group, come up the stairs. One stands behind me, grabs my arms, and remains behind me. At this point, I am forced into the wall, unable to move my hands or my legs.  The third body stands on the stairs, watching, and blocking me from leaving.

I start to scream as loud as I can, but no one can hear me. With one pull, my jeans become removed, my shirt becomes torn. I start to feel hands touching me everywhere. My heart is pounding, I cannot move my arms, and everything is happening. I continue to scream, cry, kick, pray, and do anything I can to get them off of me. I don’t care at this point if I hurt them.

I just experienced the worst couple minutes of my life. Somewhere between the agony, my clothes being ripped off, and my dignity being taken in an apartment hallway, I am able to find my car keys. With a few yanks, I free one arm, and  I jammed the keys in between my fingers. I use the keys to get them off of me, and I ran as fast as I could. The third body, stands blocking the stairs. I didn’t care at this point if I would push him over the steps, jump over the steps, or how I was getting over, but one way or another, I made it over the steps.

Naturally, they began running after me.  I ran down to C1, opened the door despite the physical state I was in, and began sobbing. I was met at the door by Kevin and Nick. I had known Kevin for years as he went to O’hara and our moms worked together. Nick was in my economics class and we would study together and do projects together. As soon as they took one look at me, they knew what had happened.

In a very hostile, irate voice, Kevin told me to leave. In fact, he started pushing me towards the door to exit it. Nick started screaming that everyone would get arrested for underage drinking, and that it would be my fault if I called the police. They continued to yell, get me out the door, and did not offer any help.

Despite being ashamed, confused, embarrassed, and shocked- I complied.

I start walking away, scared to death for what could happen on the way home. As I start to run, Lisa came outside from the party and grabbed my hand.

What happened is not okay. You need to call the police and I will do it with you.

I couldn’t hear anything but Kevin and Nick telling me not to.

Moments after, Nick opened the door and saw us sitting on the front step of the C building. He became even more irate to see that I was still there and had not yet left.

Lisa continued to sit with me, encouraging me to call the police. I needed to get out of there. I was in no shape physically or emotionally to walk back. I remember turning back, looking at the C building, and seeing a wired hanger sitting in the doorway.  This is how they got in.

Lisa, then, and now, is one of the smartest people I know. She currently works as a PA and was a pre-med major. I knew at the the time she was right, but I couldn’t deal with anymore shame. She said she was going to call the police and tell them what she saw, and she didn’t care what anyone thought of it. I reluctantly agreed to call the police once I got out of the situation.

Lisa said, “I know someone who is studying, who will come pick you up, take you home, and will not ask you a single question.” I agreed. About two minutes later, a male biology major, Eric,  pulls up, takes me back, walked me in, and asked me nothing.

I walk onto the elevator to go up to my room. I cannot stop looking around me to see who is there and who is looking at me. I push the “close door” button as fast as I can and pray that no one is upstairs.

I walk out of the elevator, and outside of my door, is Chris. Chris lived on my floor, frequently visited me and we had a great friendship. He looked at me, fell to the ground, and immediately had an idea of what had just happened.

“I can’t talk to you right now. I can’t talk.” I remember saying that repeatedly.

Chris did not leave. He kept saying, “did you call the police?” I ended up telling him everything. He helped me take off the clothes, told me to put them in a bag, and to not take a shower. He said he was staying in the room and that he was going to wake me up every hour to see if I was ready to call the police. And that is just what happened.

Somewhere around 3 am, I knew that the party was over. I knew that I had done the wrong thing. I knew that I let 3 people on the street who could harm someone else. I knew that I despite my best judgment, I allowed the wants of others to control my rational thinking. I felt tremendous guilt for waiting so long. But I called the police.

The police arrived within minutes. They took a report, collected my clothes, and told me I was being taken to the hospital. I asked if I could call my mom before going anywhere. And I did.

My mom was very shaken up. “I was supposed to take your sister out to buy a prom dress…do you want me to not do that?” I told her no. I could do it myself.

I went to the hospital and it was the loneliest I ever felt in my life. I didn’t know this at the time, but I was not going to a regular hospital, but instead, the Special Victims Center. I walked out of the police car and was immediately interrogated by a detective, asking me everything that happened. I was stunned by this hospital. It was like an assembly line. Leave one room, go to the next to complete the next part of being a victim of a sex crime. I answered the questions to the best of my ability, but the detective kept saying to me, “there is something you aren’t telling me.”

I completed the rest of the tasks in the hospital. I was provided with a book of wanted sex offenders, asked if I could identify any of the men from the previous night. I could not.

I went back to my apartment after what felt like the longest day. I remember wondering how I could make any of that day normal for me. I thought about going to church that night at 10 PM, but truly, I just wanted to be alone. My aunts had called me that day telling me they love me. My cousin had called me and wanted to come over. And my mom was at the King of Prussia Mall.

I sat in my room and just stared until I decided to go on the computer around 7 PM. I signed on to AIM and looked at my buddy list. I started reading away messages. Just then, my phone rang, and it was the Philadelphia Police. “We need you to come outside.”

I walked outside and got into the cop car. “The same three men went back to the C building tonight. They got 3 other girls. They are there now, they fit your description, and we need you to identify them.” 

I sat in the cop car with tinted windows so no one could see me. One after another, the light was shined on the faces of the three men. I identified all three, and was then taken back to the hospital with the other 3 victims.

The 3 girls got into the car and no one could speak. I learned that the men had forced their way into the one apartment. Fortunately, the girls who lived there called the police and they were able to get there before any violent or sexual acts were done, except to the one girl. I had known of the three girls, but we were not friends.

I called my mom to let her know I was going back to the hospital to be interviewed again by detectives. My mom, aunt, and uncle came to the hospital and met me.

From this moment on, I had just learned that 3 men from Saturday night were not men- they were juveniles, ages 17, 16, and 13. I also learned that this case would be going to 18th and Vine Street- JUVENILE COURT to testify about the events from that weekend.

Somewhere between that moment and returning to resume some normalcy as Monday was quickly approaching, I discovered that this situation had made the News, had been on the school security website, and that notices were dropped off all around campus. I had met Michael, who would be representing me in court. I had learned that the entire episode of what had occurred on February 18 outside of C5 was caught on camera.

I had already felt shamed in a way I never thought I would experience. Now I knew that it was only the beginning, and that everything was about to become public.

I went back to my apartment that night, and felt I would never be the same. I started showering with the curtain open, just to make sure on one was there. I became very fearful walking through hallways of apartment buildings, never knowing who could have gotten in.  I saw those faces over and over again, every time I closed my eyes. I still, to this day, remember the faces of the people who hurt me. I started reliving the nightmare from February 18. And I knew this was truly only the beginning.

In my next post, I will talk about what happened during one of the worst times, the impacts on my life today, what I learned from it, and how the story ended.

 

 

 

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Took a left when the world went right

Hello,

I decided to start a blog to start journaling some parts of my life that I have not talked about. I have chosen to start blogging as a way to offer connection and insight.

I am a 33 year old teacher. I have found that in working with students, particularly students who have experienced trauma, that I am able to offer connection. I have also discovered that I have some unaddressed trauma of my own.

With a few painful events from my past, I have discovered that these experiences have shaped me, and impact me on a daily basis. Although I have many friendships, I have not allowed many people in on my whole self.  I have come to learn that being wholehearted requires both positive and negative experiences.  Through keeping quiet virtually my whole life, I have addressed these things and personal anxiety through transforming negative experiences into positive energy.

I have found that country music has offered me comfort, so many of my posts will start with lyrics that I have connected with. And of course, Eric Church gives the first quote, which is fitting for going the road less traveled to become successful!