Things I Didn’t Know 30 Years Ago – 4

This post is part of a series. Click to read all posts in Things I Didn’t Know 30 Years Ago.

(If you’ve been following along daily, I’ve only added to the list at the bottom – the rest of this post is the same as yesterday.)

It’s National Suicide Awareness Month. In honor of that, I’ve shared an extremely personal story from my own life in a post entitled, Here’s What I Can Do, published on September 22, 2020. I hope that in doing so, someone contemplating ending their own life may be inspired to consider that things won’t always be the way they are in the desperate time they are currently experiencing.

Looking over the years between then and now, I see my rich life unfolding, filled with experiences I’d never have imagined. I’ve changed and grown and forged relationships with amazing people. I’ve found real love, a sense of serenity, security and personal sovereignty. I’m a person who cherishes my life and is thankful that I got to live past the age of 28.

As an exercise in perspective, I’m compiling a list of things I didn’t know about life, about myself and about the world back then. Because one of the things I didn’t know at that time is how to put things in perspective. I’ll update the list daily.

Things I Didn’t Know 30 Years Ago

  1. That I would be loved by my Sweetie and that we’d build a wonderful life together, based on respect, kindness and silliness that fills my heart with unending joy.
  2. That, contrary to my own (and others’) beliefs, I was not shy. Disregarded and underestimated, yes, but not shy. Once I associated with those who respected me, my insecurity lessened and I learned that my voice and opinions were valid and mattered. Over time I became able to express them more freely and with greater confidence.
  3. That I am capable. Very capable, in fact. Capable of action. Capable of independent thought. Once I am out from under the thumb of domination and undue influence, I’m as capable as anyone, and more so than many.
  4. That I would love and be loved by our cats to such an intimate degree. I had two cats in my “before time,” but they were treated poorly by my ex and, like me, failed to have the freedom to be and give all they could.
Posted in Survivor of abuse, The personal development of Gina, Things I Didn't Know 30 Years Ago | Leave a comment

Things I Didn’t Know 30 Years Ago – 3

This post is part of a series. Click to read all posts in Things I Didn’t Know 30 Years Ago.

(If you’ve been following along daily, I’ve only added to the list at the bottom – the rest of this post is the same as yesterday.)

It’s National Suicide Awareness Month. In honor of that, I’ve shared an extremely personal story from my own life in a post entitled, Here’s What I Can Do, published on September 22, 2020. I hope that in doing so, someone contemplating ending their own life may be inspired to consider that things won’t always be the way they are in the desperate time they are currently experiencing.

Looking over the years between then and now, I see my rich life unfolding, filled with experiences I’d never have imagined. I’ve changed and grown and forged relationships with amazing people. I’ve found real love, a sense of serenity, security and personal sovereignty. I’m a person who cherishes my life and is thankful that I got to live past the age of 28.

As an exercise in perspective, I’m compiling a list of things I didn’t know about life, about myself and about the world back then. Because one of the things I didn’t know at that time is how to put things in perspective. I’ll update the list daily.

Things I Didn’t Know 30 Years Ago

  1. That I would be loved by my Sweetie and that we’d build a wonderful life together, based on respect, kindness and silliness that fills my heart with unending joy.
  2. That, contrary to my own (and others’) beliefs, I was not shy. Disregarded and underestimated, yes, but not shy. Once I associated with those who respected me, my insecurity lessened and I learned that my voice and opinions were valid and mattered. Over time I became able to express them more freely and with greater confidence.
  3. That I am capable. Very capable, in fact. Capable of action. Capable of independent thought. Once I am out from under the thumb of domination and undue influence, I’m as capable as anyone, and more so than many.
Posted in Survivor of abuse, The personal development of Gina, Things I Didn't Know 30 Years Ago | Leave a comment

Things I Didn’t Know 30 Years Ago

This post is part of a series. Click to read all posts in Things I Didn’t Know 30 Years Ago.

It’s National Suicide Awareness Month. In honor of that, I’ve shared an extremely personal story from my own life in a post entitled, Here’s What I Can Do, published on September 22, 2020. I hope that in doing so, someone contemplating ending their own life may be inspired to consider that things won’t always be the way they are in the desperate time they are currently experiencing.

Looking over the years between then and now, I see my rich life unfolding, filled with experiences I’d never have imagined. I’ve changed and grown and forged relationships with amazing people. I’ve found real love, a sense of serenity, security and personal sovereignty. I’m a person who cherishes my life and is thankful that I got to live past the age of 28.

As an exercise in perspective, I’m compiling a list of things I didn’t know about life, about myself and about the world back then. Because one of the things I didn’t know at that time is how to put things in perspective. I’ll update the list daily.

Things I Didn’t Know 30 Years Ago

  1. That I would be loved by my Sweetie and that we’d build a wonderful life together, based on respect, kindness and silliness that fills my heart with unending joy.
  2. That, contrary to my own (and others’) beliefs I was not shy. Disregarded and underestimated, yes, but not shy. Once I associated with those who respected me, my insecurity lessened and I learned that my voice and opinions were valid and mattered. Over time I became able to express them more freely and with greater confidence.
Posted in Things I Didn't Know 30 Years Ago | 1 Comment

Here’s What I Can Do

This post is part of a series. Click to read all posts in Things I Didn’t Know 30 Years Ago.

Too often, in recent years especially, I’ve felt helpless, impotent, unable to make an impact while I witness the world fall apart. Politics, society, Earth herself, people’s personal lives… they’re all on fire in one way or another. It breaks my heart that my small voice can’t tackle the huge problems that plague humanity – no matter how urgently or desperately I want it to. BUT, I wonder if maybe my small voice can make a difference in someone’s life…

I learned only today that September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month. I’m going to use that fact as the impetus to finally step up and address a topic on which I have firsthand experience – and maybe make an impact after all.

You see, almost 30 years ago, on the morning of December 22, 1990, I swallowed a handful of pills hoping they would put an end (temporarily or permanently – I didn’t care) to the emotional pain I was in. I’d reached the end of my tolerance for living with an abusive husband, crushing debt and estrangement from my family of origin. 

It seemed on that day that there was no hope for me to ever escape those conditions. I could see no exit strategy, no means to affect change on any of the toxic circumstances in which I was drowning. I felt insignificant, powerless, isolated, unloved and unlovable. And I wanted – no – NEEDED those feelings to stop. I had no more psychic energy (or will) to fight through that miasma another minute. My tank was empty. My spirit was broken. My life was meaningless, it seemed, to myself and to others.

That’s all I want to say about that particular day. It’s well in my rear view by now. I’m not that person any more. And THAT is really the point I want to make: That situations change. Conditions change. YOU change.

Even when yesterday was total shit.

Even when today is total shit.

Even when every indication is that tomorrow and every day after it will be shit.

Things change. I didn’t know that then. The person I was couldn’t know that then because, well, no crystal balls, right?

But the person I am today does know that – with all my heart.

I’m not saying it was easy. It took a helluva lot of therapy and introspection and courage and support and love (from others and myself). But every day since then has proved another step out of that desperate mindset. I’ve become the me who does know and can acknowledge that things change.

In celebration of the fact that yes, change WILL happen – even when no part of you can believe that to be true – I’m making a list of things I didn’t know 30 years ago to demonstrate the amazing twists and surprising detours a life can take. So even in the depths of what feels like hopeless, never-ending despair, believe in your heart that you can’t know for certain what the future will hold for you. You could have an amazing life waiting for you, just out of view. I did.

Here goes – I’ll add one daily.

Things I Didn’t Know 30 Years Ago

  1. That I would be loved by my Sweetie and that we’d build a wonderful life together, based on respect, kindness and silliness that fills my heart with unending joy.
Posted in Observations a la Gina, Survivor of abuse, The personal development of Gina, Things I Didn't Know 30 Years Ago | 2 Comments

Caregivers Need Care Too

Last week marked the one year “anniversary” of my husband Scott’s last chemotherapy treatment. Since then, blood tests and CT scans indicate he is now CANCER FREE! Whew! It was, to put it mildly, an ordeal getting through that span of time between being diagnosed with colon cancer, which was discovered during a routine colonoscopy on October 18, 2018, and now. He underwent surgery that removed the tumor on November 16, 2018 and began a regimen of 12 bi-weekly chemotherapy treatments in February 12, 2019. There were a few hiccups affecting his treatment schedule along the way I won’t go into here but by the end of August, his course of treatment was complete.

Scott was such a trooper throughout the whole awful experience. As unpleasant as it was, he, without fail, complied with whatever he was told to do, when he was told to do it. He dealt, heroically, I think, with the overwhelming sense of surrender of his fate into the hands of others. It’s a truly humbling experience, being in so little control of your life, your health, your body… But he let himself be cared for and trusted the process. Truly admirable, he.

Scott in the chemo chair for Treatment #4. Feels like last week – and forever ago.

Seeing my Sweetie go through the rigors of chemotherapy was heartbreaking for me. As his care/support giver, I felt an obligation – and strong desire, of course – to be his rock through this time. No matter our existing relationship’s strength and depth, rising to the role of caregiver is above and beyond what I’d ever thought I would – or could do. I was willing to do anything at all for him, yet I wasn’t sure I’d be able to meet the challenge. I felt overwhelmed, lost and alone from the outset. Scott, my rock, was currently unavailable, just as I felt the most vulnerable and needy.

Throughout the course of his treatment, I experienced times of deep despair in which I obsessed about the present and the future; I felt unmoored, drifting toward an unknown destination; without personal control. All I could see some days was CANCER; it blocked every other bit of input, consumed every moment, every thought, every ounce of my concentration and energy. The journey back to “normal” felt endless and harrowing.

As I limped forward, I became aware that I feared I’d break under the weight of these burdens. If that happened, I realized I’d be no good to either of us. I needed to stay strong and resilient to be the same sort of brave warrior as Scott while rising to my own unique challenges as his caregiver. Once I realized that my wellbeing was every bit as important as Scott’s, I took steps to safeguard my mental and physical health. Once I shored myself up, the days became more manageable, and my confidence and sense of optimism increased.

Now that Scott is better and that terrifying chapter of life is behind us, I’ve taken the opportunity to think deeply about how we got through it all. I realized that something important was lacking in the overall care plan… support for me, the caregiver. It’s not that there aren’t services and support groups out there; it’s that they aren’t as accessible and personalized as I needed them to be. There was no one holding out a hand to me, saying, “I know the way through this wilderness. I have a map and I’ll guide you to the other side.”

Boy, I would have jumped at that kind of help! It would have been such a relief not to have to navigate things all by myself and blindly search for the direct help I needed when I needed it.

Knowing how much of a lifeline help like that would have been, I decided to create that support system for caregivers who are traveling the path behind me. I’ve developed a program just for cancer patient caregivers called, The Caregiver’s Path: The Roadmap to Guide You From Overwhelmed to Empowered While Navigating Cancer With a Loved One to fill that gap in a patient’s treatment plan.

Caregivers: You shouldn’t have to look far and wide for the help you need. My program meets you where you are, teaches techniques and provides resources so you don’t have to feel helpless, scared and alone in your crucial role as caregiver. You don’t have to feel like your own life is slipping away as you give your all to your loved one. You don’t have to fall into the depths of anger, sadness and anxiety. Take my hand and let me guide you through. You don’t have to go it alone.

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