Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm With You

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Pllleeeeaaaasssseee!!!! <3

  Life has been easy and slow since returning from my trip in DC.   The biggest thing going on in our lives (my family) is my husband’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.  It’s his first, and will be the only time aside from Basic/Tech school that the kids and I will have been separated from him.  On one hand, I’m dreading it, it’s not an experience anyone wants to deal with.  On the other hand, I’m excited for him, and proud.  His career is coming to an end in the next 18 months, and this is a good ending note to that.  I feel that this way, he’ll never look back at this time in his life and say “well…I could have done more.”   
  Genna’s 4th birthday is in 3.5 weeks, and my head is spinning at the idea.  Every day, I see time and opportunity slipping away, that one extra minute to stop and spend time enjoying her childhood, teaching her valuable lessons, playing, cuddling, loving, and even learning myself.  We’re throwing a duel party for her and Paul’s girlfriend Sarah, because their birthdays are a day apart, and I thought it’d be fun to throw a princess party for both the pre-schooler, and high-schooler :D  And as I watch Genna get older, I also watch Nic grow and grow!  He’s so big, so smart, so full of energy and personality.  I know that one day, I’m going to wake up (it’ll probably be when I realize I’ve had a full night’s sleep with no interruptions and no extra bodies in the bed) and they’ll both be grown, moving on with their lives, no longer needing me.  And today we were informed we need to order Paul’s gap and gown for graduation by next Wednesday!  When the hell did he grow up and how is he already graduating??  No matter how hard I try and ignore it, life is happening.  The people in my life are growing, the most precious people in my life are getting older, and while I’m sitting back and day dreaming, and making plans, life is happening!

  And speaking of day dreams and plans!  After the conference, so many ideas have just been swimming and moving, and it’s honestly really hard to stop and concentrate on any one thought.  I’m very excited about the pilot program that’s in the works right now at Sold No More, my possible role in, but more than that, the potential it has to alter the lives of so many.  After attending a presentation at the Shared Hope conference about screening tools within the juvenile detention centers, it was abundantly clear to me where I wanted to be right now with my advocating position.  While the foundation was already present, and the program already thought of, it’s been really exciting and rewarding to jump in and play a role in the process of making it happen.  I’m really looking forward to the training events that I might be able to attend soon, and the awesome benefits that come as a reward to attending them!  Most of all, I am beyond excited to help facilitate a program, a curriculum really, to high-risk youth, and potential trafficking victims.  This could seriously be the most awesome thing yet!!
   
  I’ve been thinking about something recently, and I wanted to get it out, put down in print, and then maybe relieve myself of a nagging thought.  I’ve been really considering all of my insecurities recently, especially involving my role as a Survivor Leader and advocate.  The biggest of all, my abilities and qualifications.  While on this amazing path towards becoming a facilitator for this awesome program, the question has been going through my mind, and being asked aloud.  Do I really have the qualifications to continue forward, and are my dreams a reality, like, right now??  The answer is: yes and no.  Because my ambitions, my end goal doesn’t stop at group facilitator.  It doesn’t actually have an end.  I’ve recently been looking at accelerated Social Work degrees, my trusty rusty fall back: psych…and law school.  Now, any of these educational paths essentially have me landing in the same spot: working in the movement against domestic minor sex trafficking.  In one way or another, my hand is in the “honey pot”.  The real question I have to ask myself is not “Am I really intelligent enough to tackle law school?  Am I really interested in becoming a Psychologist?  Am I sure I want to be a Social Worker??” (And yes, it’s been a consistent thought), but better yet “Is becoming an attorney/psych/SW really where my heart is?”  Yes, any of those would be ideal professions, but which of them leads me to making the most impact?  Which of them leads to me being the most hands on?  Which of them leads to me being happy, comfortable, and confident in my role?  So, right now, here, today, am I qualified to work with victims and youth??  Yes, because I have survivor perspective and YET…I’m not the only person in the room with expert advice.  I cannot do my role, without others doing theirs.  I am not a trained psychologist, I am not a social worker, and I am not an attorney.  Nor am I law enforcement, program manager, minister, leader of an organization, etc.  I am simply a survivor. 

“Living through a fire, does not make you an arson expert.”
-Rebecca Bender

  I read this the other day on Rebecca Bender's Blog (amazing woman, so inspiring!) and while it stung, it rang true.  She went on to touch on the realities that despite surviving something, you may not necessarily be qualified for the position you so desperately desire.  While reading it, I thought “Oh my God, she wrote this to ME.”  It stung, it cut deep, because it was so true.  I have ONE perspective to bring to the table.  I am the piece to a larger puzzle, a unit.  I cannot operate anything by myself, not only because I lack the education in all other areas of the needed services, but because I lack the experiences in all other services as well.  So no, I’m not qualified to be at the top, and to be honest, I’m happy not to be there.  I will always want to be towards the bottom, working my ass off and seeing firsthand the beautiful results.  Yes, I am qualified to be in certain positions, and yes, I WILL take them, with humility.  But I’m not just qualified as a survivor alone, I’m also qualified because I’ve worked through my healing process, and I’m in a healthy place mentally.  I am one piece to a larger puzzle.

  Another nagging insecurity I’ve been thinking about recently is humility.  Am I a humble person??  I like to believe I am, I like to believe I strive to be humble.  And still I get super excited about EVERY opportunity presented to me!  So is this vanity?? No, it’s not.  It’s a child-like excitement, a disbelief that I’m in any way worthy of these opportunities.  And I always look at them not as a way to gain fame and recognition, but instead to gain one step further through the door to becoming an bigger and better advocate.  I think excitement and humility can go hand in hand, and I think it’s a good mix.  I can be proud of my accomplishments, and still feel absolute disbelief that I’ve made it so far in my endeavors!
   
  So with excitement (and humility!), guess what I got the opportunity to do today??!  I got to present a Power Point on the stats and facts of sex trafficking to a class at Pima Community College!!  I feel so honored that I got to partner up with such an amazing and awesome lady, Megan G., and really put forth my knowledge and perspective to a group of intently listening and engaged adults.  It was so rewarding!!  I’ve never done any type of public speaking before, and I’ve never been able to share my story in person, in front of a good number of people, and not find myself shaking and close to breaking down.  I felt confident, and I OWNED that shit!  Megan and I collaborated, and together, we effing rocked that presentation.  It was yet another example of how puzzle pieces need one another.  While I had my history to offer as perspective and a learning tool, Megan had the expert advice, the knowledge of the stats and facts, and the great abundance of knowing how to present to a class, and how to lead the presentation.  It was, overall, a true honor, and I hope to do it a million more times!!  And I hope with every opportunity, I continue to be just as excited, and honored, and amazed.

 One last thing.  After the amazing presentation today, I was driving home, intent on getting rid of the slamming headache I had, sitting and talking with my best friend, and then taking my kids to go and get Paul, take him to his first ride along with the Tucson Fire Department, and then get home to make dinner and put the kids to bed…and then a song came on that stopped me in my tracks.  Stopped me from thinking about much else, and for the first time in a long time, I listened to the lyrics, and allowed them to take me back.  As insane as it is to fathom, the song took me back to nearly 10 years ago.  The lyrics meant something completely different then as they do now, but somehow they’re relevant to both sides of the coin:
“I'm standin' on the bridge
I'm waitin' in the dark
I thought that you'd be here by now
There's nothing but the rain
No footsteps on the ground
I'm listening but there's no sound
Isn't anyone tryin' to find me?
Won't somebody come take me home?
It's a damn cold night
I'm tryin' to figure out this life
Won't you, take me by the hand?
Take me somewhere new
I don't know who you are
But I, I'm with you
I'm with you
Hmm hmm hmm”
 – Avril Lavigne I’m With You


Once upon a time, these lyrics meant something to me, at the very moment in my life that I was being trafficked, this song was a huge hit, and the lyrics were relevant to me wanting to be away from my mother.  Listening to them today made me think about that, and what I realized is that in my heart, these were the lyrics I was singing to my mother.

Avril Lavigne- I'm With You

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