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don’t give up.

Before you keep reading, I’ll be talking about self-harm. If this topic is triggering, I’d turn the other way. If not, hello–I want to write about this not only to be able to help others struggling with self-harm, but also myself.

I’ve battled with self-harm for a countless number of years, from cutting to punching my arms/thighs and, oddly enough, biting my arms. I’ve had a problem with biting my arms ever since I was younger as a way to release anger and later turned to cutting early 2012. I had occasional relapses from 2012 until it picked up again toward the end of my first semester of college. I’ve been clean for almost 1.5 years (thank God), but that doesn’t mean I’ve been clean of having thoughts of self-harming.

As much as I had hoped the more frequent and rapid thoughts were being caused by all the different medications I was on, I found that once I wasn’t on any medication that the thoughts were more intrusive and harder to shut off. It’s hard to talk about it without giving people the wrong impression that you’re not ‘safe’ or that you can be ‘dangerous’ to yourself or to others. It’s just thoughts I can’t shut off and spend roughly every other day living with on repeat. I enjoy skateboarding late at night when I’m sad and clenching my fists or hugging myself tightly helps to avoid giving in to relapsing, but after suppressing your emotions for so long it eventually becomes difficult to release any emotions at all in a semi-normal way (even just clenching my fists together).

It’s an uncomfortable feeling that comes and goes sporadically and leaves you helpless on your bedroom floor. It’s a feeling that leaves you crying out to God to make it stop. It’s a feeling that I can’t shut off until my body goes numb, and then I wake up not understanding why I went downhill until the next time it happens, until I eventually just go numb and live my life as normal as possible.

But in June of 2017 when I told myself that’d be the last time I put a sharp object to my arm, I didn’t do it entirely because of the fact that I knew I was hurting my family and friends around me–that’s a reason that can easily be abused (and I know because that was my excuse to myself when I started self-harming again). When I made that decision I did it because I was tired of hurting myself both physically and emotionally. I no longer understood why my body had to suffer because of the way someone else treated me or for something I said that was wrong that could’ve been easily resolved. I knew that if I truly wanted to love myself I was going to need to stop fighting against myself.

If I truly wanted to be happy, I needed to stop trying to pick myself back up with the same thing that was destroying my body.

I’ve always believed in the notion that I was given the difficult trials I’ve been given because God would never give me anything he knew I couldn’t handle. Whether you’re religious or not, the enemy is always working against you to try to bring you down–Satan, a school bully perhaps, you name it. When you don’t give in to the enemy and keep yourself upright, the enemy will work harder. These facts alone are what have helped me to continue to stay clean even when the thoughts become louder and pick at my brain like rapid fire.

I have to remember that ultimately I am staying clean because I know I deserve a better life than one that is lived miserably sheltering my wounds under long-sleeve t-shirts and hoodies.

I have to remember that I was given this life with these difficult trials because God deemed me capable of pushing through any obstacle in my way.

I have to remember that my perseverance pisses of the enemy, and that gives me an odd feeling of joy.

And you have to remember, too.


don’t give up. 

keep going. 

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year two perspective

A lot has changed since I wrote about my first year at college.

At the time I wrote the Year One Perspective post, all I really wanted to talk about was how being put on Craigslist affected my relationship with my previous roommates and how those connections all went in the trash. I was scared about having new roommates in fear that I may screw something up, yet I was confident that I planned the fall semester well and I wouldn’t have as many issues as I did my freshman year.

I was totally wrong.

Being diagnosed with ADHD had the biggest impact on my second year of college—mostly because it wasn’t the kind of diagnosis I was expecting. While the diagnosis forced me to change the “elaborate plan” I made months prior, it also changed the way I saw myself and how I maintained and managed my relationships with others. There is a part of me that is grateful I found some answers to a lot of the things I struggled with growing up, but truthfully, I’ve become too focused on these issues. I’ve put myself under a lot of stress over little things like forgetting what I want to say and releasing built-up stress and anger in a way that isn’t in “my nature.” (If you’re just finding all of this out you can read about it here).

Regardless of how ADHD controls every aspect of my life, I can say I’m very thankful to have had such amazing and supportive roommates. With the passing of my grandparents and going through a breakup, they’ve been so patient with me and so loving that I’m still in shock about how lucky I am to have had the best roommates—and honestly, I think I’m more shocked that even though we won’t all be living together in the fall that we’re all still great friends. (Like, I’ll be living with my roommate again in an apartment—for me that’s crazy to comprehend).

Besides the friends I had through my roommates and the few friendships I maintained from last year, managing my friendships was rough for the first half of the year. I learned a lot about making boundaries for my heart, as well as self-control and forgiveness. Resetting my focus helped me make time to do the things I wanted and love to do while meeting some incredibly talented people along the way. I really am grateful for having friends that are incredibly understanding that as they’re learning about me, I’m still learning about myself also.

So here I am—I’ve now reached junior status, [still] an Integrative Public Relations major and officially minoring in Multimedia Design, working on [things] for True Heart Project (if you’re wondering “what the heck is that,” you can find more info about it here), photographing faces and places in my free time, aaaaaannd I’m writing a book. Needless to say that my next end-of-the-school-year post is going to be quite interesting.

 

And as for my grades…I’ll need to make a separate post for that one.


Since I included photos from throughout the year in the first post, I thought I’d upload some highlights of my year. (I thought this would be the best way to show the drastic change in my hair length and color).

 

 

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i’m a few years late, but i have ADHD

As long as I can remember I’ve always shaken my leg(s). It’s not driven by nervousness or any sort of anxiousness, it’s something that just happens as soon as I sit down. Over the years my leg-shaking has grown to needing to have one foot tapping in-tempo during worship and even shaking my foot when my legs are criss-crossed, laying in bed, and even when it’s elevated in any way. When I sit, both of my legs will shake sometimes, and I can’t control it without the thought of it itching my brain until I give in.

I’m also an innovator. After repeating and perfecting a given task, I will ask myself how I can perform with speed but also maintain accuracy. This has become incredibly beneficial to my education and is why I never “struggled” in school, with the exception of elementary and middle school when I lost my sister in 3rd grade and my mother three months into my first year in middle school. As a left-hander, many things I do like playing guitar are done with my right hand because I was afraid of asking for help and learned by watching my classmates who were…yep…right-handed. I’ve gone most of my life without having to ask questions or for help because I would always find a way to get things done.

Contrary to my years of blogging and making friends over the internet, I am a godawful communicator. Throughout the years I’ve heard “you talk too much” and “not everything is about you, Hayley“, I don’t really know how to speak loud enough or talk quietly, I stutter randomly when I talk and/or pronounce my R’s like W’s, and I am horrible with intruding into conversations to contribute to group discussions—(though this usually depends on who’s in the group). In the past I’d often get odd looks and/or responses from others towards things I’d say because it was either wrong/inappropriate or because it had nothing to do with what everyone else was talking about.

The meanings behind these aspects of my life were tarnished after I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

courtesy of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (add.org)

This meant that for the past 18 years I struggled so so much over losing my sister and mother, lost so many friends because of how I’d react to things they did, countless reports in two months by my previous residence hall for my behavior, hurt myself thinking I was crazy, I even believed the world didn’t need someone as dysfunctional as myself...only to find out that these things stemmed from something you’ve had all this time but never knew, something that could’ve been treated a long time ago.

It’s like being introduced to someone you’ve grown up with, comforted, abused, and hated but when you go to introduce yourself there’s nothing to introduce. In an essence, it feels like my entire life was a lie.

This whole time I had known Hayley with ADHD, not Hayley.

So, here we are. You just found out you have ADHD and you’re handed a prescription slip to get your medication filled, expected to go back to your “normal” life as if all of this was no surprise and knowing you have ADHD simply just fills in the gaps of your life you never understood. Because it’s as simple as that, right?

Here’s the thing about ADHD: it’s not a disorder that just makes school hard or makes you hyper/inattentive. My relationships (family, friends, partners), work/money, and personal quality of living are all affected by ADHD. To make matters worse, other comorbidities such as depression and anxiety often co-exist with ADHD and make it difficult for treatment to be effective if not found and treated. This is not to say that those with ADHD and another mental illness have it worse than those with just one, but who would ever want to handle two psychological disorders at once—juggling symptoms of ADHD + another illness is not an easy job.

I never believed anyone when they told me nothing I say makes sense until I started noticing how long I talk for and how pointless most of the things I say are to what I’m supposed to be talking about. It makes it hard to not become frustrated when you’re always focusing on someone’s body language to tell you when to shut up or until they verbally say something. But I don’t have control over the things I get distracted by. I can’t easily separate myself from being distracted by my emotions. Talking about how I feel—and especially about my own frustrations with ADHD—feels like it takes so much longer to explain. And unfortunately, I tend to only hurt myself more than I already am and refuse to talk about it with those who are a part of my inner circle, my “support line”—cause why should someone else listen to what I have to say if I can’t promise I will always be able to follow what they’re talking about?

I may be able to read people and understand their actions and behavior through their emotions and history, but that doesn’t mean I always understand people. Most of how I can control myself from being destructive towards myself and others is by assessing the situation and those in it and asking myself…”What factors could be causing this person to act this way?” It definitely helps me when I begin to overthink and turn everything onto myself. But I’m not always able to assess possible factors, nor is it anywhere close to easy to “force” someone to tell you everything just so you can go on with your everyday life. And because of that and my ADHD, I not only feel trapped in what I’m experiencing, but I also feel trapped in their hurt and their pain. Not because the other person is holding me back, per se, but because I know this kind of behavior is not who I am 80% of the time.

But thanks to my late diagnosis, one thing I noticed about ADHD is how underrated it is in society. All these things I never knew about ADHD that I had to learn through the responses of others and through putting myself through so much hurt could’ve been avoided if I knew the full extent of this disorder…and maybe I could’ve been more accepting, more understanding, and at least a bit more convinced that I have ADHD if these things that I’ve gone through my whole life experiencing were discussed more frequently. Yet, to the rest of the world—my Dad—my future employers—and several others, I am nothing more than some lazy shithole.

But that is not who I am, and to those who also have ADHD, you’re not either. You are just as worthy of being successful as anyone and everyone else. It can be frustrating that you can’t do simple tasks as easily as everyone else, but that’s okay—don’t be discouraged by it. Don’t abandon the projects you’ve always wanted to do or the hobbies you’ve wanted to pursue because you feel incapable of going through with them, because if I had abandoned this post that I’ve had lounged up in my drafts in three different areas on my computer, you’d probably never hear what I am saying to you now. Some may never know they have ADHD for a really long time like myself. Friends and family would probably never know what I know now about ADHD. No one would ever realize and see that ADHD is a psychological disorder that is just as important as every other well-known psychological disorder. And this stupid godawful stigma on ADHD would live on and the full extent of this disorder would continue to be hidden within the shadows. You’re gonna be okay. 

We’re gonna get through this. Together. 

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healing, Uncategorized

the voice awakens

*this post contains explicit content. what is shared within this post may be triggering to those who have been sexually harassed or assaulted, please read at your own discretion.

This story begins around 3 o’clock on April 26th when I met with my success coach to discuss where I needed to be academically in order to keep my scholarship for next year. But nothing in that two hour meeting could prepare me for what I would experience later that day.

So there I was…doing a take home exam for my graphic design class at 11:40pm. All at once, I received six text messages from six different people:

“Hey”… “Saw ur ad on cl”… “hey sweetheart”.

So I’m sitting here asking myself two things…where did they come from, and what the heck “cl” meant? (really, I had no clue). So I obviously asked who they were and what “cl” meant. All responded by telling me that they saw my ad on Craigslist. Mind you, that I have never used Craigslist a day in my life. As I’m trying to tell the first six responders that I’ve never used Craigslist before and asking them to send me the link to the ad, my phone is blowing up with dozens of new texts, nude pictures included.

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The first thing I do is make a list in my head of all the guys that would’ve put me on Craigslist. Many of the men asked me if it was my ex who did it and/or who the hell I pissed off to get put on there. No matter what I did, I kept running into dead end after dead end trying to find out who was behind the ad. The situation worsened when I was notified of a second ad, this time including my snapchat.

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At this point I was already copying and pasting the same response over and over to everyone. I had over 20 nude photos all from separate men (and one woman) that night.  I was getting calls, voicemails, and snapchats during all of this. My roommates, who were with me the moment it started, couldn’t think of anyone who would’ve possibly done this. As we tried to figure out what to do, it was suggested that I contact a mutual friend who might be able to help. This girl was a friend of mine that possibly had the ability to get into the account and take down the ads. So I did just that, but the messages continued. There was a third ad. 

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Luckily, this was the last ad. Oddly enough, this one was placed in Detroit’s Craigslist, unlike the other two. This messed me up even more because at this point I didn’t know if it was someone I knew back home doing this or college. I was frustrated, tired, and very very worried about my take home exam that I had yet to touch since I got the first six messages. Many of the people who responded to the ads thought that I was lying, that I was posting them myself, and no matter what I said, they didn’t believe me.

At this point, I was no longer being nice-this had gone on far too long. As I stood my ground, they did too. Now after you see these next screenshots, keep in mind, I am now in fight mode. The amount of men messaging me increased to 150+. At that point, it is not easy to be self-controlled or to ignore them. Its not easy to ignore when you feel so disrespected by whoever made the ads. It is not easy when someone uses your name to make you out to be someone eager for sex. 

I erased many of the messages at this point because my phone was freaking out (and I mean FREAKING out), these are only a small portion of what I was being sent (the police have a lot more of these conversations…more about that later on). This all went on until 3am when I went to bed.

…and they still messaged me throughout the night until I woke up at 6:30 for class.

…and throughout class until 9.

…and until 1pm when I woke up from a nap.

…THEN I had enough.

I spoke to the person I had asked to take down the ads the night before. She told me that the ads were removed. You would’ve thought that the messages would’ve stopped by now, but they didn’t. So a wonderful friend of mine came with me to the police department to file a report (bless u, dear friend). After talking to the police, the texts had finally stopped.

When the person I had asked to take down the ads was notified that I went to the police, they FREAKED OUT. Because I don’t know the ins and outs of the hacking world, I was led to believe that my friend’s IP address could now be used to incriminate her. I now had the thought that I just screwed over my friend. I thought that because of this I had ruined any chance of finding the person who did it. I asked for advice from both my Dad, a retired police officer, and my half brother, currently a police officer. After talking to them, I felt better knowing that one way or another, that the police could find who actually did this; that my friend would be safe.

…this is where everything went downhill.

I was asked to meet with my roommates for coffee. I was then told that they believed that the girl I had take down the ads was the same one who put me on Craigslist.

…a girl.

…not a guy I had expected and somewhat hoped it would be.

…a girl, who was also my friend.

I had full intentions of pressing charges when I believed it was a guy. I didn’t exactly prepare myself for it to be a girl, letalone someone I thought was my friend. At 1am while I was with a  friend, I was told that she had confessed.

The next day, I contacted the police officer working on my case to let him know that I found out who it was. I told him I did not want to press charges against her. But at that point, they were already moving forward with legal action. I had barely touched my exam. I was way far behind studying than I should’ve been. I had an overabundant amount of stress about my exams and now whether or not I should be pressing charges and what that would mean for my friend.

I found out the reason for the ads was for “a good laugh”.

As for the reason for three ads…well…she didn’t think many people would reply so she made multiple. This didn’t satisfy me or make me feel any better about the whole incident. 

At this point I had mixed feelings about pressing charges.  It felt like everyone was suddenly sympathizing for her, feeling sorry for this “poor girl” that what she did would get this far…

They wanted me to let it go.

That night, I stormed off with my skateboard and didn’t contact anyone for hours. I left hoping that maybe that night my life would end, that someone would take me away and I wouldn’t have to make anyone worry about whether I was pressing charges or not. I allowed myself to soak in the pain of falling off my board because it was the closest thing I had to self-harming. I think it was that night alone that told me that I needed to go through with pressing charges. While everyone else wanted to forget about the whole thing, I still couldn’t stop thinking about it.

In my life I have allowed  people to walk all over me and hurt me in the cruelest ways without stopping them. But now, to be robbed of what was yours and then being made to feel like you’re being told that it doesn’t compare to what the other person is now going through; that its not as bad as their pain? (i’m sorry for this)…that’s just shitty.

The day before finals, I met with a friend and his girlfriend to study. I was so frustrated that I was so far behind and I couldn’t do anything but cry. Mind you, in the middle of the library with students at every desk. It was somewhat embarrassing on my part, maybe for the girl too (i’m still sorry for that if you’re reading this). I had never had so much anxiety in my life than I did in that entire week. I truly believed after that session in the library that I was going to lose my scholarship. I met with the investigator the next day to ask about another option that didn’t require me to press charges but still gave me the justice I deserved. I was left with not many options but to either press charges or not.

For once in my life I had to use my voice.

I decided to press charges for the sake of my heart, my hurt, my dignity. I didn’t tell anyone but my Mom that I pressed charges until later on in the day, and that was the last time I slept in my dorm until Thursday night. I went to a friend’s place, I slept on the floor that night, getting only three hours of sleep the night before a really important exam (highest exam score I had out of all of my exams, though #boom). 

The past four months I have struggled with the trauma of that night. I freeze up when older men stare at me for too long, call me sweetheart or dear, and depending what they looked like (many guys sent me selfies), I could see them behind the screen messaging me or sending me nude photos. Even now I still get very tense when those kind of things happen.

I felt like I did not matter.

For quite a while I blamed myself for whatever I did to deserve being put out there like that. I felt that I was unimportant and not worth fighting for; which resulted in suicidal thoughts and coping with self-harm.

I was angry.

I became more defensive of how people treated me. I lost a lot of my friends that I had last year, and felt very alone. I struggle to understand what about me this girl didn’t like…to put me out on the internet like that.

I was scared.

I was scared that my new roommates and friends will think I’m too emotional and not like me for the same reasons she did and either hurt me, leave me, or both. The weeks leading up to the sentencing, I didn’t sleep. I was scared that if I left out any detail about what I’ve experienced and how its affected me, that she would win and get less than I felt she deserved. 

But I am healing.

God has shown me a lot about this entire experience. By going forth with pressing charges, I was using my voice in a way that would speak for myself, who I am, and what I deserve for the rest of my life. It was my declaration that I would no longer allow people to walk on me like that. To set boundaries. To learn to fight for justice for my own heart but with love and not vengeance.

Luke was an important chapter for me through this whole experience. From Luke 12:11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say”, to Luke 22 when Peter is told he will betray Jesus three times (note: my “friend” betrayed me three times-when she put me on craigslist, when she got involved as if she was innocent, and when she tried to play the victim, I the enemy), to when Jesus prayed at the Mount of Olives and says to God “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”, to when Jesus was on the Cross and said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. It’s helped me to center myself in the days leading up to the court date and how to feel and react when seeing her for the first time face-to-face since April. 

Like the days prior to going to court, I had little sleep and was very scared for what could come out of that day. And all I can really say is that I cried…a lot. Its hard to stand in the court room against someone who you trusted, who you thought liked you, who still does not believe to an extent that she is to blame.

She got a lesser punishment than I had wanted for her, but that does not mean that I am hurt by that.

I have been asked if I feel like justice was served, if I am happy with the sentencing. And honestly, I cannot answer that. I feel lighter and more at ease than I have for awhile now, but I know that there’s still more to walk through. I know that I still have a lot of healing to do, but I know that this is all in God’s hands. I guess that I am at ease knowing that her sentencing is His will and she got what she was sentenced for a reason. I trust in His future for her, and I trust Him for mine. I’m happy for a new start that God has been setting up for me since the moment I left CMU. I’m grateful for the friends I still have and for the wonderful roommates I am blessed to get to live with this year, and I am thankful for what God has made out of me through this season. 

I’m hopeful in His plans.

 

 

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my go-to albums

Redirecting from my usual blog posts, one of my favorite topics  to talk about (besides anime) is music, which has inspired me to talk about some of my favorite albums from my preferred genres. With that being said, let me talk about what genres this post is mainly going to cover.

For the past five years I’ve been a metalhead and has been my go-to genre. This is probably the part where you say “metalcore isn’t metal” or something of that variation, so I will say yes, I listen to “screamo” music. This paved a path to my love for pop punk (I’m a sucker for some good slow emo pop punk). Starting off listening to rap in middle school and then transitioning into my scene phase, I begun to gain a different perspective on the garbage I listened to and have seen the effects of the lyrics and the topics discussed in those songs on youth culture. [insert research paper from senior year discussing this very topic]. Besides country, a genre I always and will always hate, I hated rap. Then there came along a Jt who introduced me to Logic (who I graciously get to see live in August) who changed my entire perspective on rap forever, along with my B-girl mother who has influenced my perspective on rap as well. For the purpose of reaching all audiences, I will name off a few of my go-to rap albums for the purpose of this post.

Que the transition.

THAT GOOD SCREAMO STUFF

Pretty much any album by these bands are good, which is what made it hard for me to decide which ones were my favorite. These were generally the albums I would listen to in the winter from class to class (depressed me felt that it was fitting).

ROCK (because I realized that a lot of my go-to’s fell in this genre as well)

Without a doubt, 131 and Versus from Emarosa are what got me through my first year of college. Being As An Ocean helped me to find Casey, whom I dearly love and listened to a ton the last few weeks of school. My backup go-to night jams.

POP PUNK (I deeply apologize if my categorization is not to your satisfaction)

These albums fall between the categories of good albums to listen to when I went out skateboarding and “man this makes me feel really emo”. My go-to for night jams.

RAP (hip hop-I think we both know that I don’t need to explain this)

The one and only reason why I added two Logic albums to this mix is because I cannot let you read this section of my post without listening to Logic’s new album. Or to put it into simpler words, I couldn’t decide which album to put in this. I’d also like to note that I love Eazy E a lot more than I probably should. This is probably the part where I will get criticized because some of these artist go against my beliefs concerning rap. To comment on that, Spotify allows me to throw out the songs that I don’t exactly agree with and keep the ones I do like all in one simple playlist. So there.

Because I’m often asked about albums/bands that I recommend listening to, I felt that in one way or another someone could find a new favorite group after reading this post. On that note, I have hours upon hours worth of music in playlists on my Spotify that have a lot more bands that I dearly love but did not put in this post specifically. No, this is not me promoting, and yes, this is me telling you to follow me so I can see what you listen to-a lot of times I find new bands/groups through my fellow Spotify friends (shoutout to my frens on Spotify-thank u for the good jams). You can find me either at @seibelhayley or Hayley Seibel. I never know which one works.

Have faith, know hope, and you’re welcome. (side note: ever wondered where know hope came from? Know Hope from The Color Morale).

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the importance of mothers

Since the first Mother’s Day without my mother, I believed year after year that it would be easier to get through. But now that I am starting to understand aspects of my life and realizing how bad I am at this adult thing, it’s been getting increasingly difficult to keep it together. At this point I believe everyone is well aware about my mother, but for those who are new to my blog and my life, let me give you a run-down.

This is my mother. My Mom passed away from stage four lung cancer in 2009 after a three-month battle. From what I remember of her, [insert disclaimer about a swear word here], my Mom was badass. That is the one and only word I can use to describe how fearless, tough, and how well-respected she was. She was the only woman I know who could keep my Dad in line. She was the only woman I know who shaved her legs every single day. I remember most of her morning routine, her good morning greeting to me, how she likes her coffee, and how she loved French manicures.

My mother passed away very early in my middle school years, and right before puberty struck me like a brick. (What a coincidence). My grandma and I have had a close relationship since I was very young. My grandma taught me almost everything I needed to know about becoming a woman. She taught me how to cook, bought my siblings and I clothes for school, took me to get haircuts, and loved me both as a grandma and as a mother. My grandma has continuously shown an incredible amount of support throughout the years and is one of the only women who can make me cry just talking about her casually. She was there for me when I needed a mother the most and even when I wasn’t able to see her as much as I used to through my high school years.

Taking a snip of my testimony, my sister Logan, who started off as one of my best friends, was who brought me both to Jesus and my second family. At the time, I declared myself as an atheist, I was depressed, suicidal, and lost. The Neubeckers took me in at a time when I was the most vulnerable, weak, and was hopeless. Through them, I renewed my faith in Christ, found my purpose and my calling, and gained both a mother and a mentor.

If you ever hear me talk about my Mom, I am referring to her at least 83% of the time. She doubles as a mentor to my life and, like my grandma, has taught me how to be a woman. Through her, I’ve learned character and how to stand my ground. She has motivated me through my high school years and has played a big part in my upbringing and success. I’ve learned through her that it’s okay to cry, I’ve started to open up about the parts of me and the emotions I have that I was told all of my life to hide. My Mom has taught me to love in the ways I couldn’t love in the past. That is one of the biggest things my Mom has helped me do.

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While I wish my biological mother was here to have helped me transition as a teenager, graduate high school and move to college, and beat up everyone who has stepped in my way, I am so thankful for all my grandma has done for me and the Mom that God has put in my life for a specific purpose. Let me say this again: God gave me a Mom for a reason. Shawny was meant to be in my life for a reason. Calling Shawny my Mom does not replace the hurt or the memories of my mother. You can’t replace mothers, butt its not shameful to call a woman who has helped shaped you, inspires and motivates you, and cares for you a mother. I call Shawny my Mom proudly. I know that my Mom, despite those who try to tell me my mom would “beat me” for calling someone else Mom, is so thankful for Shawny stepping in when I needed a mother most. My Mom understands the purpose God has for Shawny in my life because my Mom is closer to God than any of us are.

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Time after time, I’ve been shamed for calling someone other than my biological mother my Mom. My friends have trashed their mothers right before my eyes and through social media. These experiences, along with what I’ve learned through my purpose and understanding why I was chosen to face the things I have, have shown me why mothers are so important, whether you get along with them or not. I’ve been told that I don’t need a mother even as an adult. In one way or another, my mother(s) have pushed me to where I am today. They understand me, allow me to express how I feel, and open their arms to me willingly. Mothers, along with woman figures who represent mothers to others, deserve to be treated with respect. I will never take my grandma or my Mom for granted because they understand me when my Dad doesn’t. They love me in ways my Dad can’t.

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While some may take that statement as a diss on the Dads who play both Mom and Dad, it’s not because my Dad is just that. But, because of my childhood and my experiences, there are places in my heart my Dad can’t reach. There are things that we don’t understand about one another even after 18 years. I’m thankful for what my Dad has done for me and I don’t take any of that for granted, but there is a difference in viewpoints between the both of us that have made us clash heads throughout the years. But both my grandma and my mom have been helping me to learn to understand my Dad and work to rekindle the relationship between us. If you asked me in 2012 if I loved my Dad, I would’ve said helllll noooo. Even to this day there is some restraint to saying I love my Dad, but I’m still going to say it. I LOVE MY DAD. I love my Dad so much that even though we butt heads, even though he has hurt my heart in ways that its hard for most to understand, I am determined to have a better relationship with him. He’s done all that he can as a single parent, and I give him mad respect for that.

Mothers are powerful. Women in general are powerful people. Please please please don’t forget to tell the women in your life how thankful you are for them, both the current and soon-to-be mothers. Birth or adopted. Your friend’s mom or the woman from the gas station that’s a mother. And for the Dads who are Mom and Dad, (and my own), this one is for you too .Thank you.

Even on a special day like this, have faith, and know hope.

 

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these hands / miracles

In the past year, these hands have wiped many tears from my face, held razors between their fingers, been clenched to either resist urges to relapse or to collide with my flesh (or an easier way to say that-to relapse), have been covered in dirt one too many times from falling off my skateboard, have gotten me out of bed and through the days I didn’t want to, have embraced many and pushed away many, and have written one sad poem after another.

But today, these hands give God praise. Four days before the beginning of finals week and hours after a successful meeting with my success coach, an unexpected obstacle (and for now private for the time being) had approached me head-on, putting me under much stress, pressure, hurt, and exposed. I lost all focus for finals week, cried many times in public from my fears of failing my finals sitting right in front of me in information I could not recollect because of the aftermath of this particular experience, could no longer be in my dorm for long periods of time, and felt completely hopeless.

In order to keep my merit scholarship, I needed to have a cumulative GPA of 3.25. Just last semester I barely made the mark with a 3.27. With the grades I was holding in my classes this semester and how I expected my finals to go, I needed a real miracle to either match my GPA from the fall or to raise it even higher. Two days before finals, I truly had believed that it was better for me to just end it all rather than be stuck between being the victim and also the “abuser” and take the shame of losing my scholarship home with me (though I and many others knew that I could easily get my scholarship appealed, I still felt ashamed that I even had to consider that route). This was a battle I could not fight alone.

These hands had to give these problems and frustrations to God. They were just not strong enough to hold the weights of the world. As my final grades were coming in, it became harder to trust. I was fearful that though the grades I was getting were pretty good for such a short notice event to occur in my life that I wouldn’t make that mark. But I literally told God that though I didn’t want to trust him that I was going to because He has never failed me, nor will He ever. The past few days I had been waiting for one more grade to be put in to find out my overall GPA. Last night…well…I’ll let the photo speak for itself.

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Now if you think that’s a miracle, let me give you a little bit of a background on how those grades came to be. The classes I was most fearful of were law and graphic design (which both go towards my minors, how ironic). Talking with my success coach about how I felt my grades were gonna turn out, I had no hope of changing my law grade from a C to at least a B-. I had received a 77 on both my law and BCA exams. At that point, there was definitely no hope after I had calculated my total points in the class from what I had in Blackboard. Last night, he curved my grade to a B. I didn’t feel that I was worthy of a B, let alone a B-. As for my BCA class, the 97 I had received on our data analysis project and my performance in the class is what pretty much saved my grade. My performance in Math had saved my grade as well, though I got an 80 on that exam. As for my graphic design class, my second hardest and most time-consuming and frustrating class, I had received an 85 on the exam. (somehow). My professor for once gave me grace and gave me a 94 on our final project, a project that I was fearful of due to my professor and I’s difference in style. There’s no need to explain why I got an A in English, that’s a given.

It blows my mind how God made a miracle out of something that I felt was not worth trying for. I’ve learned a lot in terms of what I need in my life next year, as well as what I deserve (in this case-I really didn’t deserve to have this all happen to me at once in such a short notice). I’ve had to trust God with a lot of situations in my life-this situation was honestly one of the scariest things to trust Him with. But I am so so blessed to have a God who loves me so much and always provides, even when there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to trust Him when things are hard. I’m so thankful to have a God that leads the way when I’m lost, who always finishes what He starts.

Finishing off a post with saying have faith and know hope has never hit me so hard or meant so much. Seriously, HAVE FAITH, KNOW HOPE.

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