"I called Gillian’s place my home for a while when I was 6 with my mom & brother Keith.
When I travel back to that place in time in my memories of when we still lived with my father there is a lot of feelings of fear. I saw my father as the “bad” guy. He was a real-life version of a monster to me. Lurking & breaking into our house all hours of the night when my mom would try to lock him out knowing he was coming home intoxicated and on a rampage about something that of course was somehow my mom’s fault. She would get the blame and attack for it verbally, emotionally & physically.
In complete contrast, my mom was my protector, my safe haven. She taught me my manners, how to treat others well, she gave me a spiritually based belief in something larger than us, which brought much peace in the hardest of times. She played Barbie’s and coloured with me, she was quiet & kind.
I wanted to share my good memories too as a reminder that nothing is ever ALL bad, I have warm happy memories within the chaos too.
It’s hard living in an atmosphere of never knowing what will happen next. Being scared all the time about the yelling & heartless throwing around of things & people. Then there was the aftermath that included awkward silence, walking on eggshells & finishing with the fake happy, pretend nothing happened honeymoon phase until it all started over again when he would find a new thing to be angry about.
Looking back at it now as a woman who has almost 30 years of healing I realized I took a few un-‐true lessons with me from that hard time in my life:
- Men are bigger, stronger, scarier & the boss and not trustworthy. Don’t fear a few great men entered my life along with my brother & cleared up that disempowering belief.
- I learned to keep quiet, not to be heard from…today up here is proof I’m working on that one.
- I learned I should disappear/fade away.
- I learned I should take abuse, that others come first…recovering people pleasers here!
I watched my mom take a lot of abuse. I blocked out a lot of the really hard memories of it until years later as I healed & talked about it more…more came back to memory so I could release the trauma from my soul.
One day when his anger turned towards us, she dug up all the love she had for us and turned it into the bravest moment I can imagine. She stood up to him and we left our home that day with almost nothing but the clothes on our backs & never looked back, we were forging into a new life.
We stayed with my aunt for a while but he showed up there causing more issues and it became clear we needed a more secure place so we were taken to Gillian’s Place.
Even as a little girl I could feel the love & protection that was available through those doors. I sensed the community that existed & I just KNEW we weren’t alone in our struggle anymore.
We shared 1 big room, I could see large fences all around the property outside our window, which made my little heart happy, this place felt safe…it would be the first time in my life I had felt that way.
I had a sense that my mom was healing here too. I saw her feel safe enough to fall apart, then I witnessed her coming back together but now the pieces fit a little differently. She felt stronger & empowered.
We needed a safe hideout; my father was still searching for us. With the help of Gillian’s Place we were recharging, my mom was formulating her next steps; she had access to counselling/guidance, hot meals, legal advice and the support of many. I was enjoying playing safely with other kids who understood my shy standoffish ways and accepted me completely as is, they GOT IT.
We were blessed with clothes, toys and everything we needed to live comfortably there. I still remember a pair of slippers I was given, they were so cute & special to me.
After we left we moved out on our own the 3 of us. We didn’t have much as my father has destroyed a lot of our stuff after we left but we had each other, a fresh start and everything Gillian’s gifted us.
Our 1st Christmas on our own we received a large beautiful basket of food for Christmas to make a special dinner and lots of snacks & treats too. We also received Christmas gifts. This made all the difference at our house; one of the gifts was a toboggan I still remember my brother & I were so excited for.
We felt loved and supported by Gillian’s Place again & the complete strangers that donated these blessings into our lives. I never knew who any of them were, I didn’t get to meet them & thank them but I imagine they were kind people just like you guys here today. People with big hearts determined to make a difference in someone’s life so thank-‐you for your generosity, I can say personally that I KNOW it matters, I KNOW it makes a difference.
Learning to trust men again was a long road! My stepdad showed up in our lives when I was 8 by fate, trust me my mom wasn’t looking…I believe her thoughts were I’m never daring to trust again at that point. He changed our family dynamic for the better he brought new energy & possibilities to our lives.
Sure, my mom had been learning to make it on her own, and she was kicking butt at it, finding her own power & being a great role model.
I was learning new things now:
- I was learning woman can do it alone.
- I was learning women should have a voice & stand up for themselves.
- I was learning you could make a new path if you dare to take the fork in the road.
My dad came in gently, kindly never wanting to overstep our healing in progress. Somehow he knew what we needed & understood on a deeper soulful level we were fragile as a whole. He slowly piece by piece started to pick up & glue us back together as a family.
I had this great opportunity to see what a dad could really be about. Kind, warm, reliable, fully accepting and protective. I was quiet & surly back then, not always easy to love I’m sure, he just kept showing up, proving himself trustworthy, he weathered the storm & mess that we were at times LOL.
Building this relationship with him set me up I believe to find the amazing, kind, funny and super supportive husband I have now that provides in so many ways! We're high school sweethearts with 2 kids, Julia almost 10 and Jake 8. With all the healing & support I’ve received in my lifetime I’ve accomplished so much I’m proud of, it would have been deemed impossible in my younger wounded days.
I’m no expert but as a woman, a survivor of living in an abusive house & now the role of being a mom I am teaching my 2 babies lessons in confidence & love in hopes to prevent a cycle of abuse.
A few lessons:
- I speak my truth (even though it scares me sometimes!) so that my daughter knows she can too. She’s encouraged to speak her mind even if it drives me crazy sometimes (price you pay to raise an empowered girl…anyone feels me on this!). You will never hear me say oh a boy hit you, threw rocks at you on the playground Hunny…dang he must love you…ya no… you need to run as far away from Steven as you can LOL.
- My son sees the respect that my husband gives me & I return to him and he learns what a healthy relationship looks like.
- My daughter is almost 10 and it’s a natural feeling for men to want to step back from their daughters as they get older but he doesn’t. He’s not afraid to show her love and tell her what he loves about her. I see the smile spread across her face when her daddy says he’s proud of her, or how beautiful she looks in her outfit. She knows she’s loved & supported by her mom & her DAD so she doesn’t go looking for a strong male role she already has one.
- We teach that boys have feelings too. My son is allowed and encouraged by myself & my husband to cry or let us our feelings when he’s hurt or sad. I watched my son run-up to my husband one day when we were at a friends pool party, he was crying he had been hurt by someone, my husband let him cry he hugged him & comforted him…all my hubbies friends were watching and I was so proud as he held our son as long as he needed it for and whispered kind, healing words to him. It actually started another conversation that day between our friend & his son when he said dad you never hug me, our friend was so surprised by this comment from his son…sometimes when we are brave enough to go first against the status quo in this case it would have been suck it up, be a man but that only teaches him he shouldn’t feel …even when our peers our watching we can bring change.
I’ve been listening to brene brown a lot lately (awesome researcher of emotions & their impact) and so much research shows men especially those who were not allowed to show their feelings or talk about being hurt carried a ton of SHAME is which a heavy feeling. I think we can all relate that heavy unspoken feelings can create a need to escape (for some that retail therapy or eating our fav food..me!) and for some that escape is into addiction or can become mental health issues or a combo of the 2 which were both the case for my father (who was also raised in an abusive household).
Sometimes I’ve thought about where I’d be if my mom hadn’t left. I believe I could have repeated her choices ( no offence mom lol…) I might have not loved myself enough to live the life I’m blessed to live today I would have been different without a doubt…
But I believe everything happens for a reason and that my purpose in life is to take my journey & turn it into inspiration, hope & healing for others. My heartfelt wish is to help others heal & move on too through my health & wellness business. I love educating on ways to more naturally help the body, mind and spirit heal. Essential oils are a part of my journey, I also love doing Reiki which is an energy healing modality that helps clear old stuck energy & trama from our bodies. I’m loving the life I only could have thought possible in dreams (all be it not perfect at times LOL I am only human after all!).
Thank you Gillian’s Place for existing & thank you to all who kindly support it, you’re helping to bring new life & hope through your generosity.
Thank you and God Bless xo"