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Family – Love Redefined…

10 Feb

When you decide to speak up about child sexual abuse, you will experience various reactions from various people. Survivors would like to believe ‘family’ will be the most supportive, but often times we experience the opposite. My experience was no different. Oprah once said “sometimes you have to divorce your family” I’m not sure who divorced whom in my case, but I knew some separation took place. On this my Journey 2 Free; I had to accept my new reality, one I’ve grown accustom to, for after all, I had to choose me, my sanity, my health and my well being over family, it was either that or the mental asylum, I choose the former. Love Redefined was written last year as a journal entry but just this past week I bore witness to the character assassination and verbal abuse of a few family and friends at the hands (and dare I say mouth) of family, because they too choose to speak of their ordeals. A new day has dawned and while ‘we’ survivors garner the strength and the courage to speak up and out, please bare in mind being judged, being called names and worst ‘being called a liar’ is seemingly apart of the speaking out process, I implore us ALL as survivors to STAND IN YOUR TRUTH regardless of what ‘they‘ may say:

Love Redefined

My family made me question, rethink and re-evaluate the definition of Love.

I use to believe we were tight, so inter-connected, a closely knit bunch, we would hang-out, be cordial, do the things expected of us to do like talk about accomplishments, about each other, and what uncle, aunty or cousin so and so was up to, we congratulate when congratulations were in order, you know, the usual things families do, then part ways, go back to our respective places, and when need arise we do it again;

 BUT

If you want to truly know how tightly knit, and who’s with, for or against you, do something like I did, and watch the family split; How dare you do something the uppities and overly self-righteous don’t agree with?!

So, I spoke up and sought justice for an injustice that span generations in the family, knowing the act was wrong, it’s not that THEY didn’t know, or understand, but no-one took action, so the injustice prolonged. Everyone has an opinion, this is true, the opinions ranged from girl go ahead do you! To WHO DARE YOU SPEAK, AND SPEAK ABOUT WHAT WAS DONE TO YOU?!  Accused of bringing shame and disgrace on the family, some dared to say I brought embarrassment on my dear old granny, but granny had a choice to make, and so did I! She choose to side with her husband, I choose to speak in hopes of saving lives.

Grandma’s husband is a pedeophile and after the lives he’s ruined, she’s still by his side yet, some family members behaved as if victims committing suicide would have been more acceptable than confronting the one performing mental genocide, murdering the self-esteems and shattering prides and forcibly taking with delight the innocences of the female babies on her side

In this family, we struggle with a chronic case of duplicity, some may say split personalities but, I call it blatant hypocrisy, this particular act stems from the matriarch of the family, yes, it rots from the head of the tree!

I would listen to grandma and some relatives speak with great delight of others while they were in their sight, but the moment their backs were turned the compliments also took flight. They are bold, saying what they need to say, but to get their way they’ve mastered their craft, learning how to manipulate, so, it comes as no surprise when this family split, and for my part I’ll gladly take ownership. I spoke up and out and yes sought justice for the injustice, while some did what they do best, pretending to be supportive of cousins, sisters, daughters while spreading propaganda to others, by now, they are well versed in spreading their unintentional lies intentionally. Hypocrisy is the name of the game, unfortunately sown and deeply rooted in some of the off springs veins, for I’ve never before seen a set more versed in knowing truth but instead, intentionally and purposefully propagate and circulate lies, yet the question remains, Why?!

Why did so many take this personally, when my issue was with the one that raped me?! Why?! They weren’t there, yet the majority felt the need to tell me how they think I should feel and the audacity to offer a timeframe of healing and recovery at their suggested speed!

Love Redefined: I’m not sure what Love means anymore, see, my family have me questioning 1 Corinthians 13 vs 4, for their love was neither patient, nor was it kind but instead crude, cruel and harmful combined. They tried to shame me into thinking I was wrong to speak, blatantly telling me, it’s attention I seek. I’ve heard this saying repeatedly, but it’s one with which I’m afraid I can’t agree that “no matter how we fuss and fight we still are family!” Unfortunately, that maybe so biologically but beside’s that fact, there’s some actions taken and some words spoken from which we can’t back!

They are ways to handle feuds and conflicts between friends and family, and that is where we all agree to disagree, Respectfully! BUT NO, Not in my family! For it’s a pissing contest to prove who’s draws is tighter than the rest, not to mention the heated war of words to see who can verbally humiliate, assassinate and pulverize the other. We send threats and beat our breasts and puff our chest and spew flames of fire, until all that’s left are the chard remains of what use to be,  We use to be…

 FAMILY

I/We Speak…

22 Jan

What about the ones that came before us?!

I saw a comment earlier that really pained my heart, it was from an elderly survivor of child sexual abuse. The comment was made on Facebook on a thread of exchanges from survivors and supporters alike, but this particular comment caused me to pause for a moment. The first line of her comment simply stated “I am jealous” The statement first caught me off guard based on the conversation we were having, I read a little further and as I completed her response my heart broke. The rest of the comment read, “I am happy all this (CSA) is being spoken about and victims are speaking out but we never had that for my generation.”

There, I don’t know if it was the words ‘my generation’ or the fact that I could sense the genuine pain through her words that did me in, but I sat back in the chair as tears welled in my eyes, I exited Facebook. This single comment made me stop and think about something I have but too often said, ‘I can only imagine how many have passed on, both men and women who have had the experience of being sexually abused as a child and had to live with the pain and trauma until there dying day. This woman words resonated with me in such away it hurts, but instantly I was reassured of ONE of the many reasons I speak…

Yes, I have joined forces with the few that have decided to speak up and speak out about their ordeals to bring about awareness and incite change. Personally I speak knowing I may not be able to stop (CSA) but if I can prevent or save just one child from suffering the years of secrecy and shame, the pain and my years of mental torment would not be in vain.

Join me as I/We Journey2Free. From my heart to yours, reassign the shame… Speak!

The Healing Process:

3 Jan

The healing process or The process of healing is as unique to each individual as their finger prints. We all experience and process things differently, therefore we heal differently. Do Not try to stop, block or hinder one’s process. The best you can do is be supportive and patient.

Dearest Grandma…

31 Dec

For years I was asked not to speak about being raped by my maternal grandmothers husband for the sake of protecting my grandmother. Her daughters had grown up with this fear that her husband would have killed her had THEY spoken out about him raping THEM. So, when grandma’s husband turned his gaze upon me at five (5) and began raping me at eleven (11) and even after sticking his fingers inside the body of my three year old sister, we were STILL held to secrecy for the sake of protecting Dearest Grandma from her husband.

I am the first grandchild for my grandmother, my mother her first child and after finding out in my adult years that my own mother was also raped by my grandmothers husband from ages six through sixteen (6-16) I was STILL asked NOT to speak to ‘protect my grandmother’. The level of betrayal I felt from the women in my family got to it’s tipping point when I finally broke my silence and spoke out about the years of abuse. I sought justice and there to meet me every day in court was my ‘grandmother’ who was present in full support of her ‘husband’. I cannot express or put into words what that felt like, seeing the woman that I was asked to shield, show up in defense of the man that raped my mother, myself and fondled a three year old.

After having several conversations with my ‘grandmother’ and realizing that she would have NEVER left her rapist husband’s side for the likes of her offsprings, the harsh reality set in that the matriarch of my family was and is complicit with the evil she brought home. Now, I’m just left to wonder, is that type of mental illness hereditary?!

This spoken piece was written back on February 17th of this year. It was just one of those days when the tears flowed uncontrollably when I thought about the indescribable pain of loss and betrayal I’ve had to endure for 35 long years for the sake of this woman, the woman from who’s loins I descended, the woman that looked at me and asked “can’t you find it in your heart to just get past this, it’s been so long ago?!” Now, this is the lineage from which I was birthed…

Join me as I/WE journey2free. From my heart to yours.

All rights are reserved by Larissa H. Rhone

Thanks to St. Thomas Events for their dedication to bringing this piece to life.
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Journey with me…
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Contact me:
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Becoming an Optimist…

15 Nov

It matters not how ideal our life may seem to others, or how we pretend all is well, we all encounter those days where nothing, and I mean nothing seem to go right, how do you cope?

I am learning day by day to just be! To be present, to be still, and to accept that no matter how hard I try there will be days where nothing goes according to plan. But, the off days are much easier to handle than an off week or two.

My current situation: I have been mostly immobile  for over two weeks due to an unfamiliar health issue. Living with a chronic illness such as sickle cell anemia it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when the body starts acting up or you experience new symptoms. After all, Sickle Cell Anemia affects EVERY area of your body, no part of the body is exempt, from your brain to your toe nails.

These new symptoms however startled me. Dizziness, I have experienced dizziness before because I struggle with abnormally low blood pressure but, this, this is different. Imagine being so dizzy that the very ground beneath you moves, the roof above you spins rapidly and you cannot maintain a steady balance. The only thing I can possible equate this experience to; as a child my very first trip to the amusement park I was so excited to ride the rides but found out half way into the ride I had horrible motion sickness, not only did I barf but I lost all sense of gravity. (That damn fling-mi-dash at Hope Gardens, Jamaica)

I was recently asked, “Aren’t you use to this by now?!” To which I sarcastically grinned and replied as calmly as I possibly could “Can one ever get use to being sick?!” Normally I would freak, stressing about being confined to a bed, which would only result in a worsened crisis that would end with me being in the place I hate most (the hospital) but, as much as I hate this, and it’s really starting to annoy me, I am choosing to take it all in strides believing that this too shall pass, that everything happens for a reason and all things work together for the good! From a pessimistic belief to optimism, ha, it feels better this way!

This is how I cope, I talk to myself! I’m not crazy (well, maybe a little) but, my current self talk: Well Larissa, It’s been almost three weeks, it’s about time you get back on your feet. They’re places to go, things to do and people to see and being in bed is just not working for me! This bout of illness has just about run its course, I’m so over this now whatever the source. Regardless of what the doctor says child you never listen, you are not about to start now by giving in. So with the dawn of the new day, you’re going to get up comes what may, if you stagger, if you stumble and even if you fall, you’ll simply get back up and try again, cause girl you’re a survivor above all. With that said, I await daybreak.

 

SETBACKS…

8 Nov

Consistency have always been a major issue for me, I struggle in this area not because I’m lackadaisical or lazy (though sometimes I am), but simply because my life have been a series of leaps and bounds and setbacks. This isn’t mental (though in some cases it is) this is simply because there’s a major factor at play and that is, living with a chronic disease. I make no excuses, I do what I have to do, working as hard as I possible can when I’m well, then, they’re those days when…

The pass few weeks have been a perfect example of experiencing highs, then accepting the lows. I’ve accomplished a great deal within the pass few months but in the midst of executing, prepping and planning there is another major part of my life I must contend with, living with Sickle Cell Anemia. Much like being tight lipped about being sexually abused as a child, this other part of my life I NEVER speak about openly, until now!

Living with a chronic disease such as SCA is debilitating to say the least. The good days are great but, on the days when every part of your body aches, your energy is gone and you struggle to even take a breath, it’s bad! To avoid the questions, the stares, the pity glances the insensitive and sometimes crude comments, I seldom speak about living with this disease. Outside of my family, a few close friends and my medical team only a very selective few knows how challenging a plight surviving with this disease has been.

However, like everything else in my life it’s about acceptance, realistically speaking I’m living with this thing that sometimes renders me immobile for days, at times weeks! I used to be so bummed about this and if I’m to be honest, ashamed. Yes, I use to be ashamed of being sick… My name is Larissa H. Rhone I have sickle cell anemia, sickle cell anemia does NOT have me… We speak from here on out.

We Need More Voices!

25 Oct

Over the course of the last 10 months I’ve had this recurring experience, each and every time I open my mouth and speak about Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) regardless of where I am and to whom I am speaking, I find that individual or person’s I’m addressing have experience this ordeal or, they know someone that have had the experience. I have seen and have read the stats, and I must admit I am left questioning the approximation of the (one in every three (3) girls and one in every six (6) boys figure). I happen to know that the stat’s recorded is that of reported cases, which leaves me dumbfounded and truly afraid, questioning what is the actual figure?! How many of US are their really?! How many of US have actually experienced this evil AND how many more will their be?!

More light is being shed on this topic in recent years HOWEVER, much more NEEDS to be done! CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE ALTERS AND YES, RUINS LIVES!!!

In the underdeveloped mind of a child their sense of wonder and optimisms is interrupted, trust is broken, curiosity altered and everything that was once beautiful, innocent and a mystery is now mystified and fuddled. Behaviors that follow often perplex others. A  child that has been sexually violated will NEVER be the same! A shift happens in their brain and the act of betrayal permeates every fiber of their being. Studies show that victims of Child Sexual Abuse displays one or more of these harmful symptoms, symptoms such as:

Depression

Addiction

Suicide

Homicide

Psychosis

Intimacy

Dissociation

Trust Issues

Promiscuity

Self Mutilation

Self Esteem Issues

Anxiety/Panic Attacks

Sexual Dysfunction

Anti-social Personality

Sexual Identity Disorder

Withdrawals and the list goes on…

Many of these symptoms manifest during adulthood and many symptoms go undetected for years. For far too long Child Sexual Abuse have remained the most taboo topic. Many still struggle to SPEAK or have a basic discussion, yet, it’s still happening at an alarming rate! Why?! Victims struggle to speak, because (relying on the stats) it’s reported that 93% YES 93% of victims know their abuser. Therefore, it causes US victims to remain mute, ashamed and afraid because God forbid someone finds out my father, mother, grand-pappy, uncle, aunty, pastor, coach, teacher, brother, sister, cousin raped or sexually violated me, oh the horror, the judgement, what will the world think of me and how will I be viewed? The truth is, these predators strive of our silence, oh yes!  Our not speaking enables and emboldens the perp. I heard it said that SILENCE IS A PREDATORS BEST FRIEND, and this proved true not only in my case, but almost in every case!

In my life I have dealt with and experience ‘several‘ of these symptoms. I will be sharing my personal experience with some of these symptoms in hopes others will be able to relate and identify. But, in the meantime I encourage, in fact I implore victims and survivors alike, ‘Be emboldened and let’s start speaking out!‘ Our life, our children’s life depends on it! Being sexually violated is NOT your shame!

Let’s Reassign The Shame and focus on saving another from having to live with the torment! From my heart to yours… Journey 2 Free.

 

DON’T SPEAK!

24 Sep

Each time I hear the question asked “why can’t you just get over it!” I cringe, yes my stomach churns, these three words  ‘get over it! triggers a less than pleasant response.

I’ve garnered support and established new friendships with a few ladies I will respectably refer to as ‘age-ables’, and though our chance meetings may be summed up as bittersweet, I cherish every moment I spend in their presence and cling to their every word. Our stories is what binds us, the familiarity of our ugly truths, a common theme PAIN. The pain of being taken advantaged of as little girls now adults, ‘adulting’ from a place of brokeness. These women are well into their sixties (60’s) and still carry with them the ghost of what could have been, the ash of what should have been and the stagnant remnants of a past experience that never truly decays. Forced to lock away, to hide, to suppress memories while unknowingly hiding, suppressing, loosing themselves and everything else in the process. Sixties (60’s) and still struggling, some still barely surviving, still not knowing who they are at their core, some still unable to shake off or break free the invisible restraints of family secrets and shame, yet, are still being expected and asked (why can’t you get over it?!). With each exchange, with every shared detail I’m privy to, in the voices I hear a longing, coupled with deep sadness yet masked as full fledged, totally capable, well put together and competent functioning beings. When will we get over it?! When the game playing and hypocrisy cease!

A child that has been sexually abused grows into an adult that have been sexually abused. Trapped beneath the surface is a tortured soul. A soul that is disconnected, a soul that’s in search and in need of being whole. We learn to disconnect, separating mind and body. Like functioning alcoholics we compartmentalize separating body from our feelings and are fully capable of playing the roles, meeting our demands, our responsibilities, being everything to everyone at all times with little or no regard to self and what it is WE (the tortured souls) actually needs.

When will YOU see, know or understand, there is a loss that is experienced when sexually abused as a child?! Loss of power, loss of pride, loss of dignity, a loss of truth and a true sense of who you really are, loosing an identity before even having the chance or ability to develop or create one.

I’ve become accustom to the callous, uncaring and insensitive remarks of those that have not had the experience and chooses to be closed minded, even worst are those that have had the experience but lack empathy, is void of compassion and struggles with sincerity these are the same folks that say ‘I understand but’… A victim of child sexual abuse doesn’t seek to be pitied, and unless you’ve been there we truly don’t expect you to understand! However, If you insist on asking questions from a from a place of judgement and misguidedness do us ALL a favor, DON’T SPEAK!

While on this journey of navigating unfamiliar paths and charting new courses, I honestly thought time would have healed the wounds and it will, but they cut deep!  Being made aware by the ageables that though ‘scars may appear faded on the surface they are permanently tattooed on the soul’. Some are fortunate to have received needed help, others like myself are on their way to healing while others remain loss and unfortunately will never find their way. Most painful of all, are those that have gone back to the earth with the secrets, never having the opportunity of being free. It all hurts and one things for certain, it NEVER goes away, You NEVER forget and for DAMN SURE it’s not something YOU JUST GET OVER!!! 

Yes, healing is possible but it is constant, the pursuit is never ending, the process is daunting and tedious and it takes loads of work! While on this journey… From my heart to yours…

To be continued…

 

 

Pained

23 Sep
“A life lived in constant pain, suppressing hurts and misinterpreted shame is no life lived at all!” (LHR)
 
I hurt for you! I cry for you! My heart breaks and bleeds for you!
 
I wonder, how many people have died taking with them secrets that drove them to an early grave? Secrets that weren’t theirs to even keep and if only those secrets were revealed they would still be here… Freed!
 
I hurt for you! I cry for you! My heart breaks and bleeds for you!
 
My heart is heavy…

I STILL STRUGGLE…

6 Sep

“I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be.” – Joyce Meyer

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Self-Esteem as having respect for yourself and your abilities. The definition of Respect a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important etc, or feeling or understanding that someone or something important, serious and should be treated in an appropriate way…

Hmmmm, well, well! I knew prior to my Journeying2Free that I had major self-esteem issues, I masked it well, or so I thought! The last few months have been challenging, on one hand I’m amazed at how far I have come while acknowledging how much farther I have to go. Since January of this year, I have had numerous opportunities to speak to adults and children alike and with each opportunity the feeling of inadequacy emerges before the first word spoken or the first crack in my voice. The “Who, do you think you are?” The “no-one cares about what you have to say!” The “what qualifies you to speak to anyone? questions. I sometimes feel like an unqualified fraud, nevertheless, I know my story, I know my truth, and on truth I can securely stand because it’s my experience, lived and experienced by only me, however, I struggle…

Journeying to mental freedom I have discovered so much about myself, being able to ascertain truths about who you are can at times be pleasantly pleasing while other times the realization leaves you in a bemused state of mind. Being mentally and emotionally abandoned after being sexually abuse, you learns the negatives. Negative self-talk – when a person speaks, thinks and believes every thing negative relating to themselves. When a child is not supported, loved, protected, encouraged, reassured and/or worst forced to carry shame for the actions of another, the negative self talk begins. The negativity stems from lack of belief in self, doubting ones abilities, feeling inadequate, feeling worthless, feeling void of value and undeserving of good things. I felt this way for many years! Truth is, I still struggle… 

On three separate occasion this was evident. Thursday, July 27th, I was asked to facilitate an overnight retreat, I’m unsure as to if my nervousness was evident to others but I was so frayed, not only did I over-pack for an over night trip, but I questioned my abilities every step of the way! I worked myself up into such a frenzy that when it came time to present, I was mentally and emotionally wired. The first realization came when I boarded the bus along with 30 girls to Kingston. I was one of two facilitators on the bus, a bus I didn’t have to be on, but choose to ride in supporting the very young girls onboard. I was the only person that should up with a suitcase! The girls all had overnight bags and rightfully so being it was an overnight trip! In the morning I awoke to get dressed for the days event and while going through a fully packed suitcase, not finding anything to wear, It was only then I realized my being in such a frenzy had very little to do with the day’s event and everything to do with the fact ‘I am still not that comfortable in my own skin!’ I caught a glimpse of my self in the mirror, looked myself square in the eyes and uttered “child you are who you are, you look the way you look pimples and all and It doesn’t matter how you dress it up or try to cover it over with makeup  you are who you are and it is what it is!” In that moment having changed a couple times I did the Jamaican “kiss teeth” a sign of frustration, I threw on something and finally went out the door. I had an AMAZING day!

On Saturday, July 29th, I had my 22nd High School reunion. I intentionally planned on being late. I was asked only days prior to pray the opening prayer and immediately after being asked the anxiety began. I pray but apparently I had an issue with praying publicly, my nerves got the better of me. I ended up being late (Guess I really spoke that into existence!) My sitter got out of work late, I had no choice.  The venue was beautifully decorated, my schoolmates/classmates were looking oh so stunning, now being as late as I was my nerves ran wild. I grabbed the closest seat I could and sat down feeling so uncomfortable and out of place. After allowing my nerves and the voices in my head to run a mock for a while, good sense prevailed, I silently shouted at the voices inside my head to ‘shut up’ I mustered the courage and chimed back “Larissa (Rizzy) Rhone get off your ass, walk around those tables and greet everyone’!  I made a move, my nerves were shot and the voices inside my head screamed louder “ you better sit your skinny, ill-shaped ass down and not draw any attention to yourself!” I stopped, I was tempted to listen, however, I hugged the first person in my reach, then the next, then the next, until I greeted everyone nerves and all. When it came time for dancing the voices resurfaced, once again, I did the infamous Jamaican (suck teeth) and decided, It’s been a long month all work, no play, my children are safe, and that wasn’t about to change tonight, I broke loose, believing , so what if I’m judged, I deserved this moment right ‘ere’ and I enjoyed myself mingling, co-mingling, chatting and dancing the night away with my some old schoolmates, classmates, friends, associates, and friends of friends, even if some were just friends only on my head. I had an AMAZING evening!

Sunday, July 30th the mecca of tests. Placed in an uncomfortable situation where I alone made that decision to place myself. The voices inside my head screamed at this point. ‘What the hell are you doing Larissa!” It was one of those situation where you know better, but for whatever reason you decide to go with the flow, then reality hits. I know I deserve so much better and I should not have to settle for less but in a moment, in that moment, a moment of weakness, a moment of wanting to be loved, needed and accepted just the way you are… in that fugacious, fleeting, momentary, short-lived, passing phase I  could have and had placed me in a situation that I must have been only relying on one side of my brain, the not so rational part. Here again, I had to quiet the voices, I had to allow the rationale part of my brain to be dominant in ruling. I whispered (and yes, I do talk to myself) “Larissa (Rizzy) Rhone, it’s completely ok to feel vulnerable, to want  to be wanted, to feel like you are needed, to desire to be loved, but not at the expense of over stepping bounds you may not be able to come back from kid!”. I stepped back into the here and now, I was engaged and fully aware, being fully present I walked away from that situation feeling empowered and encouraged with my pride and dignity in-tact, knowing I did not come this far only to throw it all away for… It was an AMAZING night!

I am so tired of putting/placing the wants and needs of others before my own, sometimes at the expense of my own safety/sanity (something learned and imbedded from childhood as a result of being asked repeatedly to put my needs and feelings aside to accommodate everyone else’s) When a child is asked and expected to make compromises and accommodations for the adults, instead of the other way around they are taught and learn that their feelings, their needs and their desires takes a back seat to the needs, desires and wants of others. Again I say, ‘it’s ok to have and experience all these emotions, It’s ok to fall short, it’s ok to make mistakes and horrible emotion based decisions but you also have a duty to see these for what they are and rise above it all! Too many of us allow vulnerability and negative self-talk to override good judgement. Free will not happen overnight hence the journey, but as long as I/you remain open, honest and maintain an attitude of growth no matter how difficult or uncomfortable ‘you/I will be just fine!’ So, with a heart that’s not fully intact, being emotionally wired and mentally frayed it’s ok, Get up, Show up and get on with the rest of your life! I still struggle… BUT

Discovering, NO, knowing I have self-esteem issues I MUST continue on this path. I am fully aware of my lack of self-love prior to this journey nonetheless, I have been working on MYSELF and Yes, I Still Struggle in a few areas. I Still Struggle with acceptance, accepting and loving me, my gifts, my talents, my abilities… I know and now believe I am priceless in worth and pray my actions reflects that. I have come a LONG way and for that I am proud! For after all, I can truly say “I’m not where I want to be but I surely I am not where I use to be. I AM working on ME.