Hi friends. Sorry. This isn’t Shauna. This is her friend, Michelle. You don’t know me, but I know you all, and more importantly, I know Shauna. When I first met her, many years ago, I was fresh out of college, working night shifts in an Emergency Room, answering phones and filing paperwork. It was an eye opening experience. I saw a slice of the world that few have ever seen. I saw people come in that were in pain, were in a panic, were seeking attention, or drugs or worse. I held the hands of people that were losing loved ones, got a fresh cup of coffee for a soon-to-be-widow, wrapped a blanket around a shaking parent that just lost a child. I’ve watched physicians make difficult choices, nurses hold it until they nearly peed themselves, janitors clean more blood than you could imagine was inside a person. To date, this was the best job I ever had.
My guess is that you suspect that Shauna was a patient there, after a horrible night of violence and abuse. You’d be mistaken. She and I shared a desk, a little spot of peace in a sea of uncertainty. In the time I knew her, she was unwaveringly kind, poised, but mostly quiet. In the way I know her now, it’s so weird to call her quiet. You couldn’t swear in front of her, which was a big fucking problem for me. She didn’t drink, which I just couldn’t possibly fathom. People would ask her personal questions about her life, and I would hear her shut them down. “How are your roommates?” “Seeing anyone?” “What did you do this weekend?” were all considered personal questions. I quickly learned that she didn’t want to talk about her life, and I was okay with that. Most of our interactions consisted of making fun of our coworkers, or talking about what weird meal I had made myself for dinner. There was a lot of food and real estate porn. Shauna helped me internet shop for the condo I eventually bought, talked me through the petty arguments I had with my then boyfriend, and let me complain about my mother. I think truly our friendship began from a mutual love of Pitbulls.
In the time we worked together, Shauna’s mother became very ill. She lived in the city, but my home was in the neighboring suburb. Like any sensible city girl, she didn’t have a car, so I offered to drive her there. With the kindness she had shown me, it was a no-brainer.
Through bits and pieces of the conversations we had, I began to put together a concerning image of her life. Here she had this mother that she loved dearly and loved her the same in return, but Shauna was living with people that controlled her life. I was sad for her, and I felt so helpless to make it any better. I just promised I would drive her to her mom whenever she wanted, even though one time I left her on the side of the highway to be picked up by Mom because I was going to miss an exam.
When I left that job, Shauna was one of the very few people with whom I kept in touch. It was probably two years before we saw each other again. When we got together, she was this entirely different person. The first thing she said to me was “Let’s get a fucking drink”.
We went out to a bar, a place I couldn’t have pictured her in a thousand years. She told me about the amazing man that she was dating, the scum bags she had dated and the good news that she had moved back home with Mom. That was probably my favorite part.
It was like I was meeting someone entirely new, but had known my life for years. At the first opportunity, I had her over to the condo she and I drooled over at 3 AM nightly after I made an offer on it. She met my husband I had squabbled with when we were dating, and kissed the Pitbull we adopted shortly after I was married. Shauna became a weekly fixture at my house, sometimes helping me, posing as a fake client, other times just to drink and laugh. Eventually, after too many glasses of wine, Shauna told me the story of her survivorship. I remember sitting there with my hand over my mouth the entire way through. I couldn’t believe someone I had loved so dearly lived through such hell. She seemed so nervous to tell me about her life, but she was so brave through it. She didn’t stop. It was like one breathless story, breathless for both of us, though I was silent. There were hugs. There were tears.
The next time we got together, we were drinking wine. We drank some more, and I told her how her story had taken root in my bones. I told her that her life, her story was too important not to share, that there was so much wealth and power in her experience, and that by holding it in, she was depriving the world and a desperate community of a truth for which they so yearned. We drank some more, and we started talking about what mediums it would be most appropriate to discuss, and I recommended blogging. We drank some more, and she wrote her first blog. She was nice enough to let me edit it, but truthfully, I just put in the details she was reluctant to write down. It has made me so proud to see how successful this blog has become, especially as I have had nothing to do with its content since the first few times she asked me to check out what she wrote.
Today, we were texting, and she was so sweet and thanked me for her success here. I told her, “I pushed you off a cliff. You learned how to fly.” This evening, she asked me for the first time in months to check out her blog post, and it was about what I had said to her this morning, about her flying. I was so flattered, but I thought how unfair it was to you, her readers, not to know the full story came to be. It’s once again that unwavering kindness of Shauna that forces her to want to credit those who help her with success. It felt as if she wanted to give me every word she had written, which I couldn’t edit. I see how much power and strength she has found in telling her story. I am so lucky to have witnessed this phoenix rise from her ashes. In closing, I want to leave her with the essence of the post she wanted to share with you all:
Not only is it possible to rise, it’s possible to fly.
Hey friends, Shauna here, The above context from my friend Michelle, literally brought tears to my eyes, when I write I always originally write in google docs, that way if I need Michelle we can both do edits from our own homes if need be, when I asked her for help tonight she had no problem doing so, then she had told me she was “working on something don’t look.” So I didn’t, but kept messaging her on Facebook asking if I could. Haha.
Below, is the context I had asked her to help me with – Aspire to Inspire Before You Expire.
While looking for a great definition on “aspire to Inspire before you Expire” I found this: http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Aspire_to_Inspire_Before_You_Expire.html
“So in summing up the meaning of the phrase aspire to inspire before you expire, it simply says to have the desire to arouse and positively influence an individual into action so that they fulfill their innermost desires before they die and leave this planet. And it also applies to you – allowing inspiration to flow through you so that you too experience an inspired life. As always, the choice is yours! Be the inspiration!”
Earlier today, I was talking to my dear friend who is the one who got to me to finally start blogging back in September of 2015. She encourages me more than she knows. I had once again thanked her for doing so and her response was epic! “Hahaha, no I pushed you off a cliff, you learned to fly!”
I had been wanting to share my story of survivorship, as well as empower and inspire others, reach out to victims and give them hope for their future. I just could not take that first step. She told me that my life, my story was too important not to share, that there was so much wealth and power in my experience, and that by holding it in, I was depriving the world and a desperate community of a truth for which they so needed. She literally gave me the push I needed to turn my dreams into reality.
Aspire means to yearn for, have a strong desire for or to have hope.
Personally, my desire, my hopes, and my dreams are to help victims and survivors of domestic violence. That through writing and maybe one day even speaking to others, that I can empower and inspire other survivors to share their stories as well. That if we inspire one another than we can truly break the silence. That if we all take a stand, that if we all do something with our own experiences that we CAN stop domestic violence. If we can ensure that schools are really teaching our teenagers about teen dating violence, if we can reach these younger generations then there can be an end to domestic violence.
I have always said, if I can make a difference in just ONE person’s life, then I have been successful!
What are your aspirations? What inspires you? What do you desire and hope to accomplish while you are still here?
Photo Credit: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwitm8rpk_HKAhUFdD4KHWhGDloQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.30bananasaday.com%2Fprofiles%2Fblogs%2Fphoenix-rising&psig=AFQjCNHkh61DI4vyKBCu3IjADbFP5H9_mw&ust=1455329687996530