Who am I?
So often when we get to know someone, it is more about what they do, what they have accomplished--or not--and that kind of thing than it is about who they are, what makes them 'tick'. And, truth is, sometimes we're more interested in those details, because they require less emotional energy. But who are you? Who am I?
I love words. Spoken words. Written words. Spelling. Writing. Unscrambling words. Word puzzles. Scrabble. Words. They make me happy. They tell me when you are sad. Or angry. Or devastated. They tell me about your heart. And let you into mine. What is more powerful, really, than words? But that is what I love, not who I am.
Now, if your question is what do I do, or what qualifies me to write or do the work I do with victims of sexual abuse, then I will tell you. But that's not who I am. I'll get to that later. I speak in a variety of venues, at home and internationally, on the topic of overcoming sexual abuse and violence, as well as marriage, parenting and other topics, as requested. Whether
my message is directed to counselors and professionals, or victims, I love to share the hope and purpose I've found. My days are spent working as a coach and mentor, helping victims of abuse overcome their painful past. When it comes to education, I will begin and the end.... In April 2018 I completed my Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies, and have now been accepted to the PhD program, Sociology, focusing on Crime and Religion (or crime in religion) at University of Waterloo and and will begin that in September.
In 2011 I took a Speaker, Coach & Trainer certification course through John C. Maxwell. From my first introduction to his writings and leadership training, back in 2005, I held Dr. Maxwell in high regard. His practical, down-to-earth teaching, spoken with gentle authority, immediately impacted my life, and influenced positive changes. When the opportunity for training came available, the question wasn't so much 'Can I afford it', as it was 'How can I afford it?'. I knew immediately that I 'couldn't afford not to', so we found a way to make it work. That was the beginning of my formal training, and I've never regretted that investment. It inspired me to push forward and go further than I ever dreamed of going.
And at age 36 I returned to high school--having been a drop out after grade 9--all because I wanted the challenge of doing Grade 12 English, to prove to myself that I had it in me, this ability to write and express myself. That passion earned me a high school diploma--the official one--when the guidance counselor asked me to meet with her and told me how close I was to that 'prize'. I graduated high school on June 27, 2006, at age 37, with the Governor General's Award for highest academic acheivement in my school. All because I love words. But that still doesn't tell you who I am. It only tells you what I love.
Child number twelve, of what would eventually be sixteen, I was born into a dysfunctional, religious family. My father, who had his own story of pain and trauma, carried on the cycle of violence and abuse with my siblings and me. My mother brought her own pain and dysfunction, further adding to that chaos. Psychological, physical and sexual abuse were 'the norm' in our home, not only from immediate family members but also extended family, neighbours and family friends. Child-to-child sexual interactions were common in our home and neighbourhood. But it was my father's violence, death threats, and suicide threats that tormented me, day and night, for many years.
In my early twenties I was fortunate to have people in my life who helped me acknowledge that trauma, and begin the healing process. Several years later I married my best friend, Tim, who patiently loved me through the many 'phases' of that healing. Twenty years later he is still my very best friend, and the amazing daddy to our five children, and he still loves me in this healing process. That's a bit about me, where I come from... But who am I?
As I pondered this very question one day, while reflecting on my life, the thought went through my mind. I am "Shaped by experience... Defined by Love." I 'wear' it as a reminder on my foot, in the form of a tattoo. I never want to forget that life, no matter what it is, good or bad, does not define me. Not my training, not the things I love, and not the devastating past or even my healing. I am more than what I have accomplished, or failed at. More than what life has done to me, or blessed me with.
I am a deep well of love and compassion, flowing for every person I meet. Even those who have wronged me, betrayed me, or otherwise hurt me. I don't hold grudges. I can't. I've tried. It doesn't work. Sooner or later I will be overcome with compassion for the person who has wronged me, and I will forgive. Usually sooner.
Bitterness has no room in my heart. It never will. I choose a life of peace and love, through forgiveness and compassion. But just as powerful is my sense of truth and justice. So, while I forgive quickly, I have strong boundaries with those who wrong me, without repentance. Neither love nor forgiveness equate to overlooking wrong. Sometimes, in fact, they are the very force that compel me to bring people to justice.
I am passionate about helping the less fortunate, the victimized, and the oppressed. Much of my time is spent, face to face and heart to heart, with people who have suffered abuse and violence. Particularly sexual abuse. I listen. I acknowledge their pain. I offer compassion. I validate them as individuals. And I challenge them. No one deserves to be 'stuck' in a place of struggle. The people in my life who dared to challenge me, are the people who changed my life, and that is a gift I want to pass on to others. It is my way of saying 'Thank you'.
These are little glimpses into 'who I am'... what moves me... inspires me... stirs passion in my heart... Now my question is, who are you? What touches your heart? What inspires you and stirs passion in your heart? Who are you, when you strip away your titles, your pain and all the things we use as disguises?
Whether to share your heart, or to book a one-on-one session, or set up a speaking engagement, if you would like to send me a message, please visit the 'Contact' page. I do my best to respond personally to every message I receive. I would love to hear from you!
~ T ~