Available on January 23- My Cousin, Laura’s Book.

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Spoiler Alert!  It is captivating and inspiring so mark your calendar.

Yesterday, I snuggled in front of the fire to begin reading Laura’s soon to be released book, “She Wrote it Down.” I got up only to make the occasional cup of tea: I could not put it down. This book is a page-turner which may sound unusual for a self-help book.

Trust me.  And not only that, it’s a game-changer.

It felt as if Laura was holding my hand through each chapter. The more she shared her story, warts and all, the more identifiable it became. Not only survivors of abuse, those struggling with addiction, people who live in a place of shame but really anyone can relate.  Now, I have walked next to Laura since we reconnected in 2014, after a 35-year separation. We have been through a lot together and we share a lot with each other.  STILL, I took so much away from it.

(Did I mention that we talk at least ninety times a day?)

It has grit, grace and pure honesty. My beautiful cousin unabashedly shares her trauma, it’s aftermath and how it manifested itself in her life. But then, she shares how she decided to stop letting shame tell her story. And that is where it turns powerfully inspiring.

Then, she shares what she did to change the pattern.

I am so proud of Laura, of all that she has done for herself and is doing for others daily. You will probably read “She Wrote It Down” more than once. And I’d be willing to bet that you will gift it to others.

And guess what?  I could probably arrange for an autographed copy.

Release Date: January 23, 2018, and will be available on Amazon.

That’s All.

HAPPY Officer Paul-IVERSARY!

It has been one year this weekend, friends.

One year has passed since My Laura and I laid eyes on each other after a thirty-five-year separation. A separation over which we had no choice.

One year has passed since I stood on the train station platform with my heart beating like crazy waiting for her to step off the car so I could hug her again.

One year has passed since she and I curled up in front of a roaring fire with tea and warm blankets and finally found all of those missing pieces to the puzzles of our lives.

One year has passed since we sported our white “Invincible” coats and stood camera ready for My Michael to capture a moment we would never forget.

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One year has passed since we ventured to Carlisle to find his grave.

One year has passed since I hurled behind a dumpster.

One year since we met Officer Paul Smith, our hero.

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Everybody’s hero.

One year since we learned that there was, at least, one other little girl he abused.

One year has passed since we held her momma and cried together.

And from that one year that has passed to this very moment

THOUSANDS have said, “ME TOO!”  

We founded Say It, Survivor. 

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THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAVE BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN HELPING US AND OTHERS.

Especially-

Officer Paul Smith

Chief Fisher

The beautiful girl’s Momma

Susan Elsbree

Michael Ross

S.I, Rosenbaum

Brian Stauffer

MY MICHEL

My children

My Dearest Clare, who has been my closest pal since age 14 who knew my secret from the start

Friends, family and everybody has read Marymorphosis, shared, offered kindness and love

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That’s all.

Honey, I’m Good

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Riding horseback in Ireland. Bucket list- another check!

 

Honey, I’m good.

I have written about abuse, trauma, bullying and how society is so skewed. I have written of the unfairness of things. I have written about love.

Love is my favorite.

Bad things happen.  And we get to grieve.  We have a right to our reactions and our feelings no matter how they play out.  No one gets a say in how we manage. No one gets a vote on how we survive.

The aftermath of tragedy and trauma is stifling. The effects are physical, psychological and social, at least.

The result of my sexual abuse smothered me. Living with it is much like being suffocated by a pillow. For years, I struggled to breathe.  I could gasp, and that kept me going.  It was no way to live.

I just could not get enough air.

My abuse did a tattoo on me.  It wormed its way into the deepest part of me and, like a parasite devoured me.  The worse I felt, the more I fed it.

And much like metastasized cancer this malady took over.

Finally, I decided that feeling broken had to stop. I needed a new baseline.

We have the right and responsibility to come up for air and take charge of our lives and reclaim our joy.

I made a conscious decision, a conscious commitment to put the kibosh on low self-worth, anxiety, and sorrow parasitically existing in my soul. And Honey, that took YEARS. And I am still at it.

I am not fully there yet. I know that it is not possible to squeegee my past so that my screen is clean. But I can squeegee my mirror so that I get a clearer picture of myself, a picture that is not smeared and muddled.

I have said before that there is great power in vulnerability.  One may think that vulnerability is a weakness. It is nothing of the sort. Quite to the contrary.

Vulnerability takes strength. It takes courage, and it takes Moxie.

My cousin, Laura and I have recently co-founded Say It, Survivor (sayitsurvivor.com,) an organization committed to shedding a light on sexual abuse, helping other survivors to stand firmly in their stories and putting an end to this horrible epidemic.

We have had an overwhelming onslaught of love and support.  We have heard from thousands all over the world; People are speaking up, reclaiming themselves and joining our bandwagon. It is awesome.

Often there is the predictable reaction when I share my story. Folks are uncomfortable (understandable,) profusely sorry and express pity.

Another reaction that I have heard more often than not is, “But you are so NORMAL!”  That one makes me chuckle.

But Folks, there is no pity-party happening, At all. Not even a smidge of a pity party.

Then, there is the other side of the peanut gallery. Brace yourself.

There are haters. There are those who believe that we are trying to attract attention to ourselves. These are the people who gaff and roll their eyes and call us sensationalists. There are those who think that this is self-serving. There are those who are aghast that we would bear such “private” information about our past.

“Private.”  That is why we are doing this. We are trying to tell our private stories and encourage others to do so. Privacy equates to secrecy and that in turn evokes shame.

Shame. That is the cancer, the malady I am talking about.

There are people with whom I was close. Friends who I kept for years. I have not heard from them.  That is ok. For some, it is too painful and may stir up their emotions or past. I understand and continue to send love to them. I hope they heal if they have not already.

For some, it is not a “nice” topic.

Some, believe it or not, are embarrassed by me. And that is all good information.

Everyone has the right to their opinions and feelings. I can no sooner judge other’s opinion of me personally or of my charge. I am an activist and people are not going to like me or what I am doing.

That’s not going to change.

I am sad for people who have that perspective.  It must be painful to live with a perspective like that.

I have compassion for them.

In my painful past, where I was suffering from parasitic self-loathing and insecurity I would be defensive and hurt and embarrassed over this.

Laura and I  did not choreograph our dance. It was improvisational.  We did not premeditate what happened at the Carlisle Police Station on January 18. My car turned itself into that parking lot.

Our story is not exceptional nor is it unique. We are not heroes. We are just two women who decided to take charge and find peace in telling our stories to anyone who would listen, And Officer Paul Smith did just that.

Our charge is not self-serving. We have plainly decided to do what I said. We decided to take charge and shake it up like a snow globe.

And every serendipitous turn, every co-incidence were God moments. We are not thankful for our abuse. Not at all. But we also refuse to stay mired in it. We refuse to be victims.

In Say It, Survivor we are working for a greater good. It is healing and empowering to help others.

“Honey, I’m Good.”

Thank you for your kindness and compassion and love. Thank you for the outpouring of support. Thank you for spreading the word. Thank you for holding hands with Say It, Survivor.

But All, please don’t view me broken because quite to the contrary I am better than ever. I am empowered and charged up and ready to take this on.  I am privileged and honored for those who have faith and put their trust in us.

What a privilege.

There is something powerful, cathartic and joyful in putting one’s pain to work. And  ill-wishers shall be ill-wishers.

And I will bear witness to others with kindness, compassion and love.

Love is my favorite.

Let’s change the world, Friends.

 

That’s all.

 

It is Time to Tell Your Story- Announcing Say it, Survivor.

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They tried to bury us…they didn’t know we were seeds.

-Mexican Proverb

Today is the day that we have been waiting for- “we” meaning my cousin Laura and I.

Thirty-five years ago Laura told her mother what our grandpa did to her. That gave me the nudge to speak up and tell the adults in my life that he was doing it to me, too.

Crickets.

I lost my childhood to a monster who was supposed to love me and protect me. Instead, he violated and robbed me. My innocence was sacrificed by his need for domination and power.

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I was just a little, little girl.

And then, also because of him, I lost my dear cousin, Laura. We never saw each other after we spoke up.

The impact that my abuse has had on my life has been monumental. My abuse has played a starring role the choices and decisions I have made. What he did to me changed the way I saw the world.

I was busted.

But my abuse made me resilient, too. My abuse forced me to move onward. I had something to prove, or so I thought.

Then the strangest thing happened last Thanksgiving.

Out of the blue, I had a strong urge to find Laura. And I did, that night, thanks to Facebook.

Re-connecting has changed our lives. Just in ten months the enormous processing and healing we have experienced together has been overwhelming. It has been by the grace of God.IMG_2907

This was taken the morning after we reunited.

We went to the Carlisle Police Station, and Officer Paul Smith sat with us. He heard us. He believed us. He documented what we said about our abuse.

Thank you, Officer Paul. We will never, ever forget your kindness.

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Me, Officer Paul and Laura

Then, Laura wrote about what happened to us, and hundreds said “Me too.” Other talented and soulful authors re-posted.Thank you, thank you, thank you to Glennon Doyle Melton and Jen Hatmaker for sharing our story. It is in great part because of you that we connected with such a community of survivors.

Our story has been published in the October 2015 issue of Boston Magazine, which is on newsstands now. The online version will be available soon. Thank you S.I.! Working with you has been an outstanding experience.

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What happened to me as a child was horrible.  It was criminal. I was so lonely and felt so lost all the time. But there is something so incredible about what has happened as a result of us speaking out.

The number of survivors who joined in saying “ME TOO!” was overwhelming. Thank you to everyone who has offered support and kindness  to us but more importantly,  to those who have had the bravery to say, “ME TOO.” You are courageous, and you have strength and are resilient.

No one can mute our collective voices. Right?

We are a community of survivors. And although the common denominator that we share is terrible, in coming together as a community we can do great things.

There is strength, power and healing in community.

And there is something to be said about taking lemons and making lemonade, everybody. And that is just what we are doing.

Laura and I have decided to put our pain to work.  We have given it a job. We have resolved to tell our stories to all who will listen and encourage others to do so as well.

Because, you know what? This violent, destructive epidemic continues to fester in the dark. It will continue to manifest until we shine a light on it, everyone. Let’s flip that switch.

So, Laura and I have founded Say it, Survivor.

http://sayitsurvivor.com

Say It, Survivor,  offers guided writing workshops for survivors of sexual abuse. We bring a community of survivors together, and we work as facilitators helping them to process and tell their stories they way they wish and on their terms

Through Say It, Survivor, we bring our message of awareness and prevention to women’s groups, parents’ groups, and law enforcement by offering public speaking engagements.

Please visit us.

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Here comes the sun!

Click here to read our original posts

https://wordpress.com/post/87366145/41/

That’s All.

Join Laura and me!

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My cousin, Laura, and I are looking for Massachusetts area survivors of sexual abuse who are interested in participating in a half-day workshop that we are offering on September 25. The workshop will take place in the 495 area, convenient to routes 3, 128, 95,93 and the Mass Pike.

This event is free of charge and space is limited.

To register, please contact me at marymorphosis@gmail.com

That’s all.

Dynamic Duo

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Here we come!

My cousin, Laura, and I have been working on a super-exciting project.  Yesterday, our very talented and ever so patient videographer/photographer, Brendan Donohue spent the day with us.

After my blog post, “BEFORE He Wrote it Down” and Laura’s blog post, “He Wrote it Down” got so much attention, we decided that we wanted to change the world.

We are working on it.

Stay tuned, friends!

That’s all.

 

maryMOMphosis

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On my due date November 2001

Mother’s Day is upon us! Folks flood the card aisle. Stores post reminders to “Mother’s Day is May 10!”  Well-wishing Mother’s Day Mylar Balloons float around us and tap our shoulders as we stand a the grocery check-out.

This floral holiday Trumps Valentine’s Day, for Goodness sake!

I will never forget the first moment I became a mother. To me, it was not when I peed on the stick and the second line appeared. It was the moment I looked at him. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, despite his cone head and red face.

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The hospital wrist band I wore as an infant, and the one I wore and Ronan wore when he was born

He was gorgeous.

I will bet every mother has felt the same way.

Over the past 13 years, I have adored being a mom. Over the past three I have loved being a stepmom, too. Motherhood is the hardest job I have ever loved. I have morphed into a woman I would never have become had I not been blessed with motherhood.

My mother made me a cup of tea the day I took my baby home from the hospital. She set it down and said, “Enjoy. You will never again have another cup of hot tea. “ She was joking, but she was so right.

Mothers love their children unconditionally. Being a mother means putting yourself at the back of the family line. You can always count on Mom. Mom makes the hurt go away.

Mother is a verb.

Some of the best meals I have ever enjoyed were in my bed on mother’s day morning. From the very young age of five my boy brought me breakfast in bed. I think that it started with goldfish and a water bottle. Most recently, my three boys brought me a toasted bagel with cream cheese, a brimming bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios drowning in milk and coffee brewed from the Keurig.

Children idolize their mothers. Mothers are the rock, the source of love and the center of a child’s universe.

In many ways, the attention and love I receive as a mother can feel overwhelming to me. It feels like such a gift.  I gift I have never believed I deserved.

But they do love me. I feel it every single day.

In third grade, he gave me this mothers day poem.

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My AWESOME Mother’s Day Card 2011

Clearly, it made an impression.

I think that one of the most beautiful moments of motherhood happened in the Chatham Dunkin Donuts on Cape Cod. My two and a half-year-old and I were patiently waiting in line for his chocolate donut. We were surrounded by retirees. A lovely elderly lady behind us caught his eye.

“Where did you get your beautiful blonde curls?”

He instantly replied, “From God.”

Proud Mama moment!

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Curls from God

Now that my boy is a teen things have changed. I am annoying. I am so not cool anymore. I am a helicopter. The eye roll has become as dominant in his interaction with me as the word “like.” Its all good, though.

 

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13th Birthday!

Our roles change.

I have morphed from the center of his universe to a tornado. And I know that as he grows, our relationship will continue to morph and continue to change in many ways. Most of which I hope to be delightful.

My relationship with my mother has too, changed over the years. She was my everything as a child. She was my friend as a teenager. We shopped and had our nails done and lunched. She was career counselor after I graduated. Then she took care of my baby when I worked.

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Each day I got a note from the day’s events. Elmo was BIG back then!

When she had a devastating and debilitating stroke 11 years ago, the tables turned. I took care of her.

I visited her thrice a day for the three months she was in the hospital. I fed her and dressed her and put on her makeup and did her hair when she was immobilized and could not speak. It is so important to look and feel your best when your rehab for the day is getting into a wheelchair.

It was an enormous role reversal.

She became dependant. I became the nurturer.

Looking back I would not change it. EVER.

She is stubborn and opinionated (the apple does not fall far from the tree.) She has spunk and refuses to leave her home despite my father’s death and despite that she is patently disabled.

In light of recent life events, including reuniting with my long-lost cousin, Laura, hearing the other side of the story about our abuse and going to the police, there has been a predictable crack in my relationship with my mother.

It is a huge gaping fault much like the aftermath of an earthquake.

I am so, so angry. I am intensely hurt.

Mom is loving and kind. She is smart and generous and funny. She took care of me. She loves me.

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Christmas 1968

I struggle so.

There is a place that I am trying so hard to reach where I can reconcile the past and my mom’s role in it. It is the most difficult thing I have ever done. It is perhaps more difficult than the aftermath of my sexual abuse and certainly more difficult than reporting her father, my abuser, to the police 35 years later.

It is heart wrenching, and I am torn. We all have hurts. We all have emotions and sensitivity. Once we are burned, it can be hard to stick your hand in the flame again.

So, people cope with their sexual abuse in different ways. When I was disbelieved after reporting my sexual abuse to my parents and uncle I had to survive. I mirrored their behavior. I pretended that it did not happen. I told my story in that kitchen. No one listened to my story.

(For clarification, please read my first blog post, “Before He Wrote it Down,”)

BUT my story, as much as I tried to stuff it down as far into my soul as possible, has told itself over and over again in my decisions, in my choices and in how I have lived.

Ok so here is a twist. Taking it one step further, people cope with OTHERS sexual abuse in different ways, too.

I applaud some. I shake my head at others. But I can’t judge. No one can judge. That is not our humanly job.

Although she is getting help for the first time in her life and says that she believes me, the jury is still out. But at 76 years old, I am grateful that she is a least trying.

My brother is brilliant and has offered great insight. He has provided guidance. He asks if I want to have a relationship with her? If so, that is the FIRST thing I need to decide. If so, and only IF SO, I need to determine if I can forgive. If I choose to forgive, I must do just that -all in-no takebacks no exclusions.

I am human. I am so very hurt.

I look at my mom. I can only imagine what happened to her as a child. She has coped differently. I suspect that she did the “stuffing down into the soul” trick. And it worked for her. But it did not work for me.

Herein lies the problem.

So on this mother’s day I have made a decision. I have decided to forgive my mom.

Forgiveness has many faces.  Forgiveness can be as easy breezy as a fist punch and a pat on the back.  Forgiveness can happen over years laying on that black leather couch.  Forgiveness can just be a decision.

Forgiveness, in this matter, is not releasing it, accepting that what happened can be dismissed or saying “It’s ok.”

In a billion, gazillion years, it will never be “OK” with the past but I choose to move forward.  I have decided that my grandfather had my past but will never have my future.  No flipping way.

I cannot change the past, but I can change the future.

I cannot judge, but I can love

I cannot undo it, but I can move on and accept her frailties and shortcomings.

Although I cannot say that it will ever be the same (how could it be) I will try.

There is an abundant amount of love in this world. We just need to let it in.

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Happy Mother’s Day.

That’s all.