Category Archives: Community

Testimonial Tuesday by Richelle Knapp (my sis)

It’s time again for another installment of Testimonial Tuesday.  I am the oldest of four, and my sister is the second oldest.  She and I have been through a lot together.  Although we had different experiences and perceptions of our childhood experiences, we have been on a similar journey.  Each individual step in our journeys is invariably linked to the other person’s.  My sister describes a part of her journey in overcoming her difficulties.  So without further, I give to you my sister Richelle Knapp…

As I was growing up, my mother was hard to figure out, to say the least. She was very mean to me and my siblings most of the time. But other times, she was really nice and fun to be around. She singled me out for a period of physical abuse. She was a drug addict. She did not really know how to raise children.

I don’t think she intended to be this way. I don’t think she set out to abuse drugs. But her background was a big part of it. Her family was a mess with alcoholic parents. She and her siblings were ripped apart when she was very young. She was largely a victim of circumstance. But sadly she did become an addict. She was always in a deep grip of denial about her addiction.

Her life impacted mine in deep and profound ways. Everything that happened to her and to me as a result of her problems and our relationship resonated for years even after her death. When she passed it took me a while to figure out that I was not mourning her death, but her life. After her passing, I had many emotional and mental problems. I was losing touch with reality and regressing back to my childhood. I was having almost constant anxiety attacks.  I was also having flashbacks of things I did not understand. I had a vague feeling of ongoing fear and even terror at times. My poor husband went through it all with me and was my main support. I could not figure out how to function. I could not work or do much of anything else. My emotions were in constant upheaval. One day I would be okay, and the next I could not get out of bed. I was lost in a sea of mental and emotional problems, and I was drowning.

When things got really bad, my sister ended up coming out to help me. She brought me back to her house to stay for a month and to begin to get me the help that I needed.  I went through something called inner healing.  Inner healing is a way in which God is able to come in and make significant changes to a person’s spiritual landscape. I had Dissociative Integrative Disorder. Through the inner healing, process  God revealed the fragments of my psyche and integrated them back together again. When it was over, I felt whole for the first time in a long time. But I also felt very fragile, as if I could break very easily again.

Later in the year, I came in contact with a woman who was instrumental in helping me to become stronger emotionally, and mentally. During the time she counseled me, we did certain exercises to help me to better understand what was going with me. I realized I still blamed my mother for the majority of the problems in my life. I realized that I had not forgiven her for just about everything. One of the most important exercises we did was called The Vault. My counselor had me talk through a list of things I had made in a previous meeting that had to do with my life. I had to decide what I wanted to “keep” so that I could deal with it still, and what I wanted to “lock” in the vault and move on from. As I worked through the list I could feel myself suddenly getting lighter and lighter emotionally. It was a significant time for me, a real turning point. I left that session feeling completely different. I felt very nearly completely healed. It was finally a new beginning for me. For the first time in a long time, I felt free.

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I am 38 years old. I have been happily married for over 4 years. I live in Bear, DE with my husband. I believe that anything can be overcome if you are willing to do whatever it takes; if you are willing to do the hard stuff to be healed and ultimately be free.

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So, tell  me, do you want to write about so something you have overcoming?

My opinion on opinions. Or something like that.

(This a complicated subject that has taken me an inordinate amount of time to write about.  Please forgive any bumbling and incoherent ideas here.  I’m a work in progress.)

I’m a bit riled up about something I keep hearing/seeing on the Internet:

“What other people think of you is none of your business.”

My response to this is, “Oh?  Really?”  I don’t know who said this (Frankly, I don’t  care), but this seems to be in response to that thing that happens when we worry about what other people think of us.  You know, that thing where you start making other people’s opinions more of a priority than your opinion.  As I was researching this statement, I ran across a blog post where a person stated that worrying about another’s opinion is encroaching on someone else’s property.  That’s an interesting notion, but I am not sure I completely agree.  My problem with this kind of statement is that it general enough for people to take too far in the wrong direction.

Having an opinion is part of being human.  You know, “I opinionate (I know, not really a word.  Just go with it.), therefore I am.” Or, something like that.

Here are some facts about opinions:

  • Opinions are like the Force.  There’s a light side, and a dark side.
  • There’s no such thing as a neutral opinion.
  • Opinions frequently smash together like atoms out of control.
  • Opinions can be either helpful, or non-helpful.
  • Helpful opinions can inform and uplift another person.
  • Non-helpful opinions can tear down and disenfranchise another person.
  • Everybody’s got a million of ’em.
  • Some of us (ahem) are more opinionated than others.
  • Some of us (again, ahem) share our opinions more frequently than others.

Need I say more?

The notion that other people’s opinion are none of my business because it’s their intellectual property seems like an overreaction to idea that another’s opinion shouldn’t define who you are.  Yes, only should define who you are.  Yes other’s opinions are just their opinions.  People do use them to hurt, control, and destroy other people.  Those opinions should be ignored, and are none of your business.  But those opinions aren’t the ones I am talking about.

I find  other people’s opinions of me helpful.  Even the bad opinions.  I tend to view other’s opinions as an object I can hold in my hand.  I can look at, ponder it’s meaning, and put it down on the nearest horizontal surface.  It matters to me what other people think of me.   Here’s why: if I am doing something that is a problem in my interpersonal interactions, I need to know so I can work on it.  I need to wonder what other people think of me, because there is always room to grow.  This part of the human need for social order.  We have to define our place, and our contribution to the society we live in.  If we are not actively contributing, or worse causing disruption in, to the society we belong to, we are limiting our capacity  to be fully part of that society.  One has to be discerning and honest about themselves to consider another’s opinion of them.  One needs to be willing to face their own weaknesses and downfalls.  One has to be humble enough to admit to the need for change.

So, don’t swing too far in the wrong direction.  Consider other’s opinions without taking them in and letting them run like schoolchildren with scissors waving frantically in the air.  Make them behave themselves and reveal truth to you.  Talk to those opinions and form your own conclusions.  Make good, honest changes in yourself based on those truths.  Let other’s opinions help to define how you react to the world.

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If you are visiting here, why not leave me a little note to say, “Hi!”?  I’ll say, “Hi!” back!

An essential truth on fear

If you look to the left of this post you’ll see this quote (and a bunch of other worthy quotes, I might add):

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. -Nelson Mandela

I think that this one of the essential truths of humanity.  Fear is a significant daily motivator for many, many people, whether they know it or not.  Fear can define our actions, how we respond, what decisions we make.  The thing is, if most of what we are afraid is based on evidence, some would say truth.  And, we make decisions based on that truth, even if the action we take is slightly ridiculous.  For example:

  • Truth: The subway is a potentially dangerous place.  I may get hurt.
  • Action: Therefore I will walk the 6 miles to work.
  • Truth: I may get hurt on the roller coaster.
  • Action: Do not ride the roller coaster.
  • Truth: My husband beats me.
  • Action: I will lie about my feelings.
  • Truth: My mother says things that hurt my heart.
  • Action: I will keep my distance from my mother.

See what I mean?  Each thing listed is, or may be, true.  And therefore, you do what is necessary to protect yourself, even if it means compromising yourself, your principles, and/or your morals.

I am a person who has lived her life with fear.  Fear of just about anything and everything.  Even ridiculous stuff like “I might fall on the sidewalk therefore I must vigilantly stare at where I am walking, or avoid sidewalks altogether.”  Yeah, I did that.  Here’s another example: Fear would motivate me to act like a loon around people I didn’t know very well because I was afraid of being rejected.  If forced to talk to a new person, I would babble like an idiot all red in the face in sheer embarrassment at my ungainly social behavior.  For me, the safest thing was to avoid meeting new people altogether.  This fear lent itself to tension in  my marriage because my husband is rather fond of meeting new people.  Going to birthday parties of people I didn’t know would cause me a great deal of pre-festivities anxiety.  My husband has done a pretty good job being gracious with my crazy behavior.  But, I could tell he was sad because it was so hard for me.  Because of his desire to be supportive, my behavior limited his ability to be social.

I eventually got over the worst of this kind of social anxiety.  Mostly because, over time, I came to realize the new people weren’t going to hurt (mostly).  I felt like my behavior was wrong and it needed to change.  I had to force myself to calm down and give it a try, over and over again.  I had to force myself to appear to be calm, and have a nice conversation with someone I didn’t know.  This is where Mr. Mandela’s quote comes in handy.  He is saying that it is likely you are never going to stop feeling afraid. If you want to triumph over fear, if you want to conquer fear then do the very thing you fear.  Despite the trembling and shaking and your imagination going into overtime.

To overcome the fear, you have to ask yourself if being afraid is worth the price you’ll pay for allowing yourself to behave in fear?  Is it right to let yourself be bullied by your spouse?  Is it right to NEVER experience a roller coaster ride (well, maybe)?  Is right to walk 6 miles to work, in the snow, uphill both ways because something MIGHT happen to you?  Is it right for me to never form new friendships because I am afraid of rejection?  I have to choose one or the other.  I have to choose fear, or courage.  In other words, it’s my choice.  Mine.  No one else’s choice.  I  have to choose to overcome my fear.  I have to choose to be brave, even if I don’t feel brave inside.  And it’s your choice too.  YOU CAN CHOOSE to do the thing you fear.  That’s right, you have a choice.  Making the choice is point A, doing the thing you fear is point B.  The process of getting from A to B may look messy, but it’s a good messy.

Recently, I walked into a Zumba class at my local YMCA.  I didn’t know a single person in the room.  Not a soul.  It would be easy for me to do my usual wallflower routine and stick to the back and not talk to anyone.  No one was making an attempt to approach me and say, “Hi!”  Which would normally be just fine with me.  But, I would be missing out on making new friends.  Just last week I looked at the woman next to me and introduced myself.  I CHOSE to overcome my fear.  And, as it turns out this person is very kind and warm.  She shook my hand warmly, held it tightly, and introduced herself.  I felt good inside.  And, next time I show up for this class, if she is there, I will probably get a warm, “Hello!” from her, even if she can’t remember my name.  Overcoming my fear was totally worth it.

So, here it is:  Do what you fear.  Then you will be fear’s master, not it’s slave.  You will have unchained yourself from that wall.

Eventually, you will live free.

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So tell me, what are you afraid of and what can YOU do to overcome your fear?

Some inspiration

I ain’t got nothin’ to share today.

So, I am posting a couple of inspirational videos for you to watch.

Be inspired! Don’t give up hope!

For when your bleeding on ground…

We were knee deep in discussion about faith (in God) in my home group yesterday and the question came up about who we could help in shoring up their faith (in God).  The usual comments about how we need each other came up (being challenged by others, needing support, and etc).  And I blurted out the idea that when we have other people in our lives, they can help to cover us in battle while we are down on the ground bleeding.  Those times will come, you know.  You WILL be down on the ground bleeding occasionally.  It’s just part of life.

Ready for the coming battle…

Imagine yourself out on the battlefield of life.  You’ve trained all your life for this.  In your mind, you are strong and brave and ready for a fight.  Then, out of nowhere, a strong and huge beast attacks from behind and  you are down.  You didn’t expect this.  Being attacked from behind seems unfair.  And, now,  you can’t do anything about it.  Now imagine, that you are alone.  You can’t fight back  because you severely injured.  The beast has every opportunity to devour you.  And he does.  Because he can.

This where having friends really comes in handy.

Now re-imagine the same scenario, only this time you have a fellow warrior by your side.  The beast attacks and you are down, bleeding on the ground.  Your friend takes notice and comes to your aid.  Like any good warrior, he/she knows just the right amount of field medicine to stop the bleeding and bandage the wound.  Your friend also has his/her weapon.  He/she can fight back against the beast and protect  you while you recover from  your wound.  Your friend has your back.  The beast can’t have you for lunch, because your friend says, “No!”  Your friend can beat back the beast because he/she has a sword and your best interest at heart.  This gives you the chance to recover and get back up to fight another day.

So, what does this look like in a practical sense?

  • Your fellow warrior/friend is someone you trust because you’ve spent enough time together to really know their character.
  • You can call them up at anytime and tell them your struggles.
  • They will bring you coffee, or take to Starbucks (or another coffee joint of your choice).
  • They will bring you dinner and a movie.
  • They will give  you the box of tissues if you need it.
  • They won’t hate you for being stupid.
  • They will encourage you to keep trying, even when it’s hard.
  • They will tell you to stop being so silly (or stupid, or dumb, or whatever).
  • They will pray for you.
  • Can  you think of other things your friends do for you?

In short, you need friends. And, so do I.  We need each other on our word to a better life.  How else will we take that hill?

Go on.  Get out there.  Find some friends!

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So tell me,  got any friends that got your back?

I need you, and you need me. A post about community.

I didn’t have time to write on Friday because I was going away for a couple of days.  However, I looked to The Gypsy Mama for inspiration because she does this wonderful exercise every Friday called Five Minute Friday.  She gives us a one-word prompt, we write for 5 minutes with out editing, backtracking, or straining our brains too hard.  Her word last week was “community”.  I thought that this was an appropriate word for my theme here, particularly because community is such an essential part of overcoming anything.

Forgive me while I write for longer than 5 minutes, edit, backtrack, and strain my brain on your behalf.

People don’t live in a vacuum.  You were born to two parents (whether you lived with them or not), numerous relatives, people lived in your neighborhood, went to your schools, played in your backyard, and so on.  You were born to be around people.  You were born to a community.

Communities can be good, bad, indifferent, caring, insufferable, long-suffering, unexciting, thrilling, dangerous, safe, in any mix of characteristics.  Generally, community has some unifying characteristic that other people tend to use to describe that community.  Communities can be any size or shape.  Communities are the people with whom you spend the majority of your time.

When you are born and under your parents care, you don’t have any choices in the kind of community in which you live.  When you get older, you get to choose.   Sometimes we choose the opposite of what we lived with as a child, sometimes the same.  The right kind of community can help you flourish, too much of the wrong kind of community can stunt your emotional growth until you become a dry-husk of a person.

For myself, community has been one the most important aspects of overcoming all the crap I needed to overcome.  People around me sometimes brought things up to my line sight were I could recognize them for what they were.  Other people listened to me.  Some counseled me.  Thoughtfully chosen people prayed for me. Some told me hard truths, while other’s helped  me pick up the pieces and let me cry on their shoulders.  These people helped to shape my character into what it is today.

I  need community.

And so do you.

Think about who you spend your time with.  Are these people helpful?  Are they honest with you?  Are they nice to  you?  Do you feel good about yourself fairly regularly around your community?  Will they be there for you when  you fall down?  Think about it.  If you cannot answer yes to these questions, then perhaps it’s time to make a change.  Perhaps it’s time to seek out a more loving, nurturing, fellowship of people.

Changing from what you know to something new is difficult.  But, no one ever said that change was easy.  It’s hard.  It can feel lonely at first.  It can be scary.  It can be frustrating.  It can be…any number of things.  But, these things don’t have to be reasons not to try.  They are only temporary obstacles to go around, over, or through.

You NEED people around you to be supportive.  You NEED people to be honest with you.  You NEED help sometimes.  You NEED good community.

Go ahead, look for it.  Don’t be shy.

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Tell me about your community…