Broken Trophies & Nature Hearts

 

I love ACEs Connection. Truly. This amazing space is filled with outstanding research articles I utilize for my personal growth as well as my business pursuits, beautiful souls who are shining their lights and making this world a brighter place for trauma-survivors, trauma-warriors who are working tirelessly to help others build resilience while helping to eliminate traumatic experiences altogether, and raw truth shared by those of us who have mucked our way through the darkness toward a healing light. Thank you to all of you.

I want to share a story of hope. And love. And forgiveness. But, before I share the happy part, I want to tell you about my dad and our history. For those needing it, *trigger warning for physical abuse*. 

My dad hit me, quite violently at times, using a belt most days (the jingle of a belt buckle used to make those little hairs on my neck take notice). I was the oldest of two girls and, fortunate for me, but not my younger sister, I could scurry behind a locked bathroom door before being caught. I would spend my moments of terror, counting dingy white tiles in our tiny apartment bathroom, trying to tune out the sounds coming from outside my temporary safe space.

However, sometimes I was caught. Dad was six foot six, two-hundred and eighty pounds, and angry. At life. At his circumstances. At his alcoholic wife screaming for him to silence the children. At financial woes. At his boss. Whatever it was, he was angry about it. And we were easy prey, my little sister and me. 

Sometimes he would throw something. Once he beheaded a statue of Jesus. My sister glued it back on. Another time, he broke my soccer trophy in half. I taped it back together with masking tape. The soccer player looked like she was playing with a cast on. Symbolic really. Keep on striving, even when broken.

When I was ten years old, my dad called me into his bedroom (my parents slept in separate rooms). He sat me on his lap and told me the following: "Teri, I've been seeing a doctor. A counselor. And I now realize I never should have hit you. I'm sorry. I promise to never hit you again. From now on you get to decide your discipline." There was more, but that's all I can remember.

And he never hit me again. My first lesson in forgiveness. And what a beautifully powerful one it was. 

You see, my dad was also my saving grace. He was the one who took us to Burger Chef for a Fun Meal after our soccer games on Saturday mornings. Mom was at work and rarely came to our games. Dad tucked us in with stories of dragons and spaceships and talking dogs. He was the one who taught me how to count with raisins. And sat me on his lap when he would draw. He ran alongside my purple bike with the flowered banana seat as I wobbled around the school playground until he felt safe enough to let go, cheering me on with an exuberant, "You're doing it!"

He was a good dad. Who was hurt as a child and didn't know the impact of his violent actions on his own children until someone came along to show him the error of his ways. I thank God he had the compassion to listen. And apologize.

My dad died in January, 2009, of complications resulting from his diabetes. 

This morning I went for my morning hike and said, "Dad, you should join me" (he loved his 'exercise walks' as he called them). I truly believe his spirit tagged along.

I was walking along a path strewn with hundreds of leaves when I sensed an excited energy urging me to "look down!" Sure enough. There in that mix of decaying brown, yellow, red, and orange tints was a tiny heart. 

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This continued throughout my hike. I would smile and send out an "I see it! Thanks!"

As I was headed to my car, the last of the sun on a blue-sky morning, now turning grey, was peering through a yellow-leafed tree. I felt a "Look up!" energy. I did and couldn't help but laugh. There it was 💛

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#thanksDad

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Cissy White (ACEs Connection Staff) posted:

What a beautiful piece of writing. And what a transformative and relationship you got have with your Dad. Wow. 

This whole paragraph and the specificity of memory and how truth is stranger and more wonderful than fiction. 

Sometimes he would throw something. Once he beheaded a statue of Jesus. My sister glued it back on. Another time, he broke my soccer trophy in half. I taped it back together with masking tape. The soccer player looked like she was playing with a cast on. Symbolic really. Keep on striving, even when broken.

Thanks for sharing so much of your process, your heart, your journey and your way of walking in the world. 
Cis

Thank you for taking the time to offer word hugs. Seriously. That's what this felt like as I read it. And, yes, how ironic that this man of deep faith, a previous Jesuit brother for eight years of his life, beheaded Jesus when trying to hurt his child. That truly is a perfect example of truth being stranger than fiction. 

Peace,

Teri

Karen Clemmer (ACEs Connection Staff) posted:

Aww, Teri, I love your writing! You’re so descriptive that I feel like I’m hiding in the bathroom with you (I too know the sound of a belt - but was the snap of the leather). Thank you for bringing us along as you experienced a new relationship with your father as he learned and healed his own ACEs. Forgiveness is so healing. It’s not like a magic wand, but has the potential to be just as powerful. Thank you for sharing a message of hope and healing! Karen 

I am going to "aaaaw, Karen" you back. Hugs to you for knowing the pain of the belt. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to heal (or at least start the healing process) with my dad before he passed. I feel like we did more work after he left. Maybe because he was more at peace in the next life.

Peace to you,

Teri

Aww, Teri, I love your writing! You’re so descriptive that I feel like I’m hiding in the bathroom with you (I too know the sound of a belt - but was the snap of the leather). Thank you for bringing us along as you experienced a new relationship with your father as he learned and healed his own ACEs. Forgiveness is so healing. It’s not like a magic wand, but has the potential to be just as powerful. Thank you for sharing a message of hope and healing! Karen 

What a beautiful piece of writing. And what a transformative and relationship you got have with your Dad. Wow. 

This whole paragraph and the specificity of memory and how truth is stranger and more wonderful than fiction. 

Sometimes he would throw something. Once he beheaded a statue of Jesus. My sister glued it back on. Another time, he broke my soccer trophy in half. I taped it back together with masking tape. The soccer player looked like she was playing with a cast on. Symbolic really. Keep on striving, even when broken.

Thanks for sharing so much of your process, your heart, your journey and your way of walking in the world. 
Cis

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