Letter from my Hubby to the Local Newspaper…

My wife, Angela, is an amazing person. She has overcome so much adversity in her life. She was sexually abused as a child. She started dating me at the age of fourteen, got pregnant and had our first child at seventeen. We got married and then three weeks later her brother committed suicide.

That is just the beginning. Our second child was born before she even turned twenty one. He had to have surgery at the age of one to have tubes put in his ears. By the time he was eighteen months he had an accident at daycare and broke his jaw. He needed reconstructive surgery on his face. A year later, our first born became very ill. She was diagnosed with a life threatening disease that landed her in hospitals around New England constantly.

This is still the beginning. My wife was the glue holding this family together. She took on the privilege of raising her niece when she was just ten years old. Then she started taking her nephew every other weekend from the time he was six months old. He is now over thirteen years old.

Often times our two children would get sick at the same time. A few of those times both children were hospitalized at the same times and sometimes, in separate hospitals. Angela was and still is a trooper through it all. She has the amazing ability to keep a positive attitude and still make everyone around her smile, no matter how tough life gets.

Years of this in and out of the hospital lifestyle, missing time from work and falling behind on bills consistently, yet still nothing was going to bring her down. And then I had an accident of my own. I jumped to catch a football that my son was throwing me one day when I got home from work, and when I landed, I wasn’t able to move. After an ambulance ride and a hospital stay, it was discovered that I have a rare muscle disorder and am permanently disabled. It took three years of no income at all before I was approved for financial help.

So along with her needing to take care of our special needs daughter, our son, our niece and nephew, she was burdened with having to help me as well. Of course she will never consider it a burden, but it has to be.

She had to work two jobs to keep up with the bills and relied heavily on her family for financial help. As our children were growing it seemed the load was getting lighter…a little. But then our son got a major concussion, then another and another. He ended up being diagnosed with seven or eight of them in the last two years of high school.

He missed most of his last two years but with online help and the teachers at the school being absolutely amazing, he was still on track for graduating. He suddenly became very ill, unrelated to the concussions. And then our daughter was ill once again. Both kids were scheduled for surgery in different hospitals in the same week.

Angela started missing more and more work to help care for the children. The past fifteen years or so was catching up to her. She lay in bed one day and couldn’t get up. She missed a lot of work and then her doctor put her out for the foreseeable future. She was diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety, stress and chronic fatigue.

She kept trying to get back to work but then she would fall three steps back. There was nothing I could do to help her. There was nothing anyone could do. The State of Maine held her job for one year and then had to fill her position. They really did more than they had to and she holds no grudges. She never does.

We lost our home to foreclosure. We lost our car and couldn’t afford to replace it. We own a truck that has been paid for but we can’t afford the upkeep or gas. But does this stop my wife? No way. Once she was feeling better, she started looking for a job. Nothing was falling into her lap, so she started volunteering at our local hospital and now she has started facilitating support groups. She also created an online blog and Facebook page to do scheduling of the groups and to offer support in whatever way she can.

Her newest adventure has been doing public speaking. She tells her story to anyone that wants to hear it. This is her calling. By telling her story and helping others that have been through any of the things that she has makes her the happiest. She is so kind and compassionate that people just fall in love with her immediately.

She is still actively seeking employment, but she is so scared of leaving me at home alone on a full-time basis that she is hoping that offering her public speaking will be enough to sustain us financially. Yes, she wants to earn money, but she thrives on helping others get through the toughest of times.

 

Community Impact

No matter whom Angela shares her story with; she is helping someone in the community to know they are not alone. Her experiences throughout life affect people in such an inspirational way. The public speaking aside, her starting up local support groups for suicide survivors and sexual abuse victims has had a huge impact. They know that they are not alone.

She also helps teach self-esteem building which in turn helps children and adults become more compassionate which leads to less bullying and less bullying leads to less angry and hurt kids out there contemplating a school shooting or suicide.

There is no way to know an exact number of people she has helped with her words, she touches people’s hearts every single day as she walks through life with her head held high.

Warning Signs of Bullying

This post was copied from http://www.stopbullying.gov and I thought that it was so perfect that I didn’t want to change a thing. Please visit their website for a whole lot of great information on bullying. 🙂

Warning Signs

Teacher meeting with parent and studentThere are many warning signs that may indicate that someone is affected by bullying—either being bullied or bullying others. Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in taking action against bullying. Not all children who are bullied or are bullying others ask for help.

It is important to talk with children who show signs of being bullied or bullying others. These warning signs can also point to other issues or problems, such as depression or substance abuse. Talking to the child can help identify the root of the problem.

Signs a Child is Being Bullied

Look for changes in the child. However, be aware that not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs.

Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide

If you know someone in serious distress or danger, don’t ignore the problem. Get help right away.

Signs a Child is Bullying Others

Kids may be bullying others if they:

  • Get into physical or verbal fights
  • Have friends who bully others
  • Are increasingly aggressive
  • Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
  • Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
  • Blame others for their problems
  • Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
  • Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity

Why don’t kids ask for help?

Statistics from the 2008–2009 School Crime Supplement show that an adult was notified in only about a third of bullying cases. Kids don’t tell adults for many reasons:

  • Bullying can make a child feel helpless. Kids may want to handle it on their own to feel in control again. They may fear being seen as weak or a tattletale.
  • Kids may fear backlash from the kid who bullied them.
  • Bullying can be a humiliating experience. Kids may not want adults to know what is being said about them, whether true or false. They may also fear that adults will judge them or punish them for being weak.
  • Kids who are bullied may already feel socially isolated. They may feel like no one cares or could understand.
  • Kids may fear being rejected by their peers. Friends can help protect kids from bullying, and kids can fear losing this support.

Why Some People are Bullies…

This is the big question, isn’t it? Why do they bully? Why am I the target? Why couldn’t their parents put an end to it before they turned so BAD? So many questions, and unfortunately there isn’t enough answers available to go around.

Is bullying something you are born with? NO.

Could a person stop bullying? YES

Can a person that is being bullied, some day turn into a bully themselves? YES

Bullying is a LEARNED behavior. It is not a disease. And it does not only apply to children. Grown adults can be bullies and be bullied as well. Is there anything that we can do about it as parents or as a community? ABSOLUTELY!

I feel very strongly about this. There is help out there and it isn’t in a pill form. I will say this one more time, bullying is not a disease, it is a learned behavior.

I wish that I could claim to cure bullying in the world and all will be well, but that is not even practical. But if I can help one person that is a bully or is being bullied, then at least I will feel like I have done something.

People die from being bullied. Bullying in one form or another is one of the leading causes of suicide. Did you know that?

Can I cure bullying? NO

Can I set someone in the right direction and help them along their way? YES

I can’t cure anything on my own. It takes work from both sides, but I can be here to guide you. I want to help. I think I was put on this earth to do just that. Nothing makes me happier than helping someone either by just listening or sharing my own experiences or whatever else that particular individual may need or want.