Monday, October 24, 2016

Healing from Trauma: Conference for Women

This last weekend I had the opportunity to go to a women's conference in St. George, Utah called, Healing from Trauma. It was put on by The Moments We Stand. There were many speakers and all gave presentations on their life's journey, including the truth, trials, and triumphs.

The adversary tried very hard to keep me from attending this conference. I had driven all the way down there and arranged for babysitters for my kids, but struggles kept arising. I didn't feel very positive and was regretting making the trip to St. George. I was upset that I had bought a ticket and was going to miss out on part of the event. I woke up Saturday morning and almost didn't go...I thought about just packing my kids up and heading home. I was sad inside. I thought to myself, "I don't belong with these women. They don't want anything to do with me. How can they possibly help my situation? No one will even notice if I don't go."

The conference started at 9:00am and I decided to go a few minutes early and "check in", and ask if it would be a problem for me to come and go. I've never been to one of these events, and I didn't know if I would get locked out running to and from, to check on my kids. So, I got dressed and drove down there at 8:45am. I had every intention of checking in and then leaving. As I watched the seats fill--rapidly--and caught a glimpse of a few of the speakers, I started to feel strongly...STAY.

I called my parents and asked what they were doing. They said they weren't doing anything at the moment and so they could help watch the kids for a little bit. I felt guilty knowing it wasn't what they wanted to do, but I knew I had to stay and hear this first speaker. For some reason.

The conference began. The first speakers were the Terry's. They are a couple who lost their healthy daughter, Kycie, to a freak accident. Brain trauma caused by a totally unexpected diabetic coma. They showed a video with home footage of Kycie's journey, before, during, and after the coma. Kycie was "not supposed to live" after the coma. But when she opened her eyes, her parents knew she would live. She had to learn to hold her head up, roll over, walk again. Five minutes in, and I was sobbing. Real lip-quivering sobbing.

Something about this story touched me so greatly. Probably because the parents had such a positive outlook on the situation. Kycie eventually did pass away, after coming down with a chest cold. She was in the hospital four months after her coma, returned home for six weeks, got the cold and returned to the hospital. After a week, she was released and doing much better. However, three days later, she passed away. The Terry's both said that privately they each received a confirmation that Kycie would be leaving them. They were so positive about her passing, and now use her story to help others. Watching that little girl in the arms of her mother penetrated the core of my spirit. I just kept thinking of my daughter and what I would be like if I went through that.

The next speaker, Mindy, talked about mountain running and related an experience she had running up a mountain in Utah, during a winter blizzard, and how it felt when she reached the top. I feel like I am halfway up that mountain now, cutting my own trail, and exhausted and frightened. And yet, after this conference, I feel a sense of relief. Like just for a moment, when these women were speaking, they were cutting the trail for me. It has been eased a little.

I had to leave to check on my kids at this point, and returned in the afternoon. I caught speakers Rachel, Dawn, and Ashley.

Rachel gave an incredible, in depth presentation on fear and how the human reacts to it. She referred to our "fear bubble" as the cause for how we react to the world, how we fit in the world, and how we see the world. I saw myself in many of those situations, and I also saw some of my close family members in that "fear bubble". Although I cannot control other people and how they react, I know it is time for me to pop my fear bubble and step into "my freedom."

Dawn's presentation...mic drop.
I have no other words.
Her story is so complex I will need to write an entire separate blog post just to cover it all.
However, the most profound moment to me, that I will NEVER forget, was when she said, "You know you've hit rock bottom when you're holding a shovel."

Want to know why she was holding a shovel?
Well, by the age of 18, Dawn had lost pretty much everything and experienced every heartbreak God has allowed to inhabit this earth. I'm not joking.

Dawn was holding a shovel because her baby boy (who I believe was just shy of 3 months old) had died. She woke up to find him gone, lying beside her in bed. She had been robbed and abandoned in Arkansas, a state she did NOT live in, and was staying with someone else while waiting for her ex-boyfriend to drive down from Iowa and pick her up. When her son died, she did not have any money to pay for anything. She buried her son in a Styrofoam cooler, in the dirt. My heart broke a thousand times hearing her speak of this loss. So much more than the abuse she endured growing up, living homeless from the age of 14-18, having two children and the father abandon her, and then one of those children dying....it was just so much PAIN! And yet, Dawn stood up at the front of that room, a healthy, happy, beautiful woman, and spoke about change and the power of choice.

Ashley concluded with a presentation on her life. Her husband had been murdered by the spouse of his secret mistress. Ashley learned her husband had been shot and killed--and had been having an affair with his paralegal--all in the same moment. She then endured months and months of trials, investigations, and judgement. Oh, and did I mention she was 28 years old, widowed, with five kids? This girl was a powerhouse. She spoke of the abuse, the "feeling of never being good enough", an earlier struggle with an eating disorder, and learning to find happiness again. It felt like I was watching myself. Well, my future self. We have been through a lot of the same heartaches, although I have not had to experience being a widow to five kids. She was tall and beautiful, she stood proud and spoke loud. I cannot wait until I have that confidence and have healed a little bit more from my own PTSD.

All in all, this conference was truly a blessing. I know I needed to be there. It changed me for the better in SOOO many ways. I hope if you ever hear about this conference near you, YOU WILL GO! It is so worth it. TRUST ME!
To learn more, visit www.themomentswestand.com

By Brittany Shannon