The People I Find: Treacher Collins Syndrome

I introduced you to Katie last week, she shared her adoption story. I wanted her to share two different stories because they are ones you do not hear very often. She is your typical teenage girl. Her life experiences don’t necessarily fit the “norm” of the teen years. She doesn’t just deal with acne and mood swings, she has had to deal with facial reconstruction. Many times in her writing she states, “why me?” Katie, I want to tell you it is because God knows you can handle it. He never gives us something that we can’t handle. He knows how strong you are. You have become such a wonderful example to many around the world. Katie was back in the hospital last night for the unbearable pain she continues to suffer from her infection, for all of my readers out there I hope you keep Katie in your thoughts and prayers. If you want to leave her comments of encouragement I will pass them on 🙂

Here is Katie’s Unknown Story:

“I travel the road less traveled, sure it’ll have bumps along the way; but hey that’s life!” This quote is literally my life in one sentence. Last week I posted on how I was adopted as a “special needs” child. I’ve had so many surgeries and so many trials in my short 18 years of life that I’ve hit rock bottom and have struggled to make it to where I am now. I have a syndrome that isn’t all that common; it’s called Treacher Collins Syndrome or as I refer to it, TCS. It is a syndrome where the face doesn’t have as much bone as it should… So I don’t have cheek bones, a very low density mandible, no ears (well now I have prosthetic but that’s a whole different story) and many other complications. Everything below my neck is completely normal it’s just may face. My brain is normal. I am a senior in high school about to graduate, I am not the top of my class, but I am average.

1 June 2011 PhysicalThere are so many stories that I could share with you but I think I will share talk about my time in Ohio. So in 2011 my parents and I decided that it was time to do some more invasive craino-facial work, we had decided this through much fasting and prayer, the only place that we felt it could be done was at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio. The Christmas before the surgery was to take place we traveled to Ohio to visit with Dr. Gordon. We wanted to check everything out to see if this was the right fit. We got the feeling that it was right. As the next few months played out I have looked back on the decision wondering if it was just me trying to make my parents happy or if it’s what God had planned for me because of what happened next.

My first surgery was June 1st 2011, after that surgery my life was awful. I literally thought that I would rather die than go through what I was going through. We did a jaw distraction first which is where they break your jaw and put pins in. So every day your turn the pins to lengthen the jaw. We had to replace those pins three times because of complications. And if that wasn’t tortures enough we had to use what’s called a RED device which was a halo on my head that had ten screws against my skull and it was used to bring up my jaw so it could be eventually matched up with my upper jaw. After that we wired my mouth shut for a couple of weeks. It doesn’t sound all that bad as I’m typing it but as I was going through it I thought I was dying every day. I couldn’t sleep, I had to be g-tube fed, pain all the time I was on high-end medications, and I felt so alone.

the HaloOhio was one of the darkest moments of my life. I made friends at the Ronald McDonald house that I will always have but it’s not the same as having your friends from school come visit you when you’re sick. I spent so many nights lying in bed wondering why I had to go through this, why couldn’t I have my friends here, why, why, why? I became depressed. I wouldn’t leave my room, my parents had to force me out but even then I was sulking in my own little world. Since no one knew the pain I was going through I thought why should I keep moving? It got to the point that before I went into surgery I would secretly pray that I would die so I wouldn’t have to go through any more pain. Finally, I realized I was forgetting one thing. God, the creator of me, and the only person in the whole universe that knew what hell I was going through at this time.

 

Halo 2So I started reading my scriptures, praying and actually trying to be a happier person. I saw a change in my perspective I was leaving my room to go play video games with my friends or watch movies. I was going to the mall, for me that was a big achievement. I was becoming me again. I was going out in the world without giving a crap what others thought. I thought that I could get through all the stuff that I was going through. I was even Face Timing my friends and family! But then another huge blow came and I’ve been suffering from it ever since.

For my latest surgery my parents decided to do more of a cosmetic one, add cheekbones. They did some work on my eyes, and a tiny nose lift, since my nose was pretty flat. So I felt good, and I was ready to do this so I could go home. Home was the only thing on my mind; it was literally the only thing keeping me from going insane. I was so close yet so far. So we went ahead with it just to get it over with and let’s be honest I wanted that nose lift…

The day after we did that surgery my life took a turn for the worse again and I haven’t fully recovered from it. I got an infection. A couple of days of antibiotics wouldn’t clear this up, but they attempted anyways and I got to go home!!! The infection they thought they could cure with a few pills turned into a full-blown infection I mean like I had to get a PIC line placed and multiple surgeries to try to clean it out along with hyperbaric treatments. During all this I started saying why again. Why all this? Why couldn’t God just let me go home and rest? I thought I deserved it for heaven sakes.

These past two and half years have been the hardest I’ve ever had to deal with. I’ve hit low points where I didn’t want to get out of bed, I just wanted to lay there and not eat and just slowly die. I would only get out of bed because of doctor’s appointments and to shower. It seemed like every time I would go to the doctor’s office I would just get more bad news. No one knew how to help my pain. So I started dreading going to the doctor, I would beg mom to cancel and let me just lay in bed. I would go to school act like nothing was wrong and pretend to be okay with all that was going on when in reality I was dying inside. Sometimes I would lose it and break down and just sob and my friends would try to comfort me. But how to do you comfort someone who is past the point of patience with God, and with life?

lifeSeminary, scriptures, friends, and EFY are what saved me. Slowly, ever so slowly I started reading my scriptures on my own, because I had a friend challenge me. I started actually paying attention in seminary I wouldn’t go off and day-dream. I would try to find the scriptures and try to understand them. I started realizing that I had the best support from family and friends that anyone could ask for. They were patient with me when I wanted to be alone; they would be there if I needed someone. I grew to appreciate it, slowly but surely. Over time my testimony of God started to grow, it’s still shaky and I still have a hard time with everything but its growing still. I was able to attend EFY, a LDS summer camp, and I believe it really helped me get through all this. I got to spend the entire week learning all about Christ. Everything was centered on Him. I had the chance to spend time studying and asking questions about Christ without worrying what others thought. I learned things that I can’t even begin to explain.

This gospel is so true guys. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for it. I’m still shaky on some things but slowly and surely I’ll get strong in those areas. Before I went to Ohio I found a scripture that explains my situation so perfectly it’s almost scary. It’s in Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-9  it has become my favorite scripture and has continually guided me. Remember no matter how hard life gets, never give up. It will get better.

Here is my blog so you can follow me there 🙂 http://strollinmysoles.blogspot.com/

 

I Know Everthing

The other day one of my dear friends posted as his Facebook status: “I love when my friends get married or have a kid and immediately they know everything there is to life! Seriously I love it it’s hilarious!!!” Don’t worry this blog post is not defending the idea that when you get married you know everything… Honestly, I think it is quite the opposite. I would gladly accept a virtual slap across the face or poke if I thought this. It would show how naive I was and might indicate I needed some humble pie (you can get the recipe from Pinterest or great one from the book The Help). I have recently received feedback about how “honest” I am on my blog. Some have said you didn’t have to share that silly thing you said, you could have gotten away with not knowing that New Mexico was indeed a state. I say, why hide it. It’s okay, I am an imperfect person who is constantly learning. So today I want to share with you a few things that can testify that I don’t know everything when it comes to marriage or being a wife.

Hosting a Gathering

As a newlywed, I looked forward to hosting the perfect first get together to show off my domestic skills. The time was ripe to host. We decided that we could entertain our guests by making them homemade ice cream with our new machine. I rushed to Trader Joe’s after work and picked up the stuff for the recipe. Mr. Bird had put the bowl in the freezer during lunch so we thought we were ready. We quickly tidied up the house and got the ice cream mix ready. We put it in the machine and turned it on to do its magic. Our guests had even brought over candy to put into the ice cream. We crushed them up and got them ready to go. While we waited for the ice cream to become ice cream we played ticket to ride. Mr. Bird would occasionally check the ice cream’s progress. Let’s just say there wasn’t any. I started laughing and thought this would happen. My first get together, my first big hosting as a wife, and I had failed. I wasn’t too shocked, I have come to learn not to always trust my cooking skills.

Dinner for Four

IMG_4048Mr. Bird and I decided it would be nice to have each set of parents over for dinner. We wanted to thank them for putting so much time, effort, and money into our beautiful wedding. Mr. Bird’s parents came over for dinner and the evening was delightful. My famous chocolate chip cookies were a hit, they were even eating them before dinner. We made them “homemade” spaghetti, I say “homemade” because I thought if you added stuff to the jar stuff it made it homemade. Apparently that is not how it works… The dinner with the Bird’s was very uneventful in terms of cooking mishaps, which I was grateful. You know, first time trying to impress the in-laws, you do not want to mess up! We had a wonderful evening full of laughter and conversation. We even got them to play ticket to ride! I have enjoyed getting to know the Bird’s and am grateful I am part of the Bird Family.

IMG_4060A week later we decided it was time to have my parents over. I had picked out the perfect recipe and it even had said it was “easy.”  It was broccoli and beef Chinese Food style. It was my time to show of my #wifelife and impress them with who I was becoming. Thursday morning I woke up 30 minutes early to get it all ready and put it in the crock pot. I left for work hoping it would turn out. That morning I got called into Jury Duty and was told I may not even be done until 9pm or 10pm. That wouldn’t put a damper on the night since dinner was supposed to be at 6:30pm…(sarcasm) I was able to sway the jury and turn the case into a two-day trial, and so I rushed home. I came home to a full crock pot of burnt beef. Seriously? My parents would be showing up in 45 minutes and I was not about to break one of my parents crowns on rock hard beef. Mr. Bird humored me and tasted it… We decided to make crunch wrap supreme tacos instead. We had one tomato, I started to cut it up, when the cutting board tilted (#minkitchenprobs) and the tomato went down the front of my work clothes and to the ground. After consoling me and encouraging me Mr. Bird ran to the store while I browned the meat. The meal was a hot mess… The idea was to do something “easy” so we could sit and enjoy my parents company. Throughout the night we were all in and out of our mini kitchen pitching in. It was a hot mess. All I could do is laugh though. We had a great time with my parents, it goes to show that food is not always the key ingredient to an event, it’s the people!

So as you can see those are just a few examples of how I don’t know everything. I am positive that there will be more and even excited to learn from my mistakes. Marriage in itself is fun, but all of it is a learning experience. When he put a ring on it, that ring didn’t come with magical powers, it came with a life together of learning through trial and error. The only thing that will get you through it is patience, but mostly a sense of humor!

Jury Duty

IMG_4058I have a somewhat twisted mind. I will admit it. This doesn’t mean I am going to be the next Ted Bundy though… I just enjoy Law and Order (SVU),  hearing about crimes and murder on the news, and last but not least unsolved mysteries… I don’t know what it is about them, but I am attracted to it. I want to solve them and be involved in the “drama” that television has portrayed. About a month and half a go I got a life changing letter in the mail. My Jury Summons. I ripped open the letter to see I would be “on call” for the week of April 14, 2014. It was my first jury summons and I was elated. I did what most people do, I studied up. I watched Runaway Jury, Legally Blonde, and read through some of my old debate notes. I wanted to be ready just in case the lawyer needed me to step in and help (that didn’t happen unfortunately). My reporting number was 391. I called in religiously to see when they needed me. It was on Thursday morning that I called in and was picked. Thrilled to be part of something new, I left work and entered the Idaho, Ada County, Court House. I went through security, and felt like I was getting on a plane… Instead I entered the elevator and headed up the fourth floor. I found the jury assembly hall, entered and received instruction. We sat and watched a movie about how grateful the government and people of Idaho were that we were fulfilling our civic duty. As I looked around you could see many were not too excited about being there. The video finished and they started to call out names and assign us a number. I was lucky 13. We formed a line straighter than the ones in elementary school and filed down to the court room. That sat on the hard “church like” benches and began to tell us what the case was about. It was a criminal case (SCORE). The offense was a misdemeanor injury to child. Now, this was a sad subject and it was very apparent on the jurors faces. As we sat there waiting to be asked questions, I looked at the defendant (the guy who MIGHT have committed the crime) and began to judge him. I realized how prone we are to deciding who someone is or what they have done before hearing them out. At that point I pushed all of that aside, and gave him a blank slate in my mind. The lawyers started to ask questions, they included things like this:

Have you ever been spanked?

Do you think it is okay if you use more than spanking?

Do you hate policeman, the court system, or the government?

Who does not want to be here today?

Those were a few of the questions the lawyers asked. The one person who was excused immediately was a young woman who was due on Friday and was having contractions, her excuse was worthy the judge said. After some deliberation, the jury was selected. I was now number 4. I had made it onto the jury, and I was excited to cross this off of my bucket list. With that I got to keep my  “juror” badge, that I was extremely proud of, and the trial began. What people don’t tell you about jury duty is that there is A LOT of down time. Luckily I had brought my iPad and I could still get some work done. You would go into court for about an hour and then you would have a “recess” very similar to elementary school once again. There were witnesses that would come to the stand, be sworn in and then give their testimonies. The testimonies that were the most depressing and hardest to listen to were of the two kids. One was 11 and one was 7. The father had admitted to hitting the son across the face, he kept using the word “pop” which was defined as a slap. The father continued to say that the hit was justified and beneficial to his son because of how he was behaving (which is in accordance with the law). A doctor came and testified that there was a bruise on the child’s head but could not be identified as abuse. The bruise was not in the area that the child, defendant, and mother had testified him being hit. The State (who took him to court) did not do enough research. It was a horribly thought out case with too many holes. The defendant wasn’t much better either…

The Trial went into 2 days. We were to hear from 6 more witnesses that day. After making it through two the defendant’s lawyer said he rested his case. We were shocked that he had skipped his witnesses. They said we would break for about 15 minutes and then come back for closing arguments… TWO hours later and a delicious Good Wood BBQ lunch (super normal p.s.) we were called back in. After the closing arguments we started deliberation. The Marshal takes all electronics and lock them up and you are locked into a tiny room with the other jurors. At this point no one can leave until you have made a decision. It took about an hour, and grudgingly we found him not guilty. There was not enough information to prove the burden of proof, or that he was truly guilty. It was a lost case. After we handed in the verdict, we were enlightened on the behind the scenes. The defendant was arrested the night before for intimidating a witness and was held on bond for $150,000. He had tampered with the two children’s testimonies. This had slipped up when they were giving their testimonies.

When it was all said and done it was painful to say goodbye to the other jurors. In those short two days we had become friends. We had been locked in a room together for long hours. We made a decision together that would alter the course of people’s lives. I don’t know why people don’t want jury duty… I hope everyone gets the chance to sit on a jury. I learned more about the court system, I became more grateful for the life I have, and met people I had nothing in common with but left as friends. That was my jury duty. In case you were wondering, you can not become a career juror… I already asked…. There is always Federal Court though 🙂

(C)LV-B2014

The People I Find: Adoption

Last summer I coordinated a summer camp called EFY. I had the opportunity to meet youth from all over the world. I considered myself lucky to have  met such young and influential people. Today, I wanted to share with you a person I found that I know has been through a lot. When I met her, I was instantly uplifted because of her outgoing personality and love for life. She was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, and has overcome so many things. A few months ago, I was following some of her posts on Facebook and she was rejoicing about getting prosthetic ears so she could wear earrings. I am humbled to know Katie, and to know that she is an example to many. Her faith and endurance to make it through hard things is going to get her places in this world. Read about her adoption this week, and next week I will share her post on living with Treacher Collin’s Syndrome and some of her major surgeries.

preeschoolThis is Katie’s Unknown Story:

I decided to share my adoption story with you all; my parents have shared it so many times so I know it by heart. Knowing it by heart doesn’t mean it is easy to talk about. It has not always been easy to know I was adopted. There really isn’t a word to describe what adoption can do to you. It is a wonderful blessing that has allowed me a life of happiness and love, but it always hurts to think about those who gave me up.

It all started when my parents and five sisters were living in Alabama. At that time they felt like someone was missing from their family. They didn’t know how they would add another kid because my mom couldn’t have any more children, so they were confused. One night my daddy had a dream that a child was walking towards him, but the child had trouble walking towards him they had a walker of some sort. When he woke up he said we have to adopt! And my mom was like what? After letting it sink in for 20 seconds she was on board. The road to adoption had begun. LDS Family Services were skeptical about my parents receiving another child because they already had 5 daughters, but they figured they would give it a go anyways. Since they already had five “normal” children they decided to adopt a special needs child.

About a year after deciding to adopt my family moved to Virginia due to my dad’s job in the Air Force. They still hadn’t heard from LDS Family Services so they were discouraged. One day my sister Ali was at home watching my sister Lindsey and the phone rang. Ali answered and it was someone from LDS Family Services! They asked if my mom was home, which she wasn’t so they left a message with my sisters, but not just any message. They were calling to inform my family that they had a baby girl for them. It was me! Well like any other normal teenager she flipped out and hung up. As my sister hung up, my sisters saw my mother driving up the drive way right then. Screaming like a maniac she ran down the drive way “They have a girl for us!” Mom, not totally understanding what had just happened, responded with “WHAT?” So finally after my sister had calmed down she told my mom that LDS Family Services had called and that they had found a girl for them. My mom couldn’t contain her happiness.

Mean while at the Pentagon, where my dad worked, the same LDS Family Services lady who called the house called his office and talked to my dad about me. I had just been born in Georgia and I had some serious medical problems and the birth parents had chosen my mom and dad to be my parents. The next day they drove to Georgia to meet me. I was in the ICU, paralyzed and I had tubes all over me. I had an operation as soon as I was born to install a Tracheotomy tube in my throat to help me breath. I had just barely started my journey here on earth and I already had a major operation. I don’t think my parents knew what they were getting into at the time but they decided that I was the one for them. They took me home after a lot of training from the doctors and nurses. My sisters immediately decided that I was the one, I was the missing sister. My sisters became very motherly like to me and so I had six good mothers taking care of me.

Today, it seems it was a miracle I made it to my first birthday. After a good year full of illnesses and hospital visits, I made a visit that truly impacted my life. My family went to the temple and I was sealed to my family in the Washington D.C LDS temple for all time and eternity.

KatiAdoption is a tough subject for many, including me. You often wonder why your birth parents gave you up. You are always wondering what they look like and what their personalities are like. You want to be able to talk to them but realize you are too scared. You always wonder how it will affect your adoptive family. I want you to know though that being adopted is not something to be ashamed of. It is something that is hard to talk about a lot of the time but it’s something to be proud of. Personally, I have a rough time with it but if I hadn’t been adopted then I wouldn’t know the people who I know and wouldn’t have grown to love the family I have. Adoption may have saved my life as well, I probably wouldn’t have made it this far in life without a family who could take care of me.

Whenever the idea of being adopted hits me hard, I force myself to think of what could have happened if I wasn’t adopted. I force myself to remember that if I hadn’t been adopted I wouldn’t have the friends I have or the army I have standing behind me helping me through everything I have been through. I have come to realize that God is never going to leave you. He cares more about you than anyone else in the Universe. There will be days you want to just give up on everything, trust me I have those days, but he is always going to be holding his hand out to help you. I have learned to not give up on yourself and be proud of the person you have become. My life didn’t start out as most do, and it hasn’t really followed the “normal” path everyone else’s does. I was adopted as a “special needs” child and live with Treacher Collins Syndrome. About 1 in 50,000 people have it. I am a full functioning teenage girl who is enrolled in hair school, has crushes on boys, and spend most of my time longboarding or with friends. Tune in next week for more information on TCS and how it affects my life daily.

The People I Find: Logan- Same Gender Attraction

LoganFor more on what The People I Find is read this.

I have known Logan for some time now. I had the opportunity to be his coworker at one point, and even take him on tour while serving an LDS mission in New York. His story represents an experience that is not widely understood and there are vast perspectives on the topic. I have thought long and hard about posting this. I know that there are many out there who are experiencing Same Gender Attraction (SGA) and don’t know who to go to, what to say, or what to do. I know that each person’s story is different as is the outcome. This post is about one person’s experience and I recognize there are many other experiences. What I loved about the writer of this story is his ability to do hard things, and how his belief system and support system have helped him on his journey. This is a post centered on a Mormon, not all of my posts will be, but I wanted to share this story because I know that the topic of SGA receives much public attention from various perspectives. The writer allowed me to ask him any questions. Even though I don’t have SGA I still have questions. My personal beliefs about the topic of SGA are consistent with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I believe that it is important to show unconditional love to everyone around us. It is not up to us to judge others. Never should we show hate in any way or speak unkindly. I look up to Logan for his courage to share such personal things.

My Unknown Story…The best place to start is two years ago, early 2012. My dad called to let me know that my brother was on his way home from his mission, I was caught off guard. I hadn’t expected this. He seemed to be struggling, but that was normal when you were adapting to a new life in a new country. Aware that he would be coming back shaken and unsure of his standing, I knew the only approach to take was unconditional love. I didn’t know why he was coming home early and that really didn’t matter; it was time to circle the wagons and show him what being a family was all about. He had been home for a week or so, and I was about to find out why he had come back. My mother looked at him seated on my bed, stoic and expressionless. Her voice shook as she told him it was okay to tell me, I’d understand. I sat and waited. Finally he said it, “I have homosexual tendencies.” (Hold up, who says that!? What an awkward way to put it. It makes me shudder when I think back to it.) I took it in and there wasn’t a second of delay before I replied, “Oh yeah me too.” This was the first time that I had audibly acknowledged the fact that I had dealt with feelings of same gender attraction. It was a strange sensation, I was in shock, but I pushed it aside so I could focus on my brother. My mother was in tears and would be for the rest of our conversation. I don’t remember much else about that day. All that mattered to me was the fact that I had said it. This was the beginning of my story.

Growing Up… This is the part of my story that is the most unclear. I don’t know what it was, but somehow I had avoided acknowledging my feelings to a point where I could simple ignore them. It just wasn’t an issue for me. I had plenty of ups and downs growing up, but they weren’t directly related to SGA. I never cried myself to sleep or tried to pray it away. It wasn’t an issue. Sure people would tease me here and there, but that was what kids did. It didn’t matter anyway, I wasn’t gay. Looking back now, I can see and understand so much more, but hindsight is 20/20. I can’t pinpoint some event or circumstance in my upbringing that caused me to be this way. I was never abused, and my relationship with my father wasn’t any different from my brothers’ relationships. Life was what it was and for me it was normal, my normal. I was able to develop my testimony of the Church and the Gospel free from the confusion which plagues so many others in my situation.

Same Gender AttractionMy Decision After My Shocking Self-Discovery… I was attracted to men. I realized that I had a long way to go. I was embarking on a journey; I needed to decide what I was going to do and how I was going to move forward with this new discovery. My mind finally settled on one thought, “stick to what you know.” That was it. This has become my motto per say. I realized that there were so many things that I didn’t know concerning same gender attraction: my options, my future, why, how, when, how long, etc. However, there were things that I did know – my testimony of the Gospel. This is what I go back to when I feel frustrated and confused. I know the Church is true, I know that through the Atonement I can do hard things, and I know where I want to end up in the end. This is my foundation.

Coming Out…In order to really accept it, I decided I needed to open up to others. I started with a few safe bets; the first three people I told were all friends who I suspected to be in the same boat. Each experience was different and every time before I opened up there was that moment of fear and hesitation. It was a new experience for me to be open and vulnerable with people. Each person was in a different place in their journey and everyone’s story was different. Despite the common theme of same gender attraction there weren’t always shared experiences I could relate to. Being such a personal thing for each person it is amazing to listen to so many stories and compare and contrast them with my own. I have learned a lot and been strengthened as I have listened to these stories. I wish everyone had a similar opportunity to listen to and learn from others personal experiences. After getting warmed up with these friends, I decided it was time to tell some people I knew who didn’t deal with SGA. Each experience was filled with apprehension and fear, but it always worked out well. I have found that people are curious about SGA, they want to understand it. They also want to know how they can help me, and that support has been invaluable. Next up were my parents, it was May and we had yet to talk about my situation since I had first mentioned it to my mother and brother. We’d had many conversations about my little brother and they had come a long way in being supportive and educating themselves on the issue. I eventually began to wonder if they had forgotten about my situation since they had never inquired further. I decided to finally break the silence with them on the night following my college graduation. They took it well, for the second time. I put on a good front and don’t wear my struggles on my sleeves; they had assumed it was something in my past and that I had moved. That it was no longer an issue for me. I quickly corrected that thought and explained to them where I was at with everything. Once again the response was love and support, they couldn’t fully understand my situation but they were willing to help me through it. After talking to my parents, I was done coming out for a while. I had told who I needed to tell, and I decided to get on with my life. A New Start I took off to California to work for the summer, then I moved to DC, got a job, reestablished myself, made new friends and didn’t look back. The only problem was my lack of a dating life. It is always difficult to explain to someone why you aren’t dating, especially when there is no reason besides the fact that you just aren’t attracted to girls. After being settled for about 6 months, I finally began to open up again. I had established new friendships and felt secure talking to these people about my experiences. With each person the experience was different, except for the response – love and support. Slowly it became easier and I became more comfortable. I still had frequent moments of frustration and confusion, but they were less impactful because I had a network of people to reach out to when I was in need.

My TestimonyI was working on my annual journal at the beginning of 2014 and I realized how trans formative 2013 was.I have realized that 2013 answered a very important question for me, why do we need the Church? The Gospel I get, I love the Gospel. I know why we need the Gospel. I am grateful for the Gospel, for the blessing it is in my life, and for the strength and support it provides. We need the Church because we need each other. We need the people and the support; we need the experiences and the perspectives. The Church is a physical lifeline during our struggles. I struggle. I have trials and the Church helps me so much. This past year I have really been forced to face the fact that I deal with same-gender attraction. It is hard. I don’t need to really elaborate on the difficulties associated with SGA, but needless to say the world can be a confusing place. There are so many temptations, opinions, and choices. It can be really hard, but the Church – all of you – have been there to help. We all struggle here! Some deal with depression, eating disorders, self-esteem, and doubts. We all have issues. We are put together with imperfect people so we can smooth out each others rough spots. It is easy to feel inferior or to make unjust comparisons to many of you, but I am grateful to have realized that everyone struggles. Together we make up a wonderful church and we are able to help each other overcome so many challenges. Coming together, working towards a common goal, we are able to do so much. We are all better able to progress together back to our Heavenly Father. I am grateful for my ability to learn from my mistakes and to repent; to draw on the Atonement for power and to change myself to become more like He is. I am grateful for my membership in this church – I love it!

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Check out other stories. Caley, Nic, Christina, Whitney, Kaitlin, Domestic Abuse, Emotional Abuse

#WifeLife

I was under the impression that when a woman became a wife she would inherit some sort of super natural powers (just like moms get when they have kids). To my discouragement this did not happen! I woke up to find no cape had been left, no shield, no freakishly powerful bow staff… As this disappointment sunk in, I turned to see my husband sleeping and remembered how much I loved him, that’s when I knew I could rock the #WifeLife.

CookingIt has been exactly 12 days since we got married and all I can say is so far so good ( I think… you would have to ask Mr. Bird on that one). In my reign as wife I have only set the fire alarm off 3 times, it is not my fault that the alarm is super touchy. I didn’t even burn anything, black is just my favorite color so I like to include it in some of my meals, duh… I wanted to impress Mr. Bird and so I decided to start out with a meal with tilapia that looked “complicated” but really wasn’t. It turned out fine and Mr. Bird said he enjoyed it. It wasn’t until I was chit chatting with my sister the next day that I realized I had left out one of the major ingredients, the butter in the sauce. Now the health nut in me could just say I was trying to save us calories, but everyone and their dog knows I am trying to gain weight. So I will just come out and be honest, ya I forgot it, he didn’t starve though! As you can see we have a mini kitchen, and since I am short it is most convenient to put a bench in the middle so I can reach everything. Not to toot my own horn but I have definitely come through on my strengths in my mini kitchen and baked a few batches of cookies, he does enjoy that!

I would say that being a wife does change a few things. You are becoming a new person, trying to mold your old identity in with the new. We were sitting in church on Sunday and they announced that they were excited for Mr. and Mrs. Bird to have moved in. I was excited too, I was looking around to see who they were, when I realized it was me. I was Mrs. Bird. It was the first time in my entire life someone had pronounced my last name right and I didn’t even realize it was mine to enjoy.

I am sure you will hear plenty about the #wifelife from me! I am loving every second of it, and wouldn’t want to have embarked this journey with anyone other than Mr. Bird. When I get my amazing wedding pictures back, I will describe the day and share those moments. It was the perfect fairy tale wedding that went way too fast.

(C)LVB 2014

The People I Find: Domestic Abuse

When I came up with the idea for the “People I Find” section on my blog, I began to think about people whose stories made me stronger, who made me believe more and love more. This is a story that is very real in too many homes and has effected many. This story belongs to someone who wants to maintain her anonymity, what I can tell you is that she is a wonderful human being. We met when we were young and did as most people do, grew apart, and lost contact. I remember when I met her, I could tell she had gumption and confidence, she was a happy bubbly person. Even through this horrible event she had maintained a positive outlook on life and uses her good attitude to influence others. We will all endure trials in this life time, it’s who we become that matters. To the writer of this Unknown Story, I want you to know you have become a beacon of light to many who are seeking safety by sharing your story.

Domestic AbuseHer Unknown Story:

A lot of people tell me how brave I am for leaving my husband. They say that most women don’t find the nerve to leave an abusive marriage until many more years later than I did. But to be truthful, the only reason that I was able to do it was because of the love and support that I had around me. I never thought that I would be one of these women. A “victim” (I happen to hate that word). I always thought of myself as a strong and independent woman. I did not realize how easily manipulated, or even brainwashed I could be. I have learned that anyone is vulnerable to manipulation when it comes to love. I have also learned that love can be used as a tool to poison someone’s mind, and to destroy a person from the inside out. This was, and has been a reality that is extremely hard for me to accept.

When I look back at my relationship with my ex-husband before marriage, I can now see so many red flags. However, I grew up in a very loving family and I was lucky enough to never have been exposed to abuse. I found no reason not to trust him, or to question his intentions. At the time I assumed that the issues in our relationship were normal. Whenever I did question our relationship or how he treated me, he always seemed to convince me that I was being negative, and that I was creating the issues in my head. We spent much of our relationship long distance, and even when he moved closer, we were too busy to see each other. He was the only serious relationship that I ever had. He shared the same religion, and we both wanted to marry young and start a family. That being said, I was engaged at 19 and married at 20 on August 6th, 2010.

After about 3 months, our marriage started to turn sour. It started out with a lot of criticism and talking down to me. I wouldn’t fold his laundry right, clean well enough, put the dishes where he wanted them, etc. It then started turning into him not liking what I was wearing. He would even get angry if I didn’t dress the way he wanted at times. There was not one part of my life that he did not want to change or control. The part that saddens me most was that he used our faith, and the word of God as a tool of his abuse. If I were to question his authority, or stand up for myself, he would use scripture to shut me down…Reminding me of my place in our marriage. He was the leader, and I was to be submissive. I know that there are many godly men who never use scripture or their faith to abuse, good family men, but in my case sadly, that is exactly what happened.

As time went on, things only got worse. I felt as though I was never good enough. I also felt that I had no way out because I did not believe that divorce was an option. His outbursts would get more heated. Every time that I would try to tell him how I was feeling and it turned into out of control rages. He would cry, punch and throw things, even sometimes harming himself, making me feel miserable for hurting him with my words. The result of this was me learning not to say how I feel, in fear of an outburst. I would always try to say whatever it was I thought he wanted to hear. I felt like a robot. I didn’t think for myself anymore. I was just constantly trying to keep him from getting angry. Over time, I learned that there was no way to avoid that. If I told him how I felt, he would get angry, and if I lied about how I felt he would get angry because he didn’t believe me. In one of his fits of rage, he was throwing things and punching, and “accidentally” hit me. When I tried to leave the apartment because I was afraid, he blocked my way and restrained me, crying uncontrollably and apologizing. I ended up holding him crying, actually feeling bad for him even though I was the one who got hit. We got counseling through the church which did absolutely no good. I knew that I couldn’t really say how I felt because once we got home I would have to pay the penalty.

I am going to avoid writing about it in detail, but the abuse became sexual about a year into our marriage. It left me feeling very confused because he was my husband and had a right to my body. He would use scripture to explain that I was his and that I was meant to satisfy him even if I don’t feel like it. He would tell me that if I did what he wanted, that he wouldn’t be so angry and frustrated with me all of the time. Of course that was always a lie, and things never got better if I complied. He was constantly calling, texting, and would get angry if I didn’t respond right away. I was living in constant fear and anxiety. Over time, my friends and family started to catch on without my saying anything. He was getting to be so out of control that he even had some of his outbursts in front of my family. Eventually the abuse was wearing on my body physically. I started breaking out everywhere, having heart issues, insomnia, and my hair was falling out. I felt like I was going crazy and he had convinced me that I was and that it had nothing to do with him. I even went to a doctor to get tested for a mental health disorder. While I was waiting, I found a pamphlet about abuse. It was a test to see if you are in an abusive relationship. I marked 36 of the 38 signs of abuse. Around the same time, I had my best friend and my mom sit me down to tell me that they knew that I was being abused and that they wanted to help me get out. The sad and crazy thing about that is that I had never really admitted that to myself yet, and I was almost relieved to have that kind of validation.

It was years ago in December while he was at work, that I had friends and family help me move out. I had to stay with someone he didn’t know, change my number, and file for a protection order on that very same day. I remember hurting for him, crying over the fact that he would be so heart-broken. In some weird way, I still believed that he loved me. But in the end, I learned that he never loved me. My ex-husband was a victim of abuse as a child, and although it is no excuse, I believe that he wanted to inflict the same pain that he had experienced on me. After 3 weeks, he already found his next victim and has been with her since. He fought the protection order in court, in which he lost. I remember sitting in court, crying and devastated. It was so hard to see him and his family. He laughed, sneered, and talked while I testified. I have had to come to terms with the fact that my husband never really loved me.

I have gone through a very strenuous grieving process dealing with this divorce. My family has as well. Anyone who has been in an abusive relationship of any kind knows that you lose yourself completely. He told me what to do, what say, how to dress, etc. I hadn’t thought for myself in the 2 ½ years I was married to him. I made mistakes in my marriage, and I will never claim that I was the perfect wife, but I have learned that there is NEVER an excuse or reason to treat another human being like he treated me. Many people who are abused blame themselves. There is nothing a person can to do deserve that kind of treatment. I have found so much peace coming to terms with that. It has been over a year now since I have been officially divorced. I have gone through stages of sadness, anger, numbness, extreme happiness, and even some PTSD. Between counseling and the support of all of the people of my life, I have overcome a lot and come so far. I guess I want my story to encourage other people who are either in, or have gotten out of abusive situations. Despite how horrible and hopeless things may seem, if you take one day at a time, little by little, things will get better. There were days I had to force myself to get out of bed, to eat and get dressed, to work, and to socialize. Existing rather than really living can be extremely painful, but over time it became natural again, and even enjoyable like it once was. I am making the choice to take control over this horrible life experience. By making positive things come out of this horrible situation, I feel like I am taking back control over my life. He may not be in my life physically anymore, but I won’t allow him to remain in my life mentally either. Although this takes time, I am on the right path and I hope that everyone knows that this is a possibility for them too. There is always hope and healing offered to us if we so choose to accept it.

If you are seeking help here is the Domestic Abuse Hotline

If you are currently being abused please seek help, whether it be friends, family, authorities or me. Healing can only start when you seek help.

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