Some days I feel like I’m on top of the world, and other days I pretend to keep it together, but really you have to allow yourself to be human and have a hard day.
I started blogging because I wanted to share with everyone what I learned about other cultures. I wanted a space in which I could share my thoughts about the world, and my desire to see people respect each other’s differences, and their cultures. It is sometimes hard to write things like this and pretend to be positive, when inside me I am waging my own battle for peace.
I am a Mormon (well I use to be anyway), I am an assault survivor, I am fierce and kind, but lately I haven’t been feeling all that courageous. We can’t always keep it together. We can’t always make everyone think that we ‘have our shit together’.
I’m 34, I’m educated, and I still want to travel the world and ‘be that change I wish to see in the world’. I’m too ‘good’ to fit in with the EDC/Rave/clubbing crowd, and yet I’m not ‘good enough’ to be considered a suitable match for a temple marriage, as most Mormons believe is paramount in their trek through life.
I tried to find someone through online dating and I was Cat fished by a man pretending to be a single father with a 2-year-old daughter whose mother died when she gave birth to her. I was working 65 hours a week and barely had time to think for myself. My days off were mostly to do my laundry and let my mind be sucked into a useless TV show. Luckily, through my own (and my aunt’s) investigative work, I was able to find out that he had stolen someone’s Facebook identity and profile pictures and made them his own. This was very disconcerting that someone could so perfectly replicate a total stranger’s life!
Every year I get older, I get asked or told, “Why don’t you try online dating?” “Why aren’t you married yet?” ‘Well, you’re just being too picky.” “Maybe if you lost a little weight.” “You won’t meet anyone if you decide to move so much.” I am too embarrassed to explain how I got duped once online, too nice to say “screw you” when someone asks me why I’m not married yet (LIKE I KNOW), too irritated to try and explain that I’m picky because my friends all complain to the single girl about how their husbands don’t do this or that, and I don’t want to end up like them or another statistic.
I found out my Dad was living a double life after 25 years of playing the caring, loving father who I have so many fond memories with. I’m still trying to process this and my family is still mourning the loss of a man we thought we knew. I don’t hate him, I love him, I hate what he did to our family & was angry at first….now I’m just sad. Its very odd for me to talk to people about this, because divorce is so polarizing and traditionally people think you have to choose sides. What if I don’t want to choose sides? What if I just want to be sad and not hear all the terrible things he has done in secret? It kind of makes me question if anyone is honest anymore. (Any words of advice you have on this would be appreciated).
And the last one, “Maybe if you lost a little weight…” Well….insert the snarkiest remark you can think of and that is about how I feel about that. I have tried so many diets, I lose the weight and yo-yo back when emotional pain slips through the cracks. So now I am putting the weight loss on the back burner for now and focusing on the root of the problem – treating that problem with kindness, giving it space and feeling those feelings that I buried for so long.
I think people are surprised when I can actually hike for three hours, go camping, go hiking, do a 5k without a problem, kick their ass at the gym; I’m made for comfort, not speed people. Get over it.
I was told to try Tinder when it was first new, and was too naive to know what it was ACTUALLY used for. I talked to an Indian Man, met up with him, and ended up being raped.
I remember crying to him about how I still was in love with my ex-boyfriend; he told me he had just had a bad breakup too. I won’t get into the details, but after I was examined, I remember the nurse hugging me with tears in her eyes telling me she was so sorry that it happened to me. I still have vivid nightmares. I feel like no one could ever love me after what happened. Who would ever be able to understand?
What is really sad, is that the night that it happened, eight people, who were supposed to be my supportive church friends, snubbed me. I still wonder, “why me?” and if they would have shown up, would it still have happened? Why did God let it happen? Why didn’t God prompt them to come over?
The friends I have shared it with tell me, “Just forget about it now; it’s in the past.” Trust me, if I could, I would, but that’s the trouble with PTSD, you don’t know what will trigger the memory that will put you into a fight or flight-like state.
Now it’s incredibly difficult to let anyone into my life, even my own family at times. Yet I still have such a desire to have my own family. So, most of the time I’m battling the feelings of being utterly worthless and never being enough with the feeling of the courageous lioness inside that is ready to explore and take on the world and truly be that change.
Three months after it happened, I decided to travel to Scotland to see the lands of my ancestors. My great-grandmother was a McFarland and I had become an Outlander superfan (a TV series on STARZ). I followed my heart which said that I needed to get away from all the mess in Texas. I knew going to Scotland wouldn’t solve my problems, but when I travel, my thoughts and feelings, the great battle within, seem so much more diminished and small. I think it’s because when you travel, you realize how big the world is and there is something so HEALING in disappearing (in a way) for a few weeks.
It was my first solo trip and I had planned it months before (what I now call) my “incident,” and I was determined to go. It was terrifying, but I was able to get outside my head and learn of the Battle of Culloden and how my ancestors fought there; how the ruggedness and magical landscape of the Highlands made me feel like I was finally at home. The landscape was so vast, harsh, and beautiful, and the people from Scotland have warrior spirits that do not bend, despite the harsh winters and the history of decades of brutal suppression by the British.
I returned from my trip and realized that I was more than what happened to me. I was not a victim. I am a survivor. Now I realize that (and worry) that after exposing myself like this, there will be many opinions. I’m not afraid of what people think anymore, just at cruel things they tend to say.
I know that telling my story will touch some, and repel others, but I can’t hide anymore behind what once was. In talking about it, I feel like it is releasing me from the feeling that I need to hide from the public. For a long time, I have felt vulnerable and couldn’t wait to get home to the safety of my house and my beloved puppy Zoey. Now, I am turning 35, and I know that I need to start pushing myself to go out in public again; to try and retrain my brain that most people are not going to hurt me and can’t see straight through me.
My goal is to not be afraid anymore; to not be afraid of someone finding out about this through the grapevine. This is something that I never thought I would share in a place like this, but it is allowing me a certain sense of freedom in doing so. I hope you will be able to understand where I’m coming from and be able to understand that it has taken a great amount of courage to publish this.
I don’t have it all together…yet, but I will, and I won’t stop until I do. I know that there are not a lot of men who will understand, and many won’t have the compassion and understanding I will need on the harder days. One day, I trust universe will show me the way to my soul mate, that won’t be afraid of the hard things.
For now, I’m focused on healing and developing healthy coping mechanisms. Reconnecting with the world, the people in it, exploring without boundaries. Seeking those unique adventures that will help me heal from the wonderful feeling of newness and discovery.
The majority of this was not meant to be negative, but to be raw and open about the struggles of a fellow human being. I still have hope for something better, I am still confident in my own strength to do hard things. Most importantly, I’m not giving up & continue to love and share with those around me what I do have to offer. Life is too short to live constantly in my past, so I have decided to create a better future, even if it is not the future I always envisioned was ‘suppose to happen’.
Thank you for reading my story and I hope you will honor the amount of courage and vulnerability it took to share this experience with you. Happy travels my friends, and thank you for being on this journey with me. I know I’m just typing this on a screen at the moment, but somehow, it seems to release something inside me. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Any words of advice, encouragement are appreciated!
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Janiel Green is a Travel Guru with 21 years of National travel experience in the USA, and 17 years of International Travel experience. She is a highly educated, courageous, driven and dedicated individual to both her professional and personal life. She is the Founder of Culture Trekking LLC, and is dedicated to bringing a celebratory passion for humanity into her writing to make meaningful, useful, and heartfelt recommendations for a culturally enriched travel experience. For inquires please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org