Monday, December 1, 2014

Living Outside Reality: A Guest Post by Deanna Doss Shrodes

“I’m not saying any of it is untrue. I’m just uncomfortable with it.”

This was said to me by a family member when I wrote my story (which is now being released by Entourage Publishing as a memoir) on my blog, last year.

While the response to my story was overwhelmingly positive to say the least, there was a family member who was unhappy. No one accused me of stating untruths, at all. In fact, I offered to immediately remove anything that  was untrue if it was brought to my attention. (I am aware of no untruths in my story then, or now.) I was assured, it was all true. They just didn’t like it.

I have learned since then that there are plenty of people who believe their own discomfort is reason enough to silence others. In spending many hours pondering this issue here is what I’ve landed on. When people tell you that what you are stating about your personal story is all true, yet they ask you not to voice it, in any form (especially publicly) what they are saying is this:

“I’m not living in reality or ready to live in reality. Please leave me in my undisturbed bubble so I can go on denying reality.”

I don’t pose this question to be mean or even the slightest bit disrespectful. But, how can one see this posture as anything but making a conscious choice to live outside the realm of reality? If one speaks truth and especially one’s own truth, and is asked by others to refrain from sharing that truth, does that not speak of the fact that the person asking you to refrain is living somewhere other than reality?

Surely it indicates they are living in a place of pain and discomfort, not ready to face reality. But does this mean they should hold others hostage with them in the process?

When I was wrestling with a family member's plea for me to stop sharing reality on my blog, I had a cup of coffee and conversation with Felicia Alphonse, a woman in my church who just happens to be a therapist. I asked her opinion about whether people should share personal truths even when they are unsettling to others in their lives.  Tilting her head to the side and taking a moment to ponder she looked at me and said, “You have to heal…” and I said, “Yes…okay, and…?” She went on, “An important part of healing is speaking the truth and leaving secrets behind. It’s unfortunate that some are uncomfortable with it, but the bottom line is – you need to heal.”

The conversation with Felicia was really key to my decision to continue being as open as I have been on my blog, with my legal name attached to all my writing.

It was a key conversation in deciding to go forward with my book when I was presented with the opportunity.

There are times others in our lives are not ready to live in reality.

But if we are desirous of healing, it doesn’t happen with cover-up.

Covered things don’t heal well. Just try keeping a bandaid on a wound forever and see how well that works. It doesn’t. You have to expose the wound to the air at some point in order for the healing process to happen.

I understand why many people want to live outside the realm of reality. When you first face truth, it has the power to slay you. I spent many a night crying in the bathtub or unable to get myself together enough emotionally to face friends. The grieving process is challenging. But ultimately, facing reality and living in it has enabled me to live the beautiful life I’m now living.

I wouldn’t trade living in reality. It’s not easy to get there but so worthwhile once you do.

Deanna Doss Shrodes is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God and has served as a pastor for 27 years. Currently she serves as Women's Ministries Director of the Pen-Florida District of the Assemblies of God. Deanna and her husband have been married for 27 years, have three children and live in the Tampa Bay area where they serve as lead pastor of Celebration Church of Tampa. Deanna speaks at churches and conferences internationally and is also an accomplished musician, worship leader, songwriter, and certified coach. An award winning writer, she is also a contributing author to Chocolate For a Woman's Courage, published by Simon & Schuster, a contributing author to Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption from a Place of Empowerment and Peace published by CQT Media and Publishing, Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age published by Entourage Publishing, and the author of the book Juggle:Manage Your Time, Change Your Life. Adopted in 1966 in a closed domestic adoption, she searched and found her original mother, sister and brother and reunited with them in 1993. Deanna blogs about adoption issues at her personal blog, Adoptee Restoration, and also serves as the spiritual columnist at Lost Daughters. She leads a support group, Adoptee Restoration Tampa Bay, for adoptees in the Tampa Bay area.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lost and Found

I found her relatively easily, once I worked up the nerve to look. It took me another ten years after that to find him. Then five years passed before he was ready to find me back.

Today, I woke up in his guest bedroom and walked out into his kitchen. His was the first face I saw, and the first words I said were “Happy Father’s Day.” Today I hugged my father on Father’s Day--the simplest of acts, the most ordinary of exchanges between a daughter and father.

Except that it was never supposed to happen. Except that being together on Father's Day was a first for both of us.

We lost each other so thoroughly that it took us four and a half decades to find each other again.

But there we were. The art of finding may be hard to master, but it is not impossible. Today I walked into my father’s kitchen, on the feet I inherited from him, and claimed something I’d lost.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"Nice Guys" #YesAllWomen

The Rodger shooting and the #YesAllWomen hashtag are pulling up a lot of memories for me, among them a time when I stood in my waitress uniform in front of a group of male coworkers who were talking to me about what they viewed as the primary problem in the world. It was this: that girls like me didn't go for "nice guys" like them.

But here's the thing. Their approach didn't feel "nice." It felt threatening and manipulative.

They were right, to a certain extent. I was young and restless and full of uncertainty about my future. I was mostly interested in having fun with my friends, and I tended to be attracted to the kind of guy who wasn't likely to get serious or weigh me down.Were they nice? I don't know, but they were a lot of fun.

And yes, I got caught in my own trap. I fell in love, in spite of myself, and I got my heart broken, again and again. But it was my choice. My life. My risks.

I knew what "nice guy" meant. Nice guys were the once who came to me with the weight of expectation, dreaming of love and ever-after and wanting me to fill some role in their lives that actually had very little to do with me. They weren't the ones who came out onto the dance floor with me and my friends. They were the ones who watched from the side, wishing we would stop dancing and come sit with them. Nice guys wanted me to sit still and stare lovingly into their eyes. They didn't understand that at that time in my life I was all about movement. They claimed to "like" me, but they actually didn't really like much about me at all.

I can't think of a single nice thing that those "nice guy" male coworkers had ever done for me, though one of them was in training to be a minister and perhaps assumed that that was credential enough. I know that each was standing in front of me certain that if "a girl like me" would just give him a chance he could provide her with everything that he had decided she must want.

I probably should have told those guys they were full of shit, but I didn't. I smiled and played dumb and mumbled something noncommittal like "I don't know." Because even then, I knew that it wasn't the so called "bad boys" who were truly dangerous. The ones you really needed to watch out for were the self-proclaimed "nice guys" with the simmering resentment.

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