Today I am very honored and privileged to bring you an amazing story of survival and triumph from Joanne Cipressi. I met Joanne a couple months ago on Twitter and am continually amazed at her courage and determination to live a better life and forget about her horrible past. We could all learn something from Joanne. I truly hope you like this one. I know I do 🙂
Born Into Abuse
By Joanne Cipressi
There was yelling and screaming from downstairs as I laid in my bed. This was not the first time. I crept as close to my bedroom door as I could to listen to what they were screaming about. Of course, it was about my father drinking too much. I knew this all too well. Dad had a pattern of arriving home late very, very drunk, or he would not be home for days at a time.
As I sat next to my door, I heard a loud “CRASH” and ran into my bed. Shaken, I did not know what to do. I was scared. Not a feeling a little girl should be feeling in her home at night while in bed, especially because of her parents.
The next morning, I found out that my father pushed my mother into our bar room window, and the glass shattered all over. Shortly after, I stopped seeing my father for some time.
My mother met another man who moved in with us and began molesting me at a very young age. It lasted several years before I was brave enough to stop it.
My mother made it known that she did not like me, by calling me “it” and making me eat my meals, alone, in my room. I was not allowed to go on family vacations, nor was I allowed to join many of the parties that were held at my home. Eventually, my mom told me to run away to the cops.
I grew up believing that I was worthless and that life was full of pain and fear. However, inside there was a hope in me that there was something better. But, this hope was darkly clouded by hurt, regret, resentment, sadness, hate and disgust.
I hated myself and my life. At school, I pretended I was someone else. I pretended I came from a happy family and never told anyone that I was a foster child. I was so embarrassed that my family did not want me. If they did not want me, who else could like me?
For years, internally, I blamed my stepfather and my mother for ruining my life. I used to say, “If it were not for my stepfather taking me away from my family, I would be happy right now.” I remember writing a suicide note putting responsibility on my family, my foster parents, for making me want to die.
I always loved to people watch. I desired to know what “normal” was. What was it like to have an incredible family and lifelong friends, and to not be a freak? So, I listened and watched others.
One day, in my early 20s, I observed two older women, and they were complaining about their childhood. They were very angry over what happened to them. It was like they were comparing each others’ battle scars, seeing who had the worst one.
That shifted me inside. I thought to myself, “I do not want to be like them when I am their age.” I could not imagine carrying this anger and my past with me for the rest of my life.
I decided right then and there to take action. I figured that for me to learn how to be happy and how to stop being angry, I needed to learn the skills myself…not just go to some therapist and relive my past. (I tried that, and it made me more and more depressed than ever.)
So, I took a Neuro-Linguistic Programming certification course, as well as Hypnosis, Age Regression, Reiki and many more healing modalities, and all I learned transformed the way I saw myself and my life every single week! Every week, I was learning how to enjoy life. I was blossoming. I was becoming more content with who I was and was actually enjoying myself.
Here is a little of what I learned
- There are several realities at any given moment, and it is my choice to focus on whichever I want. I could focus on the flowers blooming from the rain, or how the rain makes my hair frizzy. (I would rather put on a hat and enjoy the flowers.)
- I always have a choice of how to feel. I could feel resentment or relief.
- What I feel sends out actual energetic vibrations that influence my life, so it truly matters how I feel.
- Focusing on the past, keeps me in the past. This takes me away from the moments in the present that could be improving my future.
- Each one of us has a specific set of skills and strengths naturally. Sometimes we can be so focused on what we don’t have or who we are not that we miss out on what we actually are. So, I began discovering my own personal strengths.
- Who I am is not determined by what I was born into or what was done to me. I am so much more.
- I am the only person that I can blame for not being successful and not using my personal strengths.
Within months, I had a strong urge to help others feel the joy that I was feeling, and I started my own coaching practice. This has enhanced my journey more than I ever imagined.
The Set Back and My Come Back
I was sexually assaulted by a cop, in my home, three years ago. I completely fell apart. I worked so hard to feel valued, to enjoy my life, to help others and to feel safe…and then, this happened!
This situation brought back many of the old emotions and thoughts from the past, and I began questioning my life. Was I just fooling myself that life could be different? Was I just fooling myself that I could be valued and respected? Was I just fooling myself that I could trust?
I began to think that, perhaps, I am not meant to have a good life, and this situation was a reminder. I went to a really, really low place. I even refused to give myself Reiki, which I did every single day before. I felt I deserved no love at all. For several months, I lived in this pain.
Fortunately, I had my previous experiences of overcoming abuse and many other hurdles. Even though this situation was different, what I learned helped me move forward. Here are some of the steps that I took:
- A LOT of self-talk and building myself up.
- Went to speak with an abuse recovery coach (even coaches need coaches) to get further insight on how to move from victim role to being me.
- I isolated myself for several months, and I knew this was unhealthy, so I reached out to others and got involved in community matters.
- I wanted to do something that created a positive change so that abuse would be decreased in my town. I created a local newsletter in town to encourage community. I believed that if people were more connected, there would be less abuse.
- I reminded myself that if someone were to do something evil to me, it was because they are hurting inside. So, I began to feel compassion for him and hope that he truly helps himself.
- Many people were judging me, and it hurt so much. But, I acknowledged that they did not understand the situation and that they are free to think whatever they want.
- I meditated on the fact that just because other people made horrible choices to abuse me or to take advantage of me did not mean that I have to remain a victim. I have a choice to not just “survive” but to thrive.
- I decided that I really needed to help other people learn how to love themselves despite anything they have ever been through or are going through. So, I started my coaching practice again.
Whether we were born into an abusive family, with a physical challenge or in poverty, we need to remember we are more than what we’re born into. We need to remember that we have been given everything we need to be victorious. Sometimes we may look at others and wish we were born like them or have their lives. But, remember as Joel Osteen says, “Don’t compare yourself. Celebrate yourself.” Once we truly embrace who we are deep inside ourselves, amazing happens.
When Jason asked me to write a blog for his site, I was completely honored because he is inspiring to me. I admire how upbeat he is, his motivation and his open heart. I have never walked in his shoes as someone who has a physical challenge. However, after pondering over our situations, I realized we have so many similarities. We were both born into a situation that was not ideal. We both have made the choice to be amazing people and to not allow what we were handed to bring us down, even though there were many challenges throughout the years. We have made the choice not to feel like we are victims, but to thrive in life.
I thank Jason for allowing me the pleasure to share on his blog. I share openly with hopes that at least one person realizes their brilliance despite what life has handed them.