You are too…

My thoughts last night:

You are too loud…
You are too quiet…
You are too much…
You are not enough…
You are too strict…
You are too Free spirited…
You are too mean…
You are too kind…
You are too giving…
You are too selfish…
You are too emotional…
You are too closed off…
You are too sad…
You are too excited…

Whatever you are, my hope for you is that you hear this instead of the accusations of a very complex you!

You are Enough!
You are Unique!
You matter!
You are who you are no matter what they say or even what you have told yourself.

Some days you may be loud to the person who is lonely because they are hard of hearing! Your loud style of colors and personality will be just the right thing to bring smiles and laughter a struggling world around you!

Some days you may be quiet enough to listen to a friend who is use to getting yelled!

Some days you might be filled with so much love, empathy, and compassion that overwhelms others but that kind of love has been known to save lives!

Some days your strict ways may help your children or students understand boundaries and how to set them for themselves!

Some days you may be free spirited enough to drive 4 hours to the ocean with your family just to see the sunset and feel the sand between your toes! Spontaneous is amazing sometimes!

Somedays you may seem mean to the people trying to manipulate the situations to get their own way. It’s okay to be perceived as mean!

Somedays you will be giving and kind to a fault and give the very last few dollars of your grocery money to help a family in need! It’s okay!

Somedays you will be seen as selfish for taking care of your own needs! Take care of yourself anyway.

Somedays you will need to just be okay with being too you! The older you get, the easier this is.

I too have battled being too everything and wanted to tell you that you are not alone!

A to B Healing

Healing is not a linear journey! You don’t just go from point A to point B and automatically think, “okay it’s done, I’m Healed, it’s all over”! It is a process of taking turns down dead end roads and turning around. It’s walking left and losing signal with your map in unknown territory and not knowing where to go next. The brain and neurological pathways are fractured and need help rebuilding, restructuring, remapping. Healing is a process of falling and getting back up time and time again and placing one foot in front of the other.

I hate healing. Sure, I love the idea of being healed but the process of healing hurts sometimes.

If you have walked the healing journey and still feel the fracturing beneath your feet and brain, know that you are not alone. I’m over here trying to reach my healing destination too. Maybe we will meet along the way for some chocolate pie and coffee. The potential of running into you keeps me going.

mentalhealthawareness #healing #dohardthings #therapy

Cheers to 15 years of love, sweat and tears!

15.
15 years.
15 years of marriage!

“Falling in love is automatic but staying in love is a fight and a choice. I will forever choose to fight for us, to keep our commitment alive and strong.”

If I could time-travel backwards and sit down with myself fifteen years ago and challenge the thinking of that young smitten bride to be, I would tell her adventure awaits but not how you think:

Love stories and fairy tales aren’t exactly true, at least not the Hollywood kind. Yes he makes your heart flutter and makes your brain romanticize the future but you are going to need to snap into reality and truly grasp that your dreams of what it could be vs the reality of what it will be are incredibly different and you have a LOT of work to do.

This person is not going to fit perfectly into your little box of fantasy, he is going to challenge you and you will question more times than you think, if the chemistry you had from your first hello was worth it?

We are taught to graduate, try to figure out a career, financial planning is important, wedding planning (oh that’s a stressful and fun day). We are even taught how to get married (sign here on the beautiful marriage certificate). We aren’t taught how to have a good marriage or how to stay married. Would we have even listened back then if they did teach the classes on how to live with another person successfully? (Premarital counseling was close but even that was not very eye opening to these two lovebirds).

Danny Ellison, I am truly sorry for not putting a ton of thought into the planning of the kind of spouse I want to be. Maybe some do this but I didn’t. I just wanted to be with you and was pretty blinded by a chemical romance to an amazing man at the young age of 22! Oy vay!

In 15 years I have learned that there would be many times when we were THAT MARRIED COUPLE who argues and fights over the dumbest things like steak and potatoes (seriously we had a huge fight over STEAK AND POTATOES and we didn’t wear our wedding rings for a week after that🤦🏻‍♀️). We have gone to bed fuming more than we wanted to, and I may have even cried myself to sleep with my head face down in the pillow asking time and time again, “Did I make the right choice?” I literally believed our marriage was on the brink of divorce over steak and potatoes. Nobody could have prepared me for that. (WTH)

Yes my spouse is hot, fun, funny, amazing, and the best musician on this side of the Mississippi. Those qualities will help for the times they will also bring their anxieties, insecurities, anger issues, flaws, and stinky farts and ogre breath to the table. I bring all of this minus the music part, and then some. ALL of these things are part of marriage, you can’t pick and choose what stays and what goes. Every single good, bad, and ugly quality we both bring will show up at some point so if we expect it and it won’t be as shocking. Yes I know those pretty vows kind of refer to the for better or worse things but I promise you don’t quite grasp it until you live it. At least that is my experience anyway.

My beloved has brought unspeakable joy to our lives, and deep pain. I too have brought unspeakable joy to our lives, and deep pain. Ouch. It doesn’t feel good to say the pain parts but it truly is the reality of two imperfect people joining together in holy matrimony. There are ugly holes that we have dug over time that would need to be filled with love, forgiveness, trust, and acceptance.

You will have many beautiful moments when you will run into one another’s arms and embrace the beauty of life and adventure together. You may also have times when you run away from one another. You may even pack your bag and call one another some ugly names as you slam the door behind you. I’m not saying you will do this but I am saying you may find yourself in this kind of crisis and as you walk away with your bag in your hand you may begin to cool down. You might just find yourself accepting responsibility for your harshness and decide to seek forgiveness and turn back. Humility is found here in this moment as you unpack that bag. You are not alone here my friends because unpacking that bag might be symbolic for dealing with your own trauma, insecurities, and darkness within.

I truly want my kids to know that marriage has not been and will never be a 50/50 he completes me and I complete him kind of thing. It is a, when I am at 20 he is at 70 and vice versa kind of thing. Recently he was closer to death and had to have emergency surgery. I carried us just like he has done when I gave birth to our children and had no strength to do anything but nurse a kiddo and figure out how to balance the postpartum struggles. We have found ourselves in situations where we have had to be more of a balance for one another. That’s okay!

We have carried joy, love, and peace. We have also carried sorrow, hatred, and war. We have been amazing parents and we have been terrible parents. We have been incredible lovers and we have been horrible haters. I would say these past 15 years have been bittersweet because learning to let go of expectations that you have for one another and embrace the beauty of what is can be a purifying thing.

I haven’t always been great at this but for the next 15 my greatest desire is to learn more about how I can serve him with a loving and peaceful heart. I want to seek more adventures and have more fun! I want to serve our children together and find ways to be a light.

I have learned that marriage was not designed to bring me happiness. It wasn’t designed to bring him happiness. Happiness is a byproduct of understanding pain and working through it. In fact my most joyful and happiest moments came after hard labor. Marriage is a sacred union where you are completely vulnerable and charged with learning that peace can be found once the bags are unpacked and you declutter and find ways bring joy to your lives through self care, sacrifices, balancing emotions, and choosing daily to say yes again. It is work.

You will accomplish more in your marriage by reflecting, praying, and communicating through the hard stuff then you will by stuffing it in bags and wishing it would go away. Spend less time demanding your way and more time asking “how can I help”! I wish I could say I was less demanding and more helpful the first 15 years but I am not certain of that. I can say that I have learned from my mistakes and that is the only way I believe we truly learn and grow. We have to be willing to change a few things about ourselves and I don’t deal well with change 😬.

Strong and secure marriages do not happen over night. At least that is not our experience. They take time. They take fighting it out, nurturing, discipline, prayers, crying, waiting, walking, more time, forgiveness, therapy, healing, running, falling and helping one another up. You may have to unpack a few bags and that’s okay. In order to be strong you must have at some point been weak. Working it out together is pretty powerful and has truly made us stronger.

After 15 years we still have work to do. But I sure am glad I am not doing it alone.

Since I cannot time travel I want you to know that I am sorry for the bags, holes, and weakness! Here’s to embracing what was and moving into what it is and will become. Happy 15th Anniversary!

Dear daughters, our marriage hasn’t been a fairytale. It has been hard but I believe we have found our “happily ever after”. If you decide to marry and if you are willing to wait for it, war for it, work hard for it, and stick with it, I truly believe you can find yours too. Just like most things, it takes commitment and practice.

When your wedding day comes I ask that you trade those pretty wedding heels in for a pair of your grandfathers combat boots (something borrowed)! You aren’t fighting your partner. You will need to fight your own selfishness and you will fight for your partner because the world will have many sparkly promises of better this and that but in the end you will only reap the benefits of the hard work you put into your lives together. Never give up and fight with everything you have to be better today than you were yesterday.
Always and Forever.

Love What Matters

A few weeks ago I received a request to share my story by a wonderful media outlet called Love What Matters. Their platform reaches 8 Million people. I was in shock and at the same time honored. I was asked specifically to share my adoption story.

As I was preparing I felt this tension to keep it light and also to be brutally honest. In reality my story isn’t light. It isn’t just a beautiful fairy tale story. It is heavy and tough, full of failure and fear. I couldn’t, in good faith, keep the harsh reality of my story while only sharing the beautiful healing moment. I think that would defeat the purpose of the gift given.

The reason I share such a personal journey is because I truly believe healing cannot begin unless we can recognize the ugly brokenness and failure surrounding our lives. My desire is to reach anyone who has been in that place of wrestle and heartache! I want the hopelessness you feel to be replaced with hope. I believe sharing my story might help one person step into another day.

To you, the person praying to make it another day this is all for you. Those triggers you feel, press into them. You are not alone. You are loved. I think about you and that is why I share. I feel your moments of brokenness and want you to know you can make it through this! Put one step in front of the other and fix your eyes on a bright future ahead. It won’t be easy to get there but it will be worth it to fight to get there!

You can heal. We can heal. We must heal. We will heal. I believe healing is possible, not just for me but for you as well. Somewhere out there I know there is another beautiful soul crying out for healing in their mind, body, and spirit. I will continue to share my story for you.

Read the adoption part of my story here.

My Memoir Begins

Thank you for the support over the years! Please follow my journey as I continue to write and share!

Sharing my story is not easy. I have been writing it into a memoir for quite some time and the trauma of reliving and trying not to make it a sad story is difficult. I want the reader to feel two things, you are not alone, there is always something to be greatful for. I have rewritten and reworked it several times. I finally feel like I have landed on a good mix of how to share! I truly hope to share it with you all soon! In the mean time, here is a recap of my work over the years! Also included is a picture of my family being lighthearted! I love yall!

Youtube:
https://youtu.be/vB9izoW1YIA

This is a link to a song I wrote called Farewell Oh Fear:
https://youtu.be/UFiz26V11jQ

Here is my story that I shared at Hardin Simmons University where I went to college:
https://youtu.be/grOJECwnNwg

Marriage Testimony for a private group and a song I wrote:
https://youtu.be/dqkH6WPK2iM

My story through Buckner International:
https://www.buckner.org/blog/always-forever/
https://www.buckner.org/article/reflections-of-gratitude

Books that have helped me:
The Body Keeps Score by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk
The Deepest Well by Nadine Burke Harris, M.D.
Rising Strong & The Gifts of Imperfection: by Brené Brown

I have an album of music I wrote from my own life experience:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt3ZEPDZgK4&list=OLAK5uy_mk_D2hlS_oh7TNWEG9hHdF8dnm1sRmtSo

Here are interviews I have done for podcasts:
https://youtu.be/fOAJErf_YKg
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/encore-always-forever/id1567412469?i=1000560186305

My story with my church:
https://beltway.org/article/stephanie/

Therapy

Therapy is scary because reflecting on your most traumatic moments can be a challenge. It’s a sacred experience though, to be in a place of authentic vulnerability and learn that your darkest moments created your greatest purpose.

—>my greatest desire is to reach hundreds of thousands of people who have experienced childhood trauma and trauma from life, by loving them where they are. If we don’t love people where they are they won’t trust us. Lack of Trust is one of the casualties of abuse. Restoration of trust is the best way to reach others with love and hope!

❤️To the mom’s and dad’s who were babies when you became a parent. You are loved and there is support waiting to meet you where you are. I believe in you and you are a rockstar!

❤️To those addicted to drugs, alcohol, porn, food, or whatever is throwing you into a shame cycle, you are loved. There is help for you and I believe in you!

❤️To those who are stuck in foster care without a family in sight, I freaking LOVE you and I believe in You! Go create that family you dreamed of when the time is right! Until then, I love you! I delight in you! I adore you!

❤️To those in foster care waiting for your parents to get you back, I freaking love you and I am cheering for your parents to do the work because you are and have always been worth it!

❤️To the single parents, I believe in you! I love you! You have got this!

❤️To the broken not listed above, I adore you, you are loved! You’re going to get through this!

❤️❤️❤️I truly wish I could hold the entire world in my arms and tell everyone it’s gonna be okay. For now, my heart is holding you, I am fighting for you, I am thinking of you! I believe in you! You GOT THIS!

🧨To anyone who just needs to scream at someone without them taking it personally, I am here! I might have feedback but I promise to love you and listen more than I speak!

26.2 Training Why?

4-12-2022

Today I ran with gratitude but to be completely honest I also silenced a sting. A few days ago was Siblings Day! I have amazing siblings who are alive and well. They make me so proud. But I also sat in silence that day because two of my amazing brothers are dead. They are gone! FOREVER! Part of me was jealous on siblings day because so many people shared their posts about their in tact bond. Truth is, I don’t have a bond. Well I do but it’s different. The two siblings that died by reckless living and suicide were the two that I was closest to as a child and now they are just a memory that lives on in their children and my advocacy against child abuse.

As I ran today part of me doubted I would be able to truly make the difference that I hope to make in this world and the other part of me assured myself that I am a survivor full of hope and passion for change! I will continue to run! I will continue to speak out against child abuse and domestic violence for myself, for my siblings, for my students and for anyone who needs to be encouraged to pull themselves out of bed in the morning as they clear the fog from their terror filled minds! Not long ago I was in those shoes or in that bed! I wanted to sleep until the breath in me faded away and my soul ascended into the peacefulness of passing from this life to the next.

There have been days I truly wanted to die. I am a survivor of many types of abuse. I STAND TODAY AS AN OVERCOMER! Love found me and helped me heal from child sexual assault, parental alienation, parental incarceration, emotional abuse, my mother attempting to murder me, partner violence, emotional control, and socioeconomic hardship resulting in homelessness and social emotional struggles. My birth parents have mental illnesses that has often gone un-treated. I don’t always blame them but I do struggle with the part they played in my violent and terror filled upbringing. I also wish they were paying my therapy bills and college debt but I guess that is selfish of me and I digress.

My sweet (rugged) brothers had it rough like so many. We all did! They are gone forever and I am navigating this world as I heal step by step and try to make sense of this dark void. I know I was made to live. Truly LIVE as a light for many known to me and those unknown. Truth be told I often doubt but that will get me nowhere fast. The thing that I know I am to do is run. Run to fight! Fight to run! Run to live! Live to run! I am made for such a time as this! I will give those silenced, a voice. Even those terrorized to their grave. Death may have taken you but your memory lives on still. In my steps. In my actions. In my life.

My first 5K is coming up and I would like to raise $1000 for Big Country CASA! They help children like my siblings and me have a voice! Will you please consider giving to my run by visiting https://runsignup.com/stephanieellison

I would also love to thank Abilene Christian University for this incredible campaign that I RAN across today while cutting through campus! I felt this in my core! It inspired me to keep running and keep speaking out!

4-6-2022

I signed up for my first organized run! There is no better way to kick off my journey than this! CASA helps children have a voice! They literally give a voice to the voiceless! Let’s go make a difference in the world together!

I would love your support both in kind words and donation! I would love to raise $1000 for CASA for my run! The details can be found here: https://runsignup.com/stephanieellison

Follow my journey! ❤️ Read my why here: https://simplyencourageblog.com/2022/04/06/my-why-26-2/

Dream of Greatness

I didn’t deserve to be abused. I didn’t cause it. I experienced horrific situations and not only suffered from broken bones but also a broken spirit! I developed grit and walked with a spirit of resilience and a spirit of rebellion against my abusers. I found people who believed in me even if I struggled to believe in myself! I pushed! I pressed in! I paused! I pushed harder until I started to see greatness that many recognized long before. Beauty from ashes.

I now believe if I can, you can! I will believe in you when you don’t have it in you to believe in yourself. All you need to do is trust me when I say get up and go! Fight for the life you want! Fight for freedom! Beat those odds stacked against you. Walk in authority because you have greatness within you. We all do! Some never choose it. Don’t be that person! Work for it and fight the good fight! #childabusepreventionmonth #childabuseawareness

My Why! 26.2

Here we are in April! I am training for a 26.2 and I have been waiting to discuss my why. Here it is! I was an abused and neglected child. I broke free at 15 but the harsh reality is that many do not ever make it out of abuse alive. I reached a point in my life 23 years ago where I had to make a decision to become a homeless runaway youth and face the unknown or possibly die at the hands of my birth mother who had attempted to murder me. Her addiction had a death grip on her and my birth father had been incarcerated for sexually abusing me and my siblings. After I ran away I filed for and became a legally emancipated adult at 16 and began a journey of pushing through painful emotional experiences in order to attempt to break free and truly heal.

Now I am an advocate for children all over the US facing the lonely journey of creating a way where there seems to be none. I run for them! ALL at risk youth and children needing to know they can create their own greatness and leave behind destructive patterns! We can heal! We are not forever broken! We are all part of one big family! You are not alone! I run for my brothers! One who took his own life and the other died by suffering in his own addiction. I will continue to believe they were worth more! Their lives mattered and although I could not stop their suffering I believe I can use their stories to challenge others to grasp onto hope! Run from all that is holding you back from the greatness within you! Rise up!

“National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to strengthen families to prevent child abuse and neglect. Through this collaboration, prevention services and supports help protect children and produce thriving families.” https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/

A SINGLE STEP…

Today I will start running. I will start training for a marathon! Why? Good question. Stay tuned to see the documentation of this journey. It’s time to run. It’s going to be hard. I cannot emotionally focus my energy there though. Honestly everything in life has the potential to be hard. Even laziness is hard. It’s just a different kind of hard. I will accomplish this and at the same time I will be writing about it.

I am not an athlete. That is what I have told myself over the years. That isn’t completely true though. I have physical strength! I am capable of learning skills that would qualify me as an athlete. If I am honest, I say I am not an athlete because I have never believed I could be great in this area. But the definition of greatness is defined by growing a skill and achieving something! I can achieve my goal of completing a marathon, becoming an athlete, and achieving greatness. It’s a mountain and I might walk part of the way but I am going for it anyway!

Starting today I will take my fist step in training. Today I will continue to write my story! Today I will point my entire life in a direction I have always desired to go! A new direction. A new journey. Go with me.

Subscribe to follow my journey! Thank you Danny Ellison for the support, Renee Booe for the encouragement, and Roy Juarez for the challenge! Challenge accepted!

This is Roy and this photo is to document the day he talked me into it.
Day one complete!