When things come full circle….
In 2009, I often drove my car up the windy hill to my church’s food pantry…barely able to hold back tears. To go from a life of luxury to being unable to feed my children within a 3-month period was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. The sweet, angelic receptionist at my church knew how much I was struggling but she also knew that I was too proud many times to admit that I needed help. She would take it upon herself to email me each week and ask, “how can we help fill your pantry?” From there, she would put a bag or two of food together and walk it out to my car so I didn’t have to wait in line. These memories bring so many mixed emotions – sadness, gratitude, love, and appreciation for how far my daughters and I have come.
That same year at Christmas, they made sure my daughters had gifts under the tree but even more important, they made me feel loved and cared for. While I have always known there would be a time when I could give back, I had no idea how it would happen. Fast forward to the rollercoaster of starting a 501(c)3 non-profit in 2014 (OMB) and then, voting to dissolve it in 2017. Through that process, things finally came full circle while reviewing our non-profit bylaws. The bylaws stated that the remaining funds were to be donated to a religious organization upon dissolution. In all honesty, that was a mistake (typo) which had been overlooked and the bylaws should have probably stated that the remaining funds could be distributed to ANY non-profit organization.
But was it a mistake? Not if you believe in things coming full circle. I believe that there are no mistakes. I contacted the pastor of my church and inquired about whether I could make a donation that would be earmarked for single parents. I quickly discovered that the church had actually been praying about such a fund as they are often forced to turn people away. Once all of the OMB board approvals were in place, my daughters and I drove back up that all-too-familiar hill but this time, my heart was full as we were giving back tenfold. We delivered a check for $4,300 which will be used to help struggling single parents. While we were there, the receptionist told us that right before my email, she had received a call from a single mom who needed to drive her son to Stanford for a surgery and was in need of gas money to make the trip. This fund will help her and many others and for that, I am grateful.
Eight years ago, my tunnel was very long and very dark. I struggled to find the light. I remember being so caught up on whether others would see through my ex-husband – would the courts see through him? Would the people in our very small town continue to believe the lies that he was spreading about me? Would I ever get out of the darkness? Should I have stayed in the marriage so that I could better protect my children? Thoughts were continuously swirling through my brain….anxiety often had a grip on me that threatened to destroy me. I continued to take life one day at a time and sometimes, one moment at a time. I wish I could hold your hand and tell you that it will all be okay. I wish I could share the view from my own rearview mirror – truly how far I’ve come from the shell of the person I was in 2009.
Standing on the mountaintop where my church sits with my daughters holding a check that will help others was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. We’ve come a long way and so have you – it’s a marathon and not a 5K. Remember to take it one day at a time. Hold your head high and remember that it all comes back around – the truth, kindness, gratitude, and love. Those are all things that the narcissist can’t take from you.
You’ve got this – I believe in you. Thank you for being a part of my journey and thank you for letting me be a part of yours.
Love, light and lemonade — Tina
Tina Swithin is an author (Divorcing a Narcissist series and The Narc Decoder: Understanding the Language of the Narcissist) and founder of One Mom’s Battle, an organization dedicated to providing support to survivors and educating the family court professionals on Cluster B personality disorders. Tina has dedicated her life to empowering those on the battlefield of the family court system through her many resources such as her books, The Lemonade Club, her annual retreats, and her coaching practice.