I receive many messages of gratitude for opening up, sharing our story and bringing understanding to something so misunderstood.
All people make their own judgements, opinions and thoughts of who each of us are and often those are made because of what we see on Facebook.
I avoided Facebook for a long time because of being concerned that I would become more interested in seeing what everyone else was doing, instead of focusing on my own life. The fear of resentment that my life was far from perfect compared to the lives of others made me wonder what others would think about me?
I often worried if people really are interested in what I have to say, what I've been through and who I'm having coffee with? It seems they are, or at least pretend to be, or they just chose not to "like" it.
I received this message not too long ago:
You seem to always be put together, loving and understanding. You are truly an amazing woman. I have no doubt that God, Rob and your family are proud of you beyond your dreams. I'm glad to say, I knew you when you were young and I know you now. If there was a way for me to show you what I think of you, I would. I'm not fancy, rich or beautiful and by no means perfect. But, I would say you Vonnie are. You are amazing.
I was extremely humbled and appreciative of such an incredibly kind message. This message made me see two things:
First, the sender does not see their own beauty. To recognize, grow, admit, compliment and support another person so selflessly is a beautiful thing! I do know people who are fancy, rich and beautiful and also many who don't believe they are. Social status doesn't make you beautiful or happy. All of us at some time, have difficulties. Seeing the beauty in others and sharing such kind words with someone else can be touching. After all, we do know that no one is perfect.
Secondly, I see how there are many misconceptions to life when not every moment is played out on Facebook and other social media outlets.
If the sender could've seen the difficulty of getting where I am today, she would see that I am far from perfect and have actually lived a very difficult life that hasn't always been fancy or beautiful.
People have a way of taking beauty away from you and making you believe you are not important. Some also like to control, to make you believe you've done something wrong when you haven't. To make you feel like you're not worthy maybe by avoidance, the silent treatment or providing you with no sense of security, only wondering what you did wrong, again. When you're feeling your best, they may grab your linen skirt, release it, now wrinkled and say - that's why I don't wear linen or they extend an invitation to you then add the words; but, I don't think you'll be comfortable, as if they were retracting the invite. They may say, you smell after buying a lotion that is a favorite after they've seen you just stocked up on it. They may pretend you have a great relationship yet you haven't spoken with them in years. You could even experience illness and they may never talk to you about it or even ask if you're okay, because it wasn't about them or they live in denial so their world can appear perfect.
I experienced all of the above examples. These people and their actions made me me feel weak, insecure and certainly not beautiful. It took me a long time to learn how to not fall or stray in into their trap of control, passive aggressive behavior and emotional turmoil because when you do, it's hard getting away from it.
This was years of pain, turning me into a very insecure person. I had to ask myself the question - what don't I respect about myself to allow others to treat me this way?
These are the people to avoid, they are called toxic and when they are in your life, it's miserable, confusing and extremely painful.
One of my gifts is having the ability to see the glass always half full. In the darkest of days and the longest of nights, I still saw beauty. I knew that no matter how difficult it got for me, there were always people that had it worse. I reminded myself I needed to be thankful for everything I did have. Gratitude is a gift.
When I lost Rob, I felt fortunate to have him as long as I did and knew many never experience loving relationships. When my kids struggled with the loss and experienced their own crisis, or just had bad days, it wasn't easy and at times I made my own mistakes and am not proud of some. Yet, I recognized the mistakes, did the things to the best of my ability and always fought for them and advocated for them. It's through my kids I found that, love heals.
The loss, the pain and the challenges have made me who I am today and my hope is to offer compassionate understanding so others feel they are not alone, a way I felt for a long time.
I recognize there are many who don't want to hear about the ups and downs of other people's lives. There are many who just don't want to see others happy, but for the rest of us - embrace your past - it's a part of who you are. Live in the present by being kind and understanding to all and empower yourself by being true to who you are and release the toxic people in your life for your own clarity and your own mental health. You just may find someone who thinks you are truly amazing!
by Vonnie Woodrick
About the Author
Vonnie Woodrick created i understand in 2014 in loving memory of her husband Rob who lost his battle with depression in 2003. Vonnie routinely provides speaking engagements to private organizations and community groups throughout the year in an effort to raise awareness about suicide and encourage education about mental health. Learn more about i understand's "Love Heals" Lecture Series.
This blog is part four in a six-week series titled, "Life After Loss".