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Taking A Look Back and Moving Forward…

As I say goodbye to another year and welcome 2012, I have taken some time to reflect on my past, understand that the experiences I’ve been through have made molded me into the person I am today. I’ve accepted that even though I can’t change the past, I do have the power to change my future so that the past does not continue to haunt me. It is a process that begins with accepting that the past is one that should not be repeated, having the will, then finding the strength to follow through and truly change the future.

When my life was turned upside down inside out, I was overwhelmed with emotions…fear, doubt, anger, love. The most difficult was losing my pets because they were my everything, my link to reality, my “kiddos”. Even afterwards dealing with continued health problems ranging from post traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, migraines to now discovering the stress has affected my blood sugar and thyroid. I did not know if I would ever find my way through the mess of frustration, the loss of my life as I once knew, and find may way to begin again.

Fortunately, I have a strong support system. Family and friends came to visit me from out of town when they could. While I did not have much family in town, I did have friends. At first I did not want anyone to see me in the condition I was in nor did I want anyone’s help because I felt I needed to be able to do for myself. I tried so hard to hide the pain and bleeding internal wounds. I felt weak to have to lean on others, but I also did not want to deal with those stares, gossip and crude jokes from all around. I was embarrassed of another failed marriage and blamed myself for allowing myself to get into yet another abusive and unhealthy relationship. I wasn’t answering anyone’s calls not even from the insurance or my attorneys. My bills were stacking up and was behind on all payments. My weight had dropped to literally skin and bones. I honestly did not see the toll this was taking on me. My dear friends stepped in and literally camped out with me for days. They helped me see that I could not longer continue the path I was on because it was one of self-destruction.

There are many things I have learned through all of this madness. A strong support system, holding on to my faith, understanding it was not my fault, and asking for help are the most important things that have guided me to find my way back to “life”. I was able to let go of the worry what others thought of me. Accept my past as part of who I am. Keep my chin up with one foot in front of the other. While a very difficult transition, I was finally able to return to work and prove to myself that I was a much stronger person and in a better place.

Finding a strong support system is not as easy as it sounds. While family is always there to be supportive, friends, true friends…well you just never know until something like this happens to you. I believe a true friend is someone who sticks by you when you are down and celebrates with you when you are up. It’s someone with mutual trust, who understands you, knows the real you and appreciates the person you are and, most of all, doesn’t judge you.

Sure, there are many types of friendships. There are situational friends that see each other regularly, have fun together, even share occasional disappointments, but when you move or something changes, you don’t stay in touch. Then there are casual friends that meet each other once in a while, go out for lunch and dinner, catch up on the news/gossip. You like each other, appreciate the company, but are are not best friends. Of course, there are close friends who understand the real you, help when you’re in trouble and are people you can rely on in good times and bad. They will not judge you, they let you in their lives, and care about you deeply. You see these friends more like family. Such people don’t come along often and are the friendships to be cherished.

Sometimes friendships disintegrate or people grow out of them when you don’t spend time together, have fun together and talk (I mean really talk about your lives, decisions, whatever is going on). It really depends on the person. Myself, I value loyalty above all others. I would never let my friends down, I stick by them and they by me. We understand we are human and make mistakes that with the occasional misunderstanding, we know there is forgiveness and love because the relationship is more important. Yes, we always have family, but at some point, everybody needs a friend too.

Happy New Year everyone! May your faith be strengthened, life be humbled, and your journey filled with with more joy than sorrow…and if not, maybe it’s time to take a look back so you can move forward. Take some time to evaluate your past and understand what you want for your future. Ask yourself if you have the support system to help you. If you find that you have been too busy to reach out and be a friend, make the time. Make the time to cherish the family and friends who are important to you. You just never know if someone you love and cherish is afraid to ask or even realize they need help.

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Time Heals All

It’s 3 am and I can’t sleep. Gosh, have not had a sleepless night like this in a long time. Almost forgotten about them, but then something like tonight happens and it all comes crashing back. “Time heals all”…hmmmm, it’s not that simple.

Time. What exactly does time do? This is a good one because the countless “time heals all” phrase has most certainly popped up with the “just focus on the positive” and “you should be lucky to be alive”…“give it time”. Honestly, I’m not trying to sound negative. Those who truly know me, know that I do my very best to stay positive and make good choices and lead a life that I can be proud of. I’m ambitious, yet love my couch potato days. I’m a hard worker, yet I have let the laundry or dishes pile up. I’m a perfectionist, yet I make mistakes every day.

So again, what exactly does time do for you? It gives you the opportunity to reflect. Reflect on your past, while living in the present, then try to figure out how to make a different future. But does time actually heal the past? Is it supposed to disappear? When I imagine something healed…I imagine it being gone. What time does is help you cope with your past. It helps you find a way to make yourself whole again…unfortunately you need these parts of your life to keep “you” whole. Yes, it’s after 3 am and I’m wide awake, feeling like I have a ton of bricks on my shoulders, tears just slowly creeping out with an overall general feeling of blah…but if it weren’t for these pieces of me from my past that have caused sooo much pain, I wouldn’t know how to help others who feel alone and helpless because the ones they love have abused and abandoned them. So without these otherwise painful pieces of my life, I wouldn’t be me!

It’s hard to go through the challenges in life and then it makes it harder when you have the glares or avoidance from people you thought were part of your support system. To hear from those that you love the harsh and insincere words like, “you’re not taking advantage of being alive” or “you should be lucky to be alive…there are many other women that weren’t so lucky”. The worst has been, “I hope you’ve learned your lesson”. So I’m not just dealing with the tragedy of losing that which was most precious, I have to deal with the fact that people just truly don’t understand and say, well, the stupidest things and well…keep “time from healing”. Just when you thought your wounds were healing, BAM they’ve been cut open again and again and again.

So here we go again, “time”. Exactly what has time has given me? It has given me the strength to step outside of my shoes so that I can begin to understand why people do or say these, well, stupid things. I’ve learned so far that they have yet to live their lives and allow time to help them understand their past in order to change their future. They end up saying the stupidest things because they have yet found a way to let “time” help them move forward and deal with their past. Yes it hurts and is upsetting, that despite needing the strength to deal with my past, I must muster up the strength to deal with my present and also my future. Focusing on positive things in my life, living every moment better than the last, making better decisions, reach out to the people that bring out the best in me are just some of the things that have helped me keep pushing forward and brush off the not so nice things people say and do, calm my otherwise over worked mind, allow me to blog and share my life experiences in hopes of making someone else feel like they are human…but most of all, let those suffering understand that they are not alone.

After 545 days, tonight is one of those nights when it feels like yesterday. Missing my babies and well, the sick feeling inside of thinking how I could let all this happen. What triggered these feelings…just waking up in the middle of the night, wide awake. Yep, something so simple, yet so powerful. How can that be? By all means, I am grateful for this second chance to live, but at this moment, it’s…well, about “being human”.

I continue to pray that the Lord helps those find the strength to cope with their past and soften their otherwise harden hearts. So they too can in turn help others in need of some “time to heal”…after all, whether we want to accept or not, we need each other. We need compassion, we need to know that when times are tough and we are weak…we can turn to those, especially the ones we hold close to our hearts, and lean on them.

Love Without Fear…

They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Hmmm, makes me wonder if I have I ever really been in love? I don’t know, after all, each time I think I’m in love and give it a shot, it has just exploded. Yes, I’ve tried to give love a chance, but what does that really mean? What I remember most are the sick feelings in my stomach wondering when my husband would come home, who he was with, how much money he spent that we didn’t have, if he was still angry…

Anyway, how do two people know when they are in love? Is it the butterflies in their stomachs? Is it the pitter patter of their hearts? Is it how much or how little they have in common? Is it what one can offer the other…emotional support, financial security, children? I can tell you one thing for sure…if it’s real love, there shouldn’t be fear. One should not fear the one they love. One should not feel the need to walk on eggshells or hide from the truth of what happens behind closed doors.

I see my parents and think what they have is real love, but I have yet to find it. Sure my parents bicker, get upset, and time and again hurt each other’s feelings, but there is no jealousy, rage, control or resentment in their relationship. They respect each other enough to talk things through. They are sincere when they apologize to each other. They live their lives for each other and not for anyone or anything else.

My parent’s met on a blind date back in the days when relationships were respected and courtship was something to be cherished. My Aunt arranged a meeting for them one of the nights my Mom and she played bingo. The moment my Dad saw my Mom, he fell absolutely head over heals for her. He knew that he was going to marry her. They dated for a while and always accompanied by my uncle. You see, back then, when a man courted a woman, they had to be escorted. My parents both came from large families and they too wanted to have a big family. When they were only able to conceive one child, they didn’t ask the Lord why or build resentment towards one another, instead they were grateful for the love they shared and lived the very best they could. They let no obstacle come between their love.

When I imagine what love is…I think of the bond that two people have whether they are together or apart. It is knowing, without saying, what the other needs. It is doing for the other just because and not for what one will get in return. It is about making sacrifices for one another and meeting each other in the middle when you don’t see eye to eye. It’s doing what you say you are going to do. It’s where one’s strengths help balance the other’s weaknesses. It’s growing together as individuals and in partnership. It’s cherishing that person, not taking them for granted. It’s how the two work “together” to get through the tough times, making the relationship stronger. It’s about two people becoming one.

I’m not giving up on love. One day, I’ll meet the one who cherishes me, accepts the love I offer, respects me and laughs at my jokes. I’ll meet someone that I can just be in a room with and not have to say a word and know that everything is okay because we are in each other’s lives. Someday, I’ll finally get to feel what is real love…love without fear and puts a real smile on my face.

Stay True to Yourself

Sharing my story has been one of the most humbling experiences ever. I say this because every time I share, I learn something else about myself. I’m not talking about just that one horrific night I faced death. I’m talking about my life leading up to that moment and my life after.

Never thought about needing to understand myself until I was repeatedly asked, “How did you end up in another abusive relationship? Didn’t you learn the first time or are you just an asshole magnet?” Over this last year, I’ve been putting together the pieces of my life, learning who I am and understanding why I’ve made certain decisions have shown me that I’m just a “real” person. I’ve learned that I have a big heart and therefore, driven by my emotions. I look for the good in people no matter what. I am faithful, loyal and most of all, I have a great desire to help others. Because I am driven by my emotions, I also learned that I have little tolerance for behavior that hurts and this brings out the worst in me. I say the worst because this is when my wall of defense goes up. I’m very protective of the ones I love and hurt more when the ones I love hurt me. It’s been difficult, but I’ve learned that having healthy boundaries helps me keep my emotions in balance making it easier to maintain a positive light on life. I don’t have to accept behavior that hurts, but dealing with it is something so very new to me. Depending on the situation and the people involved, I either temporarily shut down or I stand up and defend.

I’m all about treating others the way I want to be treated and firmly believe that if we all just lived by this motto, the world would be a much better one to live in. Fear, lack of confidence in one’s self, envy and ignorance are some of the main root causes which leave us with a lack of better judgment.

We talk about that fact that the perfect match doesn’t exist. When in fact, this just means it’s finding that someone that gets you because they too possess the qualities that are important to you. I’m not talking about things like the color of their hair, I’m talking about what is genuine about them and what is genuine about you. The things that define you as a person, should also define your life partner. For example, good moral character, spiritual, loyal, trusting, respectful, ambitious, strong work ethic, passionate, loving and humble. These are genuine qualities important to me. Understanding the person I am has also helped me understand my life and relationships. You see, there are things that are important to me and in both of my marriages, I settled for less. This may sound harsh, but when I actually took the time to write down what was important to me, both husbands did not possess all these qualities and those qualities they lacked were the very reasons my marriages failed. I did not stay true to myself. I was fighting my hardest to prove to them that they were the center of my life. Which I now realize that was the problem. I should not have been trying so hard to “prove” anything. I was giving the relationship exactly what I was expecting from it…and that should have been enough.

If you are just starting your life or, for that matter, starting over like me, take the time to write down what is important to you so that you will never forget. Don’t settle for anything less than that which is important to you. You might think that perfect person doesn’t exist, but remember “stay true to yourself” and you will find that “perfect” person.

Growing A Thick Skin

Over the years, I’ve met so many people with very different personalities. Many who have become role models for me and have molded the person I am today. All along providing me with the strength to see through the many challenges in my life from childhood bullying, adoption, infertility, divorce, and yes…domestic violence. However, the hardest challenge I have faced time and again has been in the work place dealing with conflict, but the type of conflict that on the surface appears to be rewarded rather than frowned upon. Bullying.

Unfortunately, I’ve dealt with bullies in my life. After all, there are many types; childhood bully, teenage bully, best friend bully, life-partner bully and there’s the workplace bully. My experience has been to just mind my own business, treat these bullies with kindness in hopes of softening their hearts in that one day they will change. But the later, unfortunately, rarely happened partly because I, like many others, just sat back and said nothing. After all, I was an expert at walking on eggshells. I knew how to avoid conflict. My kindness was instead taken advantage of because the bully was nice to me in return only when they needed something. All the while, all I was doing was increasing my stress and frustration. For what? To avoid conflict for fear of retaliation. After all, we are taught as children that you let the adults, “the ones in charge”, handle the bad behavior. We are taught early on that nobody likes a “tattle-tail”. The only problem is that rarely does a bully act out in front of the ones in charge. So what do you do? Kinda stuck between a rock and a hard place, eh?

***Needless to say, the phrase “grow a thick skin” popped up over and over!***

I guess I never really thought about it. I don’t know, maybe I just didn’t understand the true meaning of this phrase. After all my career, not my personal life, has been by far more successful. So obviously I was doing something right! However, after the realization of my failed personal life, it came to light that, without knowing, I, in fact, had grown a thick skin. Yes, it wasn’t until I had to go to weekly counseling for the living nightmare of a near-death experience I so gratefully survived, that I became aware of exactly how thick my skin had become. It’s almost like an onion…you don’t truly know that it has layers, or how many layers, until you start peeling it. Then comes the challenging part of dissecting each layer just so in that you carefully and cleanly peel away each layer. You find yourself in tears at times, fighting hard to not let the onion’s strong layers get to you, but ultimately, to get to the center of the onion…you will have been forced to shed more than just a few tears, but a ton of weight you’ve been carrying because of the thick skin you were forced to grow.

People would tell me I don’t know how you do it, but you are the strongest person I know. Even though on the inside I felt like a fragile piece of crystal that could break into a million pieces in an instant. Was it strength? Weakness? Denial? No, it was the thick skin I had grown. I learned to block out the things that made me feel like I wasn’t good enough or weaker than others. This only worked for short periods of time though and got harder and harder instead of easier. Why? Well, I never dealt with the real issue. The bully! You see, it takes more effort to shield yourself of the bad stuff so as to avoid being hurt by the bully. Instead, you end up hurting yourself by carrying more weight than you need to.

So now when I hear, “Oh that’s just the way that person is, you just need to learn to grow a thick skin and shrug it off,” I just cringe! I’ve worked so hard at peeling back the layers that I say NO! Why should I have to grow a thick skin when the bully is the problem? I’ve realized that I can’t ignore them anymore. I can’t sit back and pretend that everything is all fine and dandy. I can’t continue to treat the bully with kindness when I know their behavior is wrong. It shouldn’t stop there either…if I see others being treated this way, I feel obligated to step in. Why? Because I know what it’s like to live in fear and frustration…and not speaking up only empowers the bully’s behavior and gives them permission to act as they do.

Next time you see someone being bullied, whether at work or not, stop and think how you would feel if this were happening to you. Would you want someone to tell you, “Oh just grow a thick skin” or would you prefer they stand by your side and defend against the bully? Strength in numbers, right?…so are we going to let the bully population grow or are we going to stand up and speak out?


A New Day…

Remember like yesterday the horror and pain. Standing powerless and praying, “Oh Lord if there was ever a time for rain!”

Depressed and angry the easier path. Rather, moving on and forgiving…helping others detour this very same wrath.

Tender moments I miss, many memories to cherish. My babies gone from my arms, but from my heart, they will never perish.

Pray for the day when human kindness returns…sharing today some compassion with those whose faith has seen no more.

Blessed by the Lord with a new day today. With faith and His guidance, safe passage it may.

~ Vero


A year ago my life changed forever…but the Lord has blessed me with “A New Day”…

Sometimes God sees the need to put us through some things for the purpose of making us stronger. There may not seem to be any logical reason for the trouble that we often face, but God always has a reason. Sometimes He’s just trying to make us tougher or to teach us patience. Some people suffer so that they will be better equipped to comfort others in their suffering. It’s always comforting to know that you are not alone, that someone else understands because they have gone through the same troubles that you are going through and will try to share helpful words of wisdom in hopes of lessing the burden. He knows that you are strong enough to help those who are less fortunate and without great strength to overcome and find their way through the challenges.

Are you going through some pretty tough times? Find your faith and hold onto it. The Lord is probably giving you the experience that you’ll need to help someone else later…


Organization Seeks To Double Donation Amount Each Week

DALLAS:   The non-profit, Living To Share, created by Rowlett Domestic Violence survivor Veronica Galaviz announced Monday that during it’s first week of actively soliciting contributions for its mission, the organization raised $1,300.

Galaviz was nearly murdered when her estranged husband broke into her home at 1:30 a.m. on April 21, 2010, and set the house on fire before shooting himself and killing her pets in the process. As part of her recovery, Galaviz has created LivingToShare.org and created her non-profit organization to help others who might be in a tragic domestic relationship.

“The response to our organization’s mission and goals has been overwhelming in the first week alone,” Galaviz said. “We’ve raised more than $1,300 from close friends, supporters, and North Texas businesses also supportive of our mission to raise awareness for stopping Domestic Violence and bringing about needed changes to reduce those who are victimized by this horrible social problem. Each week we want to double the amount raised the prior week.”

After being featured in a news story on CBS 11 KTVT in Dallas last week, Galaviz has received several invitations to speak, including invitations from two law enforcement organizations.  She also has received a copy of a draft bill from a DFW legislative office that seeks to add a stalking provision to the awarding of a protective order.  She also held a successful fund-raiser in Addision, Texas Saturday night.

“We have a lot of work ahead with the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature,” Galaviz said.  “Hearing that legislation is pending was hugely encouraging, but also just a beginning of what needs to be done to help track protective order violators, and raise law enforcements’ training when it comes to dealing with Domestic Violence situations.”

Galaviz said donations will be used to cover expenses for the organization’s operations as the 2011 Texas legislative session draws near.  Funds also will be used for national research, outreach, travel, and supporting Domestic Violence survivors like herself as they try to get their feet back on the ground.  Galaviz says she will work nationally on the issue to affect change where ever it is needed.

Donations can be sent to Living To Share, PO Box 861885, Plano, TX 75086-1885 or paid online at PayPal.

During the April attack, Galaviz awoke to find her estranged husband in her home and armed with a shotgun.  He told Galaviz that he was going to kill her.  Galaviz says thankfully she had a friend also in the home who attempted to fend off her husband.  The friend was shot in the hand in the process.  Thankfully, Galaviz and her friend were able to escape and call authorities.  When the Rowlett Fire Department arrived at the home it was engulfed in flames (which burned to the ground) and her attacker was found dead inside along with her 3 pets.

Galaviz’s conflict remains that she repeatedly notified the Rowlett Police Department of her husband’s violations of a protective order that was issued in November of 2009 with the assistance of her attorney, Julie Lucio, of Lucio, LaFleur and Associates in Richardson.

Each time Galaviz confronted RPD they told her that her husband hadn’t done enough to warrant his arrest so he could be brought before the judge who issued the protective order.

Veronica Galaviz

After surviving an attack in her home on April 21, 2010 by her estranged husband, Veronica Galaviz now seeks to raise awareness about the dangers of domestic violence, increase victims’ rights, implement tougher enforcement of protective orders and sensitivity training for police officers who respond to domestic violence complaints, and offer educational grants to victims allowing them to obtain financial independence and freedom from their abusers.

Claxton Creative, LLC

Claxton Creative is a DFW-area based public relations firm focused on Social impact, innovation and invention.  Owned by former political advisor and Dallas ISD spokesman Donald Claxton, the company specializes in social media and traditional mediums to market and brand products domestically and internationally.  The company provides PR services for brands, bloggers, businesses and school districts.


The first fund-raiser

8:53 pm. Looks like it’s about time to do the raffle and for Veronica to speak for a few minutes.

Veronica is thanking the team for helping put the event together.

Gift cards have been donated from Walmart, Outback Steak House, Olive Garden, and Chili’s. Now for a Starbucks gift bag.

CoorsLight Girls donated a LED Keystone bar light, a blue Moon portrait.

And Harley Davidson donated a cool shadow box that had motorcycles in it.

8:31 pm. I just survived, barely, the dj playing the Air Supply video I’m All Out of Love.

This is turning out to be a nice event. We have nearly two full long tables of people and Veronica is going to speak in a few minutes! The CoorsLight girls helped sell some purple domestic violence awareness wristbands, some t-shirts, and made sure everyone has a raffle ticket for some very cool prizes.

8:06 pm. I’ve been having a good conversation with Vicki, a local counselor talking about domestic violence. She’s still interning but learning lots, she says. When I asked her what the biggest surprise she’s had yet she said, “By this time in my life, there’s not much left that surprises me.” She’s very insightful about the impact of domestic violence and even recommended a program called Celebrate Recovery to look into as Veronica goes further and further down the path of life.

We were talking tonight about how much better Veronica is doing in December 2010 than she was back in April right after the incident at home. If you don’t know the story, her attorney, Julie Lucio helped her get a protective order in November of 2009.

After repeatedly notifying local law enforcement of violations her estranged husband broke into her home at 1:30 am and tried to kill her. Miraculously she was able to flee, but he set the house on fire and then sadly, took his own life.

8 pm. The CoorsLight girls have handed out buttons that you take a picture of and text it in to be entered in a drawing for two Super Bowl tickets! So cool. Thanks, CoorsLight for being a supporter of our organization.

7:18 pm. We’ve been joined by a local domestic violence support group counselor. Veronica is updating her now about the week’s developments–being invited to speak to two law enforcement organizations in the DFW in 2011, one local and one statewide; and one local womens auxiliary group, plus she heard from a DFW legislative office updating her on some key legislation that will include a stalking provison.

7:05 pm. Veronica reports that a person eating here and not affiliated with the event just made a nice contribution.

6:53 pm. Very cool! Veronica is handing out Living To Share brochures. We will be posting the brochure on the site tomorrow so anyone can download it and learn more about the LTS mission.

6:45 pm. (Apparently there is a huge flaw in trying to do WordPress updates in Safari on an iPad. In the text entry box, there’s no way to scroll down, so when you do updates for a live event, you have to keep adding them to the top of the document!). News Flash: It looks like at least one of the CoorsLight girls is here. Yes, I said, CoorsLight girls!

6:30 pm. Set up continues. Things are picking up. Veronica brought in three boxes of t-shirts to sell. She has a cool banner donated by a local Fast Signs! I’ve now met Veronica’s cousin Jeremy, his son Carlos, and Veronica’s friend Kate.

6:20 p.m. Set up continues. Veronica is running around making preparations and has been joined by LTS Treasurer Judy. The tables now are set up and it’s clearly going to be a big night here in event that’s slated to begin at 7 p.m. The banner is going up. It was donated by FastSigns which will certainly be lots of use!

6:10. Veronica arrives with balloons decked out in a Living To Share t-shirt. And has door prizes from some great sponsors, including the able assistance from the punctual staff here at the Addison Pointe Sports Bar and Grill.