Forgiveness. Hope.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Learning and loving everything about myself.

What does it mean to love yourself? To truly love who you are? Not just self acceptance, but truly loving the person you are. Meaning loving the way you think, loving the way you respond in stressful situations, loving the thoughts you have daily, loving the actions you take through your day, through out your life. I can now say I honestly, without a doubt, with no fear, love myself. I love who I am! With all the challenges, heartache, death, betrayal, rejection, struggle, pain – I am growing, I have grown. I’ve grown and I’ve learned to cherish life, each minute, each hour, each new day. I wouldn’t change a thing. I take that back…I would give anything to have my Nicole back. That is the truth. Her death and every challenge I’ve faced has made me realize how precious love, respect, trust, commitment, responsibility and knowledge are.

For years I blamed the doctor.

For years I blamed the man I was married to.

I made myself believe that if only, if only I had a doctor who cared. If only he hadn’t insisted. If only he had offered an alternative.  If only I wasn’t ashamed of who I was and where I came from.

I made myself believe that if only I had a marriage that was void of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse.

If only. If only. If only…

When I stopped blaming the doctor and an abusive partner, I started to blame myself. Afterall, I was the only person who could have stopped it all. I was the only person who could have, should have said no. But I didn’t and for years I carried a secret. I carried guilt. I carried shame. I carried pain. I carried a tremendous sense of unworthiness. I carried everything but the one thing I should have and I hated myself for it.

I was pregnant. I found myself in crisis 13 years ago. I was in an abusive, traumatic relationship with the man in my life at the time and I was pregnant for the fifth time. At the time, I was trying to survive. I was trying to hold things together for my 2yr old, my 3yr old, my 7yr old and my 11yr old. How was I pregnant, again? Why? How could we escape now? How can we escape now? All questions I kept asking over and over in my head. I had no family where we lived. I had no friends who I could confide in. I was alone and I had no hope. I made two decisions.

I made it through that time with my four children I thought, in a healthy, strong way. It is only until recently that I’ve realized I’ve never forgiven myself for doing what I did all those years ago. I had failed to truly acknowledge that time in my life. I had buried that time, my actions, and my pain away and never spoke about it. I’ve told one person. One person out of all the people I know. One person knows the entire story beside myself. Even after finally telling someone I still felt unworthy. I still felt that I truly did not deserve goodness, kindness, peace, joy and love.

These last several months I have in a completely genuine, vulnerable way opened up and allowed pain to run its course. I carry no more secrets. I have faced my fears. I have recognized and acknowledged the guilt, shame and hate I’ve had toward myself. I have accepted. I have accepted what I did. With that acceptance hope has begun to flood the void I’ve felt for so long. And there is more…Hope is not alone. There is acceptance. There is desire. There is committment. There is determination. There is motivation. There is action. There is transformation. There is forgiveness. There is chance.

It has taken me more than 13 years to truly learn to love myself. I have and I continue to learn to love myself. I’ve forgiven myself. There is a sense of peace. A sense of balance. There is hope. There is love. Love. Love. Love.

If you are in the midst of a violent marriage, violent relationship and you find yourself pregnant. Know there is hope. Whatever your decision – if you decide to end the pregnancy. If you agree to have yourself sterilized. If you decide to carry your baby full term and keep her/him. If you opt to have your baby adopted. Whatever you decide, KNOW, please KNOW there is always hope and you are valuable, you are good and you deserve love. You are not alone. GAWD, it feels like it. Trust me, I know the feeling but you are not alone. You can ask for help. You do not have to be ashamed.

I am extremely grateful for the following doctors. They have helped me to see endless possibilities. Knowing that the wife of a friend possibly works for one of these doctors was the kindling that reignited my hope and has led to an understanding that whatever the future may hold I am at peace. I have four beautiful, amazingly kind, good-hearted children now ages 15, 16, 20 and 24 and if the future holds a fifth or a sixth I am honored & blessed, and if not, well I am grateful for the chance, for the hope and for forgiveness…balance and peace, always.

Wishing you all a beautiful NEW YEAR filled with new beginnings, endless possibilities, love, joy, peace, forgiveness and hope…

A forever grateful mom,

-J

Hope not for changing the past, but for the future.

Chapel Hill Tubal Reversal Center – Dr. Charles W. Monteith & Dr. Gary S. Berger  – North Carolina

Center 4 Tubal Reversal – Dr. Eliran Mor – Southern California

Thoughts About Changes and New Beginnings

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My sister on October 12, 2005

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Alan (Marshal) Westbrook from Shiprock, New Mexico KIA 10-01-2005

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In memory of my niece, Nicole Westbrook

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Me and the little man of my life, Chad Westbrook (my nephew)

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My little man, C. Westbrook

Marshall Westbrook, a 43-year-old sergeant in the New Mexico National Guard, was killed when a roadside bomb exploded under his Humvee in Iraq on October 1, 2005.

His 41-year-old brother, Kenneth, died in 2009 of injuries he suffered in a firefight in Afghanistan.

On April 22, 2012 a bullet had struck Nicole’s left cheek and shattered her spine. Her heart stopped, depriving her brain of oxygen. Nicole Westbrook’s heartbeat was restored, but she never regained consciousness. On Wednesday morning  April 25, 2012, we watched her die.

My sister Joleen Westbrook has lost her husband Alan, attended his brother Kenneth’s funeral, and braided her daughter Nicole’s hair for the last time as  she lay on her hospital bed declared brain dead.

My sister has been through all this and today I received an amazingly heartfelt message from her titled: I know you’re wondering what will happen in…The next chapter of your life.

She told me to just do my best and to stay strong enough to move ahead, because there are some wonderful rewards waiting for me. She said it won’t make sense right away, but over the course of time answers will come and decisions will be proved to have been the right ones. She said don’t give up on hope. Don’t give up on love.   She said “continue to put things in perspective like you always do.” “You are strong, sister” she said *crying*.

Hands down, watching my sister scream with grief and lose herself has been the most difficult thing that has come with the loss of Alan and Nicole. Alan and Nicole’s death continues to be one of the first things she reminds herself of when she wakes up, and it continues to be one of the last things she thinks about before she falls asleep; it  continues to consume her. But somehow she is able to reach out to me in a way only a sister can and offer me what is left of her heart and love me, dearly.

My sister is one of the strongest people I know and she gives me the strength to keep moving forward, to not settle and accept that I deserve goodness, honesty and true love. She is not perfect and is struggling yet she opens her eyes to each new day and today she touched me.

Thank you sister for loving me…

– J.