Rising Above Negative Circumstances
© Copyright 2018 by Allison McClurg
Elizabeth Smart was a 14 year old girl in Utah who had woken up to a strangers hand over her mouth and was abducted. A few months before this happened you could describe her family as the “perfect family”. The kind of family that you would see in the movies. One day her family was walking down the street and they saw a homeless guy. He did not ask for money, but instead asked for work. Being that type of family, her dad said that he could come work on their roof. All of you who have jobs know that when you start working somewhere, you get to know the place well because it’s basically like your home away from home. When they asked this guy to come work on their roof they thought nothing of it and little did Elizabeth know that she would wake up in the with the guy in her room, his hand over her mouth, a knife to her throat, and him saying, “Get up, come with me, and do not make a sound.” They walked all through the night until daylight and then they finally reached a little camp area that he had made in the middle of the woods. When they got there, a woman came up and gave Elizabeth a hug and said come with me. She brought her in the tent and said, “take off your clothes.” She was apparently his first wife and was in charge of who he brings back. Elizabeth responded, “No.” The woman gave her a robe and said, take off your clothes.” Elizabeth did, she took off everything but her underwear. The woman said, “take off your underwear.” Elizabeth then responded, “No.” The woman said, “take off your clothes or I am going to have Emanuel come in and rip them off of you.” Elizabeth did it. A few seconds later the woman left the tent and the man came in. The man said that they had to do what married couples do because they are husband and wife now. He raped her. For the entire 8 months that she was with him, she was raped every day, sometimes twice a day.
A quote from Elizabeth says, “The three words that describe my kidnapping are terror, boredom, and rape,” Of course if the story did not explain to you how awful this was for her, this quote does.
But what I want to say about this story that stands out to me is how she overcame this tragic event. She could have just said, “My life is over, my virginity is gone, and now 8 months of my life are gone that I can never get back.” Instead though, she chose to move on and now she has a great life, has many good selling books, and goes and speaks all over to high schools and colleges about her experience. In this particular book cover that she wrote, I want to point out the phrase on the front. It says, “Healing, moving forward, and never giving up.” We all encounter many different events throughout our everyday lives. Since we are only human we do not live a perfect life so sometimes we encounter negative outcomes and that is why my goal after you all hear my speech today is that we all get on the same page and overcome these negative events together.
Now I know that most of you guys might be wondering why I am up here talking about this and how I relate to it. Well you see, This past summer on August 3rd, 2017 I had woken up to a stranger in my room with his hand over my mouth. Let me start off with how the night went. I had gone to bed around 8-9 o’clock because those who knew me knew I went to bed early especially since volleyball had just started up. I had gotten up later that night around 10-11 o’clock to go to the bathroom and my mom was still up out on the couch, but I had noticed that my sister was sleeping and she is a major lock freak, so I knew that all of the doors were locked and we were safe. I told my mom goodnight and went back to my room to go to sleep. I had felt weirded out that night anyways though because I sleep with music on sometimes and I kept waking up that night. It happened sometimes, so it was not the first that that I felt like this. With that being said, I thought nothing of it and went back to sleep. Little did I know that I would wake up 2 and a half hours later to a stranger in my room with his hand over my mouth. At first I remember thinking that it was my mom because usually when I get my phone taken away, my mom wakes me up and even though I had my phone, I thought it was her. The words were coming out of my mouth and I only got out, “Mo…” At that moment I was about 2-3 inches away from his face and I realized that it was not my mom. My eyes got so big and I knew he saw it because he then put his finger over his mouth and told me to “Shhhhh.” Then the Adrenaline kicked in. I was like no this is not happening not to me, not in my own room, not now! So I ripped his hand off of my mouth and kicked him away from my bed. I screamed, “Mom help!”, “Dad he’s in my room!” As soon as I did that, he freaked out and did some kind of weird jig in my room because apparently he did not think that I was going to scream. I hear my mom running down the hallway screaming, “Alli!” He then stood right by my door (which he had closed when he entered my room while I was sleeping) and he waited for her to come in. I responded, “Mom he’s right by the door!” A few seconds later the door opened and I do not know who opened it, but he darted off and I hear my dad screaming at him to get out of our house and chased him outside.
Obviously this event was very traumatic so I tried many different ways to cope with it. I tried imagining that maybe it never happened. I tried going to counseling, but the thing with counseling is that you look for answers that are not really there. I wanted her to tell me that I was safe and nothing bad would ever happen and she did, but that is what I was told before so it did not help. I eventually just stopped going because what was the point if I was not going to benefit from it. Finally I tried lying to myself and saying that maybe it was all a dream and that nothing will ever be like that again.
We all want to tell ourselves that nothing bad will ever happen to us and that it is only on TV, but the truth is that it can and it will.
According to statistics, 70% of adults in the United States have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. This equates to approximately 223.4 million people. Wow not that is a big number! Which is why I am here speaking about this today because as the statistics show, the odds are not in your favor.
Now my goal is for all of us to rise above these negative circumstances and live a more healthier lifestyle. One thing that helped me through this and is still helping me through it is my faith in God. A quote that helps explain my faith is, “God wouldn’t put something hard in your life if he thought you weren’t strong enough to get through it. If he brings you to it, he will bring you through it.
Now I know that not all of you guys believe in God and I cannot ask you to do that, so I was at an FBLA conference when I was listening to a speaker named Kent Julian who came up with an equation to get us all on the same page. The equation is E+R=O. What it stands for is The events in your life + the response you have to them = your outcome. At the top of the page is a picture of Kent Julian.
What I want you guys to take away from this is that we need to learn that all of the events in our lives shape us, even the negative ones. These events shape us into the person we are today, even though in the moment it might feel like it is the end of the world. The second takeaway is that it takes time to heal. I think that that was my biggest issue because I thought that the second night I could move on and sleep in bed with my sister, but I remember waking up screaming and crying. Everyone talked me up so strong for fighting the intruder off that I began to believe that if I could not move on I wasn’t strong anymore. But now I understand that that is not true. I now understand that it does take time and I was sleeping with my parents every night until Christmas break when I decided to try sleeping with Ayron in my bed now and you guys might not be able to understand how big of a step that was, but it is huge and I cannot explain how proud I am of myself. The final takeaway is that it’s okay to not be okay. Sometimes we get scared and do not want to cry in front of our friends, family, or coworkers, but the truth is that that is how we heal.
I know that sometimes it can feel like we are trapped in a never-ending hole filled with negativity, fear, and doubt.
But the truth is that if you take that negative event that is holding you back, respond for how you want your outcome to turn out in the future rather than in the moment, it can end in positive outcome, filled with smiles, fun, laughter and just a healthier, more enjoyable life overall. Thank you!