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To see me, a nearly 60-year-old woman in ill-fitting clothes, no style to my hair, most of my teeth missing, sagging skin, living in a trashy trailer in a trashy trailer park, you might write me off as a nobody, or a failure. But the thing is, the best parts of me are those that can’t be seen.

What can’t be seen on the outside is my intelligence. Or my sometimes-quirky sense of humour. Or a heart so big that I can’t help but care for Mother Earth and all her relatives. Or my Spirituality, from which I draw great strength and unconditional love and compassion.

 

My Upbringing

You also might miss my temerity, which grew from a life filled with challenges. I was a timid child because I was raised by a functional alcoholic mother and a severely mentally ill father—the kinds of illnesses that are rarely treated because they are the energy on which the people who have them feed. Knowing what I now know, I can say with certainty that my father was a narcissistic sociopath with Bipolar 2.

He was brutal, both physically and sexually. The hardest part to heal, though, was his having demeaned me so that I felt not only that I had no worth, buy that I was inherently evil. That I was unredeemable. That there was no hope, no happily ever after for me.

I strived to prove him wrong, even after he left us. I was an Honor Roll student, even skipping the fourth grade. I was a championship athlete, especially in swimming where I came in 17th in the 100-meter freestyle in my state. I joined the Elsa Club for those concerned with the environment. I was in the choir. I took five years of science in three years of high school. I went to college on a combination of academic and athletic scholarships.

 

Going Through Adversities

I didn’t graduate. I felt it was more important to find out what I wanted to do before I spent four years getting a degree in whatever that was. My mother disagreed, so I moved 2,000 miles away to stop our fighting. And fell into a career I would never have considered—Civil Engineering Technician.

There weren’t many women in the field back then, so I had to work very hard to prove myself. And I had to put up with the contractors whose work I was inspecting telling me I should go back home to the kitchen, or making passes at me. A simple reminder that I controlled the paperwork used to decide if they got paid usually worked. I was regularly promoted and would top out the pay scale for each position.

I lived in California for about five years, during which I got pregnant from being date raped and all that went with it, and my mother developed and lost her life to breast cancer. Suicide attempts weren’t new to me. My first was when I was only eight, and there were several. But dealing with an unwanted pregnancy and the loss of my mother pushed me over the edge again. The experience I ended up having was unexpected. Hallucination or revelation, I was told that it wasn’t my life to take. It belonged to the Divine.

 

Discovering My Spirituality

I never attempted suicide again. Not through abusive relationships, not through the therapy I was finally ready for, not through becoming differently-abled and unable to work, not through a near-death experience, not through homelessness. I discovered my Spirituality, which is both bits and pieces of the many books I read and my inner voice guiding me.

For me, Divine Energy is the basic building block of all things, that science has discovered in the quantum field. While looking to break down matter into its smallest particles, they discovered that matter breaks down into energy. Einstein had given us a clue to this with his theory of relativity. This energy can appear as a particle or a wave. It can be in more than one place at the same time. In fact, it’s our observation of it that places it in space and time. We literally create our environment.

I like that idea—that I’m responsible for my life and its circumstances. I’m often asked why, then, my Soul would choose to be born to such an abusive father. My answer is so that I could realize he was a victim to his illnesses, leading me to feel compassion for him. I’ve become grateful for every challenge I’ve chosen because it’s through those that I have learned unconditional love, compassion and gratitude in every situation.

I would hope that the next time you encounter a dishevelled, dirty person sitting at the bus stop, or a park bench, or sitting in a lawn chair in front of a trashy trailer, you think about taking a deeper look instead of writing them off. We just may surprise you.

 

Annie Stith has lived most of her life in the St. Louis, MO, metro area. She now resides in Largo, FL, with her miniature Schnauzer, Biscuit. At neatly 60, she takes each day as it comes, knowing that this isn’t all there is, and we are much more than we appear to be.