I am a Survivor. With a big ol’ capital S. Why the big S? Because being a Survivor requires the acknowledgment of something stronger than just a name or description. It’s not who I am totally, but a big portion of my heart, soul and body. - Shani Kenny 2015

Monday, December 26, 2016

Baby I was born .....

..... this way! It's true, I was/am! :)

Having been away all weekend due to being sick, I had no idea that George Michael passed away. It's so sad! My thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones and to those who loved him. It's a loss that creates so much heartache. A loss of life is harsh no matter who it is, if you knew them directly or as a fan. I've been a fan since I was a little girl. Music healed my heart in so many ways and distracted me from so much. 

I have to share this funny story with you all for a number of reasons. My BFF, Miss B. loved to sing when we were little. I was shy (I know, I know....you're saying WHAT? No way! It's true!), she was louder lol. She was bossy, and overly protective of me. Gosh I love her to this day. Anyhoo, She decided that she needed to sing in the front yard. She grabs the tape player (We're talking early 80's here) as we go out. She tells me to stand over in the corner of the yard by the driveway and when she tells me to, hit play. She's going to dance and sing for anyone watching. LMAO...I was too sit and be the DJ! ;) So I did of course, and she proceeded to sing loudly and obnoxiously! We both loved WHAM! and she was singing to "wake me up before you Go Go" as I clapped to the rhythm. It's one of my best memories and I can look back and laugh hysterically. But you know what? For a kid like me who was going through hell behind closed doors, having a BFF who would do anything to make me smile was like giving me gold. Music encouraged our friendship and in that moment, those guys gave us a memory we'll hold on to forever. We still talk about it! I tease her about her bossy side as kids, but as an adult I see it differently. She wanted the world to see me as she did, and she'd make damned sure they did. Oh man, I have so many stories about those times. But I'll leave them for now since I'm rambling lol.

With George Michaels passing there are those that are saying horrific things about his sexuality. Does his sexuality really define him? No, it doesn't define any of us. He didn't make a choice to be gay. To quote that awesome song, "I was born this way!" He was, and it was just apart of who he is.

So for those who are being so hateful, degrading and horrific, KARMA is a bitch and then some. You can say YOUR God is punishing him for his choices, is it YOUR God that has instilled such hatred in your heart? Is it YOUR God that tells you to ignore this message: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Because if you claim it is, I'm sorry friend I do believe you're a bit delusional. Regardless of your faith and your chosen religion, we're all human. We all bleed the same and breathe the same air. We are human, and we make mistakes. Take a moment to step back and think about it, would you want someone to hate you because something about you is different? I hope not! My mom taught my brother and I that everyone is different for a reason. To love others as they are. She taught us to be open minded and to be open to religion and different beliefs in general. I do, and I teach my kids that as well.

Now that I've shared my memories with you and my thoughts on his passing, I have just one more thing to say....

Hello my name is Shani. I'm a bit of a weirdo, a ninja master, zombie loving freak who believes in love, faith and good times. I'm a creative soul who lives to laugh and I cherish those in my life that are good to me. I haven't always been easy going, but I've learned a lot of things along the way and have helped me to let it go.  Oh and in case you didn't know, I'm Bisexual. If that alone makes you not like me, love me, care for me, tolerate me, then I'm sorry. Not sorry because of my sexuality. But sorry because you're missing out on a friendship/family member that is no different than before you knew. I was born this way, and I'm damn proud of it. I haven't always been as open about it, and that was my choice. Sometimes, it's just the right time to shout it to the world.

I wish you many blessings, love and cookies,


Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Sexual Abuse Story

I know I'm wordy, and I apologize for the lengthy post. I promise it was longer before I edited it! Please, read through the whole post. May it possibly help someone. <3

My 13th year was one of the hardest years of my life. I didn’t fit in at school, and was bullied a lot. I’ve never fit in, I had my own style, thoughts, reasons, etc. I’ve never been one to follow the crowd, especially then. That year my Mom  had to have major back surgery because of an injury she sustained a few years before. It was horrible for her and for us. The amount of pain she went through, the medication issues and the doctor who ended up messing it all up was hard to understand. Shoot, it still is. I start with that because it is a small part of why I kept it under wraps. She was suffering so much and dealing with even more than I knew at the time. In my own thought process, I thought I was saving her from it all. Funny how we think we’re protecting the ones we love you know? I also thought that if I kept it to myself that she couldn’t be ashamed of me. I didn’t think anybody would ever believe me. I mean, who was I? That weird, quiet somewhat chubby kid that everybody points fingers at and makes fun of. I was nobody in a sea of people who all fit in. That’s what it felt like in so many ways. My home life sucked. I’ve talked about it before in past posts. To me, I just was better off to keep it in.

The taunting ended up including sexual harassment.  It went far beyond what I looked like on the outside. It now became how I was so ugly nobody would want me. I would never have sex with anybody because I was so nasty. It moved on to things like I gave it up to anybody and anything. Yes, I said anything…that’s as far as I’ll go with that one. I’m sure you can figure it out. I would cry my eyes out every single day on the way to and from school. I was wary of walking up our street by myself in fear that some of the threats of physical harm were going to happen. Wherever I went at school, I was followed. I fell into a deeper depression as it got worse and worse.

The day the incident happened, I was a wreck. My Aunt was in the hospital, and my mom was with her. We lived a good distance away and that meant she had to drive there. Everything was just crashing around me all at once. On my way to P.E. I stopped at my locker. There was a note stuck in the little vents on the door. I heard snickering around me as. I ignored them mostly, like I always did.

Ugh, my heart is aching here a little. I’m tearing up and I’m struggling. I thought I could just rip this band-aid off quick and the scab below it. My thinking was if I could do that, I could heal faster. Yikes, I don’t know. It’s weird the memories that trigger other memories that you’ve shoved away so much. It all comes blasting back at you and you swear you were there all over again. I know that’s part of my PTSD. Well, partially that is. But it’s just weird. Ok deep breaths….let’s get back to it….

Closing my locker I opened the folded paper. I now know that it was someone who was in my typing class with me as it had been typed up using the same paper and typewriters. It was “fresh” because some of the ink smudged when they folded it. There are parts of the note that I can remember vividly and bring out some heavy emotions. There are other parts that get a little bit pushed behind those but are still there. I went through so many negative emotions. This was it; this was what was going to make me lose it. I crumpled it up in my hand and carried it in my fist with me to the locker room. I stashed it in my locker basket with my other other things and went to class. We were playing volleyball that day. Oh joy, I sucked at it and I hated just being there. I was on the sidelines waiting for my turn when I got hit with the ball the1st time. “Oops, sorry!” one of the girls said. More like, “Sorry, Not Sorry!”. This happens a few more times and my anger just keeps going up. This kid, “Bob”, wanted to see how far he could push me. He spiked the ball and it hit me right at the top of my head breaking my plastic head band. I saw stars and got dizzy. I looked over at Bob and saw red for a different reason. I remember walking up to him honestly.I started screaming at him and his friends how I didn’t need this shit! How dare they mess with me.  The nurse tended to me and my goose egg. I got a verbal warning about my “attitude”, and sent home.

When I tell you I’ve heard just about all there is to hear/know about sex and shit, I literally mean that. But at 13, I had no idea how sick people were. The note was very graphic, and very detailed. It could have been a mini script for an amateur porn video. They even included “background music” in the note.  It’s a song that is a trigger for me. I held that all in and held onto that note. I finally told my mom and her boyfriend at the time (idiot who abused us, Mr. E.) And all hell broke loose. I don’t’ even remember why it was my mom pushed me to tell her what was going on. I can remember sobbing my eyes out. The words felt like they were cutting me from the inside out as I shared. I was gutted, humiliated, devastated and angry. I was so sure that nobody would believe me. I was even positive Mr. E would accuse me of lying. They both believed me, and it made me cry harder. All of the tormenting and bullying from the months leading up came pouring out. We used to say she might have been tiny (barely 5 foot) but she was mighty. I can tell you now, the counselors at my school became intimidated when my mom walked in.

Both she and Mr. E talked to me about it and who was involved. As I told them literally everything about the sexual stuff, they both became white as ghosts and angry. They told me how the things that had been happening, lead up to rape. When an attacker/abuser is looking for a victim, most of them do this. They look for ways to intimidate and break you down. It starts out small until they get to be more daring and sometimes more open. It all comes to the point of violence. It scared the holy hell out of me.

After a long talk of what to do next, my mom went with me to school the next day. We had a meeting that ended up to be utter bullshit. Basically I produced the note, gave details of it all and waited. They didn’t believe me. They told me that the Bob and his boys had typed it up but threw it away in the trash can after he crumpled it up. Then supposedly I went and took it out of the trash and kept it for whatever reason. It had my name on it even!  At one point they tried to spin it that I wrote to myself in order to get them to “like” me. This group of boys and a few girls got away with it. There were no consequences because I didn’t have more “proof” and believed that I had a crush on one of them.  I had known a few of these boys my entire life! I had stopped liking them on any level a few years before when the bullying started at grade school! I was so angry and so hurt. My mom was livid and got her lawyer involved. Sadly, it went nowhere. The only people who believed me were the ones in my house. No, my abusers never had to face the consequences of their actions.

All through that I had pretty much given up on so much. They had succeeded in doing what they set out to. They humiliated me, bullied, beat me down and stripped me of anything positive I had felt about myself. In that one incident they made me a victim of their cruelty. Even though there was no physical rape or physical assault, they had emotionally raped me. Yes, strong words I know. But for anybody who has gone through something like this, it’s how it feels. I lived with the stigma of being a victim for a lot of years. I had to rebuild who I was on the inside to reflect the strength I showed on the outside. I had to fight to change the horrible title of “victim” as the world views us  into the title of “Survivor”. A title I proudly hold now and know that had it not been for my Mom, my faith and the tiny bit of strength I found….I would still be that victim.

Through all of it, no matter what my Mom was going through she validated my feelings. She reminded me in the lowest of moments that none of it was my fault. She held me when I’d cry my eyes out from a whole long list of bull shit. Even though she had a hard time with physical touch after her accident, she made that effort. I was lucky enough that one person believed me. The person who mattered the most. I’m forever thankful to her for that. For her love and guidance.

Please know, you’re not alone. You will Survive all that you are going through and you are loved. No matter what your circumstance is, there’s help out there. Reach out and seek it. Tell someone you trust. Don’t hold it in, please. Use that incredible voice that you have to share your story. It might be a weak voice at first, but it gets stronger and stronger. Your voice can and will help someone else to use theirs. Reach out and seek help through your local community even. Call a crisis center, lean on a friend, a teacher, a co worker, anybody you trust. You don’t have to do this alone. I encourage you to take the steps needed to regain your strength. <3

Brooklyn, thank you for using YOUR voice to help all of us. You may not have realized it, but you give hope and strength. Success comes in so many forms in this lifetime for all of us. As a writer your success grows and grows and we all become great big fans. Your success as a Survivor, gives hope, love, strength, support and most of all, a voice. You my friend are a ROCKSTAR! Thank you for giving me hope that I could finally share what happened to me. Only three people up until this point ever knew about this. Words are powerful. Whether they are written or said out loud. Words give us the chance to share.

If you’d like to connect with Brooklyn and find out more about her books, check out this link HERE.

To find help check out these lists

A letter of love to my younger self.....

This will be one of two posts that addresses some of the abuse from my past. Some I've shared, some I've never really talked about. I want to thank Brooklyn Taylor for being an amazing story teller and sharing the lives of Elise and Ford "Finding Me". It spoke volumes to me and oddly enough, helped me find a little bit of peace. Brooklyn you and I have talked a tiny bit about this, and I wish I could give you a ginormous hug of thanks and understanding. Finishing that book helped me to make the decision to share one particular moment in my life. You are very much appreciated and loved. Your friendship has meant a lot to me. Don't ever stop sharing and giving a voice for all Survivors out there. <3

Please go to this link HERE to find out how to connect with Brooklyn and purchase her books. Tell her hey and that I sent you!

- Shani

Dear Shannon Banana,

I love you. I wish that you had known that at age 13. If I had only known then what I know now…..

What you have gone through is not your fault. You didn’t ask for the fighting, hitting, emotionally damaging words. You didn’t ask to be violated over and over again. You didn’t decide one day to walk up to someone and ask them to rip out a part of your soul. I repeat, it is NOT your fault. Ever. You will Survive this, I promise you that. It’s ok to not be strong all the time. No matter what someone has told you, it’s ok to be weak sometimes.

I have two important things to share with you. First, my new definition of the word Survivor: I am a Survivor. With a big ol’ capital S. Why the big S? Because being a Survivor requires the acknowledgment of something stronger than just a name or description. It’s not who I am totally, but a big portion of my heart, soul and body. - Shani Kenny 2015

The second thing is this, it’s time for me to share. To give you the voice you didn’t think you had. It’s time for me to help you to heal. The reason I decide to do this was not an easy decision. I had been contemplating it for quite awhile but constantly erased the words I typed out with such care. It never mattered how far I got, I erased it. I recently won a book from an amazing author, Brooklyn Taylor. The book is called “Finding Me” and it follows the story of two young people who face hardships in life that alter their path in huge ways. I laughed, I cried, I felt anger, sadness, loss and love. I cried my eyes out until I couldn’t anymore. I cried for US, for Elise and Ford, for all of us who have become Survivors. It was a very powerful story for me. That night, the nightmares did come. Just not as severely. I dream of coming face to face with the man who abused us. Just like in previous versions, I told him he could no longer hurt us. It was different this time, and I think I know why. Because this time, it included the people who hurt me in this incident.

Remember, you’re going to come through this and so much more. You will find strength you never knew you had. You’ll accept that being weak is ok and you’ll learn to be ok with the love from others. I love you so much more now as an adult, than I did.

With all of my love and more,

Shani Banani - your adult self.