Learning to understand and deal with abuse

We all know that there are different types of domestic abuse. Physical abuse is what you normally hear about in society. However, the majority of people, women mainly, experience emotional as well as verbal abuse on a regular basis. I know this because I spent 10 years of my life in 2 different but very abusive relationships, and never got out of either one when I should have. It took physical abuse to make me realize I needed better for myself and my daughter. It was then that I understood what I had gone through for so long was hurting me as a person. It was hurting my relationships outside my partnership. I made excuses for everything. I became a person that was not me, and I had to take my life back. Here is my story and the ways I have overcome, gotten through, and coped with the abuse.


My first serious relationship started when I was in high school. He was my first everything. I thought he walked on water and that we would live happily ever after. What teenager doesn’t? We were together for a total of 5 years. During those 5 years we had a lot of great times, however there was a lot of abuse. I saw it as fights, or him just being a teenage guy being mean and showing off. I didn’t understand then that the words he would say to me were impacting my life. I started to shy away from friends, slacked off in the sports that I loved, and called out of my part time job a lot. If I wasn’t with him I was made to feel that I was in the wrong. Constant accusations of cheating and lying were never ending. I started then to only hang out with his set of friends that way I was always with him. The plus side to this was that it was 1996 to 2002 so there wasn’t text messaging yet. This cut down a lot on the “Where are you? When will you be here?” texts which looking back I am very thankful for. When we were together in public he made me feel wanted and loved. When things would be going good I would try to hang out with friends. This didn’t go well. He would cry, literally tears, begging me not to go out and come see him instead. If I did continue with my plans of going out with friends it would be for short periods of time so I could drive to the other side of town to see him before my curfew. He graduated 2 years ahead of me but when he was done with school he couldn’t keep a job and I was constantly bailing him out. I put all my personal needs to the back burner to pay off his credit cards when the collection agencies would call and threaten jail.


One year he bought me a puppy for my birthday even though his dad told him he couldn’t have one and I told him I couldn’t keep it at my parents house either. His dad told him if he kept the dog he had to find another place to live. He ended up moving in with my best friend and then my cousin before we ended up buying a house together. There I was 19 and owning a home, which I didn’t live in. At this point I had to drop out of college and start working full time in order to pay for the house. Who was I kidding? I would have done anything for this guy who treated me like an option. However, he always used the line, “You are in school and can meet other guys, all I do is work with guys, I wouldn’t be able to find anyone else.” I took this as a compliment. Boy was I crazy.


We had a joint best friend, and to this day he is still my best friend. However, he was away in SC for college so we didn’t see much of him. He was dating a girl here in FL and when he was home the four of us always hung out together. When Matt left to go back to school, my ex would go over to “help” the girlfriend since Matt wasn’t here. At first it didn’t bother me. He was being nice. But slowly he started to make up excuses to go out with “the guys”. This was strange to me as he hardly did anything outside of the house where I wasn’t invited. But I was still pushed to the back burner and felt neglected. But when he wasn’t with his “guys” I was the center of attention and made to feel like a princess. I was blinded by what I thought was his want and need of me. He made me feel like he was the best I could ever have.


One day during lunch I came to our house to let the dog out. There was a car in the driveway but it wasn’t his or his paint van. When I walked into the house someone was in the shower, his cell and clothes were in the middle of the living room. Her clothes were right next to his. At this point I took both of their clothes and threw them in the front yard. I waited in my car to see who it was. Come to find out it was our best friends girlfriend. Even after all of this he begged me to take him back. Again made me feel like he was the best I could get but at the same time he couldn’t live without me.


In that relationship I was made to feel like I wasn’t good enough. That I didn’t deserve better, and that there wasn’t anyone else in my life but him. This is typical for a mental and emotional abuser. I, to this day still fight these demons of not feeling good enough. It’s hard to explain these feelings to others because your first response is always, “Yes you are. You are worth it.” And while we know we are worth it and good enough there are always little triggers that make you feel otherwise. For example: This past weekend my boyfriend now was going to a retirement BBQ for someone at work. I had no desire to go, however he never asked me if I wanted to go with him. Probably because he knew my answer but it bugged me so bad that he didn’t even ask. I went back to the time I was cheated on and only thought the worst. Even when I know it’s nothing like that now. I felt left out, not wanted, and not good enough to be around his co-workers. I gave him a hard time about going enough to the point that he didn’t go. That wasn’t my intention and I feel awful about it. He doesn’t understand why I have the need to knowing I am thought about the need to feel wanted all the time. I try every day to keep things like this from happening even when it’s eating me up inside.


This is just one example of my horrible taste in guys. I will be in touch shortly with a follow up on another sample of my abusive relationship self. This one will touch base on both emotional and physical abuse. My word of advice to you if you have gone through something like this. Write it down. Even if you don’t show anyone. Writing this has helped me a lot in seeing what I am doing still because of something that happened to me 15 years ago. I have a long way to go but I am able to see where I need to go finally. If you want to talk I am willing to listen. No judgement, no telling you what to do, just a friend to listen and maybe give you my been there done that story and what got me through it. You can email me at lisa_westmiller@live.com and we can keep it between us. I am also going to look into support groups for this in our area and will share on my next posting. In the meantime keep your head up, you are not alone.

Pinterest Picks: Fall Crafts

Written by: Jennifer Silverstein

The first day of autumn has come and gone and we’re still waiting for our cold front here in Florida.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t get into the spirit and participate in some fun fall crafts.

1. Acorn Handprints 

Here’s an easy one we did last year:


                         Pinterest Version                                                                  My Version

All this required was brown and white paint and paper! I mixed the brown and white together to create the lighter brown color for the bottom of the acorn, which I painted the kids hands with. Once that dried, I painted the tops freehand and wrote each child’s name and the year on the bottom of the paper with gold Sharpie marker.

2. Pumpkin Alphabet (letter recognition)

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                           Pinterest Version                                                 My Version

We are still over here working on our alphabet (LOL). This one, I printed from The Kindergarten Connection. I had my oldest, Emma, color the pumpkins orange and then I cut them all out. Then, we sang the song and she found each letter and glued them down.

3. Black Cat Paper Plate Craft

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Pinterest Version                                                   My Version

This one was quite easy, IMO. I had purchased a package from Amazon a few months ago with small pieces of tissue paper in lots of colors. BEST. PURCHASE. EVER.

I’ve used it for flamingoes, pineapples, a seahorse and more. And I’ve NEVER had to cut tissue paper into tiny little pieces by hand. Thank God.

Any who, for this craft, I used a paint brush to put glue all over the plate and let the girls glue black tissue paper and cover all the white on the paper plate. I cut out 4 black triangles for the ears. We used a heart-shaped button for the nose. I cut out the eyes and mouth from white cardstock and had the girls color the eyes (Emma chose green, Addie blue because that’s the color of her eyes). The whiskers are pipe cleaners.

4. Tracing lines practice (Fall leaves)


I printed these out from Education.com.  I have signed up for this website using my email address and saying I am a homeschool mom. You can get many free printable and worksheets from there. This was pretty self explanatory. I simply let the girls trace the lines. (Addie is on the left, Emma on the right) Emma added her name to her 🙂

5. Fall Leaves Handprints 

This was another craft that we did last year. I simply painted the girls’ hands in fall leaf colors: red, yellow, orange and green. Once they dried, I used a marker to draw veins up their fingers, wrote their names and the year.

I hope you try some of these out at home and comment below if you have! I’d love to see YOUR versions!

Jenn from GrowingUpSilverstein


I’m a Stay-at-Home mom of two little girls. Addie, 2, and Emma, 3. They ARE NOT twins, no matter how many times people ask me. We live on 6 acres and have two dogs, 5 chickens and a tortoise! I’ve been married to my husband, Eric, for 7 years! I have a degree in Journalism, and am currently doing HIPPY Homeschool with my oldest. I’m UBER crafty and ADDICTED to Pinterest.



Finding Your Fit-niche


So you may be thinking anything fitness or exercise related is the absolute worst thing you could possibly imagine. Or maybe you do exercise but it is a very forced activity that you do simply to keep yourself from putting on weight. But you may be thinking that because you haven’t found the right area of fitness that really gets you pumped, engaged, and/or excited to do it. Maybe the first 10 things you tried didn’t work so you gave up and submitted yourself to your not-so-skinny jeans. Look, I don’t know what happened to you to make you not like exercise but if you’re an able-bodied human being, with little to no-truly limiting ailments, you CAN and SHOULD find your fit-niche.

What do I mean by that? Is that even a word? Well today it is and I’m hoping to give you some perspective on what that could mean for you. What I mean is that there are many, many options with regards to different types of exercise and you just haven’t found one that strikes your fancy. Please first – get it out of your head that it is impossible to like exercise. Some of the most (self-proclaimed) uncoordinated or un-athletic people find their fitness passion in forms of exercise such as Zumba, running, or CrossFit. Not only do you need to try different things to see what works for you, you need to give it a real chance before deciding you hate it.

The following is a list of different ways to get that calorie burn in and some tips on getting past the point of pure animosity for it.

1.)    Running. Ah – the age-old pastime of going for a refreshing jog around your neighborhood -except its 95 degrees out, you’re out of shape for running, and your shoes were a bargain-base price from your local Ross store. Tip number one for running is being fully equipped with shoes and a plan. I recommend following the Couch to 5k program to get started. Complete that with a good pair of running shoes that have been fit for your particular foot and you’ll find that you can greatly increase your chance of success when it comes to running. At the end of the program, complete a 5k race. For those of you with the competitive itch, you may find the competition is worth the preparation. When you get done however, if you decide you’d rather swim with sharks than ever run again, you’ll at least have improved your cardiovascular endurance and burned a few calories along the way. fitnessclass

2.)    Group-fitness. I’m not talking about your typical step class at your local YMCA. Most gyms, will have a pretty wide variety of group fitness classes including Zumba, step, kick boxing, group strength training, and the like. The trick is taking the class enough times to not feel like you have two left feet the entire class. If you base your assessment of the class style on the first class, chances are you’re not giving it a fair chance. I remember my first Zumba experience like it was yesterday… and so does my neighbor’s toes, as I stepped on them multiple times while stepping shaking my salt shaker in the wrong direction with my un-sassy salsa moves. Eventually I learned the steps enough to move from the very back of the room to at least half-way towards the front, but even after that it wasn’t my favorite. So I moved on to find something that made me excited to come to the gym. Overall, people that really get into group exercise, in any form, enjoy the comradery, the fact that there is very little preparation required on the part of the attendee, and the overall sense of accomplishment that they experienced with the group.  

3.)    This brings me to my next form of exercise – good, old-fashioned strength training. You know – with weights, machines, and all THAT scary stuff. If you aren’t familiar with weight training, exercise form, training schedules, that’s ok. Lots of gyms offer an introductory appointment with a trainer to show you how to use the machines. If you’re willing to do some research, you’ll find many types of training schedules on the internet. Start with a beginners weight-training workout schedule for women. If you still aren’t comfortable going solo with all those foreign looking machines and exercises, hire a trainer for just a few sessions so you can get the information you need to get started. When hiring a trainer however, make it clear that you wish to learn more about form and function so that you’re able to take your new found knowledge and move forward on your own. A good trainer will take that request and give you as many tools as they can to help you in your journey.

4.)    CrossFit. If you know anything about CrossFit, you know that people that do it, REALLY enjoy telling people about it. Why? Because they’re excited, proud, and happy about the fact that they can lift an insane amount of weight that even they probably never fathomed they would. They enjoy beating their OWN personal best at each and every WOD (workout of the day). That’s their main goal – just to be better than the last workout. I love the idea of CrossFit but I think many people are daunted by the idea of lifting heavy weights, and are afraid of getting too developed. Trust me when I say that no educated fitness professional is going to hand a newbie 300 pounds on their first day. It’s a process.  Again, you don’t know how you or your body will respond until you’ve tried something so don’t discount anything unless you’ve tried it.


5.)    Home workouts. There are a great many options when it comes to home DVD’s but let me say that none of them will work if you don’t have the proper space, required equipment (if needed), discipline, and the time for it. If you have kids running circles around you, interrupting you, etc., you may find working out at home hard. Finding the right room and time of day, may aid you in your goal to complete your workouts in peace. Programs like P90x offer a great variety of strength, balance, endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular workouts. If you do a program like this one, I recommend completing the entire program while tracking your progress as the program suggests. Just make sure to set yourself up for success with regards to having the time, space, and tools to complete the workout.

6.)    Spinning. What differentiates spinning from group fitness? They both offer the comradery component but there’s something special about it that causes avid spinners to gather outside spinning rooms with their special spinning shoes, bottles of water and eager attitudes as they get ready to peddle their little hearts out. Maybe it’s that “runner’s high”, or in this case – “spinner’s high” they get from the endorphin dump from the intense cardiovascular workout. Who knows? I do know that people really do love this type of exercise but one this is for sure, most will say you need to give it four to five classes to get over the soreness that is associated with that seat. For some people it’s less, but giving it just one class and deciding the seat won’t work for you just isn’t enough. You must get out of your comfort zone to figure out if spinning is for you.


7.)    Specialty exercise. Whether its acro-yoga, PiYo, Barre, or one of the other many hybrid fitness classes offered, there is something for everyone. Think about things you used to enjoy. If you were a dancer in your younger years, you would probably really enjoy a Barre class. If you like the idea of Yoga, but would like something that involved more strength moves, then PiYo could be your thing. You just don’t know until you’ve signed up and completed several classes. Do some research as to what is available in your area, watch some demonstrational videos from YouTube, and even practice some of the moves ahead of time so you feel more comfortable walking in as a newbie.

There are plenty forms of exercise beyond the few that are listed here but at least this gives you a running start if you’re thinking about trying to find your fit-niche. So try tip-toeing out of that comfort zone of yours and trying something new. You may find that you actually love something that you thought you would never even attempt – and that is a major win for both your mind and body.