Reimagine Forgiveness – TEDxDePaulUniversity

I still can’t believe I can call myself a “TEDx Speaker“. (Insert happy face emoji!) I still have moments of disbelief that I went before an audience of 200+ people and shared an idea that I felt was worth spreading by memory. And it will be on the Internet forever and ever, Amen! I am still struggling with imposter syndrome, but every day I feel more qualified and more deserving of my accolades and accomplishments as a survivor, advocate, social service provider, & inspirational speaker. This talk couldn’t have come at a better time for me. My journey of forgiveness has been long (12 years & counting) and complicated, but I’m here and I’m committed to the process. It’s not something that happened overnight. It started as a thought, then a feeling, and then I felt compelled to act on it. What people don’t realize is that it’s a process and forgiveness is very personal.  I was very intentional about focusing more on me than my attacker because my healing is for me. And in holding true to that, the universe was guiding me because I forgot an entire paragraph towards the end of my talk that I will share with you.

It’s been 3 action packed years and Nicole has not responded. And that’s okay. I went into this knowing that she might not write back. My actions don’t mean that I’ve forgotten what happened or that I’m okay with what she did. My extension of forgiveness means that with or without her apology or repentance I WILL be okay and I WILL move forward and I hope she will, too.

At first, I was a little disappointed that I forgot to share that piece, but the more I think about it, the more it aligns with my goal to keep my message focused more on my journey and less about her. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my message and take from it what you need. Be patient with yourself and do what you feel is right for you. Thank you!

Repeat after me . . .

“I can learn from someone else’s mistakes.”

When I was young I had a cavalier disregard for danger. Most young people do. You know, that sense of invincibility that we’ve all had one point in time that makes us feel like we’ll live forever. Maybe it was what I considered “dangerous” that was problematic. Because I was sure that bad things only happened to bad people who did bad things. Right? Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not true. Bad things happen to good people all the time  . . . and I just happened to be one of them.

I made poor choices and  I got hurt. But fortunately I lived to tell about it. And that’s the blessing in disguise.

While I wouldn’t have chosen to be brutally attacked, held at gunpoint, and assaulted with acid, it happened and I’m here. I have chosen to use my scars as a tool to teach and inspire. Nothing brings me greater joy than to hear a young woman tell me, “I listened to your story and I learned from your mistakes.”

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(Some of my favorite girls . . . Family Focus, July 2015)

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