Mary’s Story – The Pain of Childlessness

Desires of a Barren Woman By Emily Hurd

Mary’s Story – The Pain of ChildlessnessA lifetime longing for life in one’s belly
is not a joyful life.
The most wonderful love can’t fill this void
no matter how hard he may try.
For what sin am I punished,
That I may never enjoy,
clinging to my breast, a blonde haired baby boy?
To know the love of a sweet child,
and the feeling of being whole-
These are the things I’ve always wanted to know.

Mary sat at her dressing table and brushed her hair carefully as she had most nights of her 57 years. She smiled as she looked in the mirror; and, she liked what she saw. She was wearing the nightgown that Joe had given her on their 2nd honeymoon five years ago.

Joe was out walking Gilbert and Sullivan, their adopted mutts. He didn’t know it yet, but when he got home, he was going to get “lucky.”

As she brushed, the mirror carried her back over the years as it often did. But the memories weren’t painful anymore. They were just the building blocks that made her life so special now.

She and Joe had grown up in devoutly Catholic homes just a few blocks apart. They had both gone to the same parochial school; then she had gone to the girl’s high school and Joe had gone to the boy’s high school. They were dear friends all through high school. Their lives were good in those days.

During college, they had dated more seriously and began to plan a future together. They were both going to work for two or three years to build up their nest egg and then start their family. Both wanted lots of kids because that was how they had grown up – big families, with lots of friends around all the time.

Theirs was the first wedding among their college circles; and there were lots more over the next few years. Weddings were always fun and offered such hope for the future for all of them.

Mary kept working after they started trying to have a baby in earnest.

Before long their married friends were expecting their first children. Mary and Joe were excited for them.

Then some of those couples started having their second child. Mary was still excited but a little anxiety started to creep in.

Family dinners were beginning to have the stigma of Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe. She truly loved and enjoyed their nieces and nephews but loving them didn’t fill the growing dread of her being unable to have her own child.

After a few more years, Mary convinced Joe that they should at least get a medical evaluation to see if there was a reason they could not conceive. They did several times; and the results were always the same: no apparent medical or physical reason on the part of the male or female that would prohibit or inhibit conception.

The root of bitterness

Mary found it easier to send regrets to invitations from other couples than it was to feel the pain in her heart as she sat and listened to them chatter on about their children. Oh, they tried to be kind, but it was natural for them to talk about what meant most to them: their children.

Mary and Joe were both advancing with their jobs. Joe was in sales with a well-established regional company and Mary was in human resources with an national company. Money wasn’t an issue but Mary read somewhere that stress could be an issue in conception. She was able to get a 12-month leave of absence to try to relieve the work-related stress.

Unfortunately, she was reminded every time they tried that she had to get pregnant in 12 months; then 11 months; and so on; or she would have to return to work without any a baby to come home to.

It hurt a lot when she was reminded each month that she was not yet pregnant. She took to her bed with a bigger burden of pain than her regular monthly discomfort.

They tried all the infertility treatments that church doctrine allowed with no success. There was a lot of embarrassment and a lot of dignity and money spent in these attempts.

Joe traveled a lot in his job and Mary began to look forward to the nights he would be away. She could be free to cry or scream or curse at all the unfairness they were suffering.

It was getting to the point that seeing a pregnant woman or a woman with her children in the mall would cause her to clinch her jaw and taste the bile rising in her throat.

Drinking and drugs were so repulsive to her that she wasn’t tempted to use them to mask her pain.

Instead, she would take to her bed, curl into a fetal position, and clutch the pain within her as if her womb was aching for the baby it would never carry.

She could get through the weekdays because work was a sufficient distraction. Nights and weekends were awful.

Mary didn’t know who to blame.

Some nights she blamed herself; other nights she blamed Joe. The most painful nights were the ones when she blamed God; her guilt was overwhelming.

Confession didn’t help. The priest would tell her to remain true to God and do the appropriate penance but nothing would ever really take the pain away.

She finally decided that she was never going to bear a child; but that didn’t ease the pain of the loss she felt continuously.

Joe suggested adoption but she had no desire whatsoever to adopt. She wanted a baby to form in her own body, to birth it, and then watch it grow up; something like all their brothers and sisters were enjoying.

They started another round of weddings with nieces and nephews; and another round of pain at the prospects of the newlyweds against the impossibilities in her own life.

Over time, she had lost all desire for Joe and he had reluctantly moved to the bedroom down the hall. She obeyed the church edict in her spousal duties; but the church couldn’t make her enjoy it.

The day came when she told Joe that she had taken a promotion with her company that would require her to move to the home office in the mid-west. She didn’t want Joe to move with her.

Joe was dismayed and explained that he understood her lack of desire for him but he didn’t understand why she wanted a separation. He committed his love to her and reminded her that he had promised twenty years before to stand by her “for better and for worse.”

If she needed to move, he wouldn’t stand in her way, but as far as he was concerned, they were still married.

His commitment to her actually made her feel more guilty, but she didn’t let on. They’d both done a lot of acting over the years, especially Mary.

They explained the separation on her job and the demands of his career; and family and friends accepted it with appropriate sympathy for both Mary and Joe.

Making Changes

Mary got settled in her new apartment and plunged into her new job. She felt a little more peace due to the excitement of making a change. Days were busy but the nights were still filled with more of the same pain and longing.

She still felt the same despair when she saw women with their children. There was a park across from her apartment and most evenings she cried as she sat on her balcony listening to the children laughing and playing in the park; knowing that she would never hear the laughter of her own child.

Professionals had told her years before that she needed medication for her anxiety but she had always refused. She didn’t like having to take pills just to live her life.

There was a church a few blocks from her apartment and she decided to go to Mass one Saturday after she had been there a few months.

She looked forward to the mass and she went early so she could have confession and take the sacraments. The priest listened as she described her anger and pain. Then he said something very strange.

He absolved her and told her that an appropriate penance would be for her to look into Hannah’s Sisters. She could find a brochure in a rack in the narthex.

Mary learned that Hannah’s Sisters was a group for women who were living through emotional pain regardless of the source of the pain.

The original group was for barren women and was named for Hannah, the barren woman who made a vow to give her child to God if he would give her a son. God honored her request and her son, Samuel, lived to become a great prophet and high priest for Israel. You can read Hannah’s story here.

The brochure had contact information. When Mary awoke the next morning after another night of tossing and turning, she decided to call the woman.

She called that evening and they made an appointment to meet for coffee the next day.

Margaret, the Hannah’s Sisters leader, was waiting for Mary. They got their coffee and found a place where they could talk undisturbed.

After exchanging pleasantries, Mary asked her about the group.

Margaret explained that there were only three members at the present time.

Mary asked, “Why are there so few members? Surely there are more women hurting around here than that.”

”Of course, there are,” Margaret replied, “but we don’t keep them around for long.”

“What do you mean!”

“Mary, we’re not a social club. Women don’t use us to provide an on-going social function like so many self-help groups. We want to help women overcome their pain, and when they do that, they can make the appropriate decisions to be reconciled with their families and friends.”

“I’m not sure I understand,” Mary said doubtfully.

“Mary, if there were a way that you could be free of your emotional pain in just a few weeks, would you be interested in knowing more about that?”

“Of course,” Mary answered, “but I doubt that’s possible after what I’ve gone through.”

“Mary, we care a whole lot more about where you want to go than about where you’ve been. In fact, we will never ask you about the source of your pain. If you want to learn about a simple and effective way to be free from your pain, whatever is causing it, come by the parish hall tomorrow night at seven o’clock and we’ll explain everything to you.”

The next evening, Mary joined Margaret and three other women on couches in a small room off the parish hall.

After introductions, Margaret explained that every week they review the three Life Principles and share their progress. She explained that they never talk about their problems because dwelling on past hurts always makes the hurt worse.

Most emotional pain is caused by rumination. In many cases, the original cause of the pain occurred far in the past. And if the pain is ongoing and there is no solution to the problem, then ruminating on it can cause more anxiety with inevitably leads to stress, depression and even physical pain.

She explained that the life principles they teach offer an easy way, that anyone can use, to deal with the negative thoughts that cause so much emotional pain.

“You asked yesterday, ‘why so few members?’”, Mary reminded her. “We’ve had over two hundred members over the years; but as they become successful in applying these principles in their lives, they don’t need us any more. So currently, we only have three members; four, if you want to join us.”

Mary nodded and Margaret went on to explain the three principles.

Three Life Principles

Life Principle 1 – Whenever a thought enters your mind that makes you angry, sad, or bitter, you simply say to yourself out loud, “I will not think about that.” When the thought comes back, and it will, you say it again, “I will not think about that.”

“If you prefer, which I do, you can say “I take this thought captive,” because that phrase comes right out of the Bible.

Each time we dismiss a thought, the thought is compelled to go away because that’s the way we are made. We own our thoughts and we do not have to think about anything that hurts us.

Margaret explained that this idea had been around for thousands of years. “We simply do not have to let negative thoughts control our lives,” she said.

She explained that each time we “take a painful thought captive,” we create a little bit of peaceful space in our emotions. As you take more negative thoughts captive, you create more peaceful space.

“The reason this works so well is Life Principle 2.”

Life Principle 2 – When you consistently practice the first principle, negative thoughts will pop up less and less often until you really don’t think about them at all.

She explained that we all have a part of our mind, called the subconscious, which has the role of helping us be happy and content. If our subconscious thinks that we are happy thinking about negative things and getting all worked up all the time, it will keep feeding us those negative thoughts so we can be happy.

But if our subconscious hears us saying “I take this thought captive” consistently, it concludes over time that we don’t really want to think about those things and it will stop sending those negative thoughts to us. It’s like our subconscious blocks those negative thoughts automatically.

Doing this consistently replaces your habits of anger, sadness, or bitterness with a new habit of peace.

Life Principle 3 – Use your habit of peace to make the best decisions for you and your future. She explained that this is true freedom: the freedom to do what we need to do when we need to do it to become the best that we can be.

When we’re not spending all our time thinking about painful things, we have peace. We can use this peaceful time to think about ways to get along better with others, to do the right things, and to reconcile with our loved ones.

Margaret said that she’s sure these principles work because she has shared them with women for over 20 years. She said they all have learned to break their habits of anger, bitterness, victimhood, or whatever and create new habits of peace.

Margaret handed Mary a card. The card had the Three Life Principles on one side and blocks for each day of the week on the back. She explained, “Every time a negative thought pops into your mind, I want you to say out loud to yourself, ‘I will not think about that’ or ‘I take this thought captive.’” If you’re someplace where it would be weird speaking out loud, put your hand over your mouth like you’re covering a cough and say softly, ‘I take this thought captive.’

“Then put a check card in the block every time you dismiss one of your negative thoughts. Each week when we meet, we review how each of you is doing. I predict by the end of four or five weeks, you will be making very few check marks on the card because the Life Principle 2 will be taking effect in your life. The question now is, ‘Will you do this?’”

Mary must have looked a little skeptical because Margaret suggested,”Mary, I suspect that you have a negative thought right now telling you that this stupid idea will never work for you. This is a good place to start taking it captive.”

Each of the women shared her results of taking their thoughts captive for the previous week. Each had fewer negative thoughts that the week before. One girl, who was in her seventh week said this was her second week with no negative thoughts at all.

Still skeptical, Mary said to herself several times driving home and that evening, “I take this thought captive.” Each time, the thought went away briefly.

When the painful thoughts of childlessness barged in like they did every night, Mary took them captive out loud. She was amazed when each thought went away. They came back, like Margaret said they would and she took them captive again. After doing this several more times over the next half hour, Mary dropped off to sleep; the first time in years she had done so without crying.

The weeks passed quickly. Mary made good progress and she was excited as the number of negative thoughts diminished daily.

Mary found she had time to think about Joe and about the fact that she would never have children.

She called Joe one week and asked if she could come home that weekend; she had something to tell him. Joe was definitely puzzled; but he readily agreed to pick her up at the airport on Friday.

After freshening up at their house, Joe took her to her favorite restaurant and they enjoyed a very nice meal. Over dessert and coffee, she explained to Joe what she had been doing at Hannah’s Sisters.

She told Joe that she was at peace with the fact that she would never be a mother. And she then asked Joe to forgive her for all the pain she had caused him over the years. With tears in his eyes, Joe forgave her and asked her to come back home to him.

Her heart was full as Joe paid the check and they walked to the car. For the first time in years, she was actually enjoying being with her husband; and her heart was doubly full that God had given her a faithful husband who had continued to love her in spite of the trouble she had given him.

Out of habit, Joe started down the hall to his room until Mary touched his arm and said, “Joe, will you sleep in our room tonight?”

It took a few weeks to ease out of her position at headquarters and for a spot to open back in the office where in their home town; but the company made it happen for her.

She used that time to talk with Margaret about making Hannah’s Sisters a formal, legal organization that could expand into a number of locations where its alumni were living. Almost without exception, the women who had learned to live without pain were eager to share the Three Life Principles with other women.

She heard the front door open and Gilbert and Sullivan scampered across the living room and kitchen to their beds in the mud room. She heard Joe start down the hall. Joe may be lucky tonight, but Mary dimmed the lights thinking about how lucky and truly blessed she was – she was free of pain after hurting for years and she was helping other women find their freedom, too.

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts and to minimize the effects of emotional or physical pain in our lives. The danger of ruminating on emotional pain is, in addition to more pain, stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Children as well as adults can easily understand the simple Three Life Principles. The principles work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peace The course leads you through these life principles and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning the habits of negative emotions into the habits of peace and freedom. You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right. You can start with the course today and begin to find more personal peace in your life immediately.

All the best.

Copyright 2014 Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.


Erik’s Story

Erik's StoryA Short Story About a Teen Dealing with Anger

Erik was a mess! All his life, he would explode into anger for the slightest reason and sometime for no real reason at all. He was 14 and felt out of control; and he didn’t know what to do about it.

His mom had long since given up on him. When he was little, she would put him in time out and take away privileges but it didn’t do any good. His dad wasn’t in his life since he was a baby. He didn’t have any brothers and sisters. All he had were his mother and his grandfather.

As a kid, he would throw a tantrum if somebody picked up a toy he was playing with. He never hit anybody – somehow he knew that was wrong – but his verbal abuse was pretty heavy.

It usually didn’t take him long to calm down and he always felt really bad afterwards. And in the middle of his outburst, he felt like he was someone else watching this bratty kid act up.

He had some good friends who had learned how not to cross him. He didn’t like surprises and he didn’t like somebody making fun of him or disrespecting him.

Friends would also come and go. Erik was outgoing and made friends easily. Sooner or later someone would offend him, usually in a tiny way, and he would fly off the handle. Lots of new friends decided life wasn’t worth the drama and moved on.

He got to know his school principals really well. He’d get sent to the office for an outburst and by the time he got there, he was calm again. Principals and counselors always asked why he got angry and it was usually something like “they took something of mine” or “they got in my way.”

Mom had even arranged some professional counseling for him. He enjoyed visiting with the counselor, but nothing really meaningful ever came from it. Erik promised Mom that he would try harder. He really didn’t want her to spend so much of her money for a lost cause.

Erik was beginning to feel like a lost cause. He couldn’t imagine having a relationship with a girl that would extend beyond the first or second outburst.

He played sports and he was a pretty good basketball player; but the first foul usually caused Erik to lose it and he’d end up on the bench for the rest of the game.

Summer was coming up and Mom had just taken a new job where she worked long hours; so she asked Erik to consider going to Grandpa’s farm for the summer. That was fine with Erik. Grandpa was cool; he could swim in the pond; ride the horse; and he liked working with the livestock that Grandpa still maintained.

There were some kids who lived near Grandpa that Erik enjoyed hanging with. They would fish, swim, ride horses, and sometimes camp out in the piney woods on Grandpa’s property.

So that became his summer vacation.

It was good to see Grandpa again; they hadn’t been together since Christmas.

It was also good to renew his acquaintance with Jason who lived on the next farm and with Matt who lived next down the road.

They had fun exploring, swimming, walking into town, camping, and playing video games at Jason’s house.

Everything was cool until the day they were tossing a football around and Matt cut in front of Erik to intercept a pass. That made Erik mad; he stewed for about 3 seconds and then he started yelling right in Matt’s face.

The next thing Erik knew, he was flat on his back with a throbbing jaw. Shaking his head to clear the cobwebs, he saw Matt standing over him with clinched fists.

“I don’t know how you do things in the city, Erik, but around here we don’t get in people’s faces yelling and screaming like that,” Matt told him calmly and evenly, “and if you ever do that again, I’ll hit you again.”

Then Matt stepped back and then he reached his hand down to Erik. “I’m sorry, Erik. I shouldn’t have hit you first. I overreacted.” He pulled Erik to his feet.

“What happened anyway?” Matt wanted to know.

“I really don’t know,” Erik answered, “I lose it sometimes when I think people have gotten in my space or disrespected me.”

“I don’t like it,” he continued, “but I don’t know why I do it and I don’t know what to do about it. In fact, I think that’s why mom sent me to Grandpa’s this summer. She was having trouble coping with my anger and a new job at the same time.”

Jason spoke up saying, “Erik, why don’t you consider talking with your Grandpa about this?” Everybody around here thinks he’s just about the wisest man ever.”

“Maybe I should. I don’t know how he’ll react.” Erik thought for a minute. “Okay, I will . . . if you guys will go with me. You owe me, Matt, because I think part of my jaw is lying back there.”

The boys laughed as they headed across the field to Grandpa’s house.

They fetched some Cokes and cookies from the kitchen and found seats on Grandpa’s front porch.

Erik opened with what had just happened in the field; and then spent a few minutes explaining how he would lash out in rage whenever something displeased him or somebody crossed him. Erik then asked his Grandpa if he could help him.

Grandpa reached over to compare Matt’s fist with Erik’s jaw and said, “I’m glad you went down the first time, Erik. This guy could hurt you.” Everybody laughed.

“Actually, I’d like to ask a couple of questions, if you don’t mind,” Grandpa began.

Grandpa began, “I think I should say this for both you boys. You would agree, Matt, that you reacted pretty quickly too, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes, sir. Sorry about that Erik.”

“Do you boys realize that you’re about to lose it, or is it a total reaction?”

Matt spoke first, “In my case, I thought Erik might hit me, so I overreacted.”

Erik thought for a minute, and then cautiously said, “When something happens, I can feel my reaction building up. I think something like, ‘This guy just offended me and I don’t have to take that.’”

“So,” Grandpa asked, “it’s your thinking about being offended that causes you to go off on somebody, right?”

“I guess that’s right,” Erik agreed.

“Then the solution is simple; don’t think that thought,” Grandpa suggested.

“Huh,” all three puzzled boys said.

“Let me tell you about an old friend of mine,” Grandpa settled back in the settee.

“George and I grew up together in the 1960’s in Alabama. We were so much alike. We liked the same things; we read the same books; and we worshipped the same God. The only difference is that we didn’t go to the same school; worship in the same church; and the color of our skin was different.”

“George got along well with everybody, but there were other kids at his school that seemed to get in a lot of trouble. When people – crude, ugly people – said unkind things about George or his community, many of the other kids would respond angrily. They would often fight. In those days, the black kids who fought always wound up in jail; usually with a few bruises that came from being arrested and not from the original fight.”

“But George never fought or responded with anger. I asked him why. He told me that his grandmother, who had been born on a plantation to slave parents, had taught George that a wise man always is the master of his thoughts.”

“What she meant was that when you realize that you’re thinking about anger, blame, or excuses, the best thing you can do is send those thoughts away. Just say to yourself, ‘I’m not going to think about that.’ It’s not easy at first, but the more you send negative thoughts away, the easier it becomes.”

“George told me he learned that his own thoughts could cause him more trouble than the taunts of crude people and he learned to control his negative thoughts by sending them away, out of his mind.’

“George was convinced that over time he trained his mind to filter out negative thoughts. He used periods of peace when the negative left to think of appropriate responses instead of angry responses. In time, George became a famous diplomat and served our State Department all over the world. He was an expert negotiator.”

“So what does this mean for me, Grandpa?” Erik asked.

“When you realize that you’re going to become angry, simply say to yourself, ‘I’m not going to think about that.’

“It’s important that you say it out loud – that’s the way your subconscious learns from you.”

“George told me that when he was in diplomatic negotiations and somebody said something offensive, he would put his hand over his mouth like he was deep in thought and say softly to himself, ‘I’m not going to think about that.’”

“Erik, you have three more weeks up here and I think that’s just enough time to break your habit of reacting with anger. Jason and Matt, you can help him.”

“I want you to look for ways to get in Erik’s space. Not mean spiritedly. Just crowd him in ways that make him uncomfortable.”

“Erik, when you feel the urge to respond angrily, speak into your hand and say, ‘I will not think about that.’ Boys, let me know how it goes for Erik.”

Jason and Matt were up to the challenge. They tried to aggravate Erik in all sorts of ways. Early on, he responded angrily a couple of times and they called him on it.

As the weeks passed, Erik reacted less and less angrily, and learned a lot about the give and take of a relationship. He discovered that the ‘thoughtful hand in front of the mouth’ gave him time to react in a more acceptable way.

Erik’s confidence grew day by day. Both of his friends and his Grandpa commented on the difference.

Like George, not being angry gave Erik time to look for positive things in his life.

He realized that he was looking forward to going home and let his mom and his friends get acquainted with the new Erik.

School was going to be different this fall. He had no doubt that he was not going to react with anger at his friends. He was simply “not going to think about negative things.”

Life had become exciting. It’s amazing how much good could come from a sock in the jaw.

Note to parents:

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts. The danger of rumination is stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Your children can understand the simple principle that “if I think a lot about something that makes me sad, I can choose not to think about it.”

This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peace –

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning a habit of sadness into a habit of peace.

The concept works for virtually every negative emotion that results from negative thinking.

This story is fiction and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

To read other short stories on life issues for kids and teens, click here.

Copyright 2013 Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.

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Cody’s Story – A Teen Deals with Past Sexual Abuse

(Be advised that this story has a mature theme and care should be used in sharing it with children.)

Cody’s StoryCody was about as miserable as a fifteen-year-old could be. He felt worthless. He alternated between anger and shame. It was getting worse and he didn’t know what to do about it.

Cody had never talked to anybody about how he felt. He knew he would be ridiculed if anybody knew his secret. But it was like pressure building up inside and it was going to explode somewhere, someday.

It had started when he was maybe three years old. The people who lived next door at the time had a teenage son named Max.

Max was fun to be around. He played ball with Cody in the backyard. He helped Cody’s dad with some of the chores around the yard. Everybody liked Max. Cody remembered his parents talking at supper about what a nice young man he was.

One day Max asked Cody to come over to their yard to see the new puppies in their shed.

After Cody had seen the puppies, Max had told Cody to come over to the bench where he was sitting. Max started rubbing his hand against Cody’s pants. He then took Cody’s hand and rubbed it against his pants.

Cody felt like this wasn’t a good thing to do, but Max told him that it was something that buddies did all the time. But it was something that they had to keep secret. Max said grownups had secrets and it was okay for kids to have secrets. If he told his parents, he couldn’t come over and see the puppies again and they couldn’t play ball in the yard anymore.

Cody said he had to go home and he walked away. He didn’t really understand what had happened, but maybe Max was right; maybe it was okay to have secrets together.

Similar things happened from time to time and Max always told him has great it was to keep a secret.

Then Max asked Cody’s mom if he could babysit sometime. He needed to earn some money and wasn’t old enough to get a job in a store or something. Mom talked it over with Dad and since they liked Max and Cody and he got along, they started asking Max to babysit.

Mom would always have Cody bathed and ready for bed when Max arrived, but Max would make a big deal of playing on Cody’s bed at bedtime.

Max started taking Cody’s clothes down and touching Cody all over. They would make a game of tickle and see who would laugh first. Max would tickle Cody under his clothes and always asked Cody to do the same thing to him.

Max began hurting Cody sometimes and made Cody cry. Max would quickly apologize and promise not to hurt him again. He always reminded Cody that this was their secret and everybody would hate him if they found out.

Cody remembered this happening more and more. But Max and his family moved that summer and Cody never saw him again.

At age five, Cody decided that he would just keep the secret and pretend that nothing had ever happened; after all, Max was gone.

Life was pretty good for a kid growing up those days. Little League, Cub Scouts and church activities and school kept Cody busy. Sometimes he would go for weeks without being reminded of what had happened before.

When his friends talked about sexual things like boys always do, Cody would feel strange and not quite comfortable joining in their laughter.

As his teen years unfolded and Cody became more aware of human sexuality, he became more and more convinced that he had done something terribly wrong and shameful.

But he just couldn’t talk to anyone about it. He was positive that everything that had happened was his fault. In fact, he remembered Max telling him that they wouldn’t be doing this but for Cody wanting to be touched and wanting to touch Max.

Cody didn’t know what that meant at the time, but he often felt overwhelmed with the knowledge of what he had done.

He became more and more guilty. He didn’t enjoy hanging out with the guys and he certainly couldn’t be interested in girls because of his shame. He felt dirty.

If he kept busy with school work or activities, it didn’t hurt so much. But when he had time to sit and think, the painful thoughts rolled over him like waves. He wanted to cry; he wanted to scream, but mostly he just sat and slowly died inside.

Then people started hearing about what had happened at the university up north where a coach was accused of hurting little boys.

Coach Martin, the junior-varsity football coach sat all the boys down one day and talked to them about inappropriate sexual behavior. Cody felt like he was wearing a red sign as he sat there in the classroom listening quietly. He was cringing inside.

Some of the boys snickered and made a joke between themselves. Coach Martin was quick to call them down and point out the seriousness of what he was talking about.

He talked about the danger of any situation where a child and an adult were alone together if the adult was not one of their parents. He told them that if there were ever a situation where that happened, they should say they had to leave; and get up and walk away. Even if they didn’t know where to go, they should walk first and find a policeman to help them. If they couldn’t find a policeman, they could call 911 or ask a nearby adult to call for help.

He then told them that if any one of them wanted to talk privately, that he and Assistant Coach Benson would be willing to meet with them and talk. They promised privacy unless they all agreed to go forward.

Cody argued with himself for days. One side of his mind said he should talk to Coach; the other side said that everything had been his fault and he would be too ashamed to tell anybody.

Finally Cody decided he had to talk to someone so he asked Coach Martin if they could talk. Coach Martin said that he and Coach Benson would be in his classroom sixth period that day if Cody wanted to check out of study hall and come by.

Cody agreed.

He was so afraid that he almost didn’t go. But he got a pass to go to Coach Martin’s classroom, sucked up his courage, and walked in.

Coach Martin started by telling him that whatever he said would be private; but if he wanted to talk to someone else, he and Coach Benson would be there to support Cody.

It was like after the first word escaped his shame, the dam broke. Cody told them everything that had happened. He told them that Max had moved and that he had tried to forget about what had happened.

The most important thing is that both men listened quietly and carefully to Cody. That meant a lot.

When Cody had said about all he wanted to say, Coach Martin asked him if he could respond to some of his comments.

He told Cody that when a older person had sexual contact with a child that it was NEVER the child’s fault that it happened. He repeated that and asked Cody if he could accept that it was not his fault.

He then said that he was required by law to report sexual abuse, but that he and Coach Benson agreed that they would respect Cody’s privacy. Otherwise, they felt that Cody would be unwilling to talk with them in the future.

Coach Benson joined in to assure Cody that neither he nor Coach Martin had lost any respect for Cody because of what happened; in fact, they respected him more for having the courage to come forward.

They asked Cody if he would be willing for the three of them to talk with his parents. Cody wasn’t quite ready to do that.

Coach Martin asked Cody if they could meet again because he had some things he wanted to share that might be helpful. They agreed to meet again two days later when Cody had another free period.

Cody felt a little better, but he still was wracked by the painful memories of what had happened and the conviction that it may have been his fault. At least Coach Martin and Coach Benson were not judging Cody and accusing him of doing something wrong.

The next time they met, Coach Benson gave Cody a page with five facts on it.

Fact 1:  Cody’s thoughts belonged to him and nobody could make him think about anything he didn’t want to think about.

Fact 2:  Whenever a painful thought popped into his mind, he could send it away by saying out loud to himself, “I will not think about that!”

Fact 3:  The more negative thoughts he sent away, the more his subconscious mind would learn that “sending it away” was the response Cody wanted and his subconscious would start to make that response automatically.

Fact 4:  As time passed, negative thoughts would pop up less and less often.

Fact 5:  Each time a negative thought was sent away, Cody would have a period of peaceful thinking where he could make better decisions about what he should do.

They encouraged him to keep up with the number of times each day that he sent a thought away, and write the number on his calendar. If he wanted to, he could share his numbers with Coach Martin or Coach Benson. They reminded Cody that they were there for him.

They praised Cody again for his courage and Cody left.

“Why not try it,” he thought. So when the next thought about Max popped into his mind, he said out loud, “I will not think about that.” Sure enough, it went away; at least for a moment.

When another thought popped up, he sent it away again saying, “I will not think about that.”

In all, he did that about 40 times that first evening. But he noticed for sure that the thoughts were going away, however briefly.

He was busy the next day, but that evening he sent negative thoughts away 37 times.

As the days passed, the numbers he wrote on the calendar got smaller and the peaceful times got longer.

After about a week, he saw Coach Martin in the hall and told him, “23 down from 40,” and earned a smile and pat on the shoulder from Coach Martin.

The next week the number averaged 16. Then 11. Then he went an entire week without having to deal with a negative thought at all.

He was using that time to think about what he should do about Max. He didn’t know where he was and he certainly didn’t want to face him alone.

He decided that he would ask Coach Martin to go with him to talk with his parents about what had happened.

He was still afraid, but he told his parents that something had happened and he wanted to talk with them and he wanted Coach Martin to be there too.

It amazed him that they were so loving and accepting him over what had happened. They agreed that it was not his fault and they didn’t blame him at all. If fact, they apologized to Cody for setting up the babysitting in the first place.

They all decided that confronting Max was something that would be better done by the police so Cody and his parents went to the police station the next day. The rest would be up to the police. The most important thing would be for them to make sure that Max wasn’t abusing anybody else.

For the first time in years, Cody went to sleep without anxiety. He was confident that he could face any future issue with the tools he had learned.

And Cody resolved that if he ever was given the opportunity to help someone else like Coach Martin and Coach Benson had helped him, he would do it.

It felt good to go to sleep peacefully.

Note to parents:

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts. The danger of rumination is stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Your children can understand the simple principle that “if I think a lot about something that makes me sad, I can choose not to think about it.”

This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peace –

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning a habit of sadness into a habit of peace.

The concept works for virtually every negative emotion that results from negative thinking.

The writer is aware that the fictional coaches probably broke policy by not reporting the abuse immediately. Had the abuse been ongoing they would certainly have reported it to protect Cody. They felt that Cody’s willingness to open up was more important to his well-being than was strict adherence to the policy. They felt they had one chance to earn Cody’s trust or lose it forever.

This story is fiction and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

To read other short stories on life issues for kids and teens, click here.

Copyright 2013 Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

Flying In The Fog

Flying In The FogFor many of us, life is like flying through dark, thick fog. We don’t know what lies ahead and we don’t know which way to turn to find safety.

Today I read a story by a man flying into a small town in Alaska. From where the writer sat in the passenger compartment, he could see exactly what the pilots saw: thick, gray nothingness. There were mountains out there and thousands of square miles where the small town wasn’t. He found it comforting to know that somewhere miles away, a controller was sitting in a warn, dry room in front of well-functioning instruments carefully guiding them to a safe landing.

Living in the Fog

We all know people who seem to live in such a fog; albeit an emotional fog. Their days and nights are so filled with anger, depression, stress, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and despair that there aren’t any reliable beacons or landmarks by which to guide themselves.

They make decisions in the fog often based on emotion rather than reasoning.

They find it hard to begin good relationships because their view of others is often obscured by the emotional fog.

They find it hard to sustain good, healthy relationships because their reactions to others are often influenced by fog-shrouded perceptions.

They feel all alone in the fog bank believing that nobody else could possibly be experiencing the same feelings of being lost without anyone to help them.

Overwhelmed by the Fog

Just as weather-related fog can shut us up in a world measured by feet or yards, emotional fog can completely separate us from all the things that are or should be important to us.

Emotional fog often blows in on a single thought, often a thought of something painful. We grow the fog by dwelling or ruminating on the thought. It’s almost like living the painful event over and over again.

The pain isn’t actually happening again; we’re just recreating it by replaying it in our minds.

We build up anger, resentment, stress, bitterness, fear and more by playing these internal recordings again and again.

Like fog, all these emotions wrap us up in a gray, dark, ugly world without any visible way to escape.

We long for something bright and beautiful in our world and from time to time, we can glimpse hope. But inevitably, the fog shifts and closes in on us again.

Carried by thoughts

A bright, sunny day can change quickly as a cold front of negativity sweeps in. Actually, instead of a cold front, the negativity is often just a single thought. We dwell on it. We ruminate. The thought churns and builds until we are overwhelmed by the recollection of something that happened yesterday; or last week; or last year; or farther back in our life.

The sadness is compounded in that we see it coming every time. We know that when that thought pops up, we’re going to lose our peace. It’s like something outside of us is causing us to suffer through this painful experience again and again.

But that’s not true. It’s just a thought, a reminder, a recollection that springs up and we let it grow thicker and uglier by chewing on it. And once again, we’re lost in a foggy world with nothing rational to guide us to safety.

It doesn’t have to be this way

We’re all made with a capacity to manage those negative, unwelcome worrisome thoughts before they can overwhelm us once again. I struck my first choice because I’m not so sure that negative thoughts are unwelcome for some of us. For some of us, life may have reached that point that we measure ourselves by our struggles instead of our victories. After all, since we can’t see an answer, so we must be exactly where we are meant to be.

Think about this. If each negative emotion is brought in on a single thought, then don’t think that thought.

If you know a thought is going to overwhelm you, don’t dwell on that thought.

Thoughts in themselves are not a problem. They can become a problem when we dwell on them and build an emotional response to the thought.

The simple solution is that you get to choose how you react to your negative thoughts. You were made to be able to do that. We can show you how to start doing that today.

When you don’t give the thought any traction, it doesn’t get the chance to “fog you in.”

Someone said, “That’s too simple. That won’t work for me.”

That may be the next negative thought that you need to deal with.

Resources you can use

Learn how to simply and effectively deal with negative thoughts at

Use the free eBook you’ll find there to learn about dealing with your negative thoughts starting today. Then use the eCourse to learn how you can apply the idea to virtually any emotional issue in your life.

Here’s hoping you learn how to avoid the fog in your life.

Flying In The Fog

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for October 13, 2013

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for October 13, 2013Welcome to the October 13, 2013 edition of Finding Personal Peace containing 6 articles on a range of interesting topics. Thanks for visiting our Blog Carnival, Finding Personal Peace. Please review the subjects below and make note of any that interest you. At the bottom of the page, you will find a link that takes you to more information about each post. If you find a post you like, please make a comment to encourage them or even engage in a discussion with them.


  • Steven Chang presents What my kids taught me about winning


  • Jana presents Two Words That Stop Our Results From Manifesting
  • Chaki Kobayashi presents Lotus Flower

social anxiety

  • Tony Regan presents So Much To Say……But Anxiety Says No » Tony’s Reviews
  • Jon Rhodes presents Can I Be Hypnotised?
  • Tipsy presents 8 Ways To Take Control Of Your Day

To view the articles, Click here or click on Blog Carnival in the tabs at the top. You’ll want to check out these articles and share them in your circle of influence. We’ll be receiving submitted articles and posting them every Sunday. Please share with your friends. Thanks.

When Worrying Becomes an Illness – Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

When Worrying Becomes an Illness – Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)Some people are worriers, others are laid back. A little anxiety is a useful thing – if it wasn’t for the motivation of a little anxiety, we would never catch a train, pass an exam or meet a deadline.

This excellent article is presented verbatim from

But is there such a thing as too much anxiety? The answer is, there certainly is.

There are people who constantly worry about money, their job and their health and anything else they can think of. Their anxiety becomes so all-embracing that it takes over their whole lives.

Some of these people have an illness known as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

What is GAD?

Dr Jim White, consultant clinical psychologist at the Clydebank Health Centre, near Glasgow, told NetDoctor: ‘People with GAD worry about whether they have an incurable disease, how they are going to pay the mortgage or if the car will get through its MOT. But what makes them different from the rest of us is that they worry about worrying.

‘They wonder why all these thoughts are going through their head, but they can’t stop it. They have insights into what is happening to them. They know they have got things out of proportion, but there is nothing they can do about it.

‘People who are well off agonize over money. Healthy young men and women torture themselves with thoughts of fatal illnesses.

‘When they stand back and look at the situation, they can see that it doesn’t make sense but that doesn’t put their minds to rest. It has become an illness.’

What are the symptoms of GAD?

Apart from chronic anxiety, victims of GAD also experience physical symptoms.

They often complain of tightness in the muscles, headaches or a pain in the back of the neck. They have shortness of breath, a racing heart and abnormal tiredness.

Ordinary worrying does not bring on symptoms like these. The physical signs (including numbness, pins and needles and pain in the chest) can almost exactly mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. This can cause further anxiety.

Other symptoms include dizziness, sweating, restlessness, difficulty in concentrating and irritability.

Dr White has found that some of his GAD patients can function perfectly well in their jobs when they are busy and focused, but when they get home and sit in front of the TV excessive mental processing starts. And later, lying in bed, it continues.

Who suffers from GAD? 

GAD often strikes in the late teens or early 20s according to Dr White. It can also start in the 30s or 40s but rarely emerges for the first time later in life. It affects women about twice as often as men.

Some surveys suggest that two million people in the UK have GAD, and that as a mental health problem it’s second only to depression. The World Health Organization estimates that only half of all cases are diagnosed.

How do I know if I have GAD? 

Dr Allan Norris, a psychologist at the Birmingham Nuffield hospital, said: ‘In severe cases, it can lead to people being unable to live a normal life. They may fear they are about to crash the car if they drive, or simply find that they get caught up worrying and feeling anxious about life situations’.

If you’re as anxious as this, it probably is GAD. Abnormal physical symptoms are also a sign.

Mr John Spector, a consultant psychologist and head of clinical psychology at Watford General Hospital, told NetDoctor: ‘It is quite normal to worry about something like an exam. But if you live under a constant sense of threat and worry about things that others would regard as insignificant – to the extent that you are dysfunctional in most aspects of your life – it’s likely you’re suffering from generalized anxiety disorder’.

How is it diagnosed? 

According to Dr White, most people with GAD go to their GP complaining of physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness or stomach problems. The GP may diagnose their real problem from careful questioning.

The doctor may be alerted to the possibility of GAD if the patient has a wide span of symptoms, especially if they are coupled with insomnia or alcohol misuse. The GP may order some tests to rule out physical illness to help him with the diagnosis.

When GAD is pinpointed the patient will be referred to a psychologist.

What can be done for people with GAD?

Dr White says: ‘We usually start by providing a lot of information about GAD. The patient who has often struggled with the condition for years is usually reassured just by being given a diagnosis.

‘Drug treatment has not proved very successful (though SSRI antidepressants can be useful for some people) and cognitive behavior therapy is now regarded as the best way forward.

‘This involves standing back and analyzing your thoughts. The patient is helped to evaluate how he or she thinks of themselves and the world. They are encouraged to face up to their problems and difficulties,’ said Dr White.

Cognitive behavior therapy is a method of changing the way we think. People with GAD may also benefit from what is called ‘problem solving’ to give them a greater feeling of controlling what is happening to them. They are often lacking these skills.

They also benefit from relaxation methods and breathing control to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Planning relaxing and pleasurable activities are useful ways of distracting themselves from their worries. Physical exercise can also achieve this.

Even with these methods, the research shows that only 50 per cent of GAD victims recover. For many, it becomes a chronic condition that may leave them for a while only to reappear again in the future.

No one knows what causes GAD, but some psychologists believe it is rooted in a lack of stability during childhood.

GAD is not something people should think they could learn to live with because it can lead to other psychiatric problems like depression. It is too complicated a condition for the victims to pull themselves out of it. They need help.

Anyone who feels their little niggly worries are becoming a preoccupation, that they are getting too up tight about small things and experiencing the physical symptoms of anxiety, should talk to their GP.

The one thing that everyone agrees on is that the earlier help is given, the better your chances of leaving your cares behind you and once again joining the ranks of the laid back.

[end of article]

The Mayo Clinic includes self-care as a treatment alternative saying, “Exercise produces chemical changes that can calm the body and combat anxiety. Meditation, yoga, music and massages promote relaxation and can ease anxiety. Healthy eating, with regular meals and energy-boosting snacks, is helpful, as is avoiding caffeine and nicotine.”

Self-Care – Another Approach

Another approach might be to learn how you can manage those negative, worrisome thoughts before they become worries. You can do it painlessly in the privacy of your home.

Thoughts in themselves are not a problem. They can become a problem when we dwell on them and worry about the content of the thought.

The solution is that you get to choose how you react to your conscious thoughts.

Resources you can use

Learn how to simply and effectively deal with worries and GAD at

You can use this information for just about any negative emotion or habit that bothers you in addition to worries or GAD.

I hope Finding Personal Peace helps you learn to deal with worrying as much as it helped me with my anger.

When Worrying Becomes an Illness – Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

Blog Carnival for Finding Personal Peace for August 18, 2013

Blog Carnival Finding Personal Peace August 18, 2013Welcome to the August 18, 2013 edition of Finding Personal Peace containing 32 articles on a range of interesting topics.

Thanks for visiting our Blog Carnival, Finding Personal Peace. Please review the subjects below and make note of any that interest you. At the bottom of the page, you will find a link that takes you to more information about each post. If you find a post you like, please make a comment to encourage them or even engage in a discussion with them.


  • Kevin Giffin presents 5 Creative Ways for Getting Sand Off Your Feet After the Beach
  • Dan Robinson presents What You Should Know When Flying with Babies
  • Janet Golovine presents How to Prevent Kids from Cutting Their Own Hair
  • Jessica Clark presents 18 of the Greatest Blogs with Tips for Balancing Parenting and You Time
  • Teri Jones presents 21 Blogs with DIY Teacher Gifts for Kids to Give on the First Day of School
  • Jim Wilson presents 9 iPhone Apps That Could Save Your Teen’s Life | Babysitters
  • Kaitlyn Johnson presents 10 Tips for Naturally Increasing Breast Milk Supply
  • Jeff Moore presents 10 Ways to Prevent Choking in Kids
  • David Thompsonn presents 10 Reasons Your Child Should See a Specialist
  • Janet Golovine presents 25 Blogs with Preschool Lessons You Can Teach at Home
  • Caleb Hill presents Top 5 Apps Recommended for Nannies


  • Rod Peeks presents Depression – Light at the End of the Tunnel
  • Rod Peeks presents Depression – the Deceit of Denial

emotional issues

  • Brave Face presents Anxiety Survival Guide: Fight Panic Attacks like Dementors | A Brave Face
  • Rod Peeks presents Behind the “Too” Wall
  • Rod Peeks presents A Matter of Focus
  • Martin Poldma presents How to Meditate Properly: 7 Steps


  • Jessica Clark presents 10 Kens With Famous Faces You’d Recognize
  • Steven Chang presents Life is a zero-summed game?
  • Jon Rhodes presents Can I Be Hypnotised?
  • Mitchell Morris presents 8 Apps to Help Nannies Keep a House Running Smoothly
  • Denise Young presents 35 Blogs with the Best Summer Picnic Recipes That Won’t Spoil
  • Shelby Martin presents 7 of the Best Parenting Tricks You Need to Know
  • Sharon Moore presents What to Do if Your Employer Forgets to Pay You
  • Kaitlyn Johnson presents 8 Simple Exercises You Can Do While Pushing a Stroller
  • Laura Anderson presents Expert Insights with Dr. Caron Goode on Nannies Becoming Parent Coaches


  • Jana presents The Roles We Play And How It Affects Our Lives
  • Rod Peeks presents Relationships – Who Do You Love?

social anxiety

  • Nicole West presents Relax…You’ve Already Won the Race


  • Cardinal Charles Ng presents Life is too short to be little.
  • Bradley Crump presents Food Meltdown – When Food Runs Your Life!
  • ebele presents Another distraction on the road to clarity: analysis paralysis.

To view the articles, Click here or click on Blog Carnival in the tabs at the top. You’ll want to check out these articles and share them in your circle of influence. We’ll be receiving submitted articles and posting them every Sunday.