Acceptance, Beauty, consulting, Help, hope, public speaker, southern fried asian, Suicide, suicide prevention, susie reece, Susie Reynolds, susie reynolds reece

The Joshua York Legacy Foundation

An angel’s wings and ice blue eyes captured my heart this week and I don’t believe I can ever let them fly away from me.

Sunday evening I arrived in White Marsh, Maryland. I made a call to meet up with the Yorks and have our first face to face before we would delve into a long week of work starting Monday morning. I was nervous. My brain was running in a million directions and wondering what I would find myself walking into, I knew the week would be long and full of strategy and more than likely exhausting days, but who would be welcoming me into their world? Would I truly be welcomed? I couldn’t help but feel anxious and hope for the best.

Boy, was I wholly unprepared for the Yorks.

William immediately greeted me with a huge hug and a smile. His first words after our greeting were, “hope you’re ready for some crabs.” I laughed and said, “oh, yea.” When in Maryland, crabs must be had after all. On our way back to their house, we chatted about the humidity and how hot the weather had been for the past few days in Maryland. I had hoped I would be escaping the Arkansas heat, but it seemed I may have unluckily towed it along with me.

When we pulled into their driveway, I looked to the left to see a monument of a rock right in the front yard. I giggled to myself, I mean, what did I expect from the foundation who created the Facebook group Suicide Prevention Rocks? Their walkway lined with a hodgepodge of colored rocks all with uplifting sayings brought a lightness and ease to me. I walked into their foyer, where a variety of different sized shoes had recently been dropped by the front door. I kicked off my heels and commented immediately they must’ve been preparing for the arrival of the Southern Fried Asian. We all laughed at my corny Asian joke. As I walked into the kitchen, I was immediately hugged by Dawn, William’s wife and heart. Saying I was welcomed does not do my first night justice, I found myself watching a family who draws you toward them in the most unintentional but compelling of ways.

After a bit of getting to know each other, they broke out a huge roll of brown parchment paper and covered the dining room table. I noted, “this is getting serious.” We took our seats and jumped into the centerpiece, a huge steaming box of Maryland crabs. The kids showed me how to pick apart a crab Marylander style, everyone brought up family jokes about the importance of not to eating the crab’s lungs, and each of them opened their hearts to me. I was family, on night one and felt nothing less than exactly that for the rest of the week.

Tragedy hits us all too often in this world and it’s aftermath too often destroys those who remain. I knew walking in that tragedy had happened here. I knew this week would be difficult as they were nearing the one year anniversary of the loss of Joshua. I knew I might need to be patient, calm, compassionate, quite possibly forgiving, and so much more because of how difficult this process could be. And yet, I found myself not needing to do any of those things, not because they haven’t felt unflinching pain, but because they have drawn from their love to find strength. They lift one another up and open themselves naturally to others who may be in need of love and acceptance. They are each other’s rocks.

As I write this, I find my eyes full of happiness, joy, and thankfulness. I have felt something beyond myself this week and have had the chance to witness the power love has over pain. We’ve shared unforgettable moments where we each shared some of our deepest pains. We’ve experienced a rainbow of emotions as we worked toward sharing Joshua and his love with as many people as we are allowed.

Nothing is perfect, but this family works and dare I say, makes it look unrealistically easy. They feel, they are gentle and most importantly they are forgiving when they need to be. The Yorks, the family who swerves when a butterfly is in the road. The Yorks, the family who paints rocks in order to heal and bond through tragedy. The Yorks, the family who laughs and loves and welcomes strange Korean women from Arkansas. The Yorks, the family who continues to bring life to their beautiful Joshua.

To say it simply and without flourish, I am amazed by this family and their journey.

With my deepest gratitude,

Susie Reynolds Reece

#jylfrocks #suicideprevention #strengtheningliveswithlove

Standard
Book, Depression, Dreams, Help, hope, mental health, national speaker, public speaker, Published, southern fried asian, speaker, speech, Strength, Suicide, suicide prevention, susie reece, Susie Reynolds, susie reynolds reece, Understanding, Writing

Parked in Pain

This post contains brief triggering content displaying a child abuse event and explicit language. Should you feel you need additional support you can connect with a trained volunteer at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-274-8255 or the Crisis Text Line by texting ARK to 741741.

If you or someone you know may be a victim of child abuse, you can find additional resources at childhelp.org or by calling the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) As always, reach out to local resources and supports in times of need.

I can’t remember how long she left me in the McDonald’s parking lot that day.

 

I shouldn’t have been shocked. It had been a good day. Good days were the worst because they made you forget. They made you drop your guard. They brought false hope and having hope was a huge mistake.

We were walking out of McDonald’s. Before I reached the car door, she looked to me and said I needed to go back and wash my hands. I immediately did as I was told. That’s what happens when you are abused, you become compliant. You hope it will save yourself from unnecessary pain. It didn’t occur to me as I walked back in that she had never cared about me washing my hands before.

When I came out, she was gone. My heart jumped into my throat. I walked around the entire restaurant looking for her. She was nowhere. Our good day had just been another lie. I hated myself a little more for falling for her lie, for having hope. 

I hid near the back of the building beside the dumpsters because I didn’t want anyone to know. If anyone saw me, they might ask questions. Questions could get her in trouble. If she were to get in trouble, there’s no telling what she would do. I hid. I cried. And I prayed that she would come back for me. It’s all I could manage.

I don’t know how long I sat waiting. The sun had been out when I realized she was gone and by the time she came back it was dark. As time progressed, my silent sobbing had grown alongside my fear. The sobbing sharply stabbed my stomach and had me choking for breath. I used all the energy I had to muffle my sobs so no one would hear me. 

She pulled into the parking lot and I rushed to the car so she wouldn’t have to wait. It’s ironic looking back. I climbed clumsily into the passenger side still shaken, trembling and softly sobbing. Her first words to me were “shut up.” I tried. I desperately tried to calm myself but I couldn’t. She screamed, “stop fucking crying.” As if that would calm me. I could sense her anger growing as she drove, but by this point, there was nothing I could do to stop. My fear was growing because when she was angry I never knew what she would do.

It’s odd, the things your mind clings to through the years. I remember walking to the car, hiding, and the tree. I can’t recall the color of the car, how long I sat there praying, or so many other details but the ones I do remember will stay with me forever. It was black out by this point. We were on a two lane road as the car slowly climbed up a slight hill. I looked through my tears to my left and saw this enormous tree towering over us. The branches and limbs reached slowly beyond the edge of the road. It’s trunk large enough to seemingly withstand any force. I saw stories in my head around that tree. Imagining happy children playing underneath it. I don’t know why my mind went to that tree like it did. Maybe I was trying to distract myself. Maybe I fell too often into my own imagination when I was afraid. I don’t know. But it has stuck with me all these years. 

As the car neared the top of the hill, she stopped suddenly right in the middle of the road. She turned to me while we sat underneath those gnarled grasping branches. Her face bright red and her eyes full of hate. She shrieked in my face, “get out of the fucking car!” I did as I was told. 

Still sobbing, I grabbed the door handle and put one foot on the ground, the other still inside the car as she began to drive again. I screamed out, “please, please stop.” Frantically I wailed. My hands turning white as I held on with all I had. She kept going. By this time both my feet were outside the car. This little 8 year old girl begging, pleading, screaming for mercy but nothing made her stop. My heart was pounding inside my chest and ears. I didn’t know what to do. Should I try to get back inside? Should I just let go and hit the ground? Before I could figure out what to do, she slammed on the breaks and I slumped forcibly against the door. I stood up quickly, confused, panicked. Blood rushed to my eyes and for a brief second the black night became a blinding light. She said, “get in the car and shut the fuck up.” I did as I was told. 

It worked. You can’t deny that. She scared me silent. I didn’t say a word the rest of the ride home. You see, I was taught not to cry. Tears were unacceptable. Had I been quiet when she picked me up, I wouldn’t have been dragged behind the car. It was my fault. Just like it always was. This lesson was etched into me over and over in hundreds of different ways through the years. Crying is for the weak. Crying deserves punishment. Crying is never allowed even while you’re being dragged outside of a moving vehicle. Tears were not allowed. 

I remember the first time I openly shared a fraction of the experiences I have endured. I sobbed the entire time. My words and hands shook as my eyes read over the notes that guided me. I shared about my loss. How it changed my life. I shared about the meaning I searched for from pain. Those moments of openness left me feeling humiliatingly vulnerable. Tears fell unwillingly against my cheeks and that little girl screamed inside. Even though I was no longer a child, I was still waiting to be punished. Punished for speaking about the things I was taught not to acknowledge. Punished for crying so openly. 

As difficult as this story may have been for you to read, it can be even harder for a person to share something so intimately personal. I have never spoken publicly about this specific incident because to this day the thought of doing so cuts deeply in ways I cannot describe. When I share, I do so intentionally. Not only to help others understand but to never leave myself so vulnerable that I unintentionally hurt my own heart or healing process. I’ve learned the importance of safe storytelling the hard way over the years. Some stories are powerfully purposeful when shared with the public. Some stories leave us overwhelmed and confused as to what we should do. There are stories that would be most beneficial when shared intimately. And some may always need to stay locked within us. Only the storyteller can decide which of these options is right for them.

Our stories are a part of us. They help define pieces of our souls and can set us on a fulfilling path. Sharing takes courage and will. If this is the journey we want to embark on, we owe it to ourselves to be ready, to have safeguards, and to incorporate care for ourselves. 

Oftentimes after I have spoken to an audience, people who want to share their own stories ask how they can begin this journey. I realized long ago that a few minutes is simply not enough time to teach them anything of value. So I developed a training program from my experiences and lessons learned so others won’t need to struggle through the painful process of coming into their truth on their own. Thinking beyond my program, I crafted a guidebook that could work as a stand alone tool for those who want to know more but may not be ready to participate in the program. 

This book can walk any person through the basic components of safe storytelling creation. The purpose is to make my hard earned lessons more accessible to everyone.

What happened to you doesn’t determine who you will be. What you do with what happened to you can.

 

 

Find the Art of Safe Storytelling Guidebook on Amazon today.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1078164215/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_he6jDbBH2KRH3

For a short overview you can find 7 Tips on Safe Storytelling the eBook on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07V5D35ZS/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_NiwjDbYVR3K6X

Standard
Acceptance, breakout session, Depression, event, law enforcement, Men, mental health, national speaker, public speaker, southern fried asian, speaker, speech, Strength, Suicide, suicide prevention, susie reece, Susie Reynolds, susie reynolds reece, Writing

17th Annual Police Chiefs Executive Development Course

I can’t wait to be presenting for the 17th Annual Police Chiefs Executive Development Course!
 
So very thankful to have administrators who recognize the need for suicide prevention for their officers.
I still have a few slots open in September. Book your suicide prevention event today!
Standard