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Through the darkness

I began 2016 with unbridled enthusiasm and optimism, convinced it was going to be a wonderful year.

How wrong I was.

I can’t remember another year filled with so many challenges and tragedies, both for me personally and for the world at large. And 2016 is barely halfway over!

We’ve lost David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, and Alan Rickman, to name a few.

The bombings in Brussels. The horrible mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando over the weekend. Numerous school shootings, bomb threats, and other attacks.

On the personal front, my publisher closed its doors. I was betrayed by someone I love, someone I trusted unconditionally. A good friend died of cancer without even telling me she was sick. I was sexually assaulted by a massage “therapist” in Tuscany, fended off two very inappropriate advances from married men during the same trip–and endured a long wait in an Italian emergency room and a highly uncomfortable procedure. After the assault, my credibility and integrity were repeatedly attacked by two people who should have protected and helped me.

To put it mildly, it’s been a shit show.

Maybe some of you are also struggling. I’m not the only person who’s had challenges this year–far from it.

And I’m certainly not an expert when it comes to bouncing back. Sometimes I grieve, or feel sorry for myself, or chastise myself for bouts of indecision and uncertainty.

But I always get back up.

A dear friend said something today that made me feel so much better. He said:

“If anyone can deal with these challenges, it’s you. You are strong in so many ways.”

With that in mind, here is everything I know about getting back up when life knocks you down repeatedly:

  • You can’t do it alone. Remember that old song, “That’s What Friends Are For”? It’s true.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People aren’t mindreaders. Someone who seems cold might be unsure how to support you.
  • Be kind to yourself. After the sexual assault, I beat myself up–why didn’t I punch the guy? Why didn’t I get the hell out of there? Why didn’t I tell him to go perform an impossible act on himself? But that kind of thinking doesn’t do it any good–it just makes things worse. What’s done is done. All you can do is take the horrible experience and use it to react better the next time, if you’re unlucky enough that there is a next time.
  • Count your blessings. We all have them, even when life is at its darkest. I have my health. I have people who love me. I have work, enough work to pay the bills and travel a bit. My animals are healthy. I have a home. What are you grateful for?
  • Help others. When you feel like you are in a deep, dark hole, the best way to get out is to shine a light for someone else. It’s amazing how much strength and positive energy will return to you. It always works. It can be as simple as being there for a friend who is also suffering.
  • Express yourself. I can’t stress this enough–don’t let this stuff fester. Get it out. Talk, blog, journal, whatever you have to do.

Anything else? I’d love to hear how you’ve gotten through tough times in your own life.

And I’d like to thank all of you for having my back, for championing me and encouraging me and being such a wonderful community of bighearted people. Your kind words and support have never been more appreciated.

I promise to return to my regular spooky posts next week.

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.

30 Comments

  1. Samantha Bryant

    2016 has been a helluva year for a lot of folks. I’m glad to see that you are staying resilient. That’s a good list of advice for how to deal with the short end of the stick. Here’s hoping the second half of your year brings your happiness and light.

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Samantha. That’s what I’ve heard. I’m not sure if this year is truly worse than most, or if every year is always this bad for a lot of people.

      It’s definitely been one of my worst.

      Reply
  2. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    You’ve had a crappy year so far. But you can either let it beat you down or you can move past it. I also believe you are strong enough to get past it.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Alex. There’s no way I’m letting this crap beat me down, but I may wallow for a bit now and then.

      Reply
  3. Mason Canyon

    You have been through a terrible patch this year, but it sounds like you’re coming back even stronger than before. I especially like that you are encouraging others and inspiring with your post. You ARE STRONG! May your road be even easier from now on.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thank you very much, Mason. I appreciate that, and I’m happy you found this post inspiring.

      Hopefully the rest of the year is a piece of cake compared to the last six months.

      Reply
  4. Patricia Lynne

    Ugh. Sorry your 2016 has been such a shit show. We’re halfway through the year though, so maybe it will turn around and make it up to you. *Hugs*

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Patricia! I really hope so.

      *Hugs* back to you. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Somer

    Your refusal to sit down and be quiet, as it looked like some wanted you to do, makes you an amazing and strong woman in my book.
    You hang in there. Time has a way of healing those painful wounds. At the end of it you might be left scarred and tattered, but it becomes part of you.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Somer. To be honest, the backlash to my petition was shocking. I didn’t even think Stefano or Laura would hear about it, but if I’d known, I would have expected a bit of anger and defensiveness in return, sure.

      However, I never in a million years would have expected such ugly accusations and vitriol. It definitely confirmed to me, without a doubt, that neither of them took what happened to me seriously, and that was what I’d long suspected. Painful to have it confirmed, though.

      Reply
  6. Anna

    Try to speak to yourself with the same kindness you would offer others. Sometimes we berate ourselves like we are all-seeing creatures and it is the most unfair thing we can do to ourselves. Getting up may take a few tries, but it’s better than staying down.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Anna. I’m trying! There are so many people who will ask you why you didn’t do this, that, or the other thing…it’s so easy to fall into that trap.

      Reply
      • http://www.onlinegamescheats.club/

        By Larry Lambert June 7, 2009 – 12:59 pmAndy, I really have missed working with Carl and thought of him often. I miss my days at Massy Ferguson, we spent over 7 years there together. He was a good man and I learned much during those days. I was hoping we could get together again. I feel your pain and will pray for you often.

        Reply
  7. Ryan Carty

    When you get to the other side of this shit show, you’ll be so strong, nothing will ever break you down. I love this post. Love love love it.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Ryan. I can’t thank you enough for the incredible kindness and support you have shown me throughout my most recent struggles.

      We haven’t known each other long, and yet you’ve been more supportive than a lot of friends I’ve had for years. Thank you with all my heart.

      Reply
  8. Chrys Fey

    To go through all of that, you really are a fighter. You have amazing strength. All of your tips to get back up when life knocks you down are spot on. I also try to find some way to lift my spirits. Usually it’s spending time with someone I feel comfortable with who can make me laugh. A good, funny movie also helps.

    Stay strong, J.H.!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Chrys. Now that the uproar over the petition has died down, I’m feeling a lot better. Who knew that doing the right thing would be so damn hard?

      Reply
  9. Misha

    Ugh I can’t imagine what it’s like for you. That said, I’ve had a shitty couple of years now.

    The only thing I can add is to work on forgiving people.

    It sounds weird, but it’s only when we let go of our anger that we can really heal and move on.

    Thinking of you.

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s a really good addition to my list, Misha. I find forgiveness extremely difficult. It often takes me years to forgive someone if the infraction was significant, but at the same time, I’m not one to hold a grudge. It’s always a huge relief to let the anger and hard feelings go.

      So sorry to hear you’ve had a couple of shitty years. Here’s hoping things get better.

      Reply
  10. Birgit

    It has been a bad year for major people I. The entertainment industry to die. As for your sexual assault….there is not much one can say to the 2 people who continue to negatively abuse you. Hold your head up high and know that your true friends are in your corner

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Birgit. I’m hoping the abuse has stopped now.

      Reply
  11. Shari Green

    So sorry for the shit show. 🙁 Sending love.

    It’s been rough over my way, too, though nothing like what you’ve had to deal with. For me, being kind to myself, helping others, and expressing via sharing with trusted friends have all been key to feeling like I can cope.

    Wishing you all the best, and far better times ahead.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thank you so much, Shari, and welcome to my blog.

      I’m very sorry to hear it’s been rough for you as well. I hope you’re starting to see some sunlight on the horizon.

      Reply
  12. Madeline Mora-Summonte

    We’re so quick to beat ourselves up, to blame ourselves, to take on more responsibility and guilt than we should. When we do that, we end up with negativity coming at us from the outside world as well as from our inner world. Before you know it, we’re drowning. We need to be our own life preserver.

    Please take care of yourself, be kind to yourself. Hang in there!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Madeline. I appreciate your kindness and support, always.

      Reply
  13. C. Lee McKenzie

    I’m convinced that we’re all victims of “too much information, too quickly.” My brain and my heart are filled with the good, but more often the bad or vile the minute I turn on the radio in the morning or boot up my computer. By ten a.m. I’m bloated with inhumane acts.

    I find that I have to disconnect once in a while, and I mean completely. No media. No conversations. Nothing. In a few days I’m breathing deeper than I have in weeks, I’m thinking more clearly, and my faith in there being goodness out there is re-kindled. I’m a firm believer that what we put out into our universe, we receive back, so I strive to fill up with as much positive energy as I can and set it free.

    I hope at mid-year you find a turning point and something beautiful and inspiring to bring you peace and happiness for a time.

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s a great idea, Lee. Even when I was in Italy, I spent far too much time on my computer and social media. A retreat would do me a world of good.

      Thanks for the kind words and the fantastic suggestion!

      Reply
  14. Mary Aalgaard

    I’m sorry for all the heaviness and heartache you’ve experienced. Sometimes, you have to sit back and feel the feelings, own it, talk about it, then you can move onto brighter things. When I was going through divorce, I could always play the piano. I pounded out all the feelings, and in doing so, could sort out the details. Walking is also good, and coffee, especially with a good friend.

    Reply
    • JH

      Friends have truly been my saving grace, Mary. I’m so lucky to have amazing people in my life–online and off–and I don’t know what I’d do without them.

      Thank you for your kindness.

      Reply
  15. Heather Wardell

    I’m so sorry 2016 has been so awful for you. You deserve so much better. 2015 was my nightmare year, so I hope for you that 2017 perks up as 2016 has done on a personal level for me. (Actually, screw that, 2016 needs to smarten up for you right now. And then 2017 can be even better! 🙂

    Reply

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