E129: Discovering My Scars: Chapter 3
Buy Steph’s Book here, here, or here
Discovering My Scars on Apple Books or Audible
His Side of My Story (with Pastor Matt
Questions for Reflection
In each episode, we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. You might pause the podcast and answer them right then and there, but if you keep a journal (Steph and Beth both do), feel free to download and print a PDF of the Questions for Reflection we've made just for you:
Landscape or Portrait
Beth Demme (00:04):
Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars Podcast.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:06):
Where we share personal experiences so we can learn from each other. I'm Steph.
Beth Demme (00:10):
And I'm Beth.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:11):
I've been in recovery for 16 years and I'm the author of Discovering My Scars. My memoir about what's done in the darkness, eventually comes to light.
Beth Demme (00:17):
I'm a lawyer, turned pastor, who's all about self-awareness and emotional health, because I know what it's like to have neither of those things.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:24):
Beth and I have been friends for years, have gone through a recovery program together, and when I wanted to start a podcast, she was the only name that came to mind as co-host.
Beth Demme (00:31):
I didn't hesitate to say yes because I've learned a lot from sharing personal experiences with Steph over the years.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:37):
We value honest conversations. We hope you do, too.
Beth Demme (00:39):
On today's show, we're going to have an honest conversation titled, "Discovering My Scars, Chapter Three."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:46):
Then we'll share a slice of life, and the show will close with questions for reflection, where we'll invite you to reflect on the conversation in your own life.
Beth Demme (00:52):
So, Steph, we've done this a couple of times now. We're going to go through a chapter of your book. We're going to listen to it together. We're going to pause, we're going to have commentary and questions. But today we're doing this remote.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:06):
Yes, we're old pros at remote. We've been doing that off and on for years now. But we are remote today because one of us may have Covid-19. And by may, I mean they do.
Beth Demme (01:20):
Or whatever the current variant is. Do we still call it Covid-19? Are we not at the Covid-20? I don't know.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:26):
No, it's Covid-19, but its different variants. So we're going to let you guess who has Covid. We're not going to tell you. I'll make sure I cut out every time I cough. Darn it.
Beth Demme (01:40):
That was a big clue right there.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:42):
Darn it. Come on. Really, out of both of us, the first time having Covid, I'm a little annoyed that it's me. Seems a little unfair.
Beth Demme (01:52):
Sorry about that. I've been out in the wild quite a bit more. But if I've gotten it, I've been asymptomatic. You've been sick.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:04):
It's been 12 days and I still have symptoms. So it's not fun. It's real. I'm vaccinated and I'm a masker, and it's still bad.
Beth Demme (02:15):
Well, I'm glad that you're starting to feel better, that you are feeling better. I'm sorry that you got Covid, but I'm glad that we can do this remotely, and I'm glad that we're going to do chapter three today and go over this even though this was a hard time in your life.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:29):
Yes, it is a hard subject, but I am definitely glad that we are digging into this today. An interesting fact is we are recording this in October and October is actually the anniversary month of this event happening back in 2006. So it's a fitting time to revisit.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:49):
Chapter three. 24 hours. After getting my stitches and waiting to be picked up, I left the ER around 4:00 AM and was taken back to CRC, where Officer Moen had brought me about 24 hours before. This time, I was told a little bit of information. I needed to finish my nurse evaluation then I would have my mental assessment. I was complacent because I thought the assessment was the last part, make a good impression then I could go home. Shortly after I arrived back, I was taken to a small room. The woman who came in to assess me looked pretty young and didn't speak English very well. I told her about my struggles with self-injury and the treatment I was seeking with my psychologist, Dr. Jill in Tallahassee. I told her that Dr. Jill knew me and my history and to please call her for details.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:38):
I told her about the stress of moving to Orlando into a dorm with strangers and about AJ who did not respect my property. I answered her questions clearly and concisely. When we were done, she just left me in the room. "What's next?" I thought. A few minutes later, a nurse came in and brought me to the back room, which looked like a waiting room at a doctor's office. It had about 40 chairs, 30 of them occupied with people. I looked around at the faces and wondered what had brought each person here. It seemed strange to me that Orlando had created a central receiving center for anyone that showed signs of mental illness. The staff did not seem properly trained for our needs. Having us all crammed into the small room, I thought, was like saying, "These are all animals. Let's put them all in one cage together."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:28):
But we know that wouldn't work because animals need different habitats and some would eat each other. They all need to be treated in different ways to have successful healthy lives, especially in captivity. The nurse told me to sit in the small room until I was transferred somewhere else. Somewhere else? Does this mean my assessment didn't go well? Do they think I belong in a mental hospital? Is this the mental hospital or is that somewhere else? Am I really crazy? I was lost in my thoughts. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone else because I didn't feel chatty, but I looked across from me and caught the eyes of a large man. His eyes were full of sadness and pain. I looked away. But then he started talking with a Cuban accent. He told me a little about himself, which I found far better than watching soap operas on TV.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:19):
He had attempted suicide 13 times and lived in a mental health facility. He was a soldier in war. He saw people blown up in front of him. He blew people up and he saw his friends killed. He told me about being so hungry in the woods that he cut the throats of a wolf and ate it. He ate it all. Then he threw it up. He acted out the action of cutting the throat. His eyes showed a glimmer of joy when describing the kill, as if it was satisfying. I could see how the anger and trauma he experienced in war was taken out on that wild beast. He told me of his ex-wife and daughter. He had lost them due to his hallucinations and hearing the voices of his soldier friends. The voices told him to kill himself. He told me a few ways he had tried to accomplish this goal.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:14):
His words made me feel sad. War had destroyed his life. My brother killed from the air. This man killed countless men right in front of his face. "What must that do to a person?" I thought. Well, I guess I'm seeing it right here. As he spoke to me, I kept thinking, "I'm too young to hear this. This is really crazy stuff." During the conversation, however, I connected with him on a human level and saw the path that brought him here. I knew he needed help, but I feared he would not find it in the system. This conversation changed me. I would never be a 20 year old naive sorority girl again.
Beth Demme (06:55):
So I have questions.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:57):
I will tell you that comes right back to me. When I hear that and read that I'm instantly back with the guy and I can feel how I felt when he was telling me those things, and I can see his face. It's actually really hard to write this kind of stuff because I can see it and I can smell it and I'm there, but it's really hard to put that into words for the reader to really understand it. So I don't know if I did it accurately enough, but it sure brings me back.
Beth Demme (07:39):
So I have questions about him. He lived in a mental health facility. So why do you think he was at the CRC?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:47):
Because he tried to actively commit suicide. I'm not sure what he did to do that, but I think he had tried 13 times to commit suicide, and so I don't know what he did that specific time. So he was in a facility that probably has a certain level of care that they can do, but then if there're certain things that happen, they probably have to send them to something more intense where I was.
Beth Demme (08:18):
Is it possible that this episode with the wolf was a hallucination that he had experienced?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:25):
I have no idea.
Beth Demme (08:28):
When you're talking to somebody who knows that they have hallucinations, and I don't mean you personally. How does one discern between their reality and reality, reality? And in this conversation, I don't think it mattered. His reality is reality. But it just got me thinking about how you know what's real?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:55):
And how does he know what's real? I don't know. I always thought it was real based on the fact that he threw up, which is all really just disturbing. But the fact that if he would eat something wild and then that would make him sick. But then I guess you could hallucinate that as well. I don't know, is that even reality that you could kill a wolf?
Beth Demme (09:21):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:21):
Is that possible? And then just start eating it. I don't know.
Beth Demme (09:31):
And is it better one way or the other? There's this part of me that hopes it's just a hallucination, but I'm not sure why. Because what a terrible thing to hallucinate.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:41):
What a terrible thing to be a part of both things. But that's the thing. What was interesting is that my brother had been in the Afghanistan war. So war was a big thing. Right now, I don't think war is a huge fit in our mindset every day like it was back then. And it was a big deal for me because my brother was in the middle of it so that really affected me, seeing how much he got messed up from seeing people killed in front of him and being part of just killing random people. That just was very eye opening to me to realize a lot of people I met actually in the hospital were vets of some sort. I think we'll get to it, but I met another guy, half his leg was blown off; was blown off from a gun or a bomb or something in the war.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:44):
And so that was just interesting cause I know that's a pretty known thing, that people come back from war with PTSD and a lot of mental things and physical things. But to see the reality of it in a mental hospital, the reality of a lot of people had direct connections to war in some capacity. To hear about it, and then to actually experience it and see it was something completely different.
Beth Demme (11:10):
One thing that I think you definitely convey here is that this is another layer to your innocence that gets lost, encountering this person, hearing his stories, connecting with him on a human level. But that was eye-opening, which is what you're describing.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:32):
And I was 20. Now, being 36, 20 is a baby at the time. I'm like, "I am an adult. I can vote." But I was so young and so naive with just life, any 20 year old is. You've only lived 20 years of life. And I just remember feeling like I am growing up in this moment. I am getting so much life experience in 24 hours than most people get in 10 years of life.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:14):
After waiting a few hours, I called my dad again. I told him what I knew, which wasn't much. He was in Tallahassee with my mom, and there was little they could do from there. They thought about coming down to help, but dad told me to do what they said and I would get out quickly. This continued to be his advice each time I called. It was of little comfort. I was already doing what I was told. I was not making a scene and I was keeping calm as the hours passed. With all the free time and nothing to do, I called my psychologist Dr. Jill. I told her what all was going on, and she seemed very concerned. CRC had not called her. This was the first she'd heard of me being in the hospital. She was upset for me and that I was in the system. I didn't know what the system was, but it didn't sound good. "You should never have been sent there. You're not a danger to yourself. Tell your dad to call down there and get you out," Dr. Jill exclaimed.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:10):
This confused me because dad did not share her concerns. I told her I would try to reach him again. "They cannot legally keep you longer than 24 hours," Dr. Jill assured me. This was very encouraging. It was Monday morning, so they would have to release me by 5:00 PM. The next eight hours were a blur. I freaked out a couple times and called my parents. "Get me out of here. I want to go home," I yelled through tears and didn't care about the stares. During this time, the nurse changed my bandage and cleaned my stitches by drowning them with peroxide. That did not feel great, not great at all. Meanwhile, my 3:00 PM class came and went. As the clock crept closer to 5:00 PM, I started getting frantic. I had spent nearly 24 hours locked up with nothing to do, but sit in my stress, anxiety, and shame. It was now nearing 6:00 PM On Monday, no one would answer my questions. What am I waiting for? Where will I be transferred? How long will I be there? What is the result of my assessment?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:13):
Dr. Jill called me back and said she would talk to my dad about getting me out. She also asked me if I was Baker Acted or voluntarily came. I didn't know what any of that meant. She explained that if I had refused to come to the hospital, then I would or could have been Baker Acted if the police officer thought I was a danger to myself or others. This is a Florida legal action, and I would have to be assessed in 24 hours. They would have to let me go if they could not find evidence that I was a danger. I thought it through. When was I asked about going to a mental hospital? I couldn't remember. Then it hit me. Officer Moen said he wanted to take me to some place that would help. He asked if I was okay with that and I said yes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:58):
I wanted to do the right thing and if he thought this place was right, I trusted him. I trusted the police officer like he was brought up to do. He never said it was a mental hospital. He never said I wouldn't be able to leave. He never said my rights and dignity would be stripped away. So there it was. I had come voluntarily. Dr. Jill said she was not sure what would happen. "When the hospital is not legally required to release, they had been known to keep people longer that have good insurance," she told me. She encouraged me to find a release form to sign so they would have to legally release me. After hanging up with Dr. Jill, I called my dad to see what I could do. I explained what Dr. Jill said, but he didn't agree.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:41):
"They will not keep you longer than they need to. They have plenty of patients they need to see and are not going to keep you for no reason," my dad, I mean, Dr. Lawrence said. At that, I yelled and cursed at my dad. I couldn't take this major contradiction from these psychologist anymore. "Calm down, control of yourself," he said this with force and authority as if I was his patient and he had lost his calm with me. His actions only made me more unsettled and fearful of the system that I found myself in the middle of. I hung up on Dr. Lawrence and started to pace the tiny space, the 30 of us were all jammed into. After a while, I noticed a small room about the size of a closet off to the side. It had white walls and was completely empty. I couldn't figure out its purpose. It seemed to be wasted space.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:31):
I decided it was a nice quiet place for me to try and calm down. I was exhausted after being awake for nearly 24 hours since this nightmare began. So I sat on the floor in the dark room alone and crying, still wearing the thin blue paper scrubs from the night before. I held my legs close to me and rocked back and forth. Intense anger and frustration accumulated inside me. I had the incredible urge to run, punch, kick, yell, roll over, fetch a stick anything. I couldn't just sit and do nothing. Sit, nothing. Sit, sit, sit. Beep. I'm going crazy. "This place makes you crazy," I said out loud to myself.
Beth Demme (17:10):
So I think we should clarify in case folks haven't read the book or didn't hear us talk about chapter one or chapter two. So your dad is a psychologist who does testing, but he has his doctor voice, which is why you sometimes refer to him in the book as Dr. Lawrence. That's when he is in doctor mode and comes with this sort of air of superiority,
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:35):
Beth Demme (17:37):
And Dr. Jill, who we've had as a guest on the podcast, is your actual psychologist.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:44):
Yes, she is the psychologist that I pay money to actually help me.
Beth Demme (17:49):
So when your dad is in Dr. Lawrence mode and he says, "They have plenty of patients they need to see, they're not going to keep you for no reason." Is he picturing a place like the CRC or is he maybe picturing a different kind of facility? Because it seems to me, based on your experience, that the CRC people had all the time in the world. Like time meant nothing there, and they were not in any hurry to get people processed or get people help or this is a receiving center. Like you were saying, this is where people come just to be caged like animals.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:28):
So I kind of came to learn that every city or county does things differently. So there is a Florida statute or law that the Baker Act... What do you call that, a law?
Beth Demme (18:45):
It is a statute and it is a law.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:47):
So that is Florida wide, and I assume it was named after someone that it happened to, named Baker. That's pretty much the only standard is the Baker Acting. And I think other states have something similar, but they're called different things. If they think someone's a danger to themselves or others, there's other legal things that can happen, but it's different in every state. But what I came to learn is that how all of this transpires is different in every county and city in Florida. So in Tallahassee where my dad is, they don't have a central receiving center. People get admitted straight to the behavioral health center, which is the mental hospital, or they get admitted, I guess, to the ER. And then they get sent over there, but they don't have any hub before that. And so that's what central receiving center is in Orlando is a hub to send people to and then transfer them out to other places.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:49):
I'm assuming to other mental hospitals. I don't know. I never got clarification on where people go other than a mental hospital from the central receiving center and why exactly they have the central receiving center. And honestly, I don't know if they still have it. I don't know if this is still something that's in Orlando. I personally wouldn't say they did the best of jobs in this location. So I don't know that it's something that they still have. But so he didn't know where I was because they don't even have the equivalent to that in Tallahassee. So in his mind, he was imagining me at a facility where he works, which is completely different from where I was. And he was just imagining his experience without trying to truly understand my experience of what I was going through which is what was really frustrating.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:40):
My psychologist, Dr. Jill, she got it right away. She was like, "I've heard of those places. You don't need to be there." And Dr. Lawrence was just kind of not being able to really think beyond what he knows and just put positive intent to where I was, "If she's in Tallahassee, she'd be in a good place." So I'm assuming it's the same thing in Orlando. Orlando's bigger, of course they have better things, so it's probably even better than Tallahassee. So I don't even think he could fathom that I was at a place that was not helpful.
Beth Demme (21:19):
And just from reading the book and from hearing the audible of, you didn't feel like you were there voluntarily. But the view that the hospital took was you agreed to come here voluntarily. I did just look it up and the Baker Act is named for the person who sponsored the bill for Maxine Baker. She, I guess, was the main sponsor of the act that created the statute, that created the law. So it's not that your school or the police officer decided, or even the emergency room decided that you needed to have this 72 hour period of commitment. The police officer said, "Do you want help?" And you said yes. And that was all it took for this to be a voluntary admission.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:09):
And it still really frustrates me. When you're arrested, what is it? Your Miranda rights that you read? You have the right to remain silent, your right to all these things. And it just did such a disservice to not inform me of what was happening. If they had said something clearly, if that officer had said, "I see that you have cut your arm. To me that appears that you are danger to yourself, that you are trying to kill yourself. And I would like you to voluntarily go with me to a place called Central Receiving Center. Where you'll be held and assessed and then you'll be sent to a mental hospital for further evaluation. Are you willing to voluntarily go with me?" Something as clear as that, where I have full information because I still to this day don't have full information of what everyone was thinking.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:13):
And so if he had said that information, I don't know. I don't know what I would've said. I don't know if I would've said okay still or if I would've been wait, I wasn't trying to kill myself. I want to live. I don't know how it would've played out differently. But that I think is just something that really, really bothers me, is that there was no clear communication of what was going to happen, that I was voluntarily going somewhere. I think when you hear voluntary versus involuntary, you think there's more of a discussion and something like that. But I was considered voluntary just because I said okay to a very cryptic question of can I take you somewhere that will help? Which when you think about it now, why did I not follow up with a million questions?
Beth Demme (24:07):
I don't think that that was your responsibility to have thought of all the questions. Because for one thing, you were 20 and for another thing, you weren't in the best place emotionally. That's kind of what brought all this on. But I think the part that really surprises me is that as soon as they heard that you had a psychologist and that you were seeing her for non-suicidal self-injury, I feel like that should have been a big yellow flag to everybody. "Let's call her and see what's going on. Or, Oh, you're not trying to commit suicide. This is a whole different thing." And it feels like nobody cared about that information.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:51):
And it's something as simple as asking, "Were you trying to commit suicide?" No one ever even asked me that. Something as simple, if I was trying to commit suicide, don't you think I would have at least known that that was what I was trying to do? That was so far from my mind because that wasn't at all anywhere near what was happening. At the time, I didn't know that I was engaging in non-suicidal self-injury. At the time it didn't actually have that title. It was just called self-injury. But I couldn't explain to you the complexities. But if somebody said, "Were you trying to commit suicide?" I would've said, "No, not at all. I want to live." But no one ever asked.
Beth Demme (25:36):
And also part of what we talked about in chapter one is the paramedics decided that you didn't need stitches. So kind of try to put myself in your situation, it's like if the officer said he was going to take me somewhere that could help. I would maybe think that was a hospital. A hospital to have additional evaluation about the cut because it turned out you did need stitches.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:00):
I needed like 24 stitches or something, or 12. I don't know. I think I wrote it down. I needed more than two.
Beth Demme (26:08):
You needed a number of stitches. So to say that, "I want help." And for that to equal, "I'm voluntarily agreeing to be taken to a mental hospital." It just feels like that's world's apart to me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:23):
Which again goes back to why education is so important with mental health issues like this. When somebody's having a mental health crisis, which I was. A police officer was sent who had 20 minutes of training on what to do and what's the sad thing is that this is still an issue today. This was in '06, and this is still an issue today where a police officer sent when it's a mental health crisis and they are not equipped to handle. Mental health is complex. There's so much complexities when it comes to the brain and to send a police officer who has more training on how to use a gun than anything else. And then also that's very intimidating, and I didn't have a bad relationship with police at the time. I didn't really have any interactions with police, but it still was intimidating to have a police officer come as if I had committed a crime.
Beth Demme (27:25):
It was not fair to you and it also was not fair to him. For him to be put in that situation without the training and the information that he really needed because I think he sincerely wanted to help you. He just didn't have the information or the tools to be able to do that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:41):
Yes, I'd agree.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:44):
One kind nurse finally tried to comfort me, but I was long past that point. I was shaking on the floor. I unloaded my thoughts out loud. My dad is a nightmare. He's one of them. He doesn't get it. He acts like he's superior to others because he does, of course, think he's superior to mentally ill people. He thinks there's nothing wrong with the system. That the system doesn't fail, and that there's only good people in this world. Look at my world, dad, look at what's right beep in front of you. I pause and try to take a breath through my full flowing tears. Well, at least we have the same political views. I would've given up all hope on him if we didn't. I whispered as if to still connect to my dad in some simple way. I thought back to growing up, my parents didn't use curse words and they didn't allow us to either. I was okay with that. I actually liked it not being part of my vocabulary.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:34):
Maybe I didn't care about those words because I was never in a situation where I really needed them. But now, freedom, choice and dignity taken from me. All I had were words. These words flowed out of me like never before. I soon lost my breath. I couldn't breathe. I had found my crazy place where no light shined in and voices could not be understood. The nurse left me there. I was alone shaking on the floor. I heard no sounds around me. I saw no human beyond me. I was at my lowest, my craziest. And then a memory popped into my head. At age six, I went to my bedroom, turned off the lights and asked God to live with me forever. I was prompted to make this commitment after my little ears had heard about it in church earlier that day. I didn't really understand it at the time, but I knew God was good and I wanted him to be a part of my life. It was a powerful moment.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:32):
As I sat on the cold, vinyl floor, the nurse came back in and turned on the bright light. As I looked up at her squinting at the light, she handed me a card. It had a white dove on the front with a message inside. It was from Matt, a youth pastor from my hometown church who now lived in Orlando. "Stephanie, hi," his note said. "I'm a hospital chaplain, so let me know when you get to where you're going and I'll stop by, Matt. That was the truth of the moment. But the symbolism in that moment was far greater. As I looked up into the bright light in the midst of despair, I saw the hand of God reach out to me and a dove fly freely from it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:15):
It flew calmly and gracefully surrounded by bright light. As I watched the dove, I heard God say, "I am here and there's another human who cares and wants to help right outside. You can make it through. Stand strong. I am with you." I stopped shaking and held the tiny card in my hand. This was mine from another human who cared. This gave me the strength to get through the last hours at CRC. And we had Matt on the show.
Beth Demme (30:44):
We did. We had him as a guest. And again, just impeccable timing. He just has impeccable timing. Even reading and hearing it, that feels like a very powerful moment; that you were at your lowest. And then the way that I would describe it is that the Holy Spirit reminded you that God was with you, and then you had this tangible representation of that because Matt had stopped by and had written you a note on a card that had this cheesy picture on it. I don't know.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:26):
Just standard clip art.
Beth Demme (31:30):
And it's almost like it didn't matter what Matt had written. It was just knowing that he existed, that he knew where you were, and that he had reached out to you. Like you say, from another human who cared. I think that's powerful because even with Dr. Jill, on some level she just wanted to get you out of there and you wanted your dad to want you to get out of there. But then Matt came and he didn't really do anything. It was just that he existed and he was present, and that was enough for you to have the strength to get through the last hours at CRC, just his presence. I think we underestimate that. The power of just being present with someone.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:17):
I would totally agree. Again, I can just remember being there and feeling that and going through that. There is something powerful just someone being there and knowing that they're there and knowing that they care.
Beth Demme (32:37):
So before that happened, you had this sort of, I'm going to use the word outburst, but I don't mean to minimize what happened. But you say you unloaded your thoughts out loud and you were saying, "My dad is a nightmare. He's one of them. He doesn't get it. Dad, look at what's right bleep in front of you." As I was reading back over that, I'm just wondering, have you forgiven your dad for that?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:03):
Well, I can tell you overall I've forgiven him for all the things. So I've been in a lot of therapy. I think we've talked about that. I've been in a lot of therapy for all of this, and I've also talked to my dad a lot about all of this. He's read the book and all those things. I have forgiven him for the things that have happened in it and the things that happened and I understand his position. Even though I can understand his position at the time where he was coming from, it doesn't mean that it was okay what happened. But I don't blame him and I don't hold resentment against him for these things. When I read them, I still get frustrated, for me at that moment. But there's been so much time and so much distance from this particular time and place, and there's been a lot of communication about it. That I don't hold on to resentment towards him or unresolved anger and those kind of things towards him because of it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:07):
So I've forgiven him. I think it's really important to forgive, and that's going to be a theme through the book. I think forgiveness is for me. And if I don't forgive people, then I hold and harbor this resentment towards them and it gives them too much power in my life, and that's not okay. So I like to work on all my junk so that people don't have power over me.
Beth Demme (34:27):
I also thought this section had a really keen observation in it because you talk about how your parents didn't use curse words and they just weren't a part of your vocabulary. But then you were in this situation and you're like, "Oh, maybe I never needed these words before, but now these words fit. These words are appropriate."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:45):
And it's true. I still don't really use curse words in my everyday life, and my friends have come to know that about me and they don't use certain words. But overall, as I've gotten older, I'm like, "Do your own thing. Say what you want to say. Don't like edit yourself for me." When I'm going through mental health stuff, I will throw out an F bomb and all these kind of things. So that to me is what curse words are reserved for. And there's been some stuff happening within the church that we used to work together at, and some curse words are very appropriate for some of that.
Beth Demme (35:28):
It reminds me when my son was little, my dad was still alive. Steven and my dad and our son were in the car and Steve and my husband backed into my mom's car in our driveway and said a curse word. And then he turned to Peter and he was like, I think Peter was maybe eight years old at the time. He was probably hearing these words in school. But anyway, Steven just turned to him and said, "That word was appropriate in that situation." Sometimes the vocabulary is helpful to let the emotion out. This reminded me of that. That was it. We did all of chapter three, so we're going to leave it on the cliffhanger of you just being in the central receiving center.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:24):
What's going to happen next? Do I get out?
Beth Demme (36:27):
Spoiler alert, you're not still there today.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:30):
We're remote recording, maybe I'm there. At the end of each episode, we end with questions for reflection. These are questions based on today's show that Beth will read and leave a little pause between for you to answer to yourself or you can find a PDF on our Buy Me A Coffee page.
Beth Demme (36:49):
Number one, have you or someone you've known ever been in the system? What system was it? How did you get out? Number two, think about a moment that changed you. Reflect on that moment now. Number three, have you ever felt like a family member didn't support you? Has it been hard to forgive them? And number four, have you ever been comforted by the sheer presence of another person even when they couldn't fix whatever problem you were facing?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:24):
This has been the Discovering Our Scars Podcast. Thank you for joining us.
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Mental Health Advocate. Author. Podcast Host. DIYer. Greyhound Mom.
I'm a mom who laughs a lot, mainly at myself. #UMC Pastor, recent Seminary grad, public speaker, blogger, and sometimes lawyer. Learning to #LiveLoved.