Have you ever hit rock-bottom?
It’s not a fun place to be at all, and if you’re there now, I hope and pray that you can use your time wisely in the swampy waters of rock-bottom, so that when you climb back out, you can emerge a changed and better version of yourself. Rock-bottom could be addictions, abuse, losing your job, losing a loved one, or losing your sense of self, you name it.
So, just a few years ago I was there, just fully submerged and thought I was going to drown. I had been stripped, I felt, of everything I enjoyed, my health had suffered and I was depressed, big time. I truly did not see a way out, and was afraid I wasn’t going to get better. I’ll delve more into the backstory & the “why” I had arrived at rock-bottom in another post. For now, I’ll talk about one avenue I used to help myself, and that was to use that time to soul search and go backward a bit, to move forward.
If you’re already at rock-bottom, you may as well look around and figure out how you wound up in this pit..lack of boundaries, self-esteem, maybe a series of bad choices? Sometimes it’s not necessarily that we’ve done something bad or wrong, but that we’ve been handed some tough cards. I really believe mine was a combination of both and as painful as it was, and still is, I knew some choices and growth were in order. I did a ton of self work, another ton of praying, crying, and after a childhood laced with mixed and negative messages about my own identity that I’d absorbed, I decided to use some of my time into looking backwards at my ancestry to see who I came from.
I used the internet and a variety of sources, but the main one being Ancestry.com (not an affiliate post).
I was really surprised to see how much information there was to work with and I was able to put the pieces of my family tree together pretty easily. There are still some branches I’m stuck on, but many of them traced back surprisingly far. It was really therapeutic on a few different levels, one, it was a positive activity to take my mind off of being depressed, secondly, it shed light on some misinformation that had been hurtful. Researching my ancestry resulted in increasing my self esteem and sense of self as I read stories about the people who came before me and helped to shape my story before I was even born.
I learned of ancestors such as Richard Warren who was a pilgrim on the Mayflower, and one of the signers of The Mayflower Compact, he was my 11th great-grandfather. No wonder I love Thanksgiving so much, I thought it was the mashed potatoes and the pumpkin pie!
Johann George May was another with an interesting story, he was born in Germany (I didn’t know I had some German in me) in 1735, he was my 6th great-grandfather. He came to America aboard the sailing ship “Phoenix” and settled in Pennsylvania, where he worked as a farmer and inn keeper. During the Revolutionary War he served as Captain, Major, and Lieutenant Colonel of Berks County Militia. He fought with General George Washington at the Battle of Long Island New York in 1776 and was with Washington at Valley Forge. General George Washington was a personal acquaintance of Johann George May and visited his home. One story I’d read was that Johann’s children clamored to sit on General George Washington’s knee when he came to visit. How cool is that?
There were so many interesting women as well, one being the beautiful redheaded Irish Princess, Honora Mary O’Flynn, my 8th great-grandmother, born in Kerry Ireland in 1681, the daughter of King Edward O’Flynn. Honora was said to have been a vibrant young woman and pious Catholic, who was kidnapped on the southern coast of Ireland and transported to America with many other young women. She was sold in Baltimore harbor to William Logsdon for a bag of tobacco, he being a tobacco farmer, and they married in 1702 at St. James Catholic Church in Baltimore, Maryland. It made me happy to learn that Honora’s father was able to come to America to be reunited with his beloved daughter in Carroll County, Maryland.
After learning all of that, and more, how could I continue being depressed with such a rich legacy to continue forward with? After all that they’d been through, and I’d personally been through, didn’t I need to pick myself up & dust myself off one more time and move forward?
I decided yes.
So, what was it about Charity Sparrow and her story that intrigued me enough to name a blog after her? Well, initially her name caught my attention, I’d heard a preacher once say something about the word charity in the Bible being synonymous with the word love. Her last name being Sparrow, a bird, and I put the two together as Love Bird. That struck my funny bone (I’m easily amused) and being a lover of birds just made me love it more. Another thing I found amusing was that (if the lineage is correct) she liked her own name enough that she named one of her own daughters Charity as well. Charity Sparrow was going to be the original name of our Facebook page, but I decided against it at the last minute and went the Distressed route instead.
Essentially it’s like the whole thing has come full-circle and I’m coming back to my original gut instinct and idea. I feel the moral there, for me anyway, is to follow your heart (and gut) and don’t necessarily shrink back and take the easier route. We’ll just call it taking the scenic route, shall we?
Have you done any tracing of your roots? I’d love to hear your stories of family that you’ve learned about..and did any of it help you to know yourself a bit better like it did for me? And if you’re going through rock-bottom, or tough times, I hope you try to find something that you’d enjoy learning more about, and please know that you’re not alone and you’re going to get back up, you’ve got this!