#30DaysofTruth

MOST RECENT

So, inspired by @thekimberlyiest and some posts written earlier this year by the @theadventurine here’s my day of truth post. Most days, I am lucky enough to be surrounded by sparkle and happy customers that we help find their perfect sparkle. Normally I love the Las Vegas jewellery show. There’s so much to see, amazing trends, education, and of course all. that. sparkle. Yesterday, though, I didn’t love it. I experienced sexism like never before along with completely disinterested vendors who wouldn’t even look up from their phones.

The only time I could engage vendors were when @dblocken was with me - and it left such a bitter taste in my mouth. So today, we’re regrouping - by the pool with a sociable, and we’re not going to the show floor. I found what I needed, and now I’m done.

I’m done with sales reps who want to pat me on the head and tell me they know better. I’m done with vendors who won’t shake my hand or work with me simply because I’m a woman, and I’m done allowing others to dim my sparkle.

What I’m not done with is this margarita I’m working, on and this glorious day with my fella just being us.

Thanks for the wake up call ladies,
and thanks @arialv Sky Pool for being my happy place. Thanks too, to the @jis_show jewellery show who did have great vendors - and I’m super excited by all the fab things we found there.
#aria #skysuites #jcklasvegas #wecandobetter #jis #girlpower #sparkle #neverletanyonedullyoursparkle #30daysoftruth

Day 11: #30daystofreedom ::The world as a loaded gun:: I was a child trying to navigate ​the world with the weight of PTSD on my back, the ways I suffered as an effect of my abuse are infinite. When abuse is so extreme you can not expect a child to verbalize the actual reason they are​ ​terrified, their fear is projected anywhere it will fit. I moved through the world in a state of quiet hyper-vigilance. Everything, the most mundane things, were a potential threat. I thought my home would betray me & suddenly swallow me in flames. I was terrified no one would come home, I felt so alone I couldn't fathom being even more alone. Social activities were terrifying because I didn't know what people would ask me & my dissociation made it hard to think. I dreaded gymnastics & dance class because if the teacher held my body in position I felt like I couldn't breathe. 3 adults couldn't hold me down at the doctors, I would kick & flail. Haircuts were terrifying because the stylist might see the wounds on my scalp from my anxiety induced picking. When I was assaulted my mind would tell me I was being electrocuted at random from the inside out, so I was terrified of lightning. I developed severe hypochondria, later food textures triggered me into dissociation & I was constantly scared I was being poisoned. I was basically terrified of anything I didn't have control of: being in a car, plane, or boat. Later I grasped at control with bouts of anorexia. I would cut my wrists just wanting my sadness to stop. Sometimes showering terrified me, other times I would shower too much trying desperately to rid my body of the horrible things done to it. Later drinking & drugs helped keep my mind foggy when PTSD was too painful, smoking helped me cope with my anxiety. And so much more. With the pressure put on me to appear normal I was masterful at keeping all my pain & my coping mechanisms hidden. It was my normal; I always smiled for pictures. Survivors deserve support for healing our PTSD. We deserve to be believed. We do not deserve to feel shame for being assaulted & then more shame for our coping mechanisms, for the ways our body & mind kept us alive. We deserve peace.

Day 12: #30daystofreedom ::Remembering:: Events arose that made me perform the mental acrobatics it took to finally understand that people I trusted deeply were abusing me emotionally & psychologically. I cut ties. Once I had some distance of space & time from my abusers my body took the signal it was safe and it all started to return. I am still in awe of the process I am going through to call back the fractured pieces of myself. My being has been a kettle boiling with repressed emotion & horror. My mind only ever gives what I can handle, letting the steam out in short bursts so I don't buckle under the weight of the entirety of my truth at once. The first memory broke through in a therapy session like a freight train, with utter detail & clarity, it felt like it slammed me to the ground. It took me weeks to get back on my feet. Then memories started to file in, the majority of them came in a 6 month period. Some still cryptic, some clear as day. Some are emotional memory, these can be the most difficult. It's beyond strange to remember something that feels shockingly new yet deeply familiar: things I had always known. The hardest memories came with excruciating migraines. I would see an image from a dissociated episode then the scene would emerge over a few hours--more detail in coming days & weeks. I still get more memory all the time; sometimes it's just mundane things, other moments of my childhood. I've made peace with the process and no longer resist & fear it as I had. I know now that there's nothing that can break me so I am no longer afraid. I've learned to welcome memories and be thankful for the valuable information they give me about who I really am & what has really happened to me. They are pieces of a shattered child coming home at long last to be whole. I have an acceptance of the horror I endured & the extreme measures I took to survive extreme circumstances. I have the great fortune of being intact & having clarity of mind after what I went through, it feels like a profound privilege that I still have my life & can speak so clearly. I feel no choice but to speak loudly for those who can not. It blows my mind every day how fucking lucky I am.

Day 13: #30daystofreedom ::My body was a prop:: I was trapped where ​everyone acts as experts on other people's experience; where every interaction is abusive because it's set on a stage created for hiding secrets & silencing; where speaking is not for communication, only for dominating ​& correcting behavior to fit a narrative. It's an oppression so powerful I would need a level of dissociation just to be in the same room; I would feel suffocation just speaking with them. I freed myself of that tireless web of distortion. Now I see I don't need them, I never actually had them: it was an illusion. I don't desire any "family" that comes with abuse. Now it doesn't matter what they say or do, they can never hurt me again. I have created my own family from the deep knowing of what it could be, a knowing they could never erase, kill, or brutalize out of me. As a little girl I had a clear vision of a new life, I never doubted I would get to exactly where I am today. My body was used as receptacle for others' pain ​& a prop to create an illusion of normalcy to hide ugly secrets. Now I am finally reclaiming my body, acknowledging the pain it holds as no one ever did. I hated my body because I failed to see it as the beautiful vessel of protection & spirit that it is. My body has always been on my side--promising me life--it gave my son life. Even amidst the suffering ​& denial it moved me through the world ​and afforded me connection with amazing people who inspired me, who believed in me, who have helped lift me now as I grapple with my trauma. Our bodies hold all the understanding of our experience and the wisdom of what we need to heal. Victims of sexual abuse are especially disconnected from their bodies, it's hard to know where to begin. I started by simply noticing my physical ​& emotional pain, ​and bearing witness instead of numbing as my abusers taught me. I respect what my body is trying to tell me, I listen, I allow feeling to wash over me because I know it's moving ​ and I will come out the other side with more space to feel something else. I am closing the gap between me and my body. I am building trust. I am recognizing how strong it is.

Day 14: #30daystofreedom ::anger:: Yesterday was a warm spring day, one of my most painful PTSD triggers: the warm breeze, sunshine, sounds of summer approaching, motorcycles, birds, the ice cream truck. Every spring I couldn't just be excited about warm weather, sprinklers, and ice cream. Nothing was ever simple for me. Everything was drenched in foreboding and dread. I have never ever run care free through the park. Today I'm angry. I'm angry I've had to work so hard, that what was done to me was so enormous and terrible that I've suffered in more ways than I can count for 35 years, that it was so huge that I have to do something huge and exhausting like writing every day about it for 30 days to help me reclaim my voice and my life. I'm angry that eyes divert when the subject is raised. I'm angry at the silence. When I was young I had a symbol for my anger—a figure, a shape in my mind—because it was before I had the words to express the deep, wild feeling my body held, and because it was so stifled. I've carried this symbol in my mind with muted desperation. I've endured some of the worst horror humanity has been able to dream up, and then ignore; my anger is completely validated. My mind and body experienced the darkest dark. I didn't deserve it and I didn't create it. But I refuse to be poisoned with anger. How can I spend my life holding on to anger in my heart for a powerful history of violence that existed long before me? My power lies in choosing myself. Why should I lay down and die because of awful things awful people did to me? It doesn't make any sense. I deserve my life. Much of my anger comes from being so compressed— made so small, so silent. I respond to my anger by taking up more space, by using all the words and time I need to express myself. We cannot deny our anger; we have to feel it, own it, let it run its course. Anger is opportunity for movement. I am carefully spinning my anger into power, into a golden thread I weave into my life, into all I do and say. It reinforces all the love & beauty I find. It keeps me present and alive, it gives me a push when I need, it helps me keep rising, keep speaking, keep advocating, keep living the hope.

Day 15: #30daystofreedom ::oppression//resilience::
There is a monstrosity contained in the word oppression; the darkest, realest definition of oppression is a weight so heavy, so encompassing, so life threatening that you drown in it but you keep on living. It envelops you until it becomes your very sun and sky. Until it's poison is the air you breath. An underworld, a negative print of life. You are so immersed it is the only normal you know, then it steps into the background and steals your voice. You forget it's there. It seems you share this world but there's a place you occupy where no one can reach you. You know you can't breath, that you can't speak, but you can't remember what is killing you. Because it's all you've ever known. The deepest, darkest oppression is the one you have no idea even exists. Child sexual abuse is a plunge into some of the darkest waters humans invented. I lived there. I was born there. There were times I wondered if this world was only hell. It was a question too sad to even ask, I was so scared of the answer. So I put it all away.

I'm pulling it all out now, laying it all on the floor, combing through. Now I can pick what can go and what can stay, what is really me and what was my trauma, someone else's pain. I can sift through the darkness and pull out the diamonds born of all that pressure. I can see how much magic and beauty was packed in there, I was caught in the constant motion of crisis and I lost sight.

We have an amazing ability to persevere in darkness, it's our nature to be that flower flourishing in a crack in the sidewalk. Overcoming oppression is what humans do so beautifully.
I walked through fire, I'm ready for cleansing waters, for stillness. Now I am my priority. When liberating yourself from oppression and abuse don't turn around for anyone. Unless it's for a piece of yourself you lost. Anyone you truly have will be walking beside you, you won't have to look for them. (photo by me)

Day 16: #30daystofreedom ::It's an atom bomb:: *Trigger warning: child sexual abuse* Being raped as a child is no different in severity than a soldier surviving a bomb that blew apart fellow soldiers, no different than someone surviving a car wreck and seeing their family get mangled. No one would question that the person's recall is difficult or nonexistent at times, that their experience is warped or out of time. The body & mind go through great lengths to protect us from such horrendous earth shattering imagery, emotions, & sensation. To a child who can't fathom the act of rape, sexual violence is nothing short of an atom bomb set off at the very center of their being, inconceivable horror & darkness that leaves nothing untouched. Rape & dissociation mangled my being, blew holes in my brain. I don't have the words to accurately describe that horror. The pain was so horrendous it took me 30 years to understand what happened. At a very young age I faced my death. It's an urgency that stays with me, even now it tries to convince me I won't be able to finish these posts before my life is taken. I've cried exasperated tears of relief, hope, & strange joy: tears that say, "I am still here, I got away with my life." I know deeply what it feels like to have your life when all the odds were against you, It's a kind of guilt I've heard soldiers back from war speak of; it asks, "Why me? Why do I still get to be here?" Now I am so grateful to understand this collection of experiences that felt so confusing, so disparate from each other, so alien & bizarre, so painful, so otherworldly that when I could not make sense of them, I longed to forget them. I pushed them way down in the depths of my being so I could survive. It is hard for our brains to fathom what humans are capable of living through. It's even harder for us to comprehend we can heal from such bombs in our life. The message in my heart is that healing is possible. Here on the other side the sun still shines. Every day I reclaim more, harvesting the ash from destruction, using it to nourish the soil, cultivating life. I am here, against all odds. I have joy in my heart, against all odds. (collage by me)

Day 17: #30daystofreedom ::Master of invisibility:: When I spoke the truth I was told I didn't make sense. THIS was MORE traumatizing than the physical abuse. I began to believe I couldn't construct sentences, I spoke less & less. I still tend to speak low. It's a feeling that grips me in the moments after posting; I feel convinced no one can read it, that it's all gibberish. With every post this feeling is subsiding. There was a period of my childhood when I barely spoke. A teacher said she didn't know who I was after being in her class for 6 months. I was a master at becoming invisible: the world understood me as a nice, quiet little girl. I felt a lot of pressure to be perfect so I squeezed myself in that box. I felt like a moving target. I hoped if I got close to disappearing I might be hurt less. Dissociation made me feel like I was entering patterns on the wall, I thought it was the state of my being. This is a painting I did in college. Fading to the background—there were times I was scared I would vanish all together. One of the first things I ever told my therapist was I think people can't see me when I walk into a room. I was shocked to hear myself say it. I didn't think too much about these posts before I started because I thought no one would see or read them anyway. The older I got, the more frustrated I was that I couldn't be smaller, and that I couldn't completely enter imaginary play. Playing was a stressful mission of survival to leave my body as much as I could. Now I watch my son with utter amazement as he plays lightheartedly: it's beautiful to see him free of all the burden I carried. Saturday he asked me to run with him in the park, I tried to imagine the freedom he feels, it's closer then ever. Today I feel weight in my body when I move through the world, I don't feel horror when someone responds to my presence. I feel a deeper calm then I have ever known. It was necessary I be small during all those years of survival, because if I was small & didn't matter then my abuse was small & didn't matter. I had to allow the enormity of my abuse to take up space before I could access peace. Today I am much larger and more powerful then my abuse.

Day 18: #30daystofreedom ::darkness holds the brightest light:: When my life comes to an end I will have had the fortune of dying twice. To begin accepting my reality I've had to tear down everything I thought I knew about myself: my life; who I could trust; who loved and protected me. In every sense—I had to die. When I was in the throes of darkness—a visceral underworld of migraines and returning memory—I wished I could have a funeral for myself and invite my friends; just to make it official. To die during life is a harrowing, singular path. I walked myself to the threshold: a place where it feels there is no ground or meaning to anything. Miracles happen in that liminal space for those who become a pioneer in their own lives. By walking ahead bravely with my eyes and heart open I was able to transmute my fragments and emerge the person who can handle my truth and perform the alchemy of transforming pain into joy. It feels like I've been handed an unlimited amount of heartbreak, but the extreme nature of my experience afforded me the blessing of deeply excavating my conditioning. Trauma demands we face our shadow self. Once I could welcome my darkness home the two parts of my being met, affording me a glimpse at my soul. I saw myself in the tornado of all those years of violence. My eyes are inhabited with the knowledge of my soul, not blank as I had thought. I saw my face as calm and peaceful amidst the violence swirling around my body. My soul said "you will never destroy me." Something incredible happened the day I remembered myself: the light was more vivid; life felt hyper-real. I shed a layer of dissociation and realized that amid the destruction I had been weaving a beautiful world for myself with a loving husband and beautiful son by my side; a real family. For the first time in my life I allowed myself to feel safe, loved, alive, and still: a sensation I couldn't have imagined possible...a miracle. That sunlight has never left my face since. Darkness' secret is it holds a blinding light, a beautiful gift.

Day 19: #30daystofreedom ::healing is possible:: When I experience new feelings of joy I remind myself I am only touching the shore of what I've never felt. Beyond my vision is a vast ocean of new experience; even if I haven't felt those waters. There are depths I'm free to spend my life exploring. We are our own healers—skilled support is invaluable in helping guide us in the dark—but we hold all our own light. I found enough love in my heart to fill the void of my heart break & abandonment. I found myself whole and able to give myself the home my heart longed for. I spent a long time trying to erase my abuse, edit my life, wishing it didn't happen. Today I can sit in peace with my past because I know I am not tarnished. I surrender to my truth and stand in the sun; I can celebrate how resilient I've had to be to survive some of the worst violence & atrocity imaginable. I want to freely share because, although it's been very difficult to understand this; my story is beautiful and triumphant and I have nothing to hide. Just because so many are still at the mercy of their fear & denial, and can't handle me or my story, doesn't mean I'll stop being who I am—I waited all my life to be who I am. I give myself permission to now put down the old paradigm of fear & hiding. When I feel lost I make decisions as someone who IS fearless & free, so I am always moving closer to being that person. I need only to draw on the well of strength that kept me alive. Walking becomes sprinting, healing becomes living, speaking becomes free as breathing. Survivors of abuse are amazing and beautiful and of this world. We deserve space in our society to be seen, heard, and believed. When that space doesn't exist—as it so often doesn't—I demand it by making it within myself. We have the ability cradle our own hearts, to be tender with ourselves as we heal. Healing then gives us strength to hold space for others who, in their own time, are ready to begin liberating themselves. We have everything we need within us yet we don't have to do it by ourselves. Our future is not dependent on our past, we can empower ourselves & each other to create the life we dream of and deserve.

Day 20: #30daystofreedom ::Bringing peace to our shame::​ ​I refuse to shame my abusers or those who have abandoned me through their denial. Any shame I put​ ​on​ ​them is shame I have to allow to ​inhabit my body ​as I point my finger, ​and I refuse to harm myself in that way. I​t certainly takes a concentrated effort because I have been so deeply hurt. Before I could arrive here I had to spend a long time acknowledging and releasing my ​justified ​anger, excavating ​my deep wounds​.
The disease of child abuse​ ​relies on both a system of denial and adults who fear exposure more than they want to ​​protect children.​ Living in denial means living in pain, even if disconnected to the cause; I know, because I did it for a long time. Shame and pain perpetuate cycles of abuse. I refuse to shame because there is already so much shame in the world and therefore so much abuse. Shaming others does not prevent abuse because if an abuser were able to reconcile their shame and heal themselves they would likely stop abusing.​ I believe an abuser's path to liberation is much steeper than for that of a victim; I can imagine no greater hell than the suffering and guilt of being a predator.
The shame of child sexual abuse rears its head in a myriad of ways. Abusers can not bear their shame so they put it on their victim—anyone who ma​de ​me feel shame ​did so to ​try and not ​feel it themselves​—I still grapple with shame that I couldn't protect myself or get help, that I trusted people who were hurting me. There is shame in our hiding and in our society's refusal to even admit such horrific things happen. People tell themselves they can't deal with such ugliness, but victims have no choice but to deal with it if they want to save their own lives. Shame is a barrier, it is time we offer peace and forgiveness to our shame.
Now ​I have absorbed the truth that I do not deserve the rage and violence ​projected on me, ​it isn't actually personal, I was ​an​ easy target. ​I​t is important to identify and name abusive behavior, but it does not serve me to judge the ways people keep themselves alive. My energy is better spent healing myself.​ (drawing by me)

Day 21: #30daystofreedom ::Denial:: ​Someone says, "I was raped" and answered, "no you weren't". Why is this deeply disturbing nightmare a reality for so many victims of sexual violence? Because: denial. Perhaps one of the most powerful coping mechanisms humans utilize to survive trauma. People ​in denial will go to great lengths to protect rapists; rape victims often face more scrutiny than rapists. Why people deny:
-they are victims themselves, they deny their own trauma so they must deny others
-they are in a codependent relationship with an abuser ​& feel they need ​to maintain ​that relationship to live
-they fear their own guilt of not having been able to prevent abuse
-they are invested in an illusion of family because it makes them feel safe.
-the idea that something so horrific can happen makes them feel too vulnerable
-children in a toxic system must believe their parents ​& their parents' denial, otherwise face that their parents are lying ​& don't have their children's best interest at heart
I was in denial for a long time, I understand the mechanism. People can only accept ​& heal at their ​pace. No one could have convinced me of the truth before I was ready​, i​t had to come from me. I ​got​ to a point of strength ​where I didn't need anyone to overcome their denial to believe me, where I was able to love myself enough to accept I don't need anyone who cares so little about me they would call me a liar when I'm sharing something so painful.
There is no limit to what a person in deep denial will destroy or who they will abandon in order to maintain their ​illusions.
Just because people can't handle truth doesn't make the truth less true. ​Denial is a huge reason victims fear speaking out, ​denial is powerful,​ but the truth is much more powerful. ​To those who are not invested in a lie the truth is self evident, truth speaks for itself. Victims letting go of ​anyone who​ den​ies​ what happened to them is a process that should be handled with tenderness ​& care. It's so common that victims face their trauma only to be re-traumatized by being rejected ​by people they thought loved them. It's understandably excruciating.

Day 24: #30daystofreedom ::Time does not heal all wounds::​ I have lived the past 35 years in full tilt crisis mode. If I did not address my trauma I would still be in that state 35 years from now. Trauma is unprocessed emotion & sensation trapped in our body, there is no amount of time that lessens that pain. I can understand how a person can go their entire life with out addressing their trauma.
For me, seemingly benign triggers—a certain light; a time of day; weather; color; texture;​ a tone; a word—trips off a trigger attached to a long strand of stream of consciousness...a fuse that ignites my nervous system. My cells light up with fear, sadness, or anger. I might miss what the trigger was, project the emotion on something, someone else. Before I unders​tood​ I had PTSD my life was a mysterious mine field of intense emotions packed into innocuous places. I felt like I could go up in flames in an instant, yet, keeping it undetectable to the outside world. That tension between inexplicable terror and hiding is ​just ​so painful. Intimacy & relationships are exceptionally challenging when you have no idea why you are feeling or acting the way you are. Mostly I just piled it on the long list of ways I felt I was inherently defective.
CPTSD, although not yet recognized in the DSM-5 is understood as PTSD from prolonged, repeated trauma. To me the "complex" descriptor rings true in the coded nature of my PTSD; symptoms can be very cryptic from many confusing years of repression and projection. I had no life before trauma, no baseline for normal emotional reactions. Finally learning words & concepts for the sensations that have plagued me my entire life has been incredibly clarifying. Yet it doesn't sit well that PTSD & dissociation can be viewed as a "diagnosis," therefore an illness; not when the true sickness was the abuse. I now view my dissociation as a healthy, protective response to unhealthy, dangerous circumstances. I view my PTSD as an appropriate side effect of surviving life threatening circumstance. My body & mind have always been moving me towards survival and mental and physical health. Survivors are not broken, we are amazingly equipped & resilient.

Day 25: #30daystofreedom ::Silence is violence:: Trauma met with support and acknowledgment can be dealt with in a healthy, healing manner. When trauma is met with silence—with no one reflecting back that the painful experiences occurred, or denial that it occurred—it causes exponentially more pain and damage. It is very easy to assault a child repeatedly—frozen and limp like a mouse in a cat's jaw—my nervous system shut down to increase my chances of survival. I almost never fought back. Often it was after I would cry; my cries for help always went unanswered. I laid sobbing until dissociation took me away on a welcome relief. Dissociation was not only a reaction to the violence but to the silence. I could not make sense of no one helping me when I laid injured and crying in a place I was supposed to feel protected and loved. That pain is deeper than any physical pain. I built thick walls between me and those loveless, abandoned feelings. Children have no choice but to trust, we build our life on that trust. When it was broken at so young I just couldn't accept it, so I built my life on an illusion of trust instead: it's what I had to do to survive. It was only so long until it all crumbled; I am so grateful it did, because now I have the gift of feeling everything I couldn't feel then and have it be reflected and seen by those who love me. I'm grateful for the tears that are finally let loose and met with comfort and support. Now I am fully alive and feeling. I'm so grateful I know who I am and what happened to me. There is so much healing in simply being seen; I can finally tell that little girl, "Many people see you, many people know what they did to you and know the ways you were hurt, they understand it was wrong. You really made it, it's really over, you are safe. Peace, happiness, and freedom are waiting for you, you deserve it, reach out and take it, it's meant for you." This is my life beginning.

Day 26: #30daystofreedom ::Reclaiming my inner voice/intuition:: When I realized the full scope of what was done to me it felt like I just woke up to find I was in a horrific crash and had been lying mangled & unattended to on the side of the road for 35 years. I was overcome with the urgency of just realizing I might be bleeding out. The very next emotion was self blame; "how did you not do something about this sooner!" Having been abused my whole life my inner voice was largely my abusers'​: they need not be present to beat me to a pulp, I did it all on my own. ​All those unexplained symptoms of PTSD were perfect fodder for my relentless self-criticism​. Countless times I remember crying from the heart wrenching pain of my sadness, I would tell myself: "You are just dramatic," as my abusers would say when my emotions showed. It's actually impossible to be dramatic about being raped.

My pain is very real. Our bodies store unprocessed physical sensation from trauma; "body memories" haunted me all my life. When I was in my 20's I often went to the doctor certain there was a tumor in my throat—something blocking my airway—choking me​. Now I know it​'​s body memory​. ​​Aching anxiety radiates down my legs; ​these pains are real pain. Repeated trauma causes damage to the brain & nervous system, it impacts us on a cellular level. This is real injury.

Abuse robs us of our intuition because we can't access stillness to connect with it when the turbulence of crisis keeps us flailing. The inner voice of my abusers told me I caused my pain, I was ​shameful & ​defective. That pain was never mine​, today I am handing it all back to my abusers; it was always theirs. ​Today ​I'm ​validating my own experience. Our brains are so resilient, I take every opportunity I can to rewire it for freedom & fearlessness. ​I'm reclaiming my inner voice, it ​speaks with love: guided by what is in my ​and my family's ​best interest, what's healing for our collective. My inner voice speaks of drawing out unseen beauty by healing & turning down the noise of trauma. ​I speak of liberation as our birthright. I speak to heal myself ​& support ​others' healing, to create ​lightness in my heart.

Day 27: #30daystofreedom ::Language of liberation:: In the toxic system I grew up in every attempt at healing & transformation was demonized, as it is now. I had to learn my own language for what I was dreaming of. It's amazing to recall the ways I allowed myself to be led towards liberation. I would find myself caught up in a subject or movement, my whole body would scream: "be a part of THIS". I felt the first stirrings in a rain forest, I followed that wisdom to farming & community organizing, started an urban farming program centered on food & racial justice. Learning about others' oppression began my unconscious work of beginning to liberate myself, it gave me a new vocabulary. I found myself in an "undoing racism" workshop, I worked hard to begin dismantling my privilege. I understood my privilege didn't belittle my suffering; actually, I was learning how to heal by listening with an open heart to the experiences of others. I saw what I hadn't yet seen in myself: the desperation in suffering injustice while having your story rewritten by those who hold power. That workshop gave me a glimpse at the magic, light-filled place where humans really show up to solve systemic oppression and break down barriers; it's in that human presence where oppression finally dies.
What I found in that place was pure hope, the likes of which I had never known. Years before my remembering it was there that I started to rouse healing within me. Activism was teaching me, but I hadn't healed my own mind & body, there was a limit my work because my being was still shackled & gagged. Undoing racism is life long, inter-generational work. I started to understand that I couldn't show up for any movement the way the movement deserved if I did not heal myself. My pregnancy and the birth of my son whisked me along that path faster than I thought possible. The depth of our acknowledgement of others' truth is only as deep as the depth at which we acknowledge our own truth. Healing ourselves must come first, otherwise we will always be in a house of mirrors of projected pain. As we heal we might stand in solidarity and build the future our hearts know is possible.

Day 28: #30daystofreedom ::Intersectionality & abuse:: To negate abuse we must build a powerful version of feminism that values all intersections of identity absolutely & equally. We must be vigilant against whitewashing, which has been so prevalent in movement building. We must value & support a healthy version of masculinity, because feminism without intersectionality is a lie.

My privilege doesn't lessen my pain but it has informed my experience. My whiteness afforded me more opportunities to survive and heal than if I was non-white. I also have privilege of location: I live in New York City, with its countless modality & therapy options. I was a victim of abuse and yet still experienced privilege. Intersectionality means holding both these truths at once, it's important we come to this nuanced understanding of experience.

However, paradoxically my whiteness also helped to enslave me; our society makes assumptions of wholesomeness about a white, middle-class family with the picket fence. White people have the benefit of the doubt on their side.

The fact is healing costs money & expendable time. Women & people of color have been historically disenfranchised and lack access to resources. How are we as a society going to ensure survivors receive the support they deserve? Identity should not be a limiting factor for healing.

Woman AND men are abused by women AND men. Toxic masculinity creates a different set of challenges for men to face their abuse. Men experience privilege and yet the patriarchy will weaponize masculinity when men speak out about abuse, being historically shamed for accessing their emotion & admitting vulnerability.

All of these intersections and experiences are utterly human. Victims are never at fault.

As I write this I realize how humanizing writing these posts has been. For the first time I feel a part of the human race. I need not have shame about being a survivor or about my personal intersectionality. I surrender to how beautiful humanity is in all its complicated struggle & perseverance. Today we have so much opportunity for connecting with one another across identity & location, it's an amazing time to be alive.

Day 29: #30daystofreedom ::Gratitude:: I met my husband at 15, here I am at 16 with him, so thin after I stopped eating. I could write 30 more posts about the many times Bobby saved my life. Our relationship is one of the miracles of my life, in an existence that has felt so confusing & disconnected he has been my one constant. The moment we met when we were kids it felt like meeting someone I had known forever. We have been through so much, my trauma bled into every area of our life, it became his trauma. He helped me shoulder the weight. Not only am I healing but he is, we are. We have finally gathered our missing pieces & woke up with new sunshine, our little boy & so much to be thankful for.

I am so grateful to finally speak clearly & share my story, that I emerged intact with the chance to build a new life.

I'm grateful that opportunity for healing is everywhere. Some of the things that helped me survive are the simplest: singing, dancing, sitting by water--things I returned to at almost every age.

A few months ago I was crossing a street in Manhattan one morning & was suddenly overcome with gratitude realizing everything in my life, outside my abuse, had been FOR me, in support of me. Tears rushed to my eyes, I wished I could reach out to every person I had the fortune of connecting with and being inspired by, because each helped save my life. Whether we walk together today or our paths have parted, thank you and I love you. Some of you now deny me and my truth- I am angry and hurt, but I do understand, I have love in my heart for you. For me, my abusers are not people to love or hate, they are illness I had to detach and heal from. I am very grateful for arriving at this understanding.

There are so many ways I could have lost the fight for my life. Now looking back I see I was always being lifted, invited into love & freedom. With every leap I have been supported, every time I pushed past a limitation clouds parted with new opportunity.

My heart overflows for how beautiful my life has been despite my pain, how fortunate I am for the deep dark to afford me this technicolor experience of understanding & joy. Deepest shadow allows the brightest light.

Day 30 #30daystofreedom ::Arriving/Thriving:: As a survivor it can appear safer to stay in denial and dissociation than to venture into the uncharted territory of facing truth, pain, and backlash. My message to those still hiding within themselves, from my heart to yours: you are worth the work! At your own pace you can learn to identify what does not serve you and tenderly let it go. Thank coping mechanisms for how they protected you, invite them to rest at peace. It takes time but you are worth it; you cannot skip self-love on the way to healing—give all the love you deserve—you can't over do it.

Victimhood and surviving do not have to be life-long, instead they are appropriate stages to evolve through to living. Survivors can and deserve to THRIVE; a history of abuse does not have to mean a life sentence of suffering.​ ​

Today my abuse is a much smaller part of life.​ My ptsd is healing, it's a vulnerability I tend to with love. It was ​difficult to lose my entire family​—or to let go of th​at ​illusion​, rather—but necessary as there was clearly no way they were coming with me to heal. That difficult transition was incredibly worth it. Family that hurts us is not family; I choose ​self-love.​ I choose being awake over dissociation. Now that I know joy I would give my life before I am silenced again.​ Invisible to the world—I grew up homeless—my body was beaten and bruised​—my being is covered in unseen scars. ​My scars are beautiful, evidence of life.

I know my ancestors are proud of me​​ for walking out of these flames with my heart​ ​full of love. Behind me is a long legacy of women, men, and children who fought hard, many who never got to speak. Soldiers back from war should get their celebrated arrival, those lost at sea throw their body on the shore in ​gratitude. I never got that experience, so I am dedicating this post ​to ​my arrival. I am scorched​ and torn from a 35 year war​: I made it. I am on my knees weeping in ​deep ​appreciation for this life.​ The path ahead holds happiness and possibility as I leave my past behind.​ If you see me you are celebrating with me: I am whole and full of life.

::::💛THANK YOU💛::::
Writing for 30 days has been enormously harder than I thought and enormously more liberating than I thought possible. I am closing the gap between who I am and who I appear to be, thankfully I am walking in truth now and can't be separated from it again. It will likely take me a long to time to understand all the ways these 30 days have transformed me. 🌼Thank you for reading and witnessing. 🌼Thank you to Bobby who washed all the dishes, did the laundry, picked up toys, fed dogs, proofread posts, and made endless space for me to complete these 30 day process. 🌼Thank you to my son for reminding me every day why I need to speak louder. 🌼Thank you to modern technology that allowed me to write all times of day on the notes app on my tiny old-ass iPhone 5. 🌼Thank you for the bizarre and wonderful land of internet where I could cast my words to more eyes than I can imagine. 🌼Thank you for hashtags that lead me to so many beautiful souls sharing their stories of healing. 🌼I am thankful I have a lot more words yet to share, ​​offering what I can to those stepping out of the shadows.​ I will never stop speaking, I have the rest of my life to tell my story and I will. I'll be turning this series into a (more freeform) 100 day project on this IG account @apaththroughfire. Follow if you feel called. I'll also post there about where my words might land next; I am dreaming big as I can. I stared down so many fears with these posts, I feel new levels of peace. I'll keep stepping into deeper freedom, I'll keep speaking louder, I am not afraid.
I'll continue to rise.
Much love.
🔥🌼🔥

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