“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron
When I was seventeen years old I sent my step dad to prison for six years for sexually abusing me. Is that hard to read? Good. Let it sink in. I’m not afraid of not being delicate about it anymore. I have the right to not treat it like I am the one who should be ashamed.
I also hope it comes as a shock. I hope that you are in disbelief because I have shown nothing but empathy, strength, humor, and positivity in the way I treat people and carry myself. Instead of using it as a crutch to play a victim, or repeatedly asking myself “why me”… that I turned that pain into action.
I am strong, I am opinionated, I have a sailor mouth, I am honest and anxious and particular… and I do not apologize for any of it.
I spent years of my life in a dark place that trickled into everything I did. Every single terrible event that happened left me reeling and repeatedly picking up pieces and clawing my way back to a place of sanity. I don’t know if I slept a full night from the age of ten to twenty-two. I was scared of the dark, death of family members, scared to be alone, anxious of what others thought. Terrified people would judge me for being poor, being damaged, scared of going to my college classes, scared to ask for anything I wanted. Wanting so badly to have somewhere to place blame or use that chip on my shoulder. I look back at things that just seemed commonplace in my life that it’s almost laughable at the number of unfortunate happenings that transpired from the time I was young up to the present.
My desire to succeed and take ownership of my life is heavily driven by the fact that all signs pointed to failure – and I did not want to believe that. This doesn’t mean I haven’t had many mental breakdowns, days of crying for no reason, being a complete bitch to everyone around me with no explanation… it means that I never gave myself any other option but to rise above. To this day it’s why I am always learning more in my field and never getting complacent. It’s why I never turn down an opportunity to care take, and build someone up.
Perfectionism is a gift and a curse. I always want to do and be more, but I give myself little grace when I falter. It has been something I have practiced diligently in my late twenties. I want to be independent and take ownership for my own life, but asking for help is not my strong suit. I have immersed myself in a business that promotes betterment in mind, body, and lifestyle. I don’t let myself settle for anything less than what I would hope for the people I care for.
Metal and rap music, bodybuilding, and selflessness were elemental in channeling my rage in a useful way. My anxiety levels could be subdued by focusing on being powerful. I started to not feel like my life was just happening TO me. That for once no matter what happened, it was my reactions and my perseverance to a tribulation that shaped who I was.
The pain I felt is real, and it happened. I use it and feel it some days when I am lifting weights. When I stop to look at what I have achieved in my life I often breakdown in tears – mostly of joy, sometimes of exhaustion. I never gloat or boast, but fuck… maybe I should. I think it’s okay to relish in triumph. Far too often we are made to think that we should act small and demure, but I have never found that to benefit anyone. My strength is my gift, and I know that it inspires others without having to tell them the details of all the awful incidences and mean people.
I am a business owner and entrepreneur and purveyor of confidence to others. I have worked my ass off to cultivate a lifestyle around me that shows no signs of being a victim or a sob story – but I am allowed to have these parts to me. To be sad and have the broken pieces that are very much a part of me. Every person has the right to be their own hero. There doesn’t need to be a big monumental paradigm shift, but sometimes just enough strength to live your life as you would like it to be. To not lie awake at night hoping to be comfortable in your own skin, or your situations. There are so many loving people in my life that have helped me get here – but at the end of the day… I had to get me here.
A little over a year ago while I was lifting at the gym, I encountered one of my biggest fears. In walked my ex-step dad with his new wife. The most overwhelming panic shook my body and I started to hyperventilate. At one point I thought they had noticed me, and made their way to the very furthest treadmill. At first I shrank and wanted to run away – leave immediately out of fear. Instead, I began running sprints at the end of the line of treadmills so that THEY would have to walk past me – face THEIR biggest fear. Sure enough, they left, canceled their membership, and left MY happy place for good. I no longer wanted someone else to control my happiness in life. I will not shy away so that someone who ripped apart my life and hurt my loved ones is not “uncomfortable”. One quick moment of big bravery led to closure of a wound.
My plan, and my hope for everyone in my life, is that they understand that it is not pretty – but it’s worth it. You are going to fuck up, you are going to feel like shit. The alternate to grinding it out is giving up and living a life slowly slipping into sadness and regret. I am living proof that life can throw you every single curve ball and twist and turn and you are more than capable of enshrouding the world with love and hope. Find what empowers you, and face that things head on that make you feel small.
Don’t be ashamed of what has happened to you – it has laid the foundation for a beautiful story of triumph.