January 11 – Memorial

Today, if you don’t know, is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. If you don’t know, it’s ok, you do now. I have had ups and downs with this today. I want to do something, say something, be something more today of all days. I was trafficked as a child, it was sex trafficking. There are other forms of trafficking, and for the most part you would never know by looking at a person if they were trafficked at some point in their life. They could be male or female, any race, speak any language, or be any age. The trafficker could be or have been a family member, a caretaker, a boyfriend, a husband, a supposed employer, or possibly a stranger. Trafficking includes forced labor, prostitution, slavery, and sex trafficking.

I have made a lot of progress in my own recovery. My experience was thirty years ago, and sometimes it is very hard to stay fully present and remember who I am now. I have to remember to stay where I am and not leap ahead into where I want to be instead of where I am. I want to be resolved, healed, and active in this movement. Its not a movement to me, but my life. There is a lot that has happened, and there is so much more awareness now than there was before. It is also at a point where there is a lot of more work to do, especially in the ways of treating, supporting, and helping survivors.

I want to be done with this part of it. I want to be done with the struggles. I want to be done with the memories, with the relearning, with figuring out boundaries, and how to ask for help. I don’t want to keep feeling like I am still more survivor than thriver. I want to skip it all and move on to helping others. I have had to realize that would be detrimental to myself and those I seek to help. If I skip these in between steps, if I rush ahead into trying to be whole, then I miss the lasting healing that I wish to help others find. If I rush, then I miss out on forging the new pathways in my mind to find other ways of living, believing, and behaving.

I want to change the world I live in and first I have to begin with me. I have to make peace with my past. I don’t just mean peace with the trauma, I mean being at peace with my own decisions and my own mistakes. I have to face who I have been, and the things I have done. Some of them have been because I didn’t understand or know that there was another way, but the guilt and damage and consequences still exist inside of me. I have done things I am not proud of, I have chosen to turn against myself numerous times, and I have broken my own promises over and over.

I am moving forward with my life. In order to move forward, I must first face who I used to be. I can’t sugar coat it even for my own sake. I can’t beat myself up about it because that is not the point. The point is to realize that I am no longer the same. I am not fully healed, but my steps are not taking the same familiar paths of old. I am stepping on new ground as a new person. Who I am is not in absence of who I used to be, but a stronger, wiser, and more resilient self. My day will come when I can do more than talk and share my story. My day will come where I join the ranks changing the world one person, one act, one piece at a time.


Sami_Sunset – Light Bringer

Tonight, I find myself in a moment after discovery. I have been on this leg of the recovery journey for over a year. I’m in a new place.  A place that doesn’t even resemble where I was when I began this walk. I keep growing, learning, and adjusting my course as I come to terms with who I am authentically. I’ve been working on a decision lately. I gave myself weeks to think about it, pray about, and finally to just take the step. There was a peace that came with the exhale I set my foot onto the path. But today, all the doubts and fears descended like the ravenous monsters from my childhood.

I didn’t fully explain my name when I chose it for my Twitter account. If I am being honest with myself, I didn’t fully understand it at the time. There were some other discoveries I had yet to make. I have long associate the names Samantha and Sami with my favorite names. They are safe, and warm, and a balm to my spirit. I didn’t know why until recently. The abusers that trained me, sold me, broke me, used names to communicate the behaviors that I should exhibit. My own name became the name used when it was time for punishment, but Sami, Sami is the name they used when it was time to go home. It was the name of safety. It was what they called the little girl who was me when it was time to shut down and go home.

There are Light Bringers in this world who shine the light into the darkness. The brightest of them have often lived in that darkness. They made it their own as it was the only way to survive. They walked it, lived it, breathed it, conformed to it because that was the way to have hope that they could make it to tomorrow. When they find the way out, what they desire most is to burn the light further into the dark and bring others forth. They find the way, and they want to help others make it as well.

Being a Light Bringer is a beautiful gift when shared with other survivors because it imbues a strength in all who see it. The Light Bringer is a beacon showing that you are not alone, and all of the people who want you to feel that way are lying. The trouble comes when the Light Bringer points out the obvious flaws in the thinking and actions of this world. Our world is created on illusion that we can prevent the bad things from happening. We believe that just by working hard and doing all of the right things that we can hold the darkness at bay and maintain our control. Bad things cannot happen when we do the right things at the right time.

You can see it for yourself in conversations about almost any world event. We want to know what happened, but we also want to know the why and how. We will say, this happened because of their beliefs, that happened because of what they were wearing, you would have been safe if you had stayed home, going out after dark was the danger, people not like myself are the hazards, if you would only, why didn’t you……. The list goes on and on. It is not a list really about the event. The list is about all of the things that we can do to prevent whatever it is from happening to us. Because the alternative is not something we really want to accept.

I was trafficked and exploited as a child from the ages of 4 – 7. I have googled trafficking and exploitation, many times, and most of the information to be found is for teens, adults, women, foreigners, but its harder to find articles and people talking about little kids. When a person is raped, we analyze their clothing, behavior for all time whether they have changed or not, where were they, why were they there, anything and everything to put a reason as to why it happened to that person. We as a society practically make it an inevidable conclusion that the perpetrator could not help but rape that person. They didn’t have a choice. Besides its not that bad, just shake it off, we can’t ruin the perpetrator’s life because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and could not help but rape that person. Bad people don’t exist. Bad things only happen to those who deserve it.

We run into a bit of a cognitive dissonance when faced with a 4 year old rape victim. We, as a society, cannot write that off, and we don’t really like that. There are statistics galore out there, and we quote them at each other and say something must change. Yet as we say this, we analyze over and over how did it happen to them and that is how we fix the problem. The problem is not in that place, though, the problem is in the dark. The problem is in the things that we don’t want to acknowledge and face. Don’t look, don’t see, doesn’t exist.

I am one of the ones who chose not to exist, so I could survive in that dark. I am not a statistic, but a person with a story. Some if it is heartbreaking, some of it is hilarious, some of it is ugly, some of it is filled with all of the mean and horrible things I have done, some of it is filled with my mistakes, and some of it is so beautiful. There is a time coming when we will have the option of being honest and saying that darkness exists, evil exists, bad things happen and we cannot always control it. A time is coming when people will want you to ignore the full ramifications of what they want you to do, say, or think.

By not looking in the dark, shining a light, we are ignoring one of the few things we really do have control over in this world. We ignore the impact of our relationships with each other. We forget just how important it is to love one another. The dark is a scary place, but it still cannot exist in the light. If you walk into a room, and turn on the light the darkness must flee like scuttling cockroaches.

It is not easy to be a Light Bringer, and I know quite a few these days. I have found them in my real life and also in my digital life. Even as they stand and shine their light, there are those who sling mud at them trying to darken the brightness with which they stand. These people, these Light Bringers, are not statistics. They are real flesh and blood. They tell the stories of their lives that are hard to hear not just because of what happened, but because it means the numbers aren’t just on a page. The numbers are living, breathing, crying, hugging, loving, amazing people who have suffered and chosen to live and grow and burn brightly. They did not choose to stay in the dark. They did not choose to turn into the dark as the ones who came before. The world understands that better than it does the ones who choose to love. The world sees pain and understands why it creates pain and propagates pain. When the world sees pain that has turned into hope and love and infects others, than it must be stopped, for then it means that the dark does exist and it can be defeated. It just can’t be defeated by ignoring it.

My name is Sami_Sunset. I am in the sunset phase of my recovery. Granted this phase may still take quite a bit, but it is ending. I will not have to hide behind the safety of my digital name. I will be a Light Bringer and take my place among those who shine into the dark. You are loved, and you are not alone.

Until next time.



****TRIGGER WARNING**** Oblique and minimally detailed descriptions of childhood maltreatment are discussed in the recovery journey talked about below.


A fluid is a substance that can take the shape of whatever vessel into which it is poured. I have been a fluid for over 30 years, and I am only just now in these past few months awakening to that fact and what it means. My counselor last year suggested that I try new things to find out my feelings about them. He encouraged me to try something that I have always wanted to do but haven’t. I tried to make plans to try white water rafting, but it all fell apart and my friends and I were unable to make it happen.

I kind of understood where he was going with his request. He is able to see things that I can barely grasp from my perspective. Mainly because he is a guide on my journey, but he cannot do the work. He can see more of the picture because he doesn’t have to feel or see the revelations of my mind from my past. I don’t mean to say he is without emotion because there have been more than a few times that I would be describing and event in this dead flat voice, and I would hear him choke up as he asks a question to make sure he heard me correctly. There have been many a session I didn’t even cry until I heard or saw his emotions. It was like I could feel, but what those feelings meant beyond their intensity was not within my knowledge.

In my sessions, I have learned to put words to my emotions. I have learned to quantify and qualify my pain, my anger, my fear, my gut wrenching despair. To find my healing, I have to feel what the little girl who was forgot in order to survive. Do you know how much hope a child carries? Do you know that no matter the difficulties and problems there is still a piece of that child that will hope because hope is life. Hope means that there are possibilities.

My hope, my survival, was in my ability to be fluid. I learned quickly to become whatever the person in front of me needed, wanted desired. Some of them would be very straight forward, and all they really wanted was a hole to fill. The hard ones were the ones who wanted more. W was my main caretaker outside of my family. Her and her husband are the ones responsible for breaking me and beginning my training as a sex slave. She was also one of the most sadistic people I have ever personally met and interacted with on a regular basis. She was unpredictable in her desires and wants and needs.

In the beginning she was fairly straightforward, she wanted me to obey and service her and her husband, until he died. After he died, she became harder and more harsh. I could not work out the when, but at least once a week there were days when what she really wanted was my pain however she could get it. She would make me do things, only to flip and say that is something only bad girls do. Then there would be punishment. She would take my most basic rights like going to the bathroom and make it into something humiliating. She got such a thrill out of watching me trying to please her on days when her pleasure was really watching me fail and continue to try anyway.

I became fluid in those days. I learned to do it without thought. In all situations, I would analyze it and determine how best to survive. If it was being loud and silly, then that is what I was. If i needed to be the strong, do everything, gopher girl, then that is who I was. If I needed to be sexy and knowledgeable, then that was who I was. If they wanted my innocence and purity, then that is what I would give. I did not really exist beyond their desires. My opinion would only come out after the path of least resistance had been determined, and it would change with the wind because I craved safety, security, and what measure of hope of survival I would get by just agreeing and being what you needed.

The reality of living my life like this brought me to my knees a few months ago and threw me into the worst depression I have had as an adult. I didn’t want to live with this reality. It broke my heart to realize that my whole life, in every interaction, small or large, I made myself fit for you, whoever you are to me. I did it, not because I was asked, but because so very long ago it was how I lived.  It was how I minimized the pain that was coming whether I liked it or not. It was why I carried such guilt over things that were done to me. It was how I could keep my hope. My hope that ensured my survival and kept me going.

I pulled myself away from almost all interactions with people simply because I no longer had a vessel to fill and I was a puddle on the floor. I couldn’t have told you how I felt about anything. I could tell you that my favorite color was purple, one of the few things I have always known about myself. As I began to sort and come to terms with this aha moment, I began to solidify. I began to realize that there was more substance to me, and a lot of it had been found in the past few years.

I no longer want to be purely fluid. I want to know what I really think and feel in situations without first taking taking the temperature of my surroundings. I want to have dreams that are mine, and even if they are similar to yours, I will have my own milestones, my own difficulties, my own joys, my own journey that cannot be co-opted by you even accidentally. There are situations in life where it is necessary to bend and adjust for others, but not at the expense of my whole. There are also situations in life where it will be necessary for another to bend and adjust for me, but again not at the expense of their whole. I do not want to be so solid I am brittle, but I no longer wish to fill the vessel where you think or want me to be kept.

There is another kind of fluid, and it is found in the grace of movement and form. Fluid is found in the way that one move of the body comes from the one before. As I heal on this journey, my movement and my life will be more fluid. One moment, one event will build and become the next, and the next, until a grace filled dance is what will define my life and not the shape of a vessel given to me by another.

Thank you, Until next time



I am living in the aftermath of my latest reckoning with my past. It has rocked my world even further than I had realized was possible. Walls that I had built in my mind when I was 4 have come crashing down, and that part of me that I had caged for my own protection has been released. She is free, and she has so much to learn.

It doesn’t feel safe this world that I find myself in as I make these realization and accept the past I hid for my own survival. I’m at a point in my trauma therapy where the realizations are from the very core of where it all began. These were the pieces that have been broken for so long they have been incorporated and accepted as reality, no matter how wrong or harsh they were.


The first of these memories was like pulling a tooth to get it out of mind and off of my tongue. The words were fought for and won from an ugliness perpetrated against me by very selfish people who were no my parents, but they were people whom we lived with and with whom I was entrusted. They broke me slowly at first, but once they had reached a point where I did not fight, they progressed a lot faster. I began having regular training sessions in how to behave sexually in different situations. They gave me names for the different behaviors I was supposed exhibit.

It came to me this week, the name they used whenever it was time for me to be punished for any infraction. It was my own name. My name was a bad girl. The number of times I heard those words, over and over throughout the punishment section of my training. The hardest part was when I was punished for doing as I was told. I would obey, and their response when I was done, was that only bad girls do those things. “My name” is a bad girl. Over and over. I would even have to repeat it back to them, “My name” is a bad girl. Bad girl, bad girl.

These words have echoed throughout my life from the time this memory was created over 30 years ago. It has been a root that has grown into my foundation. A thought that has reverberated round and round my mind tainting thoughts that had nothing to do with my past and only my present. You don’t like me because I am a bad girl. I am always wrong so why even speak because I am a bad girl. My pain never ends because I am a bad girl. My heart is broken and I am alone because I am a bad girl. I deserve the bad things in my life. I deserve the mistreatment. I deserve to never look up except at your discretion.

I know these specific memories are not the only ones that have fed the lies that have been my foundation of how I think and feel about myself. There are many more. This one, right now, has lowered walls and opened doors to parts of me that I did not even know existed. She is free now, this one who was punished over and over and told she was a bad girl.

She hasn’t seen the light of day in over 30 years, and she is a bit afraid of this world she has awoken into. She can be quite skittish after all of things that she has endured. But her strength is unparalled, and she will not give up. So if you find her crying and cringing in this world, show her a little love. She will not give up, she will grow up to be a beautiful woman who wants to change the world. If you stumble across her, say hi for she does not know the ways of this world. She is trying to understand all of the rules and protocols. She is trying and working and studying so that this world is hers as well.

She is beloved of the one who created her, and her name will only belong to her. It is not given or taken away or damaged by anyone in this world. Her name is hers to give, keep, and save for those who are worthy.

Until next time.




Day 1

I have wanted to start this blog for quite a while, and I find that now that I am here it is harder than I expected. Why am I here, writing a blog? I am a writer. It is one of the few things I have known about myself with little doubt. I am also trying to come to terms with severe abuse from my early childhood. I am able to talk about and share my recovery journey with my friends and family to a shallow extent, but there are a lot of things that I downplay or just don’t talk about because I feel it would hurt them.  I still have not been able to share what happened to me while in the care of those they trusted.

It started coming back to me last year. I had been through therapy before because of some abuse when I was a teenager and adult. As soon as the memories started to surface, my emotions lost all sense of reason. My body started to feel like it was beyond my control. My depression resurfaced almost immediately throwing me into a trench where I could not see the light of day. Flashbacks overtook my present making even the simplest task nearly impossible. My health got worse and worse. I got help right away this time, and yet I was still unprepared for what I was about to uncover about my own life.

These were different from anything I had ever known. I couldn’t talk about it from my perspective, I could only say she or the little girl. I didn’t want to associate with what I was seeing, hearing, or feeling. I didn’t want to believe the things I remembered. I didn’t want to feel the emotions. I started to shut down. I stopped being able to do all of the things that I used to do.  It felt like I could barely breathe through all the pain.

I kept moving, kept going, kept shoving it down. I still went to therapy, and I would purge the poisonous memories each week, but I did not want them to be mine. I kept asking my counselor if I was crazy. I didn’t want to believe my own mind, my own body, my own experience. I didn’t want this to be my tale. I had known that I had been molested from the time I was 11 or 12. I had known I had been raped at 17 and then again as an adult. The things I remembered at this point were far harder for me to deal with then the memories I had always known.

I don’t want to diminish my experiences from when I was an older child because I have come to understand that abuse is abuse. I cannot deny the long term effects these few experiences had on me. The new stuff, the new memories were far more numerous. There were now hours upon hours, days, weeks, years that chronicled the breaking of a child’s mind, body, and spirit all without my parents noticing. All without me remembering. The child forgot in order to be a child when she was finally free. The child was me. I was broken intentionally by adults who didn’t give a whit about me as a person, but only saw me as  a thing to be used and sold and traded.

I almost gave up when I finally reached that level of acceptance after months and months of denial. It took over a month of therapy twice a week, staying in touch with my family doctor, and quitting pretty much all extra-curricular activities before I reached a point where I could live with the knowledge.  It’s still quite suffocating at times. My mind will shut down now when it gets to be too much. Some days my mind shuts down and shuts off my emotions at the drop of a hat, and other times I make it to the level of understanding before it gives me a break.

I found twitter while scouring the internet for any and all resources dealing with childhood sexual trauma. I found Trauma Recovery University, and I joined Twitter for the Monday night Q&A. I find I need community, and I need to know that my experiences while unique to me and my story does not mean I am alone in this world. I can and do find healing in a chorus of me toos on a you tube video or twitter feed, even in my anonymity.

This is my blog about the truth of my reality as I rarely get to share it, without censorship by me or others, in my preferred format, writing.

Thank you for reading.

Hope Burns

The world is new today, and it has nothing to do with the beginning of a year. It is new because I have taken a fork in the road. My journey now is different from ever before. It is  fresh snow and a path not taken. It begins with hope and a dream.

I am a trauma survivor. I have complex PTSD from 4 years of being trafficked when I was young. I have reached a point in my recovery where I am more healed than damaged. The problem with being healed is it is new and untried. My brain in all of its glory is familiar with the other way, that is what it knows. It’s the down hill trail with fewest obstructions. The fact that I am attempting to take a new path to end with a different result is often inconsequential to the normal functioning of my brain.

There is a battle waging each day within my heart and mind. This battle is different from ever before because it is not a fight for survival. I am no longer awakening each day to talk myself into living, breathing, and working. I am now fighting for the permanent changes within myself. At times I find this battle as complex and heated as the fight to live.

I had a really good Christmas this year, and I could not enjoy it. Through the trauma therapy, I came to realize that I expect bad things to happen in direct proportion to the good things that happen to me. So, if I get a compliment I expect at least one if not more insult and tear down. Every gift is followed with a loss. My trauma brain does not trust goodness and kindness for it cannot last. I am going back to school starting next week. I am going back to pursue a dream that is mine and not someone else’s. For Christmas, my parents bought me a laptop. I got to watch my niece and nephew open their presents and be so very joyful. Inside, each good thing that happened to me and that I witnessed hurt and felt like I was being lashed.

With my counselor, I was able to sit and explore what was going on inside. My abuser/trafficker used to make me pay for every compliment or good thing that happened to me. There was a cost for every lollipop from a bank teller to every present from unknowing parents and grandparents. The cost was taken from me in secret, but I had learned that I didn’t deserve good things. I also learned to only accept the good I was willing to pay for. But the people in my life now are healthy and wonderful people, they don’t expect a return on a meal bought, gift given, or laugh shared.

My trauma brain, in an effort to keep the scales balanced would give me a cup inside for the good things. Anything that overfilled the cup resulted in an internal shut down. I could only be so happy, so joyful, so delighted every day. The size of the cup would change based on things that I do not comprehend. Some days my cup was large enough to encompass a full day of good things big and small. Other days my cup would be filled with a sincere thank you. This Christmas my cup was so very small that is filled days before the holiday began, and I did not even realize it.

I am choosing to pick up hope for the first time since I cast it aside at the age of 6. I haven’t faced what made me give it up yet, and I am sure I will someday. I don’t need it for today. I just need to pick it up first. It’s like a piece of driftwood that has been washed up on shore after spending years beaten by the waves. The letters can barely be seen, and they are almost too shallow to be felt by the softest touch. The simple act of picking it up burns away the rotting wood and reveals the metal inside. The heat radiates into me, glowing with the warmth of a new day in early spring.

I know what my brain is trying to do, and that means I can deal with it. I can fight the lies that say that I have a limit on goodness with the truth that there are no such limits in existence. I can love others without limits as well, though I imagine that will also involve more battles as well. I must stay present first. When I feel the welling desire to run and flee, I must stand and be aware instead. Hope and kindness burn, but not with the fire of damage. They burn because they are awakening what has been long dead inside. Jesus is my savior, and that does not stop with my salvation. He redeems it all.


Living without Walls

I have reached a strange impasse in my growth and healing. I feel even more like a stranger in a strange land. I have spent my whole life adjusting myself to all circumstances and people, a perfect wallflower. I would be a part of a group, and yet always on the outskirts with no one really knowing me. I was neither too loud not too quiet. If the group appreciated enthusiam, then that was me. If it was always quiet, then that was me, so quiet my very presence could be forgotten.

The environments have hated the most were ones where there were so many variances in the atmosphere, I would almost split myself into pieces trying to Glen into the environment. I can remember being aware of this part of myself, and also being oblivious until someone would make a comment about me that seemed bizarre to me. I have been called an extrovert by the extroverts, fearless and confident, quiet and reserved, shy and bold; and all of these by people in the same group. They have seen me for several years. They have known me in various circumstances. I am all of these things and none.

I am at the point in my healing where enough of the roots have been dug out, chains have been released, and walls broken; that I can honestly look about as a new creature and start to dream and think. Who am I? What do I like? What do I want to be? What are my desires? The one I wrestle with the most is do I really have the right to be?

I am 36 years old, and I am trying to dream as never before. I am dreaming of things and places and events as if I had not one worry. All things are possible, and then as the freedom flies out from me, my insides quake with fear. A fear so great that I immediately shift into survival mode and disappear from being fully present. I am afraid of freedom.

Freedom is an unknown. Who am I without these chains, I don’t know but the scariness has led to self harm. The inner turmoil of emotions are scary even if they are good and hopeful emotions, my mind cannot comprehend. I can comprehend pain. I know how to deal with that. That has an answer unlike hope and dreams.

Then, of course, my old friends guilt and recrimination stop by to visit for awhile. I’m breaking the cycle bit by bit. I have found it better to reach out to others. I cannot always share what is going on, but just not being alone helps. I have also found a great relief by being honest when I can about the self harm. It removes a lot of the guilt and humiliation. Its easier to breathe without those added weights. Its also easier to work out my thinking with other people, especially when it feels counter to the situation, like being full of hope and instead seeking injury because that is a known quantity. I don’t want to live like that. Pain is not the solution.

For me, at least for now, the solution is harder than the pain. I have to slow my brain and deal with each fear. I have to be ok with the emotions and become comfortable with all of the emotions. There is only one way to do this task. I must stay. I must leave the walls down. I must try things for myself, an I must be ok if I am different from those around me. I must take the shaky steps forward toward my impossible dreams.

I must put down my weapons, inside and outside. I will look in the mirror, and I will come to know the amazing woman in the reflection. I will find the dreams of the long lost little girl, and I will put her safe in my heart. I will keep stepping out in freedom, and even if I stumble, I know how to rise again.

Until next time…

Light in Darkness

This morning was beautiful. I woke up at the ridiculously early hour of 5:30 am, so I could be bright and cheerful for working at church today. I am so not a morning person and those extra moments with me and the coffee are best for all I encounter. I made it there when I intended, attacked the day with vigor and joy. I fixed what needed fixing, and I watched and took care of things before they could be a problem.

I walked into my day full of light and the hope that had been recently kindled by my forward progress. I have reached a new level in my healing, and it felt wonderful to finally realize that I have honestly accepted the memories as truth. It was easier to think I was crazy or that it was all my fault. I had to deal with the internal struggle of realizing that there are people in this world that hurt children intentionally. That they hurt me intentionally. It was an accidental destruction of me as a child, and it also was not my fault.

Some parts of that will likely need to processed more than once as they are hard things to fully accept. Some times I think the reason it is so hard for non survivors to listen and accept the things we say is for the simple reason that we, as humans, don’t want to think that the every day people walking around can do that much intentional damage to another human being. The intentional nature of abuse, rape, murder, or any other violence inflicted upon people rips the rose colored glasses that wear right off our noses. If things like that can happen, do happen, and it isn’t just a wrong place, wrong time event, then we aren’t as safe as we like to believe. If we cannot do all the things in a magical formula to keep ourselves safe, then its harder to have hope. It’s harder to see the light.

I’m writing this tonight in the midst of my own darkness. Right now this moment is so hard. My switch was flipped today as I sat and watched children play in the lobby of my church. They were so beautiful and carefree. The parents and other adults were completely unconcerned. They were not creating havoc or interfering. When they needed a hug or parental attention, they were  gathered in even as the adults continued to talk. I could feel it, in that moment, my heart seized and another wall cracked.

I wasn’t expecting this one. I’ve dealt with a lot of the obvious walls as a childhood sexual assault survivor, and this one came at me from left field. I had to journal to really get to the point. When I was being abused all those years ago, the house was very cold emotionally. The only freedom was in those times when it was just me and my small family. Any times with W (wife) and P (pastor), were so regulated and stifled. Children were seen and not heard. If I was seen or heard, the consequences were harsh and always when my parents were not around.

I’m afraid of adults attention both positive and negative. I struggle with compliments. I struggle with being noticed in any way, and I am an adult living in a world full of adults. This is a ground breaking realization that will no doubt lead to an even deeper healing and growth. Right now it feels like I have had a hole blown through my chest. The tears keep falling. Tears that soften the hardest edges of my heart. Tears that express the ache of my heart that did not have the freedom to run and play as a child. Tears that drown the pain that shakes the foundations that I have built during all of these years of survival.

The pain is hard to continue to feel. My mind reaches to all of the things I once used to get past, over, and around these emotions for all of my years, anything except actually feeling. I want to live, and I want life with every breath I breathe. I get up each morning and choose to live. I want love. I want joy. I want to dance, climb rocks, and go white water rafting. I want to do all of the things I have only ever read about or seen in movies. Live, not just borrow other’s lives.

This moment is very hard. Thoughts of self-injury are there. The suicidal thoughts that really only ever fade are bright and incessant in my mind. I know the path those both will lead me down, and I don’t want to go that way again. Instead, I will feel and cry the ugly tears that heal. I will text or call crisis lines, and I will speak even when I don’t wan to say the words. It’s hard to admit how present those thoughts are in my mind. It feels like I’ve lost ground, but I haven’t. I am following the path of healing, and some days even though I continue forward, it feels like the unbearable pain of the worst days of my life.

I am not who I used to be. I am not alone no matter what the darkness whispers. I am not an inconvenience. Even though I still don’t understand or really feel it, I am loved and wanted.

There is always light in the darkness even if it is only the reflection of the moon in a pool of tears. There is hope, there is help. I write this not just for me, but for all of us sitting in the dark wondering if it is really this hard, and wondering if there is a better day. The world needs you. The world needs me. Stay this night.

Until Next Time….


Where am I today? I am at a point in my recovery/healing journey where I just have to be honest. I cannot hide from those who love me. I cannot downplay the depth of feelings. I cannot be afraid to show my fears and anxieties. I am at a point where the rubber meets the road, and this all becomes real. I can no longer live in a state of denial or semi-denial. It’s the time where I have to say it over and over, I was trained and sold. I was a slave. I was trafficked. I was forced to do things that no person, let alone a child, should ever have to do.

I am at the point where I have to trust in bits and pieces, that those who are in my life want to know all of me. They want to know me even on the bad days. They are not afraid of the darkness because it has always been there and it is not me. They may choose to put up boundaries for their own sake but that is not a rejection of me. They really do love me, and by choosing continuously to deny them access to my life, I am shutting off the very reason I have undertaken this journey. I want love. I want to love, and to be loved. I want intimacy between relationships, not in the sense of a physicality, but in the sense of two souls sharing life.

I am coming to terms with two realities that I am facing. I am angry. It’s ok to be angry. I have misunderstood anger my whole life, and it took this process to even see it. Last week, I discovered that my latest bout with emotional numbness had nothing to do with sadness, fear, or a new memory. My numbness came because of anger. I couldn’t figure out why without my counselor’s help. He helped to put words to it, but mostly he helped to slow down and really try to track the emotions to where the hang ups were in my past. When I thought of anger, I saw in my mind the cold cruelty of w who enjoyed my pain. When I thought of anger, I saw in my mind the uncontrolled verbal rage of my dad. Those were options when I thought of anger, and, in defense, my mind didn’t want to be either one so it chose to go numb.

Neither of those is true anger. Anger is not rage. Anger is not cruelty. Anger is not pain. Anger is a proper response to injustice. It is a righteous response to handle those situations in life where injustice happens, from bullying to cruelty. Anger is about standing up and speaking out in this world. It is not meant to be a weapon used against one another. Anger is not an emotion to fear; it is a path to courage. Anger is not about tearing down another or proving my point. Anger states that is wrong, it is not ok, and it must be fixed. Anger can change the world especially when tempered with love for myself and also for all those who are my neighbors, near and far. A neighbor is not a physical description, but an emotional one.

I have found as I journey that my family is more vast than I have every been able to appreciate. As the walls fall, as my heart breaks and heals, as my mind is opened, as the scar tissue falls away, I am able to see how full my life has truly become.

I am angry and it is a thing of beauty.

Girl of mine, that is me

There once was a girl pretty and bright. She wore pigtails in her hair, and dragged dollies by their arms. Her hair was red, and her smile lit up the room.

She awoke each morning cheerful and light, clearing the cobwebs with pure delight. Her heart was full, and her laughter blew away the darkest night.

An evil came one day, secrets and tales wound deep inside. The roots carved away her light, and drove her deeper and deeper into the night. Her face split to hide the night from those she loved with all her might.

Evil tried to turn her heart from brightest light to darkest night. It tore and ripped, she screamed and cried, but her heart still stayed with the light.

She hid her hope deep inside and swore her light would not due. Her grip was less each passing day, and her heart grew slowly grey. Her face froze and she forgot to speak, her secrets were hers to keep.

Freedom came on a sunny day, and all was washed away. Her face forgot the saddest side and only smiled, laughed, and sighed. She grew up, she grew strong. She was wise, and gentle, and small. Evil visited again and again, but never as dark as where her secrets began.

There came a time when the darkness seeped and writhed and wormed its way to her face. She could no longer deny its trace. Her mind would not remember the roots, but she felt the pain and felt the truth.

She wanted no more of this life, and she could not carry on her fight. She tried and tried, but alive she stayed. She learned to cry and grieve and crawl. She learned to scream and shout and stand. She learned her voice, her run, her way. She grew even older and wiser.

She turned to those behind and sought to lift and teach and grow. She passed her voice and thoughts around. She loved them and gave her all. She would not know what was about to be, she could not see what was to happen next. A friend, he was, who took his life. He broke her heart, and the secrets tumbled out.

She could no longer hide the slpit within, and now the fight must begin. She wants to live this girl of mine. She wants to be and do and see. She wants to be whole and true and free. This girl of mine that is me.

Turtle is my spirit animal

I would love to say my spirit is a tiger or a mountain lion, an eagle or a hawk, a deer or a horse, but they are not realistic. I am a turtle in pretty much every way. I have carried my home with me everywhere with the baggage as well. I retreat within my walls at the slightest provocation. I am soft and gentle wrapped within a shell that can withstand any force. I survive. I know how to do that.
I have survived by hiding and keeping secrets my whole life. I have hidden the secrets so far within myself that finding the roots of my fears and worries is like going on an archaeological dig Indiana Jones style, only it’s all adrenaline and very little of what most people would call reward. My rewards are tears streaming down my face as I speak words no little girl should ever know. My rewards come in torrents of memories that beat my mind and body and spirit as I trip through my acceptance journey. Rewards are days when I am fully present at an everyday event, and even when I am triggered I do not retreat but allow others to see my reality. Rewards are experiencing the wide variance of emotions and not just the extremes.
I have carried my safety with me since I was little afraid to set aside the thick protection crafted from my survival. There has really never been a person I have allowed past more than a few layers. There are layers upon layers built upon each other until my shell is diamond strength from years of pressure and fire. I cannot even penetrate the depths of my heart. The secrets even hide from me. I seek them out, and pursue them one by one. I chase the roots of my pain to find the end that I may rip out the poison and release a little more of the light shine in the dark. My shell is not as whole as it was once. I have opened many wounds and ripped the roots from deep inside. I still carry my shell, and seek to retreat within whenever my heart or pain is exposed.
I have recently begun sharing my truth. I have told several people I was trained for sex at the age of 4 and trafficked by my Pastor and his wife. I say the words or type them in a forum, and as soon as they react, I must run away. It is not that I am not heard or that they are not supportive. It is that I cannot believe they believe. Why would they believe? How could they believe? How could they say my how that must have been hard? How could they believe it was bad? It couldn’t have been that bad. It wasn’t that bad. I would rather deny my own validation, my own truth than believe it is on par with all survivors truth. I run from it. The more I speak, the more my heart runs wild wanting to escape. Secrets have been my life. But secrets are not easy to hold, and they become heavier with the passing of time.
I am the Turtle inching my way forward in my recovery and my healing. I am slow and steady. I am brave. I walk forward not able to see very far, taking each step in hope and faith that I am going the right way. I am strong from carrying this weight for so long, and I am able to handle the work as hard as it is to face. I still carry my walls with me, but there are fewer than ever before. My journey is continuing with each truth told, and the love I am shown in return, even when I run from that love. There will come a day where I will stand and take that love and accept it as my own. That love will be more worthy of my time than all of the secrets I have carried for too long. That love is lighter than air and relieves the force of what has been holding me down all these years.
My spirit animal is a turtle, and it truly is a thing of beauty.


Today has found me in a paradox of recovery. I am strong and breaking down cages from long ago all so I can live free and whole. As I am finding this freedom, I find that the structures of my life rub me the wrong way causing spirals of anxiety to flood my system.

I was not prepared for this part of my healing and recovery. I knew that I would change. I knew that my relationships with others would change. I have not been prepared for others reactions to my changes. I have not been ready for the incredible exhaustion that comes from building these new muscles and hold these healthy boundaries.

I have found in these past few weeks that I quickly reach a level of intolerance in my every day dealings with people. There was a time when I would be the chameleon by adjusting my mood and affect for all around me. I did it without thought. Its a survival mechanism. On the days that I could not “solve” the riddle of what the other person wanted from me, I would curl up inside my innermost hole and wrack with shockwaves of doubt, shame, guilt, and fear. This was my reaction as an adult to people I love.

I have been learning boundaries, and I have been beginning to understand that I have the power and ability to say no. It was the weirdest experience knowing I could say no, and they would not turn on me, hurt me, or silence me. It was beautiful. It freed me and my relationships.

I am learning now about myself. I am learning who I am through my own lens. I am learning how to stand on my own. I am more confident in my skin. I am also a bit fragile at the moment.

My confidence and beliefs in myself are not set in stone. They are new, and today they took a full frontal assault from the world. Its been almost a week of cannon fire and bullets ripping through my new foundation. I realized this morning, before I even left the house, that today was going to be a day I needed to be gentle with myself. I did not heed my own warnings, and I am paying the consequences in my body.

I had to say no tonight to something I dearly love because I would have dissolved at the slightest pressure. I could not withstand even friendly banter for I would have rewrote into hate mail. I could not withstand a withering look. I could not have stood beneath the power of a hug.

Today I hate my recovery even though it is my greatest desire to heal and be whole. I hate that I have to withdraw because the energy it takes to hold my new boundaries drains me. I hate that my trauma becomes a weapon in the hands of others simply because they trigger me, I hate that I have to think in advance and be so aware of myself to know I have to say no, or tomorrow I can’t say yes.

Today I hate the aches and pains of muscle spasms because of all of the stress and adrenaline this battle for my future takes. Today, all I want is peace and rest. The answer is simple and yet very hard. I am safe in this place, and what I most need to do is let down the walls and rest. I survived by holding the walls created by a child. I cannot keep building walls and clinging to them in hopes they will save me. Boundaries are healthy, but the walls that I can’t even release in the privacy of my home, those are the ones that need to go. I need to let go. I need to surrender and trust the tools and lessons I’ve learned. I need to surrender and have faith that I can really do this. My walls have been a prison, and it’s time to walk free. I imagine I will falter a few times. I imagine there will still come days when it is wiser to put distance between me and people I will want to make happy, as if I really could. I need to be ok with the raw days and be gentle with the new soul gaining her strength and walking among the waves of this world. She really is a beautiful thing, this woman I am becoming.

Until next time……


Tomorrow, June 1, is World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day and the hashtag #IfMyWoundsWereVisible is the rally cry of us survivors. For each of us, the recovery journey is entirely unique, and yet the similarities and the choruses of me toos cannot be denied despite how much our abusers want us to feel utterly alone. This is my journey and my story about my wounds and what might have been and still what can be.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, my skin would be scar tissue on top of scar tissue. Her words were so long ago, and yet they have resounded through my mind and my body every minute of every day since they were voiced. W was my beginning as a survivor. Her cruelty knew no bounds, and her words were sharper than any knife. She was not just satisfied by speaking the words herself; it was far more pleasing to her ears to have me repeat the horrible words over and over during each punishment. So, her voice speaking of my mistakes, frailties, weaknesses, humiliations, and idiocy has been replaced my own. Long after I had hidden the memories so I could live, the words still rang throughout my life in my own voice.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, you would not question why I find it so hard to stand up and speak with confidence on even the most basic of things like my name. You would not wonder why I shake and tremble in a room full of loud noises that overwhelm my senses to the point I cannot determine whether I am really in danger or not. You would understand why the simplest failure and fault in my memory makes me want to hide instead of stand and continue. You would know why I both prefer to remain unnoticed and crave to be loved and accepted.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, my heart would be laid bare before you. There are no secrets when the wounds are seen. It would not be just a matter of vulnerability, but a level of truth that even the most honest person cannot achieve. You would know my shame. You would see my pain and my despair. You would witness the strength of will, hope, and faith it takes for me to do everything. You would also know my empathy for your pain is real and not just empty words from an empty vessel.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, you would know that you are not alone. We would know that we are not alone. I would know that I am not alone. The greatest weapon, the greatest lie, and the hardest wound to heal is the one of isolation. The secrets kept on behalf of our abusers force us to put up walls and barriers with the outside world. Without those walls, it would be too easy to slip and tell. Those walls and barriers protect us from others noticing our pain, our horror, our stories. Our cages are forged with secret upon secret, lie upon lie, and fear upon fear until the world around us is at such a distance it feels like we cannot be seen or heard. I feel like I cannot be seen or heard. I feel like I don’t even belong in this world, like I cannot touch it, or taste it, or feel it for the distance is too great.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, I could cry the healing tears that I so often deny. I will hold them back, hold them in until I am fit to explode because who am I. I have no value. My pain is small, it doesn’t matter. I look and see the pain around me, and the words I speak to my damaged heart are not ones of kindness. The words I speak to my damaged heart are words of blistering criticism. How dare you break? what is wrong with you, my heart, that you cannot just move on. If I could see for myself, I could not deny my own damage. I could find the healing in the tears, in feeling the pain, in acknowledging and accepting, that I can release it all and begin to put those pieces into a beautiful mosaic of the love I so desire.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, I would have been a little girl. I could have been a child. My innocence would not have been perverted because their secrets would not have been kept. It rarely starts with the physical pain. It begins with the words. Its always the words that snake and sneak deep inside of us laying eggs on the way into the inner sanctum of who we are in our core. The eggs hatch and spread laying roots that twist and twine with other roots becoming stronger as they are reinforced over and over. If the words are not a secret, then the actions that follow are not either. I lived a double life. My life with W filled with pain and humiliation and things that have words that I wish I didn’t know. I also lived a life with my parents and brother where my mom used all the voices in the bed time stories, and my dad would carry me on his shoulders and in his arms of strong protection. I could not have carried the secrets from my dark life into my light life.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, I would not be who I am. I will not trade who I am because there is good that has come from my hell. I will find my voice that I may stand for you so your wounds may be visible where mine were not.  I will be resilient and strong for a future where the wounds won’t have to be visible because it will be a different place. I am a survivor, and today that is enough for me. Today, the weight is not so heavy I cannot breathe. This moment is not so bad and that is because in this moment you can see, and it is not a question of #IfMyWoundsWereVisible. You can see the wounds; you can see me.

Until next time, thank you, and good night.