I told my parents the story they could never have expected.
It was finally time for me to share my gut-wrenching story with my family. They had not been aware of my abuse as a child. It all began in October 2020. I jumped in before I was ready and there was no turning back. My story was published and it was time to face my biggest fear and obstacle.
My difficult decision spun me into an emotional defense mechanism: stress-induced amnesia. This survival mechanism had been happening during stressful times since the age of 5 when my abuse began. It was time to face the fact that I had shared my abuse story publicly on paper and the story needed to be told quickly. Fortunately, my memory returned in time to make the shift into sharing my sordid story and healing my old wounds.
The moment I submitted my story in 2019 my subconscious mind climbed aboard an emotional rollercoaster of doubt, shame, guilt and fear. These memories began as Covid-19 stress was impacting my inner world and the world around me, as a nurse working through the pandemic.
As my complete amnesia of my story progressed, I balanced working virtually notifying families of covid results and supporting them through the news that scared them deeply.
I focused on self-love as much as possible to help me deal with the emotional shifts that happened in life and after each difficult phone call. The Covid-19 pandemic stress and stress from sharing my story publicly created an emotional and physical rollercoaster that I had to fight constantly. The stress caused me to disconnect from all the meaningful relationships I had, left me behind at the hospital with my colleagues and friends at the frontline.
Day by day I learned to deal with each obstacle with self-love trying not to fall apart. To do that I had to disconnect with those I loved dearly. This meant I stopped calling friends, coworkers, and people I used to see every day. With the collapse of my department in the hospital, all my friends who were also facing difficult times didn’t have my silly, funny, uplifting attitude to boost them up. I felt extreme guilt that I was not there for them as they slowly found their way into new positions or left the hospital. It felt like I was juggling balls, and this one fell tumbling into a black hole, waiting for me to find it again.
Fast forward to October 5, 2020. It began as a beautiful day filled with joy as my son turned fourteen years old. I was working virtually and never expected the text that was about to reach me. As I was getting through a stressful and busy Monday’s workload, a dreadful message from my brother came through my phone saying my cousin had suddenly passed away. I picked up the phone to hear the story and get the bad news in more detail.
In that moment, my day went from sunshine to deep darkness. My cousin, whom, I loved dearly but had failed to contact during the pandemic, had just passed away that morning from a pulmonary embolism. Emotions rushed in. Not only was I thinking of her son and husband and their loss, but also of my own.
I suddenly realized another ball had fallen in my juggling act, and this one was never coming back. How should I tell my son the news? I knew our family would be coming over for his birthday dinner. I knew my cousins’ death would come up in conversation. That day was difficult but the following week proved to be even more challenging as my secret would soon return to me as the stress-induced amnesia melted away. And boom my memories rushed in the first book I released went live and it talked about my abuse, which was still a secret my family didn’t know. And the book went live the day of my cousin’s death. Thankfully I had started therapy to work on my abuse a few weeks before my cousin’s death. And I am grateful because it was the support I needed deeply, since I would come face to face with my abusers when my grief and emotions were already raw.
Now I had another obstacle in my path.
How to tell your family you were abused while they were all grieving? How do you share your childhood trauma at a time when everyone is in such pain? How do you work up the courage to share a secret you held for 38 years?
Well, everything was meant to happen exactly as it did, because I needed a giant kick in the butt to get moving. And the dire situation needed to be addressed quickly because my parents had a copy of the book. Externally I focused on self-love and healing during the funeral. Internally I dealt with an emotional thunderstorm.
On the day of the burial, a sense of release and pure love for my cousin swept over me. It was surreal to feel this intense calm amidst all the stress and chaos this experience had caused to my mind body and psyche. But my focus on self-love was on overdrive. And my medical history wasn’t going to be my fate. I had fought 11 years overcoming my Autoimmune Disease and symptoms of disability with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. And my most important battle was not going to keep me down.
After the burial, as we entered the car to return to our home, I saw a yellow butterfly, a sign of rebirth and renewal. My cousin was sending me a message. It was time for me to shine. It was time for me to tell my story. And I sensed my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousin were there to support me on the journey ahead. The journey from Mayhem to Miracles. The journey where I slowly unraveled the stress and symptoms my body would develop after each time I was faced with telling my story to those I loved. And facing the pushback, judgements, and criticisms that would cause injury, illness, and symptoms to develop. Each event helped build my strength to take the story public.
As I write this last piece a yellow butterfly flies across my second-floor window. Yet another sign that my story was meant to be shared. And I hope my story brings hope to my colleagues and friends experiencing challenges during this pandemic. It may have taken my 38 years to finally face my fears and tackle the root of my illness but it is never too late to find mindfulness and self-love.
It is never too late to become aware of the messages your body sends you and create boundaries that help you heal. It is never too late to listen to your inner guidance and find the true way to heal your body, mind, and soul.
Tomorrow is always a fresh start and a new beginning. And finding that awareness to heal comes from within. I hope you find the self-love that paves your way to healing.
My journey to healing may have started with diet and exercise but it led me to the place that truly has the most impact on our mental health – mindfulness, awareness and meditation. And that was the piece that truly helped me work up the courage to fight like a lion for the life I deserved and leave the room I had felt trapped in my whole life.
So if you learned anything from my story, I hope it reminds you to make self-love your priority. I hope it helps you realize it is essential for you to love yourself daily because you support those that need your help every day. So care for yourself as if you were your patient. And make your physical and mental health your priority.
I share this with you today October 19, 2021. On a very sorrow-filled day. The Day my uncle passed away. Even on a sorrow-filled day like today, I know that my purpose here is to share my story and inspire others. I send him love to find his healing from beyond. Because I know hurt people hurt others. And everything happens for us to learn and grow. I am here because I chose to love over hate. I chose light over darkness. I chose good over evil. And each day gives us the space to do the same. May you all find the blessings Amidst the Chaos the world brings. Trust the blessing is always there waiting to be seen.
Taken from my story that was published this year in Mayhem to Miracles… True Stories of Courage, Triumph and Peace.