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You Are Powerful

I’m free. I wake up in the morning and I don’t have a heavyweight on my chest. I can go to sleep at night with an empty mind. I can calmly go about my life free from the stress responses of my prior years. I can make my own choices. I can look in the mirror and smile. I can go days without numbing and hiding and rationalizing the irrational. I’m alive. I’m loved. I’m beautiful. I’m powerful. I’m strong. And I’m worthy.

I’m also crying while I type this. I haven’t always believed these things. And I love having the chance to experience life this way.

I don’t have to shrink to fit in where I’m told to. I don’t have to change who I am to be loved. I don’t need to seek attention for things that don’t serve me.

My favorite color was black for as long as I could recall. I loved skulls. I read The Exorcist at age eight. I was assigned a report in fifth grade that compared the differences between cinema and books. I chose Rosemary’s Baby. I was eleven. I didn’t blend into the background. I stood out. I was bold. I was talkative. That was my story. It was important for me to live that narrative. It was important to get attention. I wouldn’t get attention by blending in. And I wouldn’t get it for being good. I’d never be as good or as amazing as the others, so I had to stand out in my own way.

A lot has changed since then. My favorite color is now red, with coral as a close second. And while I do appreciate my friends and family members buying me skull trinkets, I’m trying to shed that persona. That was the old me. I don’t need to be bold anymore. I don’t need attention. All I need is my newfound self-love, self-realization, and self-generated smiles. I’m capable. I’m smart. I’m authentic. I’m loving. I’m worthy.

I recently read this meme while scrolling through Facebook …

I was triggered. Have you ever been triggered? My brain started to race. I immediately began to agree with what was written. But I also had to disagree. It’s part of the cognitive dissonance of abuse.

I learned early on during the process of divorce that many people tend to think, “It takes two to Tango”. I’d hear, “You knew who he was, but you chose to stay for as long as you did.” Or “You have to take some of the blame for the way he treated you.” Even “You should probably be quiet already and learn to get over it.” And my favorite, “You weren’t really scared of him, you just filed a restraining order to gain the upper hand.”

Victim Blaming

Their trauma doesn’t justify their abuse. Their sense of entitlement and obsessions with power and control doesn’t give them the right to abuse.

It happens every day in our society. It’s easy to blame survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV). We usually take the blame pretty well. And we’re used to hearing it. We’re used to covering things up. But you know what? Here I am, using my voice loudly and proudly. Standing in a place of self-awareness, educated on the topic of IPV, and proclaiming: “Please stop!” The only way abusers change their behaviors is to be held accountable. So, let’s hold them accountable. Their trauma doesn’t justify their abuse. Their sense of entitlement and obsessions with power and control doesn’t give them the right to abuse. And while it does take two to Tango, try dancing with someone who wants to control your moves, the song, and the tempo. You’ll soon realize that while you very well may be dancing the tango, you’re not doing it for fun. You’re trying to survive to the next song. Or waiting to find your chance to safely break free.

Abuse grows from attitudes and values, not feelings. The roots are ownership, the trunk is entitlement, and the branches are control. (Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?)

From the outside looking in, all problems seem easy to solve. If the problem can be identified, the solution should be easily identifiable. But life’s problems aren’t solved as simply as math equations. And have you ever tried to solve a math problem in a state of anxiety? When the test hits your desk and your heart’s beating fast, it’s hard to answer some questions. As your heart rate begins to drop, and you remember how prepared you are, the test gets easier to take.

Sometimes identifying the problem can be difficult. If you can’t pinpoint the problem, how can you come up with a reasonable solution?

Let’s take this example from Lundy Bancroft:

The abuser’s mood changes are especially perplexing. He can be a different person from day to day, or even from hour to hour. At times he is aggressive and intimidating, his tone harsh, insults spewing from his mouth, ridicule dripping from him like oil from a drum. When he’s in this mode, nothing she says seems to have any impact on him, except to make him even angrier. Her side of the argument counts for nothing in his eyes, and everything is her fault. He twists her words around so that she always ends up on the defensive. As so many partners of my clients have said to me, “I just can’t seem to do anything right.”

At other moments, he sounds wounded and lost, hungering for love, and for someone to take care of him. When this side of him emerges, he appears open and ready to heal. He seems to let down his guard, his hard exterior softens, and he may take on the quality of a hurt child, difficult and frustrating but lovable. Looking at him in this deflated state, his partner has trouble imagining that the abuser inside of him will ever be back. The beast that takes him over at other times looks completely unrelated to the tender person she now sees. Sooner or later, though, the shadow comes back over him, as if it had a life of its own. Weeks of peace may go by, but eventually, she finds herself under assault once again. Then her head spins with the arduous effort of untangling the many threads of his character until she begins to wonder whether she is the one whose head isn’t quite right.

What if the gaslighting, the humiliating remarks, the demeaning behaviors, and the self-doubt have driven you to believe there’s no problem other than yourself?

How do you fix yourself? How can you resolve the problem – which isn’t you – when you’re convinced it is? If your stress response is constantly engaged, how do you look outside the situation? When survival is on the table, executive function is not.

And using our executive function is the only way we’ll ever solve these complex problems. Solving a problem as invasive as IPV is only possible when you get the chance to be free – to think for yourself and stop worrying about the inconsistencies or consequences. We must see the forest for the trees. We must identify the abuse. We must place accountability on the individual who should be held accountable. We must free ourselves from blame.

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JoAnna Bennetthttps://obriencg.com/blog/
I’m a working single mother of two wonderful little humans. I’m also an avid reader, an insatiable learner, and a self-acknowledged survivor. I’m grateful to work at O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) because I’ve learned the self-soothing and restorative craft of writing. I used to resist calling myself a writer because I have a finance degree. I naively thought I needed an English degree to effectively express myself in writing. But now, writer is a title I proudly wear, and writing is something I’ll practice for the rest of my life. OCG is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do this so well because we get to know our clients, listen to their reasons for existing, and share their message loudly and proudly.

34 COMMENTS

  1. JoAnna, you have my utmost respect for having shared your journey of self-discovery and your ultimate triumph over the oppression of a serial abuser. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for 9 years and your description of the de-evolution of your self-esteem brought me to my knees. Thank you for speaking out. Congratulations on learning how to love, value and respect yourself! So so challenging when you’ve tangled with an abuser. I am thrilled for you and I will be waiting for your next article because you are an author I want to follow! Cheers~
    Catherine

  2. Anyone who suffers violence, whatever it is, knows that what happens to her is not part of everyday normalcy, but does not have the courage to admit it, to herself before others. And then silence the fears, keep going, as long as you can. With the heart hardened by life, absent, left who knows where, silent, to pretend that everything is fine. Victims must be listened to and helped quickly. With proper accompaniment, it is possible to overcome the consequences of these traumatic events. As for the perpetrators of the violence, they also need help to learn how to manage their aggression differently.
    For this reason it is essential to talk about these behaviors.
    Violence is never justifiable. It is important not to minimize these acts or to think that it is a passing phase. Usually, the violent partner has a problem and needs the accompaniment of a professional.
    Often the victim does not speak out of fear or because he feels he is not being listened to. But often witnesses or those who are aware of this situation do not speak. Instead, everyone is responsible if violence and non-violence is not brought to an end as quickly as possible
    you speak to a trusted person in your entourage or a specialized association or the police are not involved, who can provide advice and propose solutions.

  3. Thank you Joanna for writing and sharing your thinking and your journey. I acknowledge your courage to have navigated your way through and to be strong enough to be able to share.

    For me, there are a few fundamentals in relationships that are unacceptable. Primarily it is about abuse, emotional, mental and physical. For sure, it does take two to Tango, up to a point. For sure, the ‘other’ party can take some of the blame, up to a point.

    When there is the abuse, those that commit it, need to be removed and their own trauma dealt with, otherwise they will do it again. Period.

    For the abuser, this now becomes their journey, firstly to recover, to be looked after, to be cared for and loved. After that, their journey to healing is like all of our own journeys to healing, constant and always ongoing.

    Having said that, I recognise life and relationships are far more complex and require more attention, thinking, understanding and so much more to come through. Never easy, never without considerable effort, but possible.

    Blessings Joanne

    Colin

    • I couldn’t agree more about healing an abuser. If they can see their actions as abusive and toxic, they can change. The tricky part is (for any human) getting to a point where you throw your hands up and say, I have no idea what’s going on anymore, I need help. There is no way to get passed the toxic behaviors and qualities we have (we all have some) until we admit to being damaged and ready to heal.

      I don’t believe in people being all good or all bad. We are both. Sometimes we are good, other times we are bad. But we have to learn from the bad – not ignore it or justify it. That’s the only way to move forward. And the comes in shame, fear, and attachment issues (among many others).

      You hit the nail on the head – relationship are complex and require attention. But they are also a vital way we learn about life and grow.

      Thanks for being on my journey Colin. I’m grateful for you.

  4. Brutally honest, Joanna. Don’t EVER think it is a failure or a backslide to question yourself. This is the biggest reason people can’t move forward or claim victory. It took years first to get trapped and have your thinking corrupted, these things don’t clear up by one firm choice no matter how committed one is. It takes practice, It takes time. Bravo my friend.

    • If I’m being honest, I think my thinking has always been rather corrupted. That fact drew me into a relationship that I thought was love, when in hindsight it was far from that truth.

      It certainly took time to unravel, but I did it. And there will be more unraveling in my future, I’m sure. And I’m grateful that I’ve learned the normalcy of unraveling. It’s the only way we can truly grow.

      Thank you for your comment and your presence!

  5. As always Joanna, I find your articles to be haunting and compelling. You take a chilling topic and bring it to life, preventing the reader from turning away and retreating into denial. Thank you for highlighting a phenomenon that often hides behind the facade that all is well. As always, I appreciate you helping others by sharing your story!💖

  6. Joanna,
    I’m not sure where to begin other than you are a pillar of strength, and your advocacy for others affected by this is an accurate representation of your sheer determination and will to find your brevity and heal.

    Your story is one of trauma and tragedy, but it is also one of hope. To be able to find your way out and use your voice must feel so freeing. I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like, but I can start to understand through the education you provide.

    I am saddened that IPV exists but it is a harsh reality, and I know others who have been abused also. It’s one of the reasons I participate in a local fundraiser each December for Safe Passage.

    Thank you for sharing a part of your story and for light, hope, and inspiration you bring to others.

    • Thank you Laura.

      IPV festers in silence, it may slowly begin to disappear if a light is shed. I did it! I left! I survived! And I hope others can see the light at the end of the tunnel too. We don’t have to live life with such a large and heavy weight on our chests. There is another way.

      Thank you for donating your time to Safe Passages. And thank you for taking the time read and reply to my piece. I’m grateful for this community in so many ways.

  7. JoAnna. Bravo! This is indeed the perspective from the inside. When you have been there it’s like looking through the same eyes. The thoughts you question and the need to see the good in others.. .. what we wanted and what it is …like a downward spiral out of control… the doubts and loss of footing … I can completely resonate and felt so many times the fear and thoughts of losing my own sanity
    After the fact when out of it… I had no idea I would be judged so harshly …this was also unbearable… It was this kind of stigma that made getting help that much worse. People who you thought loved you were hurting you more too. Many people on the outside do not understand and do not help by telling you what is wrong with you or calling it your mistake. It takes some great therapy and finding the right people to help you. I figured it was my job not to try and explain but to help me figure it out. Triggers ? Yes…identifying that they are….means quick distraction…or a quiet place to reflect, deal, write.. whatever it takes.
    I’m so proud of you using your voice here and speaking up like this.
    I do in my poetry and feel stronger behind the words too.

    Thank you for this. When we are lucky to find this power…and give it a voice, that is imperial to me
    Bless you JoAnna! Thank you for sharing this. Big hug to you🙏🙏 P

    • Thank you Paula! I’m grateful for your words, support, and understanding. I think people on the outside feel uncomfortable with the conversation too. And some people deal with discomfort with silence. The abuser isn’t making them uncomfortable. The abuser is a pro at manipulating and know exactly how to conjure up emotions in others for their own benefit.

      I’m glad to be on this side of my journey. And I’m glad to have found my voice. Thanks again Paula! I appreciate you. Big hugs returned.

  8. Joanna….a courageous article and clear message to those who abuse. So happy to see and know you are EMPOWERED. Not easy to be in an abusive relationship and then take the steps to leave to save yourself. The questions, the stress, the worries, the uncertainty, the unknown transforms into hope, dreams, victory, freedom and personal power. An abuser, whether emotional or physical, will wield their mastery to conceal their truths of who they are and confuse the hell out of the sane one. The push/pull destabilizes and throws you off balance, and trying to find the balance again without the tricks of the magician’s act, takes much perseverance.

    When another’s mission is to destroy, at all costs and make him/her self look like the victim or at least point the finger at the abused, it creates a long journey of discovery. To learn of what we are made of, what our capabilities are to rise above with strength, and to disconnect from the unfathomable….someone stole our life and livelihood.

    Those who are observers and have never been in an abusive relationship will NEVER know what it is like and should never judge. The pain, torment, hurt, struggle and challenges are REAL. Just watch any show on Netflix and you will see the manipulation and thievery of another person’s honor….a reflection of what happens in real life. I learn a lot from watching series….the good, the bad and the ugly. Human nature is the same in fiction and nonfiction. So, why do some people feel the need to criticize and make assumptions?

    Keep your voice strong and push forward with every ounce you have to dispel the myths and share the truths of abuse. It comes in many shapes and sizes from all backgrounds and from males and females alike.

    I like to say…”This is your life, live it on your terms only!”

    • Thank you Eileen! It’s a club none of us would have signed up for, but coming out on the other side is a true blessing. Abuse is invasive. It forces some of us to our rock bottom, but the only way from the bottom is up.

      I’m proud of the woman, mother, and person I’ve become. Living this life on my terms. <3

      Thank you for being a part of my journey and a source of strength for me.

  9. JoAnna… a million times YES! You have so eloquently captured the challenges, heartache, and mental turmoil of so many! In the conditions you describe, it’s simply impossible for the brain to do its best thinking. When we operate under this kind of fear and stress, the survival brain takes over and is part of the reason why it often gets easier and easier for the abuser to continue to victimize.

    I love the courage and strength you share to empower others to find their voice and the hope that, like you, they can find a way out and stand on their own. Sadly, statistically speaking, most of us know someone who is the victim of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse. The hard part is that we often don’t know they are victims until the situation has become so dire that they finally reach out for help. Discussions like this one may be the impetus for someone out there to reach out. Thank you for sharing your stories and your hope and your inspiration. You’re amazing and I’m so fortunate to have found you!

    • Thank you Melissa. Through all the phases of my life I’ve used my voice loudly, I’ve been recently honored to be able to use it proudly as well. ;)

      Writing for me has become cathartic. It’s helped me on my journey of processing my experiences. Reading has also been a big part of it. I recently read this quote and knew I had to publish this piece. I’m grateful to be on this journey and grateful to have people like you to guide me in ways I’ve never imagined.

      “Our dreams and stories may contain implicit aspects of our lives even without our awareness. In fact, storytelling may be a primary way in which we can linguistically communicate to others—as well as to ourselves—the sometimes hidden contents of our implicitly remembering minds. Stories make available perspectives on the emotional themes of our implicit memory that may otherwise be consciously unavailable to us. This may be one reason why journal writing and intimate communication with others, which are so often narrative processes, have such powerful organizing effects on the mind: They allow us to modulate our emotions and make sense of the world.” ― Daniel J. Siegel, The Developing Mind

  10. Ah, my friend. This is one of THOSE topics, eh? The kind that people really often wish would just stay hidden in the darness. “Don’t share your dirty laundry”. “Drama needs to stay behind closed doors.” “This doesn’t belong on a professional platform.” “Can’t you just move on?”

    My dad gave me this saying, and I love it:

    You cannot fix a flat tire while the wheel is still spinning.

    We NEED to talk about the UGLY that exists in our world. Not because we want to continue to rip open the wounds of our selves, our families, our cultures, our world, but because without the light and the fresh air and some downright good old fashioned nurturing, they fester, and we continue to hurt.

    I think my stance on this is pretty clear (lol), but just in case – I believe that HAPPINESS is COURAGE. And it’s not because we can smile our way to pleasant lives, a la Stepford Wives. It’s because when we know what HAPPINESS feels like, that place where the live we’re living aligns with our true, core values and our authentic selves and our deeply-rooted passions, we recognize that although it may take an incredible amount of hard work (and often a really big bucket of tears) to get us back there, we’re willing to do what it takes to STOP that spinning wheel, address the problems that are causing us so much trouble, and get back to living lives that are beautiful, fulfilling, unencumbered by the chains of fear.

    Easier said than done, yeah. But worth it! And I’m over giving free passes to toxic people. Welcome to the NOW, where there are consequences, good AND otherwise. This is how we change the world.

    You’re a rockstar, my friend. Keep singing your truth – you have no idea how many lives you can change when you do.

    • Thank you Sarah. Thank you for your understanding, your contagious happiness, and for being on my journey. It’s so very humbling to know how normal the process I just encountered was. Growth is messy, but necessary. It can hurt at times and that bucket of tears can get heavy. But the most important part is – that’s okay! And the version of you that comes out afterward is worth every second.

      Cheers to happiness. Not the Stepford Wives version, the gritty real version. And I intend to change these tires every time they go flat. ;)

  11. This is extremely powerful, JoAnna. I’m sorry you had to experience abuse and the traumatic aftermath, but grateful and happy for you that you made it through to the other side. And, that your favorite color is now, red. That is mine, as well. :-) Thank you for sharing this very personal story.

  12. Joanna habibi this is by far my favorite masterpiece among those I had the priviledge to devour!!! I guess I don’t need to tell you about the level of my excitment for this new chapter of your “life of freedom”; you already heard it in my voice after having been so overwhelmed and having cried all my tears: the tears of happiness; the tears of pride; the tears of celebration; the tears of enthusiasm for the new peaceful era you are about to enjoy no matter the challenging circumstances in which you might still find yourself involved!

    When we are beaten, we know the origin of our physical hurt and that we were mistreated. When we are sexually abused, we also have no doubt about what we endured. Interestingly, when we are psychologically abused especially in a subtle way, we aren’t able to tell exactly what’s happening. Result? We start questioning your own worth…

    Why is it easier for us to doubt ourselves than to make our abuser accountable? Because this is all what we know; because we were not given the chance to stay connected to the great being we all were at the moment of our conception and love ourselves. Our caregivers could have been either suffering from a Cluster B disorder or even kind-hearted folks, but so conditioned themselves with so much unfinished work to do on themselves, that they were simply unable of unconditionally and consistently loving us. In both case scenario, the outcome is the same: we are the perfect victim for the character-disturbed manipulators…

    “IPV isn’t only about being bloodied and beaten. And once violence is introduced in a relationship, it’s likely it’ll increase and intensify. Let’s stop blaming the victims of IPV. Let’s stop telling them they knew what they were getting into. Let’s stop telling them they weren’t scared. Let’s stop demanding their silence and complacency. Instead, let’s hold the abusers accountable. Let’s demand that they stop intimidating their partners. Let’s demand that they admit their wrongs and surrender their entitlements.”

    Gosh, so many thoughts are coming to mind from this paragraph I don’t even know where to start! I believe two factors might be explaining why people are blaming and gaslighting us: 1. The truth we are already gaslighting ourselves, not having healthy boundaries and the showing others how to treat us in the first place. 2. Even when we make it and move back to our secure attachment style post re-writing our limiting beliefs about ourselves, it will not stop the flying monkeys from doing so knowing how manipulative the abusers are (the smear compaigns are one of their favorite games and, unlike us, they always have plenty of time and energy for evil…).

    In the latter situation, the mistake to avoid is engaging, defending and explaining ourselves. We don’t owe them anything, but it is very difficult to resist the temptation of course! What we need to do though is stopping the gaslighting and showing them our boundaries very firmly without having to be unpleasant. The calmer we stay in front of their accusations, the more powerful we will feel. A simple example could be: “It is sad this is how you perceive the situation. Still, I can only respect how you feel. I know my truth and will need to stop this discussion if you don’t mind!”

    When it comes to making the abusers accountable and make them admit their wrongs, I don’t want to sound cynical but chances they will even when everybody around them is asking for it are extremely low and tend to zero. They are super skilled in the responsibility-avoidance pattern, and it would truly be a waste of time and energy to even give it a try (I know it from experience…).

    I believe a more effective way would probably be that ALL the kind-hearted folks not only educate themselves about all the abuse & manipulation tactics, but also fully re-program their subconscious mind (their limiting beliefs both about themselves and the world– the second part being in alignment with the principles), so that they could reconnect with the purest gut and spot the dark soul even from the manipulators’ facial expressions without even having to feel the energy or observe their behavior until they see the inconsistency.

    If we want to give ourselves a real chance to fix this superficial, selfish and immoral world we are living in, we need to stop enabling the character-disturbed individuals, and all the kind-hearted people should be involved in the process. Abusers are powerful only because they are ENABLED. The world desperately needs us to reverse the distorted system! I hope more and more people will listen to the call! 💙

    • Oh my friend! Thank you for this reply. It’s so heart felt and right on the money. I appreciate your thoughts, your feedback and most importantly, your heart!! I love the peaceful era I’ve entered into and I love the people that I meet who understand it because of their own strength and hard work. It wasn’t easy to get here, but it was worth it. I wish I could go back two years and hug that sad woman and tell her she was going to be alright. But in hindsight, I didn’t have to. I had a support system that was there for me. Even if I didn’t think I deserved them or didn’t want to ask for help, they were there and gave it to me anyhow.

      Thank you for all that you are. Your light is so bright. Together we’ll fight the good fight. And we’ll show others this peaceful era. It’s possible!

  13. Wow…

    Re…”Let’s stop blaming the victims of IPV.” My mother used to say, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” As I was reading what people offer – likely unsolicited – about your and similar situations, I thought “Mind your own __ business!” (Actually, my thought had included a colorful adjective…) I’m so sorry that you had to suffer two types of abuse – the obvious one from your partner – and then the subtle one from people who can’t keep their thoughts to themselves.

    One final thought: you were always worthy. I’m glad you recognize and believe that about yourself now. Brava to you for your journey, Joanna.

  14. Wonderful article JoAnna. I hope you will send this to other sites because victims do not need to be scrutinized, they need to be as you said, applauded, hugged, supported.

    The ones who need to be SCRUTINIZED are the ABUSERS and that has yet to be done. it is still in its infancy just as the laws which need to change to protect women from threats of violence, and violence itself.
    Great article. Look at ‘triggers’ as your friend. They remind you to steer clear of those who carry the red flags… easy to see when you’ve finally figured them out and their veil drops.

    • Thank you Laurie. It has already been shared on two other sites and I hope more to come. I’ve also been advocating for changes in the law in my home state. I’ve been inspired by reading about how the UK is changing their laws to fully encompass domestic violence.

      It baffles my mind how the government funds domestic violence shelters to help people get out of abusive relationships, just to throw them into family and custody courts who opt not to believe the survivors. And don’t get me started on abusers being able to manipulate lawyers, medical professionals, and just about anyone that will listen to their gaslighting and lies.

      I’ll continue to advocate for the victims that come after me. And I’ll also continue to celebrate the life I’ve gained from my awakening. I’d never be who I am today without the experiences I’ve experienced. But now I’m on to my next adventure. ;)

  15. Bravo, JoAnna, for your resilience and courage, and for offering hope and support to others. So many of our problems can be addressed through understanding and empathy which, together, enable us to coalesce as a community and support one another rather than pointing fingers, making excuses, or indulging in victim mentality. There are genuine victims in every area of society, and the more aware we become the more motivated and equipped we will be to help others help themselves.

  16. Thank you so much for this valuable essay on the importance of empowering those who are being abused and holding the abusers accountable for their violent actions, JoAnna! i heartily agree that blaming the victim must come to an end. Often this perpetuates the abuse cycle-dare I say the systemic oppression that’s going on. The rising up of the people who’ve been abused seems right now to be the empowering pathway in a system that seems to defend and justify the actions of the abusers. Creating more opportunities for people to heal and get strong and healthy-whoever has that fire in the belly to do so-seems to be the place to put the kindling and logs. The more people who are educated about the FACTS versus ASSUMPTIONS surrounding these challenges-the more informed choices can be made and acted upon. I celebrate where you’ve landed in your life. I’m thinking you’ve been decluttering the skulls from your physical space, all remnants of the person you used to be, and embracing the red and coral, the love, value, and worth deep inside of you that no one and no thing can F^%$ with… (sassy part of me just needed to emerge there). I am so thrilled for YOU!! YEY!!

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