I’m following / quietly now / trusting / eyes closed / holding Your hand / feeling You move mountains / I hear your silence / “trust Me” / fists unclench / I’m ready / releasing control / I follow
In fact, today, August 9, is my 4th healiversary! What’s a healiversary? Well, it’s the anniversary of someone’s healing, this person’s healing. It’s the anniversary of the day, month and year that I took extreme action to change the course of my life. I grabbed the wheel of this sinking ship that was my life and steered it out of the miry clay, well more like a blackhole vortex where I was being sucked up and would vanish from this world. I created my healiversary because I don’t remember the dates of any of the trauma I’ve endured (and honestly I don’t want to), but I will always remember the day I took the biggest risk of my life in hopes that I could save myself. Now I hope that by sharing my story, I can encourage others to do the same.
In 2015, I hit rock bottom. Hard. My final moment of clarity came while leaning on a 4th floor fire escape with some random stranger in my neighborhood, drunk as a skunk and high off of…God only knows, I can only guess. I had the “what the F am I doing” moment. It became even more clear when I finally made it home that night at the break of dawn to my husband of 1 year and he told me to get out. I get it. I wouldn’t have put up with that shit either. It wasn’t the first time I had casually strolled in after 2am blacked out drunk. As I stumbled along for the mile it took me to get to a friend’s apartment (pre ride-share days) the creeping morning’s embers were starting to break through and they lit up a fork in the road, one path ended with me dead in a ditch, the other, an arduous path of dealing with demons that I thought had been locked away and “forgotten” about.
I’m still not sure what exactly triggered my downward descent on fast forward in 2014-2015, what I’ve coined my “dark period”. It wasn’t the first time I spiraled out of control in my life, but this time was different. The behavior was worse and having recently committed to building a life with someone else, it was seriously affecting their life as well. I believe it was a culmination of three things that escorted me to my bottom. In 2014, I had begun a daily practice of yoga, mediation and writing, so I was opening a channel and hearing in a way I never had before. Come to find out, marriage can be a huge trigger for unresolved trauma, especially sexual trauma. Lastly, I began volunteering with a budding nonprofit, More Than No, whose aim was and is to champion consent-culture through artistic activism. I thought while I quietly helped others, I could help myself, without actually talking about any of my own deep-seated wounds. Without being conscious of it, I had activated an internal volcano.
You see, (inhale) I’m a childhood sexual assault survivor, from ages 7-14, I was sexually assaulted and raped by 5 different people. I never talked about my past or let myself think about it. I believed it was something that happened, it was over, so I needed to move on. I pushed it to the deep crevices of my body and brain where I trusted it would accompany me to the grave. But, honey, let me tell you, secrets make you sick and what you repress gets expressed. That is 100% truth.
Through my daily meditation practice, I began to hear a clear voice in my stillness and it went on repeat for months. Every morning I would receive messages like, “you need to leave”, “you need to be alone”, “you need a space of your own”. WHAT?! No. That was crazy. Who leaves a new marriage, where was I going to go? How would I afford to go out on my own in Los Angeles? What would we do with our apartment? And all the how, why, what questions that I could possibly populate. The more I ignored it though, the louder it got and me trying to drown it out showed up in the bottom of liquor bottles, beer cans and wine glasses all across the city. It felt like I was living life moving against sandpaper. I shared these thoughts with maybe 1-2 people that I thought I could trust and they also confirmed that this was nutso and not a possibility. I even shared the idea of me getting my own place temporarily with my husband, but he was obvi not a fan. He told me if I left, it was over and I knew he meant it. I didn’t want to end our marriage, I just needed to be in silence and solitude. So I stayed and the voice got progressively louder therefore the drinks got stronger in order to drown it out. That is until an opportunity like no other came along, a sublet in a friend’s apartment fell in my lap at the exact same time that a family friend was coming to visit and needed a place to stay. I worked it out with them to stay in our home and pay my 1/2 of the rent. I needed to leave, but I wasn’t going to leave my partner without stability.
On August 9, 2015, I sacrificed & risked everything I had. I left my husband, my home, my possessions, my entire life and I moved my things to a sublet in an undisclosed location. I waited for a weekend that he was out of town, not to be sneaky, he knew what I was planning, whether he believed I’d do it or not is a different story, but I couldn’t bare to move my things while he was home. I was knowingly breaking his heart and he was adamant that I was the one ending our marriage. The fear of that kept me home longer. I tried to sell it as a sabbatical, that I thought I would return, but he wasn’t having it and honestly, I didn’t really know what the result would be once I left. I stayed as long as I could, slowly killing myself and torturing him. By multiple miracles, I picked up my broken heart, my suitcase, my dog and I left. Let me tell you, that was hands down the hardest decision and biggest risk I’ve ever taken and as I recount this time in my life, I’m brought to tears again. I had to leave in order to save myself, but no one could understand why. Not even me! All I can say was it was a strong knowing. I had no explanation or knew what would happen, I just knew I had to trust myself and go. I told no one know where I lived, I didn’t talk to anyone, including family for two months. I fasted, I stopped going to any and all social activities, got off of social media, I went to work and therapy only. In the apartment I did yoga, meditated, wrote, read, wrote some more, cried, so much crying. I did as much intensive therapy as I could afford, I chose therapy over food. I was doing double sessions, multiple times a week sessions, I was committed to stopping this fast track to destruction that I was on. And do you know that once I was able to voice what had happened to me 20+ years earlier the negative behaviors ceased. I stopped drinking, I stopped feeling the need to numb myself and blackout. That was all it took. I mean, it was a lot of intentional dedicated hard af work, but saying what had happened to me out loud and sharing with a trusted person in a safe space was the key that unlocked my healing journey.
I had to risk everything I was and loved to look in the crevices of my own dark corners to become who I am now; a healthy content women whose able to make conscious choices and not ones based out of old survival patterns. 4 years later, I’m so grateful. I’m in the healthiest relationship that I’ve ever been in, by the grace of Spirit, my husband was receptive when I shared with him the details of my past and he was willing to go back to counseling with me as we rebuilt all that was lost in the fire. We were able to purposely procreate and because of the work that we’ve done together, we are able to be conscious gentle parents to an almost 2 year old. For the first time in my life, I believe that I am worthy and that I matter because I exist. Having a healiversary reminds me of how far I’ve come, that I have agency over my life and I am mother-effin strong! Happy Healiversary to me!
Important sidenote: The photos I used for this healiversary series on IG, were taken under the tree where I was first assaulted at just 7 years old. A couple of months ago when visiting family on the east coast, I asked my husband to go with me to my old neighborhood. It was completely out of the way and we would have to rent a car, but I needed to go and I wanted my family to be with me. I had only lived at this place for maybe a year of my life but I remember everything about it like I had lived there my entire life. I didn’t go there to relive the trauma, what I was hoping for was validation of the accuracy of my memory. I had distinct details burned into my visual memory, but after repressing something for 20+ years you question yourself and your own credibility. What’s even real? Could I be wrong? Did I make it up? And on and on as we survivors do on the same level that we blame ourselves. This pursuit of mine was healing on a variety of levels, especially having my 1 year old son there with me, he helped show me what innocence looked like in that space. What amazed me the most was that after all of these years, everything I remembered was 100% correct, everything minus some updated playground equipment. From the path I used to walk around the playground on to the wooden 2-rail fence to the tall oaks that I used to catch helicopters from and most importantly, to the tree that I was assaulted under. Through this experience I gained a trust for myself that I had been lacking my entire life and a more profound belief in all survivors’ memory recall #ChristineBlaseyFord. We were there for maybe 20 minutes when the heavens opened up and poured down on us as if saying, you don’t need to be here any longer, you got what you came for. We left, in peace and the rain ceased as soon as we got back in the car. The whole experience was emotional and surreal. Thank you for holding space with me by reading my story.
If I can impart anything to you, dear reader, if you’re in crisis, find a trusted professional resource like a therapist, there are so many sliding scale spaces. Also, turn down the outside noise and listen to yourself and what you need, our higher Self is always trying to come through if we just listen.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. – Anaïs Nin
Books: (PS. these books are available on kindle! I didn’t want people to know what I was reading about, I still was not planning on sharing my secrets)
Southern California Counseling Center– low cost and sliding scale services, this is where I began my journey.
RAINN– is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and they have a 24/7 confidential free hotline. 800-656-HOPE.
Pandora’s Project– a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support, and resources to survivors of rape and sexual abuse and their friends and family. They have an online anonymous message board that was uber helpful for me to talk about my experiences and read about others who had similar experiences, this is where I learned that marriage can be a trigger for survivors.
Sunlight Survivors Retreats– I went to one of their retreats in Southern California and I learned and healed so much. They take very good care of survivors. Created by a survivor that I personally know.
More Than NO– is an outreach and educational group. Created by a survivor that I personally know.
Trauma Queen– a podcast series that hosts conversations with survivors, therapists, partners, educators, and experts. The goal of TQ is to normalize talking about assault and healing for us all. Providing a free resource, each episode will highlight active and productive steps forward for survivors and allies. Created by a survivor that I personally know.