What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?
My empowering story may be much different than others you may hear. It’s the kind that seems painful, raw, jaded, but disastrously radically beautiful and that is exactly what it is, beautiful. I think at times what makes me extraordinary is that I consider myself a lioness and am currently combining my warrior traits with the beauty of love and vulnerability and my truth. Quite the combo, if I must say, but a beautiful one at that.
I carry warrior qualities, I’m a fighter for what I’m passionate about, I chase after my dreams to succeed and better my family’s lives but I also am a work of art, a rare find, and a source of beauty through a jaded and difficult journey. This isn’t to boast it’s to state that even those with hard times, difficult pasts, who have failed numerous times and had to repeatedly be humbled and get back up…that those people are beautiful also and capable of dreaming, doing, and succeeding. YES!!!
I also like to say that once I found my voice in the midst of being silenced and the midst of finding my true and authentic self that I now have the power and capability to ROAR my truth and to set myself free from the “bondage” that I have been entangled in.
When I was young I began to explore the world and found myself on my different paths. At a young age I began to explore the world of sex, drugs, and alcohol. I was not aware how this could deeply affect my life, my view of self, my view of others, my safety, as well as my success as a woman in this world.
In high school I became very enraged and angered by my inability to be able to explore the world as I chose. I was uninterested in school and began falling behind. At one point I had a .66 in high school and didn’t even think graduating with my high school degree would be possible, nor did I desire it.
I was uneducated, wasn’t aware of what I was getting myself into, and didn’t have the resources that were crucially important for me to succeed or protect myself.
I, like many, did not have any experience in relationships, drug or alcohol abuse, and sexual encounters. Ultimately, this lack of educational resources prohibited me from making knowledgeable and educated decisions or be fully aware of what decisions I was making and how it was ultimately killing me.
The year of my enlightening journey was not easy; I found myself in a residential care facility for troubled teens for 7 and half months of my life with the intent to form respect, self-direction, counseling, and ultimately; support.
This time I was pulled from my current high school suddenly and found myself living in a home of 13 teen girls and went from being able to speak to anyone the way I chose, to having to ask for permission to even speak, eat, go up or down the stairs, in or out of rooms and in and out of the house.
I found support among women who were older than me. They heard my cry and desire to explore this world and ultimately understood who I was. I found support among the women who I lived with and shared difficult moments with, who were living in the same world of chaos, frustration, and pain as I was. I began to see that I was not the only one struggling tremendously through my teen years.
Upon completing the program, I moved home and chose to shake these restrictions and feel free again. This turned into drug and alcohol abuse, consistent unhealthy relationships, and ultimately choosing sleeping on friend’s beds and couches due to running away from home. I found myself waking up numb and in random homes, several pregnancy scares, and continual drug use.
Still, within my soul I knew there was more. I knew I was worth more. I knew my life meant more and that one day I would be able to find it.
I began to research how to enroll myself into school and had a friend drop me off at a University for yet another chapter of my life. Unfortunately, at this school, my drug and alcohol use continued because it was much easier to obtain. I began to lose sight of the course of life I truly knew I needed to be on.
After one semester I was already back on academic probation, struggling to find financial assistance to stay in school, and was once again losing hope. I was living a life of numbness. I worked hard but was so caught up on seeking social acceptance that I did not realize where my life was heading.
I stayed numb.
At this university, I sought out the party scene and began to experiment sexually and dive into pill usage on a whole new level.
In a sense I was walking around with my eyes closed just trying to get by and manage life, thinking at times I had everything I had ever wanted, but so incredibly lost at the same time.
What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?
I would have not made it this far without the support of my incredible mother, who is our biggest fan, The Family Scholar House program, my peers and those in my cohort, teachers who supported and empowered me, case workers, advocates on our behalf, my sisters and even bystanders, who without knowing, empowered my weak spirit.
I have been empowered by women within the community who have challenged me to speak out and share my story. They have helped me see my real beauty and my inner-warrior and to use my voice. They have also blessed me with the opportunity to speak my truth to others as an outlet and support to those who may be going through or who are healing from the same things.
Most important, I would not be here without my son, who has given me my passion, my drive and has instilled in me the real meaning of love within my heart. He is my heart outside my body and the reason I found the drive to strive to be the woman I am today. In addition, my real friends came to my side and I was close to completing my bachelor’s Degree.
Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?
One evening, I found myself on my bathroom floor with a positive pregnancy test in my hand.
I remember leaving the University hospital, alone, on a very rainy day and getting in my care, after being told once again that I was pregnant and close to 6 weeks along.
Thinking….“Wait, I am only 20, not even close to being done with school, I am lost, completely unhappy and I am now growing a human being in my belly, when I can barely care for myself.”
For one second within the confines of my car I felt instant peace.
This was my day of awakening.
A child was growing in my belly and I had to radically change my life….
On this day I chose to better my life, not for me but for this soul that was begging me to be succeed, to be healthy, to be a powerful woman, an example, a mother, and for this,
I owe my son…my life.
At this point my mind, heart, and soul were focused on bettering our lives. My life became about becoming self-sufficient, growing together, and pressing forward to achieve my goals and dreams so that my son could have an example and a beautiful life.
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Elliot
I can tell you right now, it is NEVER too late to become more, to become better, to be who you were intended to be.
We made our way back home, to be closer to family. We had been and were in very toxic environment but I was able to find support and guidance and began to dive into studies. After a strenuous and difficult journey, I came to a realization; I had been silenced.
I had been an independent woman, strong willed, and felt no shame in declaring who I was or what I thought, and slowly I found myself silenced, unheard and ultimately speechless.
One evening, I was on my knees weeping by my bedside begging for the lord to give me a sign and give me the power and voice to step away, for good, because I honestly couldn’t do it on my own.
That night I had a very raw and real dream about my own life, but it was not happy, nor did it end well.
The next morning, I awoke from my own nightmare. I walked away from abuse and never went back. I had tremendous support in my mother, who had seen me weep in pain for years. We both began weeping, in relief.
I found my voice and knew that I wanted to be a survivor, not another statistic and that I wanted to help others overcome & find their voice as well
What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?
I am a mother, daughter, sister, soul searcher, warrior and lover, and friend. I am a seeker of the beauty in life and in enjoying time with those I love, which in most cases involves coffee, which is also a love of mine. I advocate for domestic and intimate partner survivors within my own community and afar- through speaking engagements, blogs, and social media. I am fueled by the fire of my passions, which is to use my journey as a form of light to shine on others times of darkness- that there is hope and healing and freedom from the bondage of your journey and that all this needs to come by having grace with yourself and by choosing to intentionally love yourself, your journey, and the soul you are today.
On Mother’s Day, with my son in the stands, I graduated with honors, Magnu Cum Laude and walked straight into my graduate degree, a one-year advanced program for obtaining my Masters in Science of Social Work.
I have walked with my classmates again, after a long year in the Master’s program and obtained my MSSW the summer of 2016.
I never imagined the life I have today…with not one, but two diplomas.
Life has radically changed and I have been incredibly blessed.
We have been so incredibly blessed with such love and support in our journey.
What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier
I am now asking you to listen, to empower and to advocate for those who are uneducated in regards to violence and their harmful current situations whether it be physical, emotional, verbal, sexual or mental abuse, as well as those who you are witness to violence in an extent that has drastically changed their lives. Many people have been silenced and are living in silence, so please offer them the opportunity to be heard and to find their voice once again. Choose to be that one person who makes a personal impact on another’s life that empowers them to be the person they were intended to be….so at this time please stand and face forward if you are able to commit to this…you are making a commitment to assist in diminishing the cycle of violence within this community, empowering those who have difficulty seeing any strengths within them, who have spent many nights and days weeping, bruised, naked, alone and emotional drained, who have spent days or even years in silence, who have difficult carrying for their children due to the abuse they are undergoing amongst the bills they are unable to pay, you are giving them an opportunity to be heard, to hear themselves, and to help them find safety and hope, you are allowing them to see support and to feel the presence of someone who sees them as more than just a statistic but yet giving them an opportunity to grow, flourish and be the beautiful soul that they have been trying so hard to be…. and recognize that you are not alone and others will be at the same time choosing to say no to violence and taking a stand in allowing survivors voices to be heard.
You are WORTHY. Your journey is worthy. Your freedom is Worthy. Your Voice is Worthy.
My passion is to empower others by using my journey and my voice and so I began The Soul Grind, which is a place of self-exploration, radical self-love, soul searching, and some powerful empowerment! A community where your voice is heard and your soul can grow and flourish in the company of some beautiful other humans on the same journey. The Soul Grind pours love on wounds and allows you to be heard and also it emphasizes the importance of combining all of that with a big cup of coffee.
The one thing I would love to tell, especially women, is that “You are worthy”.
In times society wants to make us seem mediocre, small, microscopic and that our views, stories, our voices don’t matter. Well, I’m telling you that you can achieve your dreams, you can accomplish your goals, you most certainly have a voice and I encourage you to “roar” as a lioness and be the women that you are intended to be whether the world sees it as capable or not.
· Fight for your life, your dreams, and your soul, the love for yourself, your families safety and your voice.
· Love yourself
· Take each day at a time
· Don’t judge your journey amongst others
– Dont rush your healing
· Offer yourself abundant amounts of grace when you do fall
· Find those who will support you back up
· Keep going!
Join us! Let’s hear your ROAR.