Surviving Trauma

Hey guys! I know I haven't written one of these in almost a month and I am sorry.  Here is the deal.  I want this to be a space where I can be  completely honest and vulnerable.  I know it sounds weird, writing about very personal matters on the internet for strangers to read but the reality is there is a therapeutic aspect in writing and sharing this with everyone, and no one at the same time.  It is an added bonus to know that my words, my experiences, could help someone else feel less alone and a bit more empowered, in that spirit I will begin.

Recently,  a few days after my last post, I was shaken to my core. This event caused me to shut down a little and the first casualty is my creativity, i.e. my blog.  Here is what happened about a month ago, my husband and I decided to catch a late movie on a weekday evening, we left the boys home, nothing unusual about it, my oldest is 17 years old.  While we were at the movies, someone knocked on our door, our youngest (13) didn't know who was at the door and decided it would be a good idea to open the door and find out (I know right?!?! scary stuff), not only did he open the door to a stranger, he told said stranger he was home alone.  (I hope you are pulling out your hair right about now) Well while the move was not very bright or wise of our 13 year old,  any normal response would be anger followed by a teachable moment for a child who trusts openly, that the world can be a scary place and trust must be given selectively.

Turns out the knock on the door was my ex-husband with court papers to serve, not a stranger completely, but my very own "boogey-man".  You see I survived an abusive relationship with this person, physical, emotional and sexual.  At that moment I was transported into the mind of my former self, that 17 year old girl who was scared and alone and saw no way out.  I can't tell you how deeply it shook me, I will just tell you this.  I am nearly 20 years past that relationship, happily married with a family and a home of my own, I am an accomplished, educated professional but none of this changes the trauma I endured for five years.  One's reaction to trauma doesn't go away with accolades and accomplishments.  The truth is the pain of abuse scars us deeply in ways unimaginable and it can present itself throughout our life and affect new relationships.  I feel we have this image of what an abused person looks like and it probably wouldn't be my image.  This might come as an uncomfortable revelation to you and believe me it isn't easy for me either.  I seek to give hope to others who see themselves in positions I once occupied.  Too often we keep these truths buried deep within us as if we are to blame.  We aren't.

You may or may not already know but April is Sexual Violence Awareness month. Sexual Violence forms an umbrella on a number of issues including rape, harassment, gender violence and discrimination.  I am grateful that this has been memorialized, the more we bring it out of the dark corners of our society, the more educated we become, the more resources will become available and less and less women will find themselves in this position alone and scared.  It is an opportunity for women who have experienced some sort of violence against them to discuss and feel supported and empowered by others' shared experiences and stories.  Silence is a silent killer.

I recently joined a taskforce at my college to help spread the word and educate myself and others on what this looks like, how we can support survivors and begin work to end the stigma.  This is an important step for me as a survivor.  It often leaves me uncomfortable, unhappy and emotionally depleted, and it forces me to face things that I don't want to face about my past.  But the more I face my past, the less power it will wield over me.  The more I talk about this, the more support I will gain and the smaller the pain will become.  Burying feelings and pain from trauma is often our way to cope and manage life, but the truth is sooner or later we need to take that step because it will reveal itself in others way like depression, destructive behavior, self-harm, detachment etc.  I am not under any delusion that the pain or scars will go away forever, I realize they will always be with me.  They have shaped me as all experiences do, but I am actively working on those parts of myself.  I hope this helps anyone reading who has suffered some sort of trauma to feel less alone.  Society is playing catch-up on what we've known all along and that is it is that it happens more often than we are comfortable knowing and it is NEVER the victims fault.  The perpetrator made a choice and that is about power. Period.  You should know it is in no way your fault and you should never feel ashamed.  Making us feel ashamed is part of what keeps the cycle of abuse in place.  I hope this opens a dialogue and maybe a first step towards healing.

There is no magic bullet or cure for all.  It is different for everyone but its not out of reach for any of us.

Thank you so much for reading.

by LifeStyledbyErica

Learning to Say No

 Hello my loves! Happy first day of Spring, we made it, we made it!  I've been thinking about the level of happiness that I have been able to achieve within my marriage, work, family and life in general and Ive been trying to break that happiness down into the tangible steps I took to get the life I wanted.  So I thought about it and it started about seven years ago, picture MMA boxing gym in the Bronx (it's a Golden Girl reference in case you missed it, lol..ahh whatevs) ok so I had just ended  an unhealthy relationship that carried on, off and on, for five years when I joined this gym that truly changed my life (its where I met my husband).  I met these two career oriented, educated women who took me in as their sparring partner and friend. One Saturday morning as we are packing up after a good workout, I started whining about agreeing to hang out that night with a friend.  I went on and on about being tired, having a long week and just wanting to have a night in bed curled up with my son watching some Jennifer Aniston movies.  My friend stopped me mid-rant and said, "Erica, if you don't want to go, don't go.  Tell your friend you aren't up for it and thats it.  She will understand."  Now this might be a bad example cause it would seem like I left my friend high and dry but actually I was tagging along with her and her girlfriends, so no harm, no foul.  But it dawned on me, why do I say yes to things I don't want to do only to stress and agonize about it?  And it occurred to me, this was a pattern I needed to break.  Seriously.  Why didn't I listen to myself? Why didn't I think what I wanted was worthy?  Why did I allow people (and boyfriends) to subtlety bully me into doing what they wanted me to do?  To be nice?  To have them like me?  So they wouldn't be mad at me?  Understanding these fears and breaking them done to their worst conclusions like, what if I say no to this person they won't be my friend anymore? Ok well if that is the reason they don't want to be my friend, then bye Felicia, bye!  I started small, I canceled on my friend and told her why, she totally understood and wished she could cancel too.  lol  Then I practiced saying no at the workplace, to my family and my friends.  Each no, made me more and more confident.  I began to really listen to myself and value my feelings instead of rationalizing and justifying why I should just go with the flow.  A wonderful thing started happening, my circle of friends got smaller but in a good way.  The friends who didn't respect me or felt threatened by my new found confidence melted away and faded into the background.  Do you know who was left?  The friends who really loved, respected and continue to help me grow into who I am becoming.  And I couldn't be happier, because your circle is everything.  It is your reality so if your circle is filled with negativity and self hate, guess what your reality will be?  Choose wisely and learn to say yes to yourself my loves!  You are soooo worth it! I promise.  

Cause who doesn't love a blooper!?!?!? OMG so the hubby and I did this shoot today after work (ps, thankful for longer days) and we stood local, we ran into three people we knew in like a ten minute shoot!  Hahahahaha, here I am spotting one of my husband's students coming down the stairs..

Exact Blazer (only $10!!!!)

Similar White Pants

Similar Snake Skin Print Satchel

Zara blouse was thrifted, have you checked out yet, copy and paste this link to get $10 off your first purchase!!

Thanks for reading my loves!  Don't forget to subscribe. XOXO

by LifeStyledbyErica 💋

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