OMG. She’s almost ready! We took another sneak peek yesterday of our house and so much more has been done. The sweet brick motor court is completed. Exterior is 95%. And inside, oh, my… I cannot wait to share what’s going on inside. It’s Beautiful.
I am so very grateful for the life I have, and the Joy that I am a co-creatrix of. In my 20’s, my life was such a story of pain and struggle and desperately seeking to escape my suffering. It was a broken heart and a battered body. It was fear and fight. It was a wish for someone to save me, and it was a wish for something better. Little could I imagine then that Love and the power to change EVERYTHING was not external, but waiting to be discovered inside of me. I promise, it’s also inside of you.
Once I realized that I am not just “weird” but that in fact I am a Beautiful Weirdo, well honey everything else just fell into place around me.
I stopped trying to be anyone other than my own self, in all of my wonderful weirdness, because THAT is my special sauce.
I own my sky-high optimism, and my self-searching shadowy moments of fear & doubt. I shit rainbows and hold space for people in my faerie dust, covered in golden Light and wrapped in unstoppable, unbreakable Love. I believe in believing in you, in me, and in our own immeasurable power to create positive change within and all around us, no matter how hard or challenging the path forward may be.
So cheers to you, my Friend, if in reading this you might see a glimpse of yourself, too. You can totally sit at my table. Know that you are not alone. Know that you are allowed to shine your bright, beautiful, Weirdo light.
Here are 3 Ways that we can continue the conversation:
As you celebrate this coming Earth Day, remember to honor our wonderful earth and all its inhabitants. Send out your Healing Thoughts, meditate on Prayers for Peace, and be open to give and receive Unconditional Love from the deep and endless Source of all Life.
Look Up. Look Around. Look Within! All of the Beauty and Magick of the universe is waiting for your embrace today!
Sometimes you come across a person who exudes such compassion, kindness, peacefulness and genuine love for others that it makes you pause and wonder: How did they get to this place?
Such is the case with my friend Rachel. She and I connected online through an exercise challenge; she lives in Wales, I am in the US. The energy and support within this online group was AMAZING. Truly supportive and really beautiful! The challenge ended, but several (hundred) of us, mostly women, wanted to remain connected so Rachel soon formed a spin-off group that kept the conversations and support going.
I quickly learned that this remarkable woman was spiritually gifted, intuitive, and an expert at meditation. YES! That vibe is my jam!
I wanted to learn more, and asked her if she’d be willing to share her story. I had no idea that the pain and trauma of her past was so similar to that of myself and of so many other women. I am incredibly humbled that she chose to share her very personal journey me, and allow me to share it with you. If together we can help one more woman find her voice, find her courage, and find comfort- it’s a win.
The Blessings Butterfly interviews: Rachel John
TBB: What’s the name of Your Business/Company/Product/Project?
RJ: The business is Soul BEing, an umbrella for all tools you need to become whole and reactivate your true being. Mindful Coaching, Meditation, Mindfulness, Chakra Balancing / Energy Healing, Akashic Records Readings, Spiritual Development
TBB: What is your role there?
RJ: I am all roles, creator, strategist, manager, accountant
TBB: What were you doing before this?
RJ: I was a General Manager in a large chain international restaurant running a £1,000,000+ store, Coaching, Training, Marketing, Selling, Mentoring, the list goes on. Before that I had always worked in Sales of the Service industry most notably my time with Virgin Atlantic Airlines as crew.
TBB: In what ways is your Business making a difference, or how do you hope that it will?
RJ: I know, that right now, my Coaching and blend of skills is helping women reclaim their power, voice and independence. It is allowing them to make conscious decisions which positively affect their lives without fear. As Brene Browne would say, “They’re daring greatly” , moving forward in life with courage and love and a new found zest that was absent previously.
I also have a collaboration coming up, which begins November 14th, that I’m very excited about. I’m working with a charitable organisation called Recovery Mummy that helps women suffering from post partum depression and psychosis cope with life after having their babies.
I’ll be running an ongoing Mindfulness Course for parents and children which I know will ease the stress and anxiety the families may be experiencing.
TBB: What do you love the most about what you do?
RJ: I love seeing a clients face light up and their joyous reaction when they realize a truth about themselves or they create their own solutions. It’s such a pleasure for me to help people re-discover their own inner power and wisdom and when they suddenly wake up and appreciate their own power and recognize that it was always there to begin with, it’s a wonderful thing to behold.
TBB: So what inspired you to start this unique practice? How did you get to this place?
RJ: When I was younger, I was raped.At the time I told one person who happened to bump into me while I was sobbing in the local train station. I didn’t tell my mother as it was her birthday a few days after and I didn’t want to upset her. I kept it in, squashed it and boxed it up, threw away the key. I became an expert avoider. I was crying inside.
A few years later I lost my home, my flat mate had a nervous breakdown, the fledgling company I worked for screwed me over financially, I took them to a tribunal court, I won the case, they didn’t turn up and disappeared, I lost my job and my money. I was destitute.
I started again. I always tried to remain positive so when I found a job in my hometown of Cardiff, I returned to live with my Mum. I thought this is my time to reset, save some money and get back to where I was and eventually go back to my adopted town, Brighton.
However, the Universe had other plans for me. I had a beautiful daughter and went from full time to part time, I found a great house and while still getting myself together financially so I could only rent I was overjoyed with our little haven. I planned on going to University to retrain as a Psychologist, then my new company offered me my own restaurant. I was unsure, my gut was saying no, go to uni but I took the position lured by the money carrot and the promise of security and extra responsibility. Two weeks before I was due to start in my own restaurant I snapped my Achilles’ tendon but I carried on regardless, a second blatant refusal to pay attention to my intuition. It was a stressful place and a difficult transition but I Managed to turn the ailing store around.
After only a short couple of years my gut was yelling at me to study again, retrain, go find your niche so I took a long overdue sabbatical to plan my route. While I was off work a male manager took over my store, I had no reason to think that was a problem. One day my area manager contacted me and asked, ‘even though I was off work would I like to go to the annual managers party’, which was a festival style few days in the grounds of the owner of the company’s house. Again I ignored my gut to say no, and agreed after I was persuaded ‘what a great time I’d be missing and all your friends will be there, we’ll miss you’.
On the first night of the festival I was sexually assaulted by the manager who was supposedly looking after my store. Everybody had been given a one man tent, sleeping bag, blanket, water, and a sign to post outside your tent. I was so exhausted that night I said goodbye to my close friends and left the festival field early to go back to my tent and sleep. I hitched a ride on a tractor with two other women and a guy, walked across our field, took my wellies off, crawled into my tent, zipped up and fell asleep fully clothed.
I woke up I don’t know how much later to find a hand down the back of my jeans, inside my pants, this man, this ‘colleague’ in my space. I screamed at him to get out, I was in shock, totally freaked out. The next morning I told one person again, not sure what I was staying. She said he was disgusting, and that was that.
I later found out from another colleague that he had lied about the store handover I’d given him, he had failed my store audit, and completely denigrated my character behind my back. Nobody wanted to tell me as they were worried about how I’d react and how it would affect the party. So I was violated in every way.
Again I kept quiet. I moved to a different store, returned to part time hours and to Assistant Manager and started studying Hypnotherapy. I loved the course and boxed up all my past hurt.
Unfortunately for me, my General Manager went on maternity leave and the coward that assaulted me was put in her place. At first I coped but bit by bit, he undermined my position by slowly delegating my work until I had nothing of relevance left. He used my part time status as an excuse then tried to have me removed by the area manager by telling him I was unhappy.
After standing in the tiny managers’ office watching these two grown men argue about who had initiated the move, I’d had enough. I moved restaurant once again to only end up working with his partner. By this time it was too late for me to regain composure. I suffered a panic attack and things went from bad to worse. I became depressed, the following grievance procedure I processed against him in work dragged on and on. The next two years were like a blur as I suffered depression, panic attacks, agoraphobia and cried incessantly.
It’s from here that I carried on studying Coaching, Meditation, Mindfulness, Mindset, my Spiritual development and pulled myself back from the dark edges of life. I re-found my inner strength and wisdom! This is why I started my business and this is why I wanted to help women that have suffered without support, not realizing that everything they need is already there inside of them.
TBB: WOW, Rachel! You have indeed been through the fire. I am so sorry for the years of pain, struggle andsilence that you suffered. It is easy to see how much of a transformation you have made in your life by finding your voice (and what a powerful example for your daughter too!)
RJ: Studying Hypnotherapy, practicing and gaining my teaching qualification in Mindfulness and Meditation, counseling, coaching, my Spirituality and my resolve have got me where I am today, two years on. Strong and independent. That’s why I want you to be powerful too.
TBB: Can you tell me about any of your current projects?
RJ: I’m currently working on combining all of my ‘woo woo’ skills with my Mindful Coaching to create a phenomenally powerful and more holistic way to coach. I’ve always tended to look at the whole picture and introduced a little alternative into my coaching but now I’m being guided to totally immerse myself in this work and my clients are loving it.
I’m reading the Akashic Records, (which is a way to connect with your whole timeline or soul line as I like to call it), plus reading a clients Chakras and using these channels as tools to blend together for the fullest picture of the issues the client needs to work through.
They’re having real breakthrough transformations, smashing through old, outdated habits and patterns of thinking and living.
I am currently running a discounted offer for my Akashic Readings to just my group, but would like to extend this to your readers.
It’s an initial taster session at $43, the session incorporates Chakra healing/balancing with the Akashics for a 360 reading into the most important areas of your life. Value for October only, follow on packages are available.
TBB: Is there anything else you’d like to share, or advice that you can offer to anyone feeling “stuck”?
RJ: If you’re feeling stuck look for support. Don’t suffer in silence, reach out for help, for in vulnerability there is strength. When you take action the universe conspires to assist you wherever it can. You are never alone. Someone somewhere will be in exactly the same position as you. Ask yourself how would you help your friend if they were in the same position as you, then go do it for yourself. Failing that call me 😉
TBB: Fantastic! Thank You! How can people get in touch with you to get help with meditation, counseling, energy healing, etc.?
TBB: Thank you. You are a strong, beautiful human and I’m honored to share this. Blessings upon blessings, dear one.
RJ: thank you xx
BIO ~ Rachel is a qualified Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher, an Holistic Transformation Coach and a skilled Akashic Records Guide who uses Chakra Balancing, Energy Healing and Mediumship to help her clients rediscover their authentic selves.
She is passionate about helping people bring happiness and balance back into their lives, regain their lost independence, rekindle their creative spark and reignite their zest for life.
Rachel believes that with her compelling combination of practical guidance and spiritual support she guides her clients through an holistic journey of self discovery that ultimately balances the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves culminating in mindful harmony.
By making the decision to choose LOVE over fear and being brave enough to take inspired action her clients are taking their first steps to a more fulfilled life of understanding.
She is a Life Coach, a Soul Intention Seeker, a Spiritual Catalyst and Pioneer for Empowerment.
~ BECOME WHO YOU WERE BORN TO BE ~ MAKE THE JOURNEY JOYFUL
Hello Loves! I am so excited to bring back my “Friday Faves” for the month of October. My first interview is with my longtime friend, Alana. We have known each other for many years, and though our lives keep us super busy, we still get together once or twice a year face to face with a few special girlfriends. Usually we can only keep up with each other through the magic of Facebook, but I’ll take it! She’s a wonderful woman, super creative, and I can’t wait to introduce you to her.
Your Name: Alana Hinojosa
Name of Your Business/Company/Product/Project: Frisky Fish
What is your role there?Founder/creator/owner/operator
Tell me when and how you got started in your current business: My son Rex was just born, and I had three kids under five and absolutely zero time for myself. So when Rex wanted to eat, I would sit on the floor in front of the fish tank in my daughters room and observe the fish. I found this to be a combination of entertainment and meditation, and began talking to people about my “Frisky Fish” when a friend told me I should use that as the name of my business.
At the time I didn’t even have a product, and I was attempting to make candles with essential oils. I also started making roll-ons for friends, when a friend told me “stop with the candles, put a label on these and sell them”. It was almost too simple. But I needed it to be simple. So that’s what I did.
What inspired you to begin this Business/Company/Product/Project? I had given up my career when my second daughter Flora was born and knew I wanted to do something creative that allowed me the flexibility to be with my family. I LOVE the idea of working with my hands and creating and I had been using and blending essential oils for years. Because I was at a point in my life where I didn’t have time for things like yoga, meditation, reading, etc. I began to realize that you can find inspiration in the mundane and every day, like your kitchen when you’re cooking dinner for the family or on the floor of your daughters room, while your feeding your baby. I have this candid picture of myself that my daughter took around the time I conceived of Frisky Fish and I love how awful I look in it. In the picture I have breast milk stains, my hair is a mess and I’m the heaviest I have ever been in my life. But I’m smiling. And I like that Frisky Fish was inspired during a time when nothing around me was what one would traditionally find inspirational.
What were you doing before this? I was a special education teacher and a therapist for children with autism. Then a SAHM. And now a WAHM.
In what ways is your Business/Company/Product/Project making a difference, or how do you hope that it will?I source almost all of my materials from the USA, pay fair wages to my (currently) one employee. I use all natural materials. These are small things, but important values I believe.
What do you love the most about what you do?So. Many. Things. I love developing and naming new products and collaborating on the design and packaging. Working with retailers that my product is in, meeting fellow makers, connecting with people who use my products are also exciting parts of this business.
If Current You could go back in time and share a message with You From 5 Years Ago (or 10, or High School- your choice) what advice would you give to yourself?That’s hard because I’m pretty happy with where I am now and I know that where I am is a culmination of all of those mistakes and detours that I made. I think if there was something I could’ve learned a little sooner is that I didn’t need to, nor could I please everyone all the time and not to give my time and energy to people who didn’t appreciate it.
What is your favorite daily ritual, and why is it important to you? Before I had kids, it was meditating and I’m finally at a point in my life that I can see that there will be time for that again. But for now, it’s cooking dinner for my family. And yes, I do it daily. I sometimes complain about it, but I’ve found it to be something that balances my need for something familiar and daily and my desire to nurture my family by providing a (somewhat) lovingly prepared meal that we sit down and eat together.
Are there any new projects or products you are working on? Currently I am developing two different ritual kits (solstice ritual kit and full moon ritual kit) that are set to be ready by the end of this month. I’m also ramping up my my wholesale game. I’m in around seven smaller stores now and will soon be in all three of my local West Elms as a part of their LOCAL assortment (Eeeeep!). I’m in the process of creating a more attractive wholesale program and am enrolled in Lela Barker’s wholesale matchmaker program which is amazing so far.
Is there anything else you’d like to share, or advice that you can offer to anyone feeling “stuck”? Don’t compare yourself to anyone else! (Okay, so you will, but then just remind yourself not to and move on). You have something unique to offer to the world and to tell your story in your own way, whether if it’s by offering a service, a product, writing or drawing. Put it out there! You’re awesome.
Lazy days of summer are coming to an end (okay I am honestly NOT great at being lazy) and you feel the energy around you shifting. What is one positive, healthy thing you can challenge yourself with over the next 30 days?
If you need a teensy bit of inspiration & encouragement, you can join me on my September 30 Day Challenge! Here’s what I’m challenging myself to do for my health & well-being:
10 minute walk
Adjusting my diet
Daily gratitude journal
Here’s the details:
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. ~Lao Tzu
10 Minute Walk: My goal is to begin every day with gentle walk around my neighborhood. I am going to commit to walking for at least 10 minutes each day for 30 days. During my walks, I can improve my mood, set a clear intention for the day ahead, pray for my neighbors, or simply be open to creative inspiration. I do exercise my body already with cardio and strength training 2-3 days a week, and yoga and stretching daily; adding in this 10 minute daily cardio is easy and gentle. Just 10 minutes! Moving my body feels good once I get started, so it’s time to stop making the first step such a hard one to take.
Adjusting my diet: I enjoy food and I love cooking, so it is not a huge part of the challenge to eat most of my meals at home. Overall, I have a pretty health-conscious diet that i follow. It’s not overly regimented, and I am thankful that I have very few diet restrictions to navigate. However, I am noticing more discomfort in my body, and I know it’s time to clean up my act. I am going to eliminate some of the foods that are responsible for bloating, inflammation, and weight gain. Some of the foods that I am taking a break from this month* include sugar, dairy, alcohol, and grains. I will also be adding more fresh, organic fruits and vegetables and clean protein. [*FULL DISCLOSURE: I will totally “cheat” and eat all the beignets and have a few drinks too while I’m in New Orleans over the weekend] I LOVE my body, and I’m going to listen to her!
Daily Gratitude Journal: I am definitely grateful for all that I have and all that I get to experience each day. I love my life and I want to continue to appreciate every day that I am here! One thing that I know about myself, though, is that when I am going through a challenging time it can be easy to overlook the many blessings around me. Being intentional and focusing on the positive brings me back to a place of feeling grounded, secure, and at peace. I cannot control everything around me, but I can always control how I choose to respond. Each day for 30 days, I will note at least 1 thing that I am grateful for specific to that day.
Would you like to join me on this 30 day journey? Enter your contact information in the form below and we can keep in touch! You’ve Got This.
For the past couple of years, I have been wanting- no, longing to- create a series of fitness videos for people living in bigger bodies, with a crazy twist: I don’t want you to lose a bunch of weight (unless that is something YOU want for yourself). Instead, I wanted to simply love, support, and encourage people just like me to love the body that they are already living in, and provide them with some easy action-steps to help guide them to a healthier lifestyle.
I had this radical notion that I could begin to deeply, truly LOVE myself exactly as I am instead of constantly feeling shitty about the way I look & thinking that “If I just lose this extra weight, I’ll be happier”. NOPE! Life is too short, and I decided that I don’t want to waste any more time trying to get my body to look like it did when I was wearing size single-digit before treating myself like the beautiful, strong, wonderful and valuable woman that I already am. Talk about a game-changer! It’s what led me to create my very own body-positive holistic health & wellness program for bigger bodies, The Cocoon – Empowered Transformation.
The truth is, and trust me when I tell you that the bazillion dollar health & fitness industry doesn’t want me to tell you this: You can achieve good health and still live in a plus-size body. I’m certainly not saying that you shouldn’t take good care of yourself; no, I’m saying that you don’t have to fit into standards set by the beauty industry in order to be healthy, beautiful, and utterly amazing. YES! You can adopt a healthier lifestyle AND you can start loving the body you have right now. What a crazy concept, hey? Here are my five top tips to get you started:
Develop a more positive mindset. Instead of constantly tearing yourself down, criticizing, and comparing, retrain your brain to shift the focus on to what is good about you, and on what you are doing right. Find the positive spin. Speak to yourself with love and kindness daily, and especially in times of great stress and challenge. Talk to and about yourself as you would your best friend. Believe in yourself!
Move your body every day. Be intentional about creating more movement for your body every day. Do at least 10 minutes of physical activity each and every day. 1, 2 or 3 times a week, add in some fun physical activity for 20, 30, or 60 minutes. Build up slowly, and try different things to see what you enjoy the most.
Food is not optional, so make it great. Whether you choose to eat as a carnivore, omnivore, or herbivore, the food we eat should nourish our bodies and delight our taste buds. Always opt for organic, non-GMO certified foods whenever possible. Choose the freshest fruits & veggies you can find. Cut way back on sugar, but not on healthy fats. Cook your own meals whenever possible and develop some mad skills!
Hydrate! There are so many benefits to your body from drinking plenty of water each day. Improved organ function, fresher breath, eliminating toxins, reducing headaches, clearer, more supple skin, and more. Start with drinking a glass in the morning before you get out of bed and aim to drink 8 more throughout the day. If you don’t already love the taste of fresh pure water, infuse itwith fruit or herbs. Drink up, Buttercup!
Throw out that damn scale. Seriously, just ditch it. Don’t be owned by a number whether it is on a scale, a pair of jeans, a bank account or a birthday cake. You are WAY more valuable than any of those. In fact, you are priceless. (See Tip #1!)
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What did the “rock bottom” point of your life look like? When you found yourself there, did you think it was even possible to go any lower? I didn’t either. Honey, I was wrong.
At 23 years old, I was a single mom, a college dropout, broke AF with ruined credit and in fear for my life having just escaped from my abusive ex-boyfriend/father of my child. We fled to the only safety I had ever known, my childhood home with my parents and my big brother. Unfortunately, that quiet cul-de-sac in a good neighborhood would not be safe enough for me. Turns out, even when a court of law awards you the protection of a restraining order, the bad guys don’t actually give a shit about a piece of paper.
Though I was no longer living with him, the abuse didn’t quit. He would call the house at all hours of the day or night, and being a coward wouldn’t speak to my mom or dad if they answered. No, instead he saved all of his hatred for me. My poor parents, God bless them. This was so far beyond the kind of life I grew up living in our simple suburban home.
Daily death threats became my reality. This unbalanced man, my ex, had become obsessed with me. He didn’t want a family, he didn’t want to be a father to our sweet son. He just wanted to own me,and his only pleasure was in tormenting me. I was followed by him whenever I left the house alone. My car was broken into and trashed, and I was harassed by him at work for months. He called me at work almost daily just to be an asshole, and would leave horrible messages about me on the firm’s answering machine. Sometimes when I was leaving the office, he would be waiting by my car in the parking lot. I had to always be on my guard, because I was absolutely terrified of this man. It became so bad that I developed a heart condition brought on by the extreme stress, and I had to quit my day job.
When it became apparent that he just wasn’t going to go away, and there was nothing that the police were able to do short of sending an occasional patrol car down the street, I made the difficult decision to leave my baby boy in my parents’ care and I left town. It was the hardest choice I had to make, and though in my heart I know it was my best possible play, it left the bitter taste of guilt in my mouth.
He took the bait. The calls to my parents’ house decreased to almost nothing shortly thereafter, and he was rarely seen around the neighborhood. After a few years, the calls stopped altogether. He may have been in jail again, or moved on to a new obsession. Who knows? All I knew is that my child and my family were finally safe without me in their daily lives.
The Gut-Wrenching Road Back
My road back home would be a long, dark, and twisting one. I was always looking over my shoulder, wanting to trust somebody but never knowing who was safe. Day jobs weren’t an option for me. I was too afraid of being somehow seen by him or one of his cronies. I moved frequently, wearing wigs and taking shit jobs in nightclubs and dive bars under an assumed name. It wasn’t long before paying the bills meant taking off my clothes and using my young, beautiful body. For me, that path started by dancing nights at bikini bars, modeling lingerie, and working as an oil covered fantasy wrestler. Within a year on the run, I had taken on a new identity as an adult-industry performer.
I called home from time to time to let my parents know I was safe, and to talk to my son and tell him that I loved him so, so much. I made very infrequent visits, and each one was gut-wrenching. “I love you! Be a good boy for Grammy and Poppy. Mommy will be home to stay soon, honey. I promise.” And oh, how I wanted that to be true. My shame was such a burden.
A Bleak Future, A Nice Guy, and a Tough Transition
After nearly six years in the adult entertainment industry, I was so spent, so broken inside. Every shift on the stage was cutting apart my soul. Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw a stranger looking back at me. A scared, beautiful, heartbroken stranger. And every time I looked around at the girls, the women who were living the underground life that I was, I saw a bleak and very short future.
Near the end of my career, I met what the girls in my former business called a unicorn: A Nice Guy. And the best part is that even though he knew what I was, he never saw me perform! When he looked at me, he didn’t see a stripper or a whore. He saw a beautiful girl. He saw my sparkle. And for me, having someone see beyond my exterior gave me the confidence and the hope to break free, to start over.
After a few months of dating A Nice Guy, I knew that it was time for me to get out of the business and try living a normal life again. I had taken a small flat near my hometown, and quit dancing and club work altogether. I was having more visits with my son and trying to rebuild my relationship with my family… and even some of my old friends (the good ones). My parents welcomed me back with open arms, and I moved back into my childhood home. I was still cautious, and always nervous about running into my ex. I was relieved when I learned that he had found a new girlfriend, and while I felt bad for her- whoever she was- I admit that I was just glad that he wasn’t my problem anymore.
The End of Me & A Phone Call From Heaven
I wish I could say that becoming a full-time Mom again was an easy transition, but I would totally be lying. It was incredibly hard because I had NO DAMN CLUE how to be sober, how to be gentle, how to be nurturing. I hadn’t dealt with my trauma at all; I had only created more of it in the years I was on the run. I was not just angry, I felt rage. I was not just scared, I felt terror. And though I wanted so desperately to be loved, I couldn’t reckon how to show love for anyone else in a healthy way, because I hated myself. Then and only then did I find my true Rock Bottom: I was convinced that I my life was no longer worth living, and that my family would be better off without me. The world would be better off without me in it.
Sitting on the floor in my old bedroom, late at night, my sweet child asleep and the rest of my family had all gone to bed, I decided to end my life.
I wrote a tearful letter to my family and told them how I sorry I was for all the years of pain I had caused them.
I kissed my sleeping baby boy.
I prayed to Whoever or Whatever was listening, if there was Anyone, and asked that my life be recycled into something better than the mess I had made of it.
I grabbed a couple of bottles of pills from the medicine cabinet in the kitchen, swallowed a handful and was just about to leave the house when the phone rang. DAMMIT. Crap, I thought, I need to answer before someone wakes up.
On the other end of the line was an old, dear friend of mine. A friend who had become a pastor at a local church. “Michelle! Hey, I’m sorry to call so late, but God just really put you on my heart tonight. I just had to reach out!”
…um…GOD? I thought, You heard me?
My friend continued, “I heard you are back in town, and I know this is last minute, but I wanted to invite you on a camping trip with my church college group. It’s in a few days, can you join us?” I don’t know how else to describe it, but in that moment, I knew that God- however you may understand God to be- had heard my desperate prayers and was answering them through this phone call. I felt a warmth fill my body, as if I was being hugged from head to toe. “Yes, I would like to come along,” I answered my friend, warm tears streaming down my cheeks. “Thank you. Thank you so much for calling.” As I hung up the phone, I knew that I was going to have a second chance at life, and I was going to do whatever it took to live it beautifully. But first, I would need to stick my finger down my throat and get the pills out of my body. I did, and I added my torn-up goodbye letter to the toilet, flushing it all away.
Grammar aside, this simple phrase has taken me through more rough places throughout my life than I care to count.
It has been both humbling and empowering; it has seen tears upon tears, and it has felt true grit. Most of all, it has been my permission slip to myself to do whatever I needed to do in each situation whenever I’ve called on it.
It has given me permission to be my own superhero and to push through horrible anxiety, depression and quite literally, fear for my life.
It helped me to finally take my baby boy all those years ago, and flee for our safety. It gave me the courage to leave him in the care of my parents, missing him every single day for nearly six years, while I went underground to hide from my abuser. I had no damn idea what I was doing, but I knew that my family was not safe if I was around them. And so I did what I had to do.
Going Underground- Life on the Run
I struggled mightily in those days, a young woman in her early 20’s with no degree, no money, and a crazy ex-boyfriend who wanted her either back under his control or dead. I worried that my baby would never be safe with me. I worried that he would hate me for leaving him. My fear was palpable, and I felt failed by the court who had issued a restraining order but was unable to enforce it.
Working a day job wasn’t an option anymore. Being a carefree mom wasn’t an option anymore. My new reality became wearing wigs, changing my name, constantly looking over my shoulder and taking shit jobs in nightclubs and dive bars. I danced for tips, took my clothes off and I used my young, beautiful body to make money to put food in my belly and pay for a roof over my head. Eventually, I also used it to get me the drugs and alcohol I needed to numb myself and push the shame aside.
I had created a new identity for myself, moving frequently and living under an assumed name. It was SO bizarre and looking back, I am still amazed at what I did, the life (lives?) I lived. I knew it would all be over someday, and I dreamed of being able to one day reunite with my family and friends. That tiny sliver of hope kept me going, and I locked it away in a small, quiet corner of my heart.
And though I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, there are incredible lessons that I learned and some very special souls I met along the way. So many people living on the run, in fear, in deep pain. So much guilt. So much sorrow. So many stories and voices just longing to be heard, recognized, valued. So many people just wanting to be loved and safe.
It was several years of living hard until I finally was able to harness my strength, my courage, and decide that I wanted a better life again. I had left one horrible life before; surely, I could do it again.