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A Look Back on 17 Years

This morning I woke up from a nightmare. A nightmare that I was being abducted. Abducted by a man who had taken women and girls previously in my dream but I was the one he wanted.

No matter where I am, this day is always a reminder.

A reminder of what I was once.

A reminder of what I lost.

A reminder of what I found.

A reminder of why I'm still here fighting.

I can feel the change in my body this morning. My body knows and never forgets. It is like this overwhelming sadness that is trying to take over, a darkness that, even if just for today, wants to be let out so that it can consume me. So I need to stay busy.

My morning meditation was done more deliberately this morning to help me shift my focus back on the present and visualize my future life.


The thing with becoming a victim that people don't talk about is that a little piece of you always remains a victim. No matter how much time has passed or how much healing work you have done.

That old version of me is still inside screaming to be let out. She no longer exists but the pain wants me to believe she is there.

17 years went by in the blink of an eye.

17 years as a different Samantha than the one I had known for 18 years. I have almost been broken for more years than not. Will I soon forget who I was in my first 18 years?

I remember carrying around my pain and sorrow like a shield. I used it to protect myself. I used it to keep others at a safe distance. It wasn't about not getting hurt again because there was nothing worse that could have happened to me. It was about not letting them feel the pain that I did. Protecting them from the hurt and destruction that I was feeling inside.

As I sit in the chair in my bedroom staring at Iliza asleep on my bed, I often wonder what my life would be like today if 17 years ago didn't happen.

Would I be married?

Would I have children?

Where would I be living?

Would I have gone through a healing process?

Would I be close to my parents?

Would I love myself?

Would I even still be alive?

The what-ifs today are huge. As tears stream down my face, I am incredibly grateful for the man who found me and saved me. The man who loved me when I couldn't love myself. The man who called me every day despite being thousands of miles away, to tell me that I was beautiful.

Meeting him in person was what I lived for. It kept me alive. And today as I reflect on that, a feeling inside of me burns brighter.


Without love from a man I didn't know, I would not be sitting where I am today. I was strong but it was a strength I did not yet see.


Being a victim was easy. Easy meaning that I didn't give a shit what happened to me. I was constantly living in a world that was surrounded by pain, brokenness, and darkness.

Becoming a survivor meant that I had to look the pain in the eye. I could no longer hide from it or wallow in it. I had to accept the pain and begin to look at it in an accepting way. I needed to open my arms and my heart to the pain and begin to love it.

Pain is easy. Healing is not.


  1. The pain doesn't fully disappear and that is okay.

  2. There is no going back to who you once were before the trauma. You are now a different person and that is okay.

  3. Even in your darkest moments, you have a strength that you didn't know you had.

  4. You need to find ways to help YOU heal. There will be multiple ways that are unique to you.

  5. Despite the years of pain, my life is beautiful. Even the years filled with pain were beautiful.

  6. Forgiveness is necessary to move forward. Forgiveness for yourself and anyone that hurt you.

  7. Triggers will happen in both expected and unexpected ways. Be prepared for both.

  8. True healing comes from inside. It isn't pretty or magical. It is consumed with ugliness and messiness.

This morning I woke up from a nightmare. A nightmare of a man trying to take me. Take this new Samantha that I created 6 years ago. I woke up fighting him, unable to let go of the pieces of my world that were saving me.

I woke up different today. The pain is real as it has ever been but the darkness is fading. Today is a day that will always remind me of what I lost.

But today, I am reminded more of what I have.

A life that allows me to take that pain and transform it into something beautiful.

A life that is filled with creativity.

A life that is messy and complicated and nowhere near perfect but it's all mine.

A life that without December 18, 2003, wouldn't exist.

I had to lose myself in the deepest and darkest black hole to be where I am today. So yes today, I woke up from a nightmare only to realize that my life is a beautiful dream that is worth fighting for.

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