Dates hold moments of time for us. They can keep us stuck in place or they can help us move forward despite the pain.
I want to take you on a journey.
A journey that has taken me to the lowest valleys and carried me to the highest mountains.
A journey that has taught me that love can change lives and the direction of our path.
A journey that has given me the strength to stand in my own power while knowing how fast it can be taken away.
Here is my journey.
THE BEGINNING, THE DARK, AND NEVER-ENDING GROWTH
2003 was a year of the highest highs and the lowest of lows. Never did I imagine that I would be questioning if I would live to see 2004.
2003 was a year that I had been looking forward to for as many years as I could remember. The year that I would graduate high school and truly begin my life. My life was great. I had incredible friends and family. I had my entire life ahead of me and then I didn’t.
Truth be told, I struggled in university.
I struggled to make friends because I didn’t have the confidence that I thought I did.
I struggled in my classes because despite getting great grades in high school, I didn’t know a lot of the things that they were teaching.
I struggled with the disappointment of not making the softball team.
I was desperately looking for a way to make my university life better and then he asked me out. I thought that this would help me come out of my shell. Get in with a group of people that I could get along with. Help me feel like I was accepted.
I remember in high school, getting in trouble once because the cops showed up at my house. Me and a couple of friends were hanging out with a few older boys when we decided to move Christmas ornaments from yard to yard. My parents were not impressed and I remember them telling me that the older boys were a bad influence. (Oh how I love my parents.) Maybe this should have been a warning for me.
This boy that asked me out met me in my dorm room. I was packing to leave for Christmas break before my last final so I thought that I would be safe. There have been many days and nights that I have wondered if this was the whole reason he asked me out. If it was his plan all along. He saw how lonely I was and how he could use that to his advantage. Something I will never truly know.
That is when my life fell apart and I had no idea how to put it back together.
As the days passed and the new year came, my days got darker and darker. I was eventually kicked out of university in January of 2004 because I stopped attending classes. I stayed locked in my dorm room. The dorm room where my life fell apart was the only safe place I could be.
The relationship with my parents got worse and worse with each passing day. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them what had happened.
I didn’t want them to be disappointed.
I didn’t want them to feel the anger that I was feeling.
I didn’t want them to look at me differently.
I’d rather them look at me like I was a rebellious teen than look at me like a victim. And so each and every day, we would get further and further apart with no hope of closing the gap.
My life continued to spiral and I eventually was accepted into a new university near the end of 2004. Honestly, I didn’t want to go back to school but I needed to escape my parents and this was my chance. I got an apartment and started to go to school.
In 2005, I was reckless and no longer cared about my safety. I was hoping that life would just end until I got a message from a complete stranger. I had posted on LavaLife to meet some people that were in the area because I didn’t know anyone. The message I got instead was…
“I don’t know where you live but here is my number. Call me sometime.”
I put it off for a few days and realized that no one else was going to comment or message and so I grabbed my phone because I had nothing to lose. Little did I know that that phone call would give me a reason to live and become so much more.
The first time we spoke, I told him that I was sexually assaulted. He was the first one (Other than a therapist who told my mom. That will be a whole separate post.) that I told my secret to. I felt safe with this stranger because he was thousands of miles away, living in Canada. There was nothing he could do to hurt me.
We spoke for hours on that first phone call. Before we hung up, I told him that we were going to get married someday. (We have now been married for 16 years!!) I made the 15-hour drive (which turned into 18 hours) to meet him in person three months later.
This man came into my life and gave me hope. He made me want to live. The darkness didn’t go away and there were many nights that he talked to me through the tears because I just didn’t want to go on. I looked forward to hearing his voice and that was the only thing that kept me going.
The days of attending school didn’t last long and soon I was locking myself in my apartment. I dropped out of school before the semester was even over. Eventually, I was kicked out of my apartment and moved for a nanny job.
Eventually, I ended up living with my sister and her husband because I was let go of my nanny position. I found a job and worked for a few months before Richard and I made the decision for him to move to the U.S.
In 2006, we finally had everything lined up and a friend and I went to pick him up. Long story short…
We moved in together and got married within a week and started our life together. We lived in the U.S together until January of 2007, when we finally made the decision to move to Canada.
Marriage for me gave me something to focus on. I could pretend that everything was good and that I loved who I was. Luckily I had Richard to show me love even though I didn’t love myself. I still hadn’t dealt with my sexual assault but I thought that I had it under control. When in reality, it was controlling me, my life, and my decisions.
Moving to Canada in 2007 meant leaving behind my family and friends. I didn’t have many friends left because I stopped talking to them. It wasn’t hard to make this decision. The relationship with my parents still wasn’t the greatest and I thought that there would be lifelong damage done.
At the end of 2007, I became a mom for the first time. This meant that I had something else to dive into and completely lose myself in. I was under the impression that being a mom was all that I needed to be. Everything was complete and my life was going to be perfect from that moment out.
It lasted about three months before I realized that something was missing. I was lonelier than ever. I loved my son with all my heart but the happily ever after didn’t exist within him or because of him. I was as lost as ever. I didn’t think I could fix it and so I lived with it.
I lived with the feeling that this was all my life was ever going to be. I thought I felt normal. I thought that this was just how life was going to be. It is hard to explain to someone what it feels like to be incomplete when you have EVERYTHING that you ever wished for.
I lived like this for 6 years. When my second child came into my life, I was again under the impression that I could immerse myself in being a mom to a newborn and a toddler and everything would be alright. It wasn’t.
It wasn’t until 2014 that we moved to Alberta as a family. My son, who was 6 at the time, was nervous to move somewhere new. He didn’t want to leave his friends behind. I sat him down and told him,
This is your chance to be anyone and anything that you want. We are moving where no one knows you which means you can reinvent yourself.
It took me a few months before I realized that I could do the same thing. That meant that I needed to start the healing process. The first step meant talking about what had happened to me.
STARTING WITH THE DARKNESS AND MOVING FORWARD
Healing meant that I needed to go back to 2003 and begin from there. I started blogging in October of 2014 as a way to share my story. I have always loved to write but gave it up after my sexual assault. I didn’t want to be reminded of who I was before.
Deciding to share my story was hard but easy at the same time. I was at a point in my life where it truly didn’t matter what anyone else thought of me. They couldn’t think anything less of me than I already thought of myself. I had nothing to lose and when I hit that publish button, a weight was lifted off and I finally felt like I was free.
Pretending that it didn’t happen meant that I never healed. I never even accepted what had happened to me. I allowed him to control me for 11 years before I finally had the bravery to say no more.
I didn’t expect anyone to read my blog post but in a local Facebook group that I was in at the time, I posted that I wrote it. The messages that I received afterward came flooding in and I realized that there were so many out there that needed to hear my story. They needed to know that they weren’t alone. Just like I needed.
From October 2014 to May 2016, I continued to show up for myself every single day. That meant that I needed to learn who I was at that moment and who I wanted to become. I took intentional steps to figure this out.
That meant learning to love myself including my body.
That meant finding things that brought me joy.
That meant learning to celebrate the small things.
That meant learning to love spending time in the kitchen with my kids.
Every piece deliberately placed so that I could rediscover who I was.
I didn’t have it mapped out.
I didn’t have any books that I could read.
The self-love movement that we know of today wasn’t yet as big as it is now.
I know the beginning can feel daunting. It can feel like a never-ending process and that is because it is. There is no end to your self-love journey. You will always be evolving and becoming more and more of what you are supposed to be.
I am so glad that I took the giant first step in my healing journey in 2014 when I started my blog. Without doing that, I am not sure where I would be today.
My kids have a better mom because I said yes.
My husband has a better wife because I said yes.
I have a better life because I said yes.
If you are ready to say yes to starting a blog and sharing your story, join me on May 15th. Blogging Simplified is 6 workshops in 1 as I walk you through starting your own blog. This workshop is interactive so be ready to work.