For as long as I can remember, I’ve always existed from a state of fear and being in defense mode. I was a precocious child, which meant that I expressed myself in ways the adults around me didn’t understand. It also meant that my voice was quieted and my ways of expressing myself weren’t really allowed. I was often told, “Be quiet!” “Stop acting silly!” “Why can’t you be like...” I didn’t know anything else to do or be than to retreat within myself. I resorted to operating from my head instead of my heart space. I became quiet and more introspective.
By the time I was 8, I had my first experience with sexual trauma. I went further within, which brought anger, rage, protection (defense mechanisms) and lack of trust into my life. As a defense mechanism, I also “tried” to control everything around me. Yes, even as a little girl. I believe this compounded the fact that I was an only child for so long, therefore, my sense of self was one of extreme selfishness and no one fostered any other way of being. This followed me into adulthood. Now, I don’t like labels, however, I was the consummate “brat” of the family. Whatever I wanted, I got. Often times, due to my begging and or having an attitude. My mother would simply give in. Love, meant receiving material things. There was not a lot of affection nor words of encouragement in my household. Now, this isn’t to discredit my parents or blame or shame them. They only knew what to do from their consciousness at the time. Love also meant it was given under conditions. If I was “good” I was loved. If I was “bad” love was withdrawn and I wasn’t worthy or good enough. As a result, I always had to prove I was lovable. It was like I had to fight to be seen, felt and heard. “Love” came to me I was 14 years old. This is when I met my first boyfriend. He was everything I didn’t receive at home. He paid attention to me and he wanted to be around me. We laughed, talked for hours and connected on so many things. I had never experienced that before. I had always been a person who desired a connection to other human beings. We were together for two years and broke up because he cheated on me. I was devastated to say the least.
Months later, he wanted to come over to “talk” and I reluctantly said ok. Not really thinking he would come over. I say reluctantly because him coming over, didn’t sit well with me, however, I didn’t trust what I felt. After this “talk”, he ended up raping me. He was the first male I trusted besides my father. I couldn’t believe this was the same person who I was so enamored with at 14. He wasn’t – he was 17 and whatever he had going on within his life, he took it out on me.
After this violation, I became even more angry, enraged and my thought process resulted in, “Trust no one!” This included myself. Then, came more control, more defense mechanisms and more fear of being myself. I had no idea what that meant. Every relationship I had, was about ownership and control. If something didn’t go the way I expected, I would eventually leave. In my mind, I was going to leave before anyone could hurt me or leave me. My defense mechanisms had been the many masks I’d worn. I realized, it wasn’t love I was afraid of, I was reliving the past stories and was afraid of experiencing the past again. I also knew that I had to love myself. I didn’t know what that meant nor what it looked like. I did know that I had an inner 8 year old self and 17 year old self that were wounded. These were the parts of me who didn’t feel loved, accepted, wanted, validated or appreciated.
During my 25 years on this path of transformation, I found many authors, teachers and modalities. The works of Dr. Joe Dispenza and Matt Kahn resonated with me the most. Dr. Joe Dispenza, teaches how our subconscious minds work and how to truly break the habits of being ourselves – by becoming better versions of ourselves. Matt Kahn – teaches that everything is here to help us grow and to love whatever arises, whether it’s wounded inner child or the one who feels separate from everything and everyone.
I learned to speak to myself the way the adults in my life didn’t. Every day, I not only saw myself being more loving, compassionate and at peace, I was beginning to feel it. I would look in the mirror and tell myself, “You are so beautiful!” “You are safe right here, right now!” “You are worthy of having a wonderful life.” I also, told myself, "it wasn’t my fault what happened to me". I wasn’t to blame nor was I “damaged goods.” I treated myself with honor and reverence because, at the end of the day, I am the most important person in my life. What I wanted most was to be in alignment with the Power within me. I had to let go and allow the Divine within me to take over. So, I literally laid down everything that I held onto, including being afraid of my own power and who I was born to be.
I made a commitment to love myself fiercely. The truth of the matter is, being myself is loving me no matter what. I am very clear on who I am. I own every piece of me. And most of all, I am very honest with myself. I no longer hide behind “I don’t know” or “It doesn’t matter.” When I need to say something, I say it with kindness. When I need to say, “no”, I mean it, no wavering. The same is true for when I say, “yes”. Loving myself has been the most revolutionary thing I’ve ever done. And, it keeps on getting better and better. As Frankie Beverly sings, “I’ve got myself, to remind me of love.”
I know there are a lot of women and young girls who don’t know how to get past the hurt, guilt, shame or blame and possibly embarrassment of trauma, especially sexual trauma. I am here to tell you, you have a voice. You do not need to be silent any longer. I know, all too well. I waited almost 30 years before I said anything. If you feel you are not safe, please seek professional help to get you in a safe environment. I also advise seeking professional mental health care. I have had therapy in the past and I am currently seeing a therapist. The pain can be unbearable, know you are resilient and have a power within YOU that will never leave you.
What happened to you is NOT in vain, you may not understand it now, however, your story may help another person who believes they are voiceless. Also, know this, IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. No matter what anyone tells you, it is not your fault. It’s so easy to say go within, pray and the answers will come to you. That is true, however, the mental work is challenging, I will not misinform you and say it is easy. You have to want to receive help. You have to want to grow through the pain to get to the other side and you have to want to forgive yourself for whatever you THINK you did or didn’t do. Aside from the books I’ve read, including the self-love talk and constant work on reprogramming my mind, the best help I received has been while in therapy. I have learned to emote effectively. I have learned to respond to people and not react and I have learned how to mature in certain areas where I was still operating from my younger selves. It has been the best decision I have made.
For those who have experienced sexual violence of any kind, the National Sexual Assault Hotline number is: 1-800-656-4673.
LoveAlways to you.
Keli Denise is a writer, author, journalist, editor, educator and workshop facilitator. She is currently pursuing an interest in the field of life-coaching. She began writing at an early age, and it has become her way of therapy. She says, “For me, writing is my gift to the planet and how the Divine expresses through me. I am not a ‘healer’ in the traditional since of healing. My writing is like a healing balm. My intention is to tell my story, so others can feel free to live the truth of theirs. I am simply a vessel used to assist others in reconnecting to their Divine Self”.