My Survival Story: Then and Now

Two years ago, I wrote...

Living in the 21st century, it is easy to get caught up in social media and the unrealistic expectations of reality it provides. The glitz and glam of Instagram can suck you in, suddenly altering how you view yourself and others. Every woman’s makeup has to be following the “Instagram trends” consisting of perfectly sculpted out eyebrows, a sharp contoured cheek, and highlight beaming from every angle. I’ll be the first to admit, that I get drawn into social media, always checking how many “likes” I got on a picture and making sure my outfit is Instagram appropriate. For some unknown reason, we as woman, feel the need to follow social media trends in order to have the confidence we desire. We are constantly comparing our lives to those we are “following” but have never actually met. 

Whether you want to believe it or not, the reality is, social media is all smoke and mirrors. Fashion and beauty is something that I love and makes me feel fun and feminine. However, just like everyone else, I only post the good things. I don’t share the time I wore sweats to Target or a stressful day at work. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, especially Instagram, but that is not who I am. Blogging is something that I take so much pride in and a place where I can escape my reality and have fun. I wanted to shed a light into this plastic world we live in and share who I really am on the inside and how I got here. 

I am your average twenty something year old woman trying to make a living on my own and get grounded in my career. About a year ago life hit me. Hard. One out of six American women are victims of sexual assault; I am now part of that statistic. Nobody prepares you for such a traumatic event. There’s no handbook or owners manual. There’s no class you can take or book you can read. Lady Gaga said it best, “you’re never going to know how it feels until it happens to you.” Props to you, girl; I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I had officially hit rock bottom. My apartment soon became my hell and I couldn’t bear to be inside of it. I now saw it as a prison where all these unwelcome memories and dirty acts were housed. It was contaminated by a criminal, polluted with negative thoughts, and haunted with flashbacks of that night. I spent the following weeks not being able to look at myself in the mirror and spent all the time I could in bed. 

No amount of showers, no ounce of makeup, no cute outfit, and unfortunately, no new pair of shoes, could make the disgust and anger I felt toward myself go away. Dammit! There was no food to be found in my fridge for weeks, trash piled up around my kitchen, and bills were thrown in a corner going unpaid and quite frankly, uncared about. Dirty dishes were left in the sink, while clothes were sprinkled around the floor. Needless to say, my life became a little less living and a lot more surviving.

Within a few weeks, I developed severe anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I felt so alone that I quickly isolated myself from the outside world, including people I loved and cared about. I felt robbed of my self-worth, identity, and confidence. It was as if my body was empty; there was no soul, just skin and bones. This brought me through high’s and low’s, even to the point of wanting to take my life. 

Over the course of the last year, I have been on a journey of finding myself and what makes me genuinely happy through intense counseling and the support of my amazing family and friends. As you now know, my life is not as glamorous as it is made out to be. The point is, I am real. I still have bad days. If you are going through a hard time, know you are not alone. At one point, I wanted to give up. It is because of my friends and family that never lost hope for me that I am still here today.

Everyone feels lost at some point in their life and that is okay. I am here to tell you that there is hope. A year ago, I never imagined I would be where I am today. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. However, I am happier and more confident in myself that I have ever been. Being confident does not come naturally to me. I had to work my ass off to get to this place and it something I will continue to work at. I still have anxiety and suffer from panic attacks but that doesn’t mean that I am broken. I am me and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Even though my last year hasn’t been ideal, I am beyond thankful for every experience I have had. I have discovered who my true friends are and what my purpose is here on this earth. 

Now...

Reading that today, as a healthier, stronger, and happier woman, sends chills down my spine. Now, when I talk about this part of me, it's not so much a story filled with sorrow and grief, but of triumph and strength. Instead of tears filling my eyes, passion and fills my heart and spills out my mouth. 

I now smile with genuine joy, I laugh from deep down in my belly, and I love harder than ever. Some people may say I was selfish...I said no to a lot of things, lost people who I thought were close to me, and took a lot of time to myself. If I’m being honest, if I didn’t dedicate that time to figuring out me, I don’t think I would be here right now.  

Life happens and curve balls are thrown our way at some of the most unexpected times. However, it's all part of the plan. It makes us stronger, it pushes us to grow, and teaches us lessons that mold us into who we are today. For example, I am way less judgmental; there's no point in judging someone else's choices if you don't know what's going on behind closed doors. Besides, it's their life. I am more selective with who I surround myself with. I hate small talk, meaningless conversation, and negative people. My soul craves deep conversation, real connection, and relationships that inspire and grow. 

Now, don't think I am completely healed and the happiest human ever. That's the thing, I am human. I still have moments of severe anxiety and times when I doubt myself. The difference is that they are moments, not a mindset. If you are struggling with something, please please please get help. Talk to someone. Life is precious and you are meant to be in it. 

The suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255