Surviving A Pandemic With Mental Illnesses | A Life I Deserve

As humans, it seems that we are rarely willing to agree on anything. The one thing we CAN all agree on, is that 2020 has been a rough year, especially for those battling with mental illness.

I haven’t smoked cigarettes in almost 2.5 years, yet I spend 85% of my day convincing myself not to smoke them. Each day is getting increasingly more difficult to convince myself not to pick that habit back up.

I haven’t used heroin in over 7.5 years, yet this year I have found myself fantasizing over the idea of making all of my physical + mental pain go away. Logically, I know that won’t work for long & it will only be a matter of time before I have all my current problems, plus a whole new set of them, which is what holds me back. When you know better, you do better. Getting and staying off heroin was far easier than 2020 for me.

Then the suicidal thoughts. Its a strange place to find yourself when you don’t want to live, but not ready to die, yet. It’s a lonely place to be. I have so much to be thankful for, yet I want to throw it all away so someone much kinder, happier, and more deserving can take my place. Someone who is more patient, someone more still. Someone who doesn’t have the long list of mental illnesses that I live with. Someone who isn’t set off over the simplest of things. Someone who won’t show them what the dark side of mental illness looks like. Someone who is nothing like me.

But in the midst of my latest stress-induced meltdown, I realized something really big that stopped me in my tracks.

I have 4 girls nearly 24/7.

4 girls who I have been isolated with inside a tiny house for the better half of a year.

4 girls who fight. & scream. & cry. & shriek. & yell. Usually all at the same time.

A newborn, turned infant, who is now running. Who has been attached to my hip since birth with no breaks.

An extremely high-strung, dangerously-fearless, independent, messy, busy toddler.

A half-day preschooler who we have to pile in a car (if you’ve ever watched this ordeal, you understand) to drop off, only to pile in a car again to pick up almost two hours later.

A very hyper-active 1st grader who I am now homeschooling 3 days a week. Who I can rarely bring into public due to behavioral reasons, especially without another adult present.

3 days at home, means 2 days at school. 2 days that start 30 minutes of each other, who because of covid cannot be dropped off together. With a baby & toddler who cry every time they sit in a parked car for any length of time. 2 days in a classroom with 6 other children with a teacher who doesn’t believe me that she displays every symptom of ADHD, and an ADHD test which is based entirely on what unrelated adults around her believe to be true.

Speech therapy appointments for my toddler.

Behavioral therapy appointments for my 1st grader.

Parent coaching appointments for myself.

Doctor appointments for all. Trying to find a dentist in our network that specializes in Pediatrics.

With not one break.

Not one single one.

I’m stretched far, far beyond what I can mentally handle. Yes, having so many children WAS my decision; but neither I, nor anyone else, planned for a global pandemic when planning for a family.

Nobody planned for this.

I am not alone in my struggle, but that does not make it easier.

When you live in a constant state of manic-depression, it is very hard to remember to be kind to yourself. It is difficult to see your worth and hold on to your will to live, if you can even find it.

I wrote this list of things I deserve in life, even if I don’t believe it yet. Someday I might.

And who knows, it may be exactly what someone needs to hear today.

We are all in this together ❤

  • I deserve to be built up.
  • I deserve to share my feelings without feeling weak.
  • I deserve to be loved despite my imperfections.
  • I deserve respect.
  • I deserve to be happy.
  • I deserve adventure.
  • I deserve to plan for the best.
  • I deserve to feel beautiful.
  • I deserve help. I NEED help.
  • I deserve a break.
  • I deserve kindness, compassion, & grace.
  • I deserve mental health days.
  • I deserve to feel stressed.
  • I deserve to embrace progress over perfection.
  • I deserve to relax.
  • I deserve to stand up for myself.
  • I deserve to be heard.
  • I deserve to live.

And so do you. ❤

Vegan Stuffed Pepper Soup | ONE POT | Easy + Affordable

My sweet Mia recently decided that she is going vegetarian! My husband recently told me that he is going pescatarian! Hooray! We are taking another giant step closer to being a completely meat-free home!

My mom also recently told me about these “Blue Zone People” who eat very little meat and live to be over 100 years old. I’m not a fad-diet person, or a diet person at all if we’re being honest, but if it involves no meat, I’m a supporter!

However, all three share a lack of enthusiasm when it comes to “fake meat,” or meat alternatives. I, for one, LOVE ❤ “fake meat,” but that is probably for the first time in my life, I can eat something that resembles meat without being afraid of eating it. We aren’t supposed to put dead things inside living things 🤷🏼‍♀️.

[ ❇ FUN FACT: I did not eat meat growing up due to a very debilitating phobia of vomit (better known as emetophobia), but did not classify myself as vegetarian because my diet consisted of strictly noodles, butter, and cheese until I met my husband. So basically, I was a carb-ivore. 😂]

I became determined to find recipes that make “fake meat” more appetizing to keep them from losing their interest in going meat-free and provide a variety of healthy AND large-family affordable meatless meals, using mostly ingredients we keep regularly stocked in our pantry. Using what you already have is the MOST eco-friendly thing you can do.

Let’s Get Cooking 

◾ Fresh Ingredients:

  • 1 Yellow onion
  • 1 Green pepper
  • 1 Yellow pepper
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 LB. “Meatless Grind”

◾ Pantry Ingredients:

  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 Carton vegetable broth
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TSP dried oregano
  • 2 TSP dried basil
  • 1 TSP garlic powder
  • 1/2 TSP black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Cup brown rice

◾ Instructions:

  1. Get Prepared – Begin heating 3 TBSP olive oil over medium heat in your Dutch Oven pan (I prefer Lodge brand) + chop all veggies.
  2. Dump in your peppers & onions, after a few minutes add the tomatoes, cooking for another minute or so.
  3. Scoot your veggies over against the sides and add your meatless grind into the center & cover. Stir grind, cover. Stir grind, cover. Eventually you will mix all of the meatless grind in with the veggies as it cooks.
  4. Add your 3 TBSP tomato paste, stir. Add 1 carton of vegetable broth, stir. Add 1 TSP oregano, 2 TSP basil, 1 TSP garlic powder, 1/2 TSP black pepper, + salt to taste, stir.
  5. Bring the temp down to low, cover + let simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Add 1 Cup brown rice. Cover + cook until rice is finished.
  7. Serve, paired with a crusty bread. We chose French Baguette.

Enjoy 😘

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Have a beautiful day 🥰

Top 5 Mom Must Have Items From a Mom of 5

It’s been awhile!

My oldest baby just turned TEN years old on July 31st. I cannot believe that I have already been a mom for a whole decade! It really does fly by! He will be an adult before I know it!

Over the last ten years, I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks especially when it comes to mega motherhood!!!! I wanted to share my FIVE favorite items that have gotten me through the last ten years & mega motherhood a lot more smoothly.

1 • Itzy Ritzy Purse

New moms, this one is for you. I have some eye opening news for you. You have too much stuff.

When I had my son, I had this giant diaper bag that was heavier than he was stuffed to the brim with all of the things that the baby books told me I needed with adorable little travel size everything, safety kit with every size bandaid imaginable, bubbles, chalk, lipgloss, a small grooming set, tampons, pads, vomit bags, kroger bags, lysol, advil, bibs, toilet seat covers, grocery cart covers, multiple outfit changes, a blanket, winter gear, books, toys, activity packs, snacks, etc. I was ready for anything.

As I added kids, this bag became the bag of car essentials that I stopped bringing in because it was so heavy and so stuffed, it was just added stress. Plus, I hardly ever actually needed anything from it. I began carrying a smaller bag of the essentials while also carrying a purse.

Then I found this hands free crossbody Itzy Ritzy purse which is absolutely needed as a mom with young children. The back section is your purse, the front section is your diaper bag. You can now combine everything into one small, adorable bag.

In the diaper bag section, there is a pocket for your wipes and a small changing mat that is included. There is also room to hold diapers and a pacifier. That is literally all you need on a daily basis for outings. All of the extra stuff is just over-stimulating you and making it feel stressful to leave with kids when it doesn’t have to be.

In my purse section, I keep my wallet and a few small items. It keeps me from cluttering up my purse and it only takes a few seconds to clean out. Keep the essentials with you, and leave the rest at home (or at least in a secondary bag in the car if it makes you more comfortable). You don’t need it.

I clip my keys onto the outside so they are easy to grab and I don’t have to fumble around for them with children in a parking lot.

When you have multiple kids, you cannot be weighed down with things that you may need one day. You need your arms and eyes free at all times. This Itzy Ritzy cross body bag allows you to fashionably have everything that you need.

2 • Sit and Stand Stroller

I have tried several double strollers and this Sit and Stand Stroller by Baby Trend is by far my favorite.

It is lightweight enough that I can carry it to and from the car by myself which means that getting it in and out of your vehicle is not a struggle. It also folds up well so that it will be able to fit into any vehicle.

I place my toddler in the front seat, and my baby in her car seat in the back portion so that we are facing each other, but it is very versatile for moving children around and allowing older children to ride as well. Each side has a handle bar on it where I have my older girls hold onto while we are out so that they are all safely in one place in front of me.

3 • Cloth Diapers

I highly recommend cloth diapers. In fact, so much that I wrote an entire article about them! If you are planning on having more than one child, these are a MUST!

Cloth diapers grow with baby from newborn to potty training which saves you from buying a LOT of diapers, especially since you can then reuse them with future babies, or even save for your grand babies.

Cloth diapers saved us during this 2020 pandemic! When all of the stores ran out of diapers, we had our trusty cloth diapers already! We never had to worry once that we would run out. I highly recommend buying at least one pack of cloth diapers to have in the off chance that there is another emergency since the world saw how fast and unexpectedly that can and will happen. Being prepared is key to motherhood. It would be a great gift for a new mother at a baby shower as well! 😉

4 • Built-in Potty Seat

We live in a very tiny starter home with four young ladies. It was originally a very tiny one-bathroom home until we added a second one on the upstairs floor to create a master suite. A tiny bathroom with a crowd full of tiny ladies runs out of room really quick, leaving us very little space to have a separate potty chair.

We installed a built-in potty seat onto our toilet so that we could still have a potty seat, but not lose any necessary space or add clutter to our floors which is vital when you have crawling tots!

5 • Bumbo

This portable seat called a Bumbo is so important! It is easy to carry with you so you are able to bring it from room to room or on-the-go.

● You can keep a supported-sitter with you while doing your housework.

● You can bring it to older siblings sporting events.

● You can bring it with you on a picnic, or to a restaurant so your baby doesn’t need to sit in a dirty high chair that is covered in germs (I have worked in enough restaurants to know how unclean restaurants are in general 🤢). You can add-on this Bumbo Play Tray to turn it into a portable highchair anywhere!

● You can bring it with you while traveling for hotels that may not have high chair recommendations. Make sure to add on the Bumbo Play Tray!

● With the Bumbo Play Tray, you can create a minimal mess space for your baby to engage in messy play such as finger-painting or shaving cream play.

There are so many uses for the Bumbo! You cannot go wrong with getting one of these! It minimizes messes and is extremely easy to clean. I have had the same Bumbo for the last 10 years, it has made it through 5 kids, and is still in the excellent condition! It is definitely built to last and worth every penny!

Ella holding Vera, Mia, & Sasha
Athena (Thea)
Kaden

I hope that these tips helped you for yourself or with finding a baby shower gift idea! Best wishes to the new mama-to-be! The best start to motherhood is being prepared not for one stage for one child, but for all stages for all children. 😘 Have a beautiful rest of your day.

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Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links in which I will make a commission, at no expense to you! Thank you for supporting a mama with a dream! 😘

The Priviledged vs. The “Drug Court”

I have 7 years opiate-free because of priviledge.

My priviledge was going to rehab 15 times, while most addicts can’t even make it to one.
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My priviledge was being able to go to the same rehab centers as celebrities, while most addicts receive the minimal amount of government funded resources for mental health and addiction.
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My privilege was being able to receive Vivitrol shots once a month for a year costing $1,700 a month, while clinics provide false hope with methadone to those who can’t afford what actually works to treat addiction or even the resources to find out about this miracle treatment.
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My privilege was being gifted a home because my five felonies would have prevented me from being able to get any kind of housing, when most people being released from jail have to go back to their unstable environment.
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My privilege was walking away and blending into the “white society” to save my own ass, while NO black person is able to do that.
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I spent the last 7 years growing, resting, refocusing, and educating myself because the way I was fighting before wasn’t working. I’m here to be a voice for the voiceless because 401 years of allowing this corruption to go on is inexcusable.

📷: Hamilton County Justice Center, circa 2013

I admit my privilege, but that wasn’t the whole story.
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Those expensive rehab centers didn’t get me sober. They were more like a vacation resort to find myself.

Government funded “rehab” is why I am sober.

I lived in trailor parks & crack houses with better living conditions than government-funded “rehab” centers and I made it VERY known while I was there. BECAUSE of my privilege I knew this place was deplorable.
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The judge looked me in the eyes and told me she wanted to ship me off to Marysville Prison for 5 years because I would never change. I looked her in the eyes and told her “You don’t know me. I am stronger than you and I will absolutely never return to one of those vile places as long as I live.” 7 years later and here I am. I vowed to never return, and now I will do everything in my power to try to make sure no one else has to either.

While in the government-funded “rehab” center, I said “I would rather be dead than be in these grotesque living conditions.” ⠀

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So they sent me to the psych ward for “threatening to kill myself.”
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Upon intake, they do their psychological evaluation and I corrected the report they had sent over and said “No. I didn’t say I was going to kill myself. I said I would rather be dead than live in those grotesque living conditions.”
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I begged them to keep me there, but I was sent back that day because clearly I wasn’t suicidal, I was angry for the situation in which I was living. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
JAIL was better than this place. I THANKED them for kicking me out and sending me to jail. I was having a difficult time not smiling for my mugshot.
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The government help is not helpful. It is a trap that you will never be able to escape unless you have the privilege to.

📷: Ella, circa 2013

I found out that I was pregnant while in this deplorable government-funded “rehab” center, so to make matters worse, my first trimester was spent here.
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I was eventually kicked out & moved from this “rehab” center, to the Justice Center where I spent my second trimester.

Because I was pregnant, I was given a mat with a built in pillow lump that resembled a pool raft and a night-time snack 👍🏼. I couldn’t let myself get attached to my baby. I wasn’t sure what kind of sentencing I was going to get. I didn’t want to get attached only to go off to prison for 5 years or there be a major health complication due to lack of proper prenatal care.

Pregnancy is supposed to be celebrated, but I felt like I had nothing to celebrate.

📷: Ella, circa 2013

Finding out that I was pregnant was a complete shock to me.

Days before entering the government-funded “rehab” center, I was body slammed against the ground & more by the arresting male officer over a non-violent warrant I had. I had a welt slightly bigger than a tennis ball on the left side of my stomach.

A day after I arrived, I had began bleeding the heaviest I ever had in my life, which I had just assumed was my period so I said that there was no way that I was pregnant. When the test came back positive, I was flabbergasted.
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I began fighting to be sent to a halfway housing community for mothers where I could have my baby with me and work towards getting my son back at the same time. Providing absolutely no reason, they refused to let me go there.

So here I was, stuck in this hellish place, with a corrupt judge and probation officer putting up every obstacle to insure I failed, but hell has no fury like a Madison scorned.

📷: Ella, circa 2013

I was not supposed to go to this court room. There was a plan already set into motion, then at the last second my case was transferred due to the death of the prosecutor’s wife and being assigned a public defender.

A public defender is a “lawyer” of sorts for those who cannot afford representation for themselves. This public defender ignored the plan in place and transferred me without notifying the victim – my mom.
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As soon as I was moved to this court room, my mom filed to have the charges dropped. They wouldn’t let her. She fired my public defender and hired a family friend who is a well known criminal defense lawyer, who has known me since I was very young and knew my heart.
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The judge was quoted saying, “how you treat people is as important as what you do to them.”

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I watched how she treated people. I watched what she did to them. And most of all, I have watched case after case of hers – my friends – die over the last 8 years. Because like I told her, her way doesn’t work.

7 Years Later

I have not used any opiates in over 7 years. I have not been arrested, or had so much as a speeding ticket, since 2013. I have paid off my restitution and court costs in full. I successfully completed probation in 2015. I put in my time and work.

I still cannot get a job near children, even though I have enough experience with children to run my own daycare. I still cannot get a job in any sort of medical field, even though I can draw blood better than any professional I’ve ever met. I cannot even get a job in retail, even at a grocery store. I cannot apply for life insurance. I cannot open a bank account. The list goes on and on.

If I did not have the PRIVILEGE of my parents and husband fully supporting me, I would still be out there committing crimes just to survive on a daily basis, because as much as Corporate America likes to *SAY* they don’t discriminate, that is all they do.

I didn’t make it out because I’m strong. I made it out because I had the privilege to. Privilege is the answer to the question: why “only a few make it out.”

STATISTICS

📷: Hamilton County Tax Levy Review
📷: Hamilton County Tax Levy Review
📷: Hamilton County Tax Levy Review
📷: Hamilton County Tax Levy Review

REVIEWS

📷: Rehab.com
📷: Rehab.com
📷: Google Reviews
📷: Google Reviews

My Instagram Growth Tips

I came back to social media, mainly Instagram (who was then purchased by Facebook), after a serious mental break down, to tell my story to the world with the hope of helping at least one person.

Although this time I have made amazing friends, had gifts sent to my children and I, and have had many women (and a few men) ask for guidance or simply tell me that I am making a huge difference and saving lives, sadly, being on social media destroys me. It once again proved to be way too much for me to be able to consume. I felt as if I were beginning to spread much more hate than love, and that is not the kind of person or parent that I want to be.

I’m no longer using Instagram as a platform to share my writing

It hurts me to see fake woman, selling fake happiness while there are real issues going on in the world that need to be talked about and fought. It hurts me that they have very clearly chosen profits over people. That is not something I want to stand by and witness or partake in.

It hurts me that people care about social injustice because it is currently “trending,” but won’t care enough to keep fighting until its “trendy.” It hurts me because no matter how many times this happens, we end up back in the same “who me? Couldn’t be” place of magically “forgetting” about history, even only last year. Watching “influencers” choose to stay silent so they don’t offend any of their internet friends. You who stayed silent spoke louder than any of us.

It hurts me to see how many people don’t care about this Earth or the people in it. It hurts me because I don’t know how to make people care for more than a week. It hurts me that grown adults don’t “believe” in climate change, as if it’s the Easter bunny or something. It hurts me to watch people sell and promote products that are harmful to our earth and our people. They “greenwash” you just to make a quick buck.

It’s NOT real

NONE of it. It’s the new-world equivalent of a popularity contest. My followers are a collection of various acquaintances & accounts picked up along the way in “follow loops.”

Follow loops work a few ways, but the short story is there are “ghost spots” (you buy friends), and “regular spots” (you work for friends).

“Ghost spots” pay real money to collect friends without having to follow them. Since I would never pay money to collect fake friends on the internet, I chose the “regular spot” route.

“Regular spots” are free, but have the requirement of following typically 100-200 people at a time and hope that at least most of them follow you back, make a feed post promoting said follow loop, leave it up for 24 hours and then comment “Hi my name is” on at least 10 peoples posts within the first hour of posting. It takes any kind of entertainment out of social media, and you end up with a ton of accounts you are following only out of obligation and fear that if you unfollow them, they may in turn unfollow you.

You end up following a bunch of people who either didn’t follow you back, you don’t want to follow, or a bunch of “fitness” moms pushing weight loss products on you.

Then, you have to find yourself some “engagement” groups where you will spend a majority of your time liking and commenting on other people’s posts in exchange for them liking and commenting on yours.

The engagment groups that I was in, took an average of 20-40 minutes each sitting and liking around 500 photos in a row, in order to then get a portion of those likes back. They allowed 2 photos per day, so I would use that days photo and the photo from the previous day to increase likes. It’s a very “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of game.

You can also pay real money to promote your posts which, again, I refuse to do. Some people pay for likes, followers, and comments. I suggest you check the first posted photos of your favorite “influncers,” as it’s pretty easy to spot. The signs are all around you.

Instagram gives you a certain amount of characters, so I would spend hours perfecting everything I needed to say into 2500 characters. My story deserves more time than that, so does yours.

With only 2500 and a lot to say, I ended up having to break stories into multiple posts and I would end up losing my train of thought and never making it to the point. This left people a bit confused.

I do not support a platform that condones censorship. Shadow-banning, removing hashtags, “instagram jail” are all forms of censorship. Not being allowed to promote certain products is a form of censorship. Your algorithm is a form of censorship. I cannot support a platform that not only supports, but highly pushes censorship.

When I had my mental breakdown, the first thing I noticed when I found the will to live again, was nature. I noticed the trees and the pictures in them. I noticed how beautiful the Earth was, something I was no longer seeing because my mind was so busy and full of hatred. Getting off of social media gave me a will to live again.

My Son’s Father, 2015

I believe that social media has a major part to play in my son’s fathers suicide. I believe that social media is an extremely dangerous place for those who struggle with mental illness or depression. I believe that social media is an addiction. Only when you get away from it will you truly realize how much it is negatively affecting every aspect of your life.

I came back because I wanted to tell my story, but I found that social media is not where I want to do that. I watched as the influencers stayed silent over matters of social injustice as to not lose their following. I watched as they said things such as, “its sad, but…..” I watched as people pushed products on others that they don’t even use themselves. I watched the people, and I once again, fell back down the mental breakdown hole. Our brains are not meant for social media. The entire thing terrifies me.

I left your world to stay home and find peace, then y’all came home and invaded my space. Now, I’m leaving this world to go back into the outside world. At least until the world opens again.

I will continue to share my story through my blog. I may never get famous, but my words will be remembered like books. And as long as it helps at least one other person, I’ve done what I came to accomplish.

My Biggest Instagram Growth Tip

There is no growth on Instagram. Real growth begins when you live for yourself. Go get on with your real lives.

I Wish I Waited to Have Sex

📷: Circa 2013

This is a photo of me a few weeks before I had sex for the first time 😳

I was still a child. I wasn’t ready. I was blamed. I was punished for it by my school, he was not. I was sent to confession by my school, he was not.

The Catholic religion believes that Eve (women) brought “sin” into this world, so ALL women are to blame for “lust” (this word makes me want to vomit 🤢), “deceit,” and “sin” in this world. So all of the blame fell on my shoulders.

I felt abandoned by every adult and person in my life. My parents, my teachers, my peers and every one of their parents, my babysitter who had her own struggles going on with the premature birth of her first-born who lost her fight, my friends, and him.

This one single event changed the entire trajectory of my life and I developed an “attachment deficit.”

There was no romance. No specialness. No beautiful story. He took me out into the woods like an animal. He broke up with me for another girl after. I learned that sex was nothing more than sex. I learned that I was not enough.

The children were no longer allowed to hang out with me, but the boys were quick to lie to their parents and meet up with me in “the field of happiness” to persuade me to show them my naked body. Some were pushy, some were not. They had no respect for me, and I had no respect for myself.

They asked me to be their “girlfriend” as a joke, then would call me on three/multiple-way calling later that evening with all friends listening to “break up with me.” I learned to build up a very tall wall that I have only let one person truly enter to the other side. Some of them have come back as married adults, asking me to send them “nudes” and make sure I won’t tell their wives they asked. 🙄

Once I got to high-school, I was taught by peers that the way to get over one boy, was to have sex with another one. So I tried it. And it worked. I learned and created an extremely unhealthy coping mechanism.

In high-school, I had one of the most traumatic sexual experiences I’ve ever encountered to date. I was drunk on Southern Comfort. It was rape. I did not know it at the time. Everyone was talking and joking about this event. They drew pictures of this event in art class. I was traumatized. I was ruined. I turned immediately to drugs and used humor to cope. It wasn’t until this year, 15 years later, than I realized that I never gave consent to this event. None of it. For 15 years I have told this story. I have mastered the art of telling this story with hilarity while hiding the immeasurable amount of pain inside. Not once in 15 years did anyone ever suggest I was raped.

When I began dating my son’s father, we created an agreement. Exploring under this agreement was acceptable, exploring outside of this agreement was cheating. I loved him so much that I desperately wanted him to be happy. I found heroin and I became addicted to the numbness it gave me. I became addicted to letting go of jealousy. I became addicted to letting go of pain. I became addicted to letting go of any feelings of hurt. He had his fun, I had heroin. It didn’t matter that I was not enough, because heroin was enough for me. I learned to put others happiness above my own. I learned that love meant silently suffering. I was reassured that I was not enough.

As an addict, I used sex as a way to support my addictions. I was raped on multiple occasions and I learned that “it comes with the territory” and that you just have to chalk it as a loss, like a robbery. I did not feel that I deserved to call it rape because of my past and profession.

When I announced my pregnancy with Sasha (my 4th earth-side baby), I received hate messages via Facebook Messengar by a newly created, photoless profile under the name “Grace,” letting me know how much of a dirty slut I am for having 4 (now 5) children before I hit 30 and that I strongly need sex therapy. I have no idea who “Grace” really was, but I have my theories. I learned that even as a married women to the father of 4/5 children, my past cannot escape me, I am whoever they say I am.

I learned that I wish I would have waited.

I wish I was old enough to be able to comprehend what sex truly meant. I wish I knew what clear consent truly meant.

I wish my mom talked to me about sex and respect and consent, instead of jumping directly to birth control.

I wish I knew I would lose my dad that day. Physically he’s here, but mentally, he checked out the day the school called him. I wish I knew I would lose my best friend. I wish I knew what “daddy issues” were before I had them.

I wish I knew that I would see my body as damaged. I wish I knew I would feel ashamed of my body. I wish I knew that for the rest of my life I would have flashbacks of sexual trauma. I wish that I knew I would be extremely uncomfortable and tense up any time I am touched for the rest of my life, even with my own husband.

I wish I knew that I would never be able to give myself to my husband because I have already given it all. I wish I knew how hard it would be having someone be my “last” instead of “my first.” I wish I knew how much it would hurt my husband to know that my first love and twin-flame was not him.

I wish I knew how hard parenting outside of marriage would be. I wish I knew that in marriage, a woman’s body and choices are no longer fully hers. I wish I knew how awful custody issues are. I wish someone taught me this instead of teaching me that I would go to “hell.” I wish I knew that babies don’t always change people or make relationships last. I wish I knew that for the rest of my life I would fell incomplete and always have a huge hole in my heart from my son being adopted by my parents. I wish I knew that I would never feel whole again after losing my son’s father. I wish I knew how difficult it would be to parent with someone who sees the world entirely different than you. I wish I knew how complicated having children made relationships. I wish I knew how difficult it would be to make decisions when children were involved. I love my children, and I do not regret them in any way.

I didn’t know then, but I know now for my own children. I can’t make the choice for them, but I can share my experiences and guide them to making better choices than I did. I will not teach them that “boys will be boys” because I don’t agree with excusing the behavior. I will not allow people to say disgusting, sexist comments like “with a boy you worry about one penis, with a girl you worry about all the penises,” when talking about my children. I will teach them to respect EVERY body, especially their own.

After opening up about my sexual trauma history, many women have opened up to my about theirs. The amount of women who have experienced sexual trauma and didn’t know, didn’t feel they could tell, pretend it didn’t happen, etc. is truly sickening. We live in a world filled with the promotion of rape culture and we feed into it every day in even the simplest ways.

For example, my in-laws have a rule regarding no two piece bathing suits because “it could cause the boys to wonder.” That is teaching my children that if my children are raped, it is THEIR fault because they wore clothing that was “too provocative” which is a VERY common excuse of rapists.

Our children deserve much better. Use your voice and be loud. Our children are the future. Our children can change the world. Teach them how to do.

My Journey from Religion to Spirituality â˜®â˜¯ï¸

When I was a child, I went to a very prestigious “non-denominational” Catholic grade school.I was not put in this school for the religion, I was put in this school because with this school, I would have an incredibly easy life and future set for me, if I was anyone else 😂. But I’m no one but myself, so here’s what I’ve gathered along my journey.

RELIGION – Catholic & Christian

Religion is defined as: “the belief and WORSHIP of a “superhuman” CONTROLLING power, especially a PERSONAL God or gods.”

Synonymn: a cult.

The Catholic religion is focused primarily on the Old Testament – put the fear of God into the youth. They also live by these ten rules called the “Ten Commandments.” Do not rape is not one of those ten commandments, but you better not say the word “God” incorrectly. 🙄🤬I do not ever remember hearing that God loved me, but I very much remember regularly being told I was going to “hell” over minor things like my clothing choice or music selection, questioning the things that didn’t add up, or overall being a “sinner”.I very much remember being called a “sinner” and sent to additional confessions to get my “sins” out of me.
I only remember hearing about Jesus on Easter and Christmas. It was more about “God the Father.”My mother has told me a little about her own Catholic experience. She was required to fundraise for babies who are in “purgatory” because they died before Jesus could take their “original sin” away with baptism. 😲 I asked her who got the money, since it was already too late for these babies? She didn’t know.I do not believe in sin, heaven, or hell. I became an Atheist while reading the Bible in grade school. My grade school Bible was filled with highlighted versus of pro-misogyny, pro-racism, pro-violence and death, pro-beating children into submission, pro-beating women, pro-rape, and pro-hatred of everyone but themselves. I still cannot read the Old Testament without being filled with immense hatred. I have nothing positive to say about the Catholic religion.Fast forward to age 24 when I met my now-husband. He was adopted into a family of Evangelical Christians. I’m the real black sheep 🐑.
I refuse to let my children be raised in religion, and since I married into it, I became obsessed with “finding Jesus,” so that I would possibly understand how to navigate the constant battles in my home over religion. You can’t fight something you don’t understand, so I began reading the Bible.I purchased myself a She Reads Truth Bible so that it was pretty enough to WANT to read, had messages from other women explaining the “context” so I wasn’t reading “out of it,” and was in layman’s terms. I wanted a fresh start that wasn’t already decided to be a book of evil.The Christian religion focuses primarily on the New Testament, so I started there. This is where Jesus enters.So what I’ve gathered about Jesus is that he is the son of God, but still God because they are one? In my mind I see God as an authoritarian dad with a major anger problem that takes punishment to an extreme (Republican), and then Jesus is the rebel child that is like, “move along, pops, your days are done” (Democrat).He self-sacrifices himself to forgive the “sin” on Earth so that everyone has a free pass to do whatever they want under “free will” (your fate is already determined for you in the Christian religion because “God” has already written the story of you) and as long as at the end of the day they accept him and his dad, they will still go to this magical land in the sky called “heaven.”Heaven is a place where people are literally dying to get in 😂 (pun intended). It is not a place that I have ever spent fantasizing about. Its not a place I have ever wanted to go. It sounds overpopulated and very bland and boring. How could everyone be satisfied in the same place in death, while being completely unsatisfied with everyone while being earth-side? Everyone will just magically get along now that they are dead? Why are you not fighting for everyone to get along here, while we are already together?I hear people sit and talk about how amazing “heaven” is going to be, while talking about how awful life and the planet is, then say to let God take care of the problems, while choosing to ignore them themselves while waiting for others to solve the world’s problems for them, and thats not something I can accept in my heart, mind, or soul. I don’t want to go to heaven, but if you want me in your heaven, by all means have me there, because it’s your heaven.Back to Jesus. He tells us that all “sinners” are forgiven. He tells us not to use religion as a way to make money. He tells us not to store earthly treasures. He tells us to give what we have instead of hoarding for ourselves. He tells us to love and accept everyone, especially “sinners.”That’s all cool, I can dig it. I can see how he gained a following. I just wish his followers would hold themselves to as high of a standard of following that as they push upon the “non-believers.”A friend recently said to me, “I see a lot of humans, but very little humanity.” That is how I see the “Christian” religion. I hear great messages, I see very, very little action. (Message and action do no align)

CROSSROADS

Crossroads Church based in Cincinnati, Ohio is where I began forming my own beliefs.Crossroads does not classify as “Christians,” but rather, “spiritual warriors.” Their slogan is “Be the Church.”Crossroads lives out Jesus’ message through action, rather than just talking about it.

They DO collect money at services.

This money:
  • Provides free housing and meals to the homeless and those in addiction, as well as rehabilitation services and reintegration into society, including a culinary school to help criminals find careers.
  • Paid off $46.5 million in medical debt for people who do not even attend their church.
  • Provided* (pre-coronavirus) free coffee (& hot chocolate in the winter), not only during services, but Monday- Friday for anyone who needed a hot cup and someone to talk to, any time.
  • Provides free shows to the public, an extraordinary kids club, a spiritual camp, various free support groups, free events for the public, among many other things.
You can find their Financial Philosophy here.In the Spring and Summer, they clean up the community as a church. They tend to gardens, fix up damaged buildings, clean up litter, etc. They ask for nothing and supply everyone with breakfast and water. They believe in giving back however and whenever possible.In the Fall and Winter, they host the largest food drives. They did a huge free Christmas show which has now been moved to Broadway. They did Angel Trees and supplied Christmas gifts to many indigent families.In my experience, Crossroads is made up mostly of people who have endured religious abuse as children. It is a place to heal. It is a place to come as you are, however you are dressed, whatever you believe, or don’t, and be accepted and loved. No fear, just love. It is a place that is fighting to change the world and put an end to religious abuse and show the world they are spreading the wrong messages. Both message and action fully align.

BUDDHISM

Buddhism is NOT a religion. There is no “god.” It is a way of life. Buddhists believe in the Three Universal Truths and the Four Noble Truths.

Three Universal Truths

  • Everything in life is impermanent and always changing
  • Possession of material items or relationships will not make you happy.
  • • “Self” is a collection of changing characteristics or attributes.

Four Noble Truths

  • Human life has a lot of suffering.
  • The cause of suffering is greed.
  • There is an end to suffering
  • The way to end suffering is to follow the “Middle Path.
“The “Middle Path” is not living a life of luxury and indulgence, but not one of too much fasting or hardship. It is where you will find nirvana.

Buddhists believe and practice:

  • compassion over selfishness
  • tell the truth, avoid abusive speech and gossip
  • help others, don’t harm living things, take care of our Earth
  • do useful work (farming, florist, creative, librarian, teacher, etc.) and avoid work that causes harm (police, prisons, politicians, taxation, meat industry, etc.)
  • encourage positive thoughts, discouraged destructive thoughts
  • be self aware – think and feel for yourself
  • calm the mind, open the heart
I became interested in Buddhism when I was in rehab for the first time at 18 years old. I find it productive and aware, and the true path to happiness and world peace.

SPIRITUALITY

Spirituality is a personal relationship with your divine creator. It is your own personal set of beliefs, from what you have gathered on your own journey. It is taking what you personally believe, and ditching the rest. It is a physical connection with our earth and space. It is a path meant for you and your steps alone.
  • I do not believe in a “man in the sky.” – I believe that “GOD” is an acronym for Good Orderly Direction. Be a better person than I was yesterday. Do good deeds for the sake of being kind, rather than an “eternal reward.” I believe in being a good person.
  • I believe that it is abuse to put the fear of “God” or any adult figure into children. I believe it is abuse to beat children into submission and obedience. I believe it is wrong to strip rights and holidays from children in the name of religion. I believe it is wrong to hate in the name of religion.
  • I do not believe in “heaven” or “hell.” I also do not believe in a “devil.” – I believe in reincarnation. When I die, I want to be cremated and blown into glass jewelry and given to each of my children.
  • I do not believe that the Bible can accurately be viewed as historical facts. I do not believe in the “Ark.” I do not believe in talking snakes. I do believe in facts over beliefs.🤷🏼‍♀️
  • I believe that material items are of no worth because they will not come with me in death. I believe in giving freely to others. I’ve had it all & sold it all, and none of it made a difference- I am still here living. Do not live in greed. Do not support fast fashion. Buy second hand and support local artists over corporations.
  • I believe that I am responsible for my own actions. My actions are not out of “sin” or any other entity. I believe that ignorance is not an excuse or defense. I do not believe in “sin.” I do not believe in “sinful” thoughts. I believe in action.
  • I believe that men and women have individual skill sets. I enjoy the idea of men and women gods. I agree that if you are saved in death, it’s too late.
  • I believe in receiving signs from loved ones who have left Earth-side.
  • I believe in living a Buddhist lifestyle.
  • I believe in living Jesus’ message, but through a Buddhist mindset.
  • I believe that the Earth is the greatest gift. Always take care of it and make it beautiful. Pick up litter. Plant gardens. Live sustainably. Always recycle. Leave it better than you found it.
  • I choose to live a plant-based lifestyle because I believe in not hurting living things.
  • I enjoy horoscopes, astrology, tarot, crystals, and the idea of communicating with spirits from the other-side.
  • I believe that no human is illegal. I believe that people are born gay and that is a beautiful thing to be. I believe in pro-choice. I believe in freedom of expression. I believe in fighting social injustice. I believe in change.
  • I believe Jesus was probably a pretty cool dude. It’s not his fault his dad was the way he was, unless they are in fact one, then 🤷🏼‍♀️.