Recently I was asked to compare the me from three years ago to the me today. It was asked of me because sometimes I have a hard time seeing who I am now. I get caught up in who I was, then feel like a fraud. But I’m not the same person. I am, but also different. I’ve grown so much, accepted the things I’ve needed to change, then implemented those changes. I may not be done growing yet, but I’ve come a long way. So I write this to help me see just how different I am after making necessary changes.
Three years ago I was barely treading water. I had a novel out, but it wasn’t doing as well as I’d have liked. I didn’t have healthy boundaries for myself or others. I often made excuses as to why I couldn’t do something when in reality, I was simply too scared to try. I’d go to conventions to promote myself as an author, but I couldn’t engage without a few drinks, and I most certainly wouldn’t have spoken on panels.
In short, I wasn’t really living. I was surviving. I was a shell of a human that couldn’t stand up straight to save my life. I had no confidence or faith in myself. In fact, I hated myself with every fiber of myself.
Everything made me afraid or gave me a stomachache. Because in my mind, everyone was out to get me and wanted to hurt me. And sadly, because I had poor boundaries around others, sometimes people did hurt me. Though not in the way my mind thought.
I keep reading lately how depression lies, but so does PTSD. Sure it’s designed to warn us of danger and comes from actions or circumstances that remind us of trauma. Yet often times this ‘warning’ that goes off in my brain isn’t accurately depicting the situation. It’s lying to me. Telling me there’s danger and I’m going to be hurt, when really I’ve simply been triggered.
I mentioned in a recent blog post how I didn’t get triggered at the last con I attended and this is HUGE. There were times I felt panic setting in, but I used my tools and talked myself through it. I breathed my breath, felt my contact points, and told myself I was safe. Of course, it also helps that I had my D to tell I was safe as well. He’s quite successful in this regard. But even had he not done that when I was feeling overwhelmed, I’d still have made it through. Because I’m different.
Even with my lack of triggering, it’s still hard to see who I am now. I know I continue therapy and work hard to come up with ways to stay calm rather than get triggered in difficult situations, and that now I’m working on my physical health, but some days it still feels like I have so much more work to do. I wonder if I’ll ever get to where I want to be.
I also know I no longer need to drink to engage with others. I’m confident. I’m able to speak in front of a lot of people about things that I couldn’t even stomach the thought of a few years ago. I own my mistakes and take responsibility for them. I’m not afraid all the time. I often feel full of joy instead. I may have a few hiccups here and there, but overall I’m happy. I enjoy being me and I love life now.
Even when I’m ill and recovering slowly, with twenty gazillion things on my plate, it doesn’t push me to my breaking point.
I see the beauty in myself now. And my intelligence, though sometimes I do struggle with that still. I feel my calm even in the midst of chaos. Slowly but surely, I’m feeling more healthy physically as I make changes to my lifestyle.
Most of all, I’m not afraid to be myself. I’m a Domme, a sub, a kinky and sexual Goddess. I’m an author that writes about hard topics, shares my life and struggles with complete strangers, and speaks publicly about sex trafficking, child prostitution, and how I’ve overcome so much of my trauma. I share about facing that trauma, embracing my pain, and therefore transmuting that pain into pleasure and joy.
Sharing these horrific things isn’t always easy. In fact, it rarely is. It’s fucking hard sometimes. The first few times I spoke at conventions or private gatherings, I’d shake and have to pinch myself under the table just to stay present. But not anymore.
By sharing these things with others—even when I occasionally get afraid that one of my abusers will find out and come after me—I get to heal further and help others heal too. It makes it all worth it.
The best part about being so vulnerable is that it’s helped me to shift my view of myself. Because of the things that happened to me in my youth, I used to see myself as dirty. And a liar because I protected those people hurting me by lying about it. This combination made for a horrific self-view. A dirty liar that deserved what she got…
But something strange happened when I began sharing with others. I saw a level of compassion in people that I’d not seen before. While at first I thought they had pity for me, I later learned that wasn’t the case.
Compassion is not pity. Respect is not pity.
I get to see myself now how others do. And people see me as brave. As an innocent child that was hurt, that’s grown into someone unafraid to shake up her worldview and face the hardest parts of her life. Through this, I’ve also gained back some of my innocence. I feel more wonder and hope now than I ever did as a child.
Simply because I don’t have to live in fear all the time.
I’m really not the same person I was three years ago. And each year that passes means that much more growth. Soon, I’ll be where I want to be. I’m still not there yet, but in a way that doesn’t matter. Because I’m in the moment. Living in the now. Not in the past or the future.
This doesn’t mean I don’t have goals for the future. I surely do. Otherwise, I’d not continue to grow and overcome more of the trauma that kept me frozen for most of my life. But being present means I get to enjoy life along the way.
I’m a good person. I’m brave. I’m a Tantrica Goddess. A public speaker. An author. A lover. An advocate. A fighter for the underdog. I’m a person that is no longer a victim and instead, a leader. This is me.
I love who I am.
It’s that simple.
** I’ll add this because even in this last week so much has changed for me, but if anyone reading this has had trauma or PTSD, I highly recommend reading In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness by Peter A. Levine. I didn’t see how stuck I was in life until I read the chapter called Immobilized by Fear. Peter is an amazing author who has shown me that the work I’ve done with my Dom has worked so well because it’s allowed me to finish out the natural cycle of working through trauma. PTSD doesn’t have to be life long. It’s possible to overcome these things and stop reacting from a place of panic. I’m not done with the book yet, but so far I can’t suggest it enough. **
image by Bethany Carlson on freeimages.com