peonies… a strong yet delicate flower, where if the roots take just right, it can grow on and on for 100 years. ———————————————————

the last few weeks (months) I haven’t been sleeping. And it has been wearing me out. I’ve been having nightmares day after day and the last week and half they’ve only gotten worse. I’ve gone from no panic and PTSD symptoms to a painful and familiar trip down PTSD lane. with the good (my amazing, charming, loving guy), has come the bad (years of unresolved, swept under the rug, trauma that I thought I had moved on from). Having a boyfriend is great, but it doesn’t make the problems go away… they just all bubble to the surface. ————————————————————-

I’m exhausted. I’m emotionally worn out. I’m mentally fatigued. I’m also a little more than pissed off. As most trauma survivors will tell you, a few years after trauma you’ll experience some level of PTSD. But the Doctors say it’ll eventually fade out. But here I am, as if everything happened only yesterday. —————————————

I didn’t get a half sleeve because I was a bad ass. I got it because I was in significant amounts of pain the day I got it, and the only thing I could think to do is get a tattoo where it wouldn’t be considered self harming. I decided that day to get the tattoo I’d been thinking about: Peonies. I wanted flowers, to represent growth and life coming from pain, and grief. It was an outward symbol of a hopeful, prophetic growth that I longed to see come from my life. And for years the garden of my heart and soul has been taking root, learning and blossoming. And the little seedling has finally decided to pop its head through the dirt and the rubble. And it’s painful. And it’s difficult. And honestly most days I go between feeling nothing at all, and a sort of pain that can’t be described. I feel an immense amount of love and care and simultaneously a heavy weight of loneliness that I’ve never felt in my life. The process of growth is painful. There’s nothing beautiful or poetic about it. It rages, rips and shreds through everything that’s fighting it, especially if the call on that plant is to grow abundantly.


Finding My Voice

The last few weeks I’ve been on edge, sitting on a cliff and holding my breath. Hyper conscious of every inhale and and shake, every nerve in my body. I’ve felt more happy than I thought possible and more sadness than I have before. It’s trying, feeling two polar opposite emotions at the same time.

I’ve started going to therapy. Which is great and awful simultaneously. Great because I’ve been able to untangle a lot of fine pieces of yarn in my thinking, but awful because I’m a whirlwind of emotions as I piece together my life and remember more and more things I’d like to forget.

Psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified the way humans process grief in five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Now I did study Psychology in High School and College, but never truly caught on to the whole five stages. Mostly because, as I am now realizing, I opted to go straight for depression, not purposely. But I was trapped within events, and social pressures, and personal pressure, and people pleasing. I didn’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill. I didn’t want to be a burden, which left me alone to carry all of my burdens.

Therapy has encouraged and pushed me to find my way back to those very first stages of grief, and I’ve realized in my efforts to protect other people from what I was feeling, it only encouraged mindsets of isolation, fear and anxiety. My life had becoming a breeding ground for every negative, unresolved emotion and I didn’t even realize it.

I’ve tried in these last few weeks to begin taking steps to properly heal. And in the process I’ve encountered more disdain from loved ones. I’m not one for speaking up for myself, but for the first time in my life I tried, and I was immediately shut down. I’ve shame spiraling through loneliness, anger and confusion. It was as if as soon as I made a step to free myself from grief, I was met by a massive do not enter sign. This has taken a toll on me emotionally, and if you ask my boyfriend he’d tell you that I’m a glass bottle, ready to burst and shatter at annnyyyy moment. He says it’s a good thing, I’m not so sure.

Despite what has happened, I’ve decided to go ahead with being brave anyway. For years I have compromised my joy for the sake of protecting those that I love, in an effort to keep the peace and not “rock the boat”. And that’s great and all but it actually isn’t. For people who have experienced abuse and trauma, the most important thing to hold on to in that process is their voice. And I’ve allowed my voice to be the voice of reason for everyone but my self. I made concessions to others’ fears and experiences as if I had none of my own. That’s has suffocated me, and additionally suffocated my relationships with people.

The hardest thing to do, when you’re facing great loss or grief, is to find your voice. And I’ve seen the quotes about not letting anyone steal my voice and yadda yadda And I thought I had done that. But instead I was screaming behind a wall that formed as a 2,000 foot enclosure. Inside the wall are spiders and bugs and hungry lions and bears, eager to eat me alive. While outside there’s banners and streamers and balloons everywhere. Funnel cakes and cotton candy and all the things that welcome people to stop and stare and take and be merry. Unbeknownst to the visitors, there’s a side door for anyone and everyone to enter in, if only they’d look past the candy and music and decorations. The music and laughter is so loud that no one would have a clue that’s there’s a screaming girl just behind that giant wall, limbs being mauled by everything that wishes to destroy her.

Therapy is giving me a voice. It is taking the wall down, brick by brick. And with each brick that is removed, the guttural screams are finally reaching the outside of that wall, and like an earthquake, the cries are shaking down the streamers, causing the ground to rumble and shake, and brick by brick the wall does fall.

We all have a voice. Some a whisper, some a roar.

If you can roar, roar for others.

If you can only whisper, keep trying.

Every roar started small.

M.L. Shanahan

Finding My Voice

Breathe In, Breathe Out…

Sunday Evening, I spent it with my sweet guy.

Our dates have turned into spontaneous events, rather than being planned.  Since neither of us have normal schedules, with Daniel working nights and me nannying, it’s nice to have “meet in the middle” times.

On Sunday evening, our date started out with listening to music, talking deeply, and then out of the blue, it happened. What started off as a beautiful sweet evening,  turned into a nightmare as I was consumed with panic.

It was my first flash back/ panic attack in four years.  Four Freaking Years. I could feel it coming before it even happened, and I realized I had about 5 seconds to…too late. Before I realized it, my brain had self destructed, with memories I thought I had laid to rest. To my furious surprise, the memories were awoken, like a starving bear, shaken awake mid-hibernation.

I looked at Daniel and fell apart. Crying and pushing him away, then pulling him close, then pushing him away. Between gasping for air and floods of hot tears streaming down my face, I could see his worry but I couldn’t help him. All I wanted to do was save him from me, and I couldn’t. 

I curled up in my bed, and tried to hold in the tears, failing miserably and wishing I was dead. Every emotion from the day of my flashback was now very much alive and present. I felt like the little 18 year old me again. Vulnerable, open, exposed.

It was as if my mind was a record player with cinematic abilities. I was forced to hear and feel everything that I didn’t want to ever hear or feel again. Daniel had faded into the background and honestly, I pretty much forgot he was in the room with me. I covered my eyes and cried.


A few weeks prior, my friend suggested I see a counselor, soon after her husband suggested the same. Then my doctor suggested a psychologist. Maybe it’s fear, but as soon as I start looking for a therapist on my computer, my body shut down and tenses up. I’ve spent the last almost 7 years learning how to survive, how to not need ANY help from anybody. I am afraid to let anyone fully see me, heart fully exposed, resting on a table for all the world to see.


Through the darkness I heard Daniel whisper, “how can I help?”  I bit down on my lip hard, realizing that I didn’t know what I needed at all. I didn’t know what could help, I didn’t know what to say. So I cried. And when I was done crying, I began to breathe.

breathe in, breathe out. breathe in, breathe out.

Breathe. I know that’s what they tell you to do in “those” movies. You know the ones where someone is having a epic meltdown and everyone says “just breeeatthheee” and the panicking person looks like they want to stab everyone who keeps saying “just breaaatttheee.” But, it worked.

So, I sat and breathed with the ache and the pain that once more decided to rear it’s ugly head. I sat and breathed with in pain that chilled my bones and caused every bone, muscle, ligament and tendon to ache. Each breath went through me, leaving me feeling hollow, like the summer winds that sing through caves. Breathing ached. Breathing hurt. And in that moment, I felt more alone than I had in such a long time. But, I didn’t run.

I sat there, with the pain that knew me so well. I sat with the tears that I had desperately wanted to cry for years. And I sat with myself, who I’ve always hated more than any other being. All of the good, all of the bad. I breathed it all in, then I let it all go. 

Breathe In, Breathe Out…

Pretty Injuries

Here’s a whole fluster cuck of feelings but it’s honest.

I don’t have pretty injuries.

This might sound coarse and unkind but I genuinely don’t mean for it to be. But I don’t. I don’t have injuries that come in pretty packages and bows, like “my boyfriend of two weeks broke up with me” sort of injury. Or the “I broke my leg and gunna need a cast for 12 weeks” sort of injury. I don’t have any pretty injuries. The ones you can talk about without feeling too vulnerable and exposed. But I wish that I did.

Yesterday I had a flashback. And this specific one hasn’t happened for years. You can guess how surprised I was when I went from being happy and calm to one of my most epic meltdowns in a year. I’ll spare you the details of what I saw but not of what I felt. I felt it coming and I had about 5 seconds to recognize what was happening before everything went down hill. Thankfully my guy is kind and patient and understands but honestly it was like my brain reverted to 18 year old me and I didn’t even recognize myself. I wanted to throw up and I wanted to run.

I think the hardest part about trauma is the endless silence that comes with it. It’s not something you bring up over coffee, and it’s heart wrenching to want to just tell someone how you’re feeling when it’s a morbid topic of conversation. It also feels pretty awful when you finally thought you were ok, only to realize that you actually aren’t. Yesterday, for the first time in three years it happened again. And I don’t feel like myself, and I don’t recognize myself. I feel a little on edge and more than a little depressed.

These are the parts of me I’d love to be able to explain away. I’d love to not have anything to do with them and to be honest I’d be stoked if having my memory wiped was an option. But it’s not. It’s not a pretty injury. It’s not table conversation. It doesn’t have the advocacy the sexual harassment. It makes most people uncomfortable and it’s a lonely, invisible injury. And I don’t understand it and today I hate it and I have wished for more than one moment that I was anyone but me, anywhere but here, feeling anything but this.

Pretty Injuries


I’d like to apologize

I’ve got a problem getting to know people. I wouldn’t say that’s always been the case. But it is now and I’m not sure when that happened. A lot of people want to get to know me- coffee dates, dinner, movies- koala tea timeeee. And it’s funny cause that’s my number one love language. And it’s an honour that people want to spend their time getting to know me. But I just can’t do it.

There’s something that scares me about sharing space with people that I’m not close with. I’m not ready to be close to anyone, I’m not ready to take leaps and bounds and feel the feelings and highs and lows of new friendships. Even my closest friends I’ve been keeping at an arms length. I don’t wanna open up right now. I feel as if I’ve spent the last 7 years, heart wide open. Everyone and anyone was invited in. Everyone got a front row seat to see the train wreck that is my broken heart and broken life. I am currently the most tender, most vulnerable I’ve ever been in my entire life. And when I’m with other people I feel all the things they’re feeling. I’m over aware, more than I can handle. I’ve needed time to breathe, and I still do.

So I apologize for constantly canceling. For making plans and never following through. For saying yes and then not showing up. I hope you can understand. But I don’t want to give you part of me. I want to be able to give all of me.


Relationships…wait, what?

Now before you get hype, lemme just say, ya girl has not had any intention on being in a relationship. I have planned the next 15-20 years of my life and none of it involves a relationship. Maybe like a dog or cat, small apartment, cute car, lots of bamboo plants and candles. Maybe if I was crazy and feeling crunchy a diffuser. But that’s not how this turned out AT. FREAKING. ALL.

I’ve never been a romantic. I’ve never been one to get really hype over relationships or someone liking someone. Honestly I’ve just hated all of the fluffy crap. The stuff that Disney movies and pop songs are made of. Because that shit isn’t real. It’s good for the first month and then the warranty is up because someone gets jealous or someone sees a text from “Alex” or some other sort of androgynous name. I don’t do romance. For a long time I did short lived hookups, no strings attached, let’s not get complicated, let’s just have fun and keep it moving. But noooopppppeeeee.

To clarify for all my the judgey readers, this is for you. I don’t need to be in a relationship to feel good about myself or affirmed. It doesn’t measure my worth to me. Because even a douchebag will date a girl and say nice things to get in her pants and trust me, I’ve dated many. I’ve never been good at receiving compliments so no way that’s gunna magically change now that I’m into someone.

See, I know that at the core of all of this is, that whomever I’m with can’t give me something that only God was designed to give me. They can give me fragments and a little insight, but they will never be the my source of self worth. There is absolutely no healthy way for me to look at a partner while putting those expectations on them and think that it will be a healthy relationship. Because it won’t be.

We weren’t created to be fulfilled by a person, and though I care for many people deeply, I refuse to allow my self worth to be rooted in their idea of who they think I am. They are just a stained glass, and the love of God is the light that pierces through them.

I’ve fought so hard to not be into anyone that I feel like I got Jesus Juked and God is geeking and probably shaking his head at me cause I literally don’t know what I’m doing. But I feel good. Because I’ve never looked for it. I didn’t really want it. But here it is, and with it or without it I’m still looking to find the heart of God for me, and to to truly believe in my life that His love is enough for me.

Relationships…wait, what?

The Thing About Grief..

the thing about grief. For the majority of this year, I have tried to explain how I’m feeling. A lot of people have asked me, “how are you?” And my lips are prepared to tell a lie that has come so easily over the last two years. A few years ago, when I was having a hard time, I started a blog. I had 1000s of followers, watching and reading my life intimately. And when I faced great trauma, I used my writing as an outlet to process all of my thoughts and feelings so I wouldn’t drown in overwhelming pain. Though I am grateful for the resource, it also became painful. My life, which I had desired to keep as an open book, quickly became a novel for the critiques of the masses. I felt open and vulnerable, which I thought was a good thing, but it had come back to bite me in the ass. 

As the years have progressed, I have wrestled with how open I should or shouldn’t be, wanting to invite people in, but also wanting to protect myself from others motives. It wasn’t long before I became really good at over sharing, and I spent more time conseling and apologizing to people for my experiences than talking and processing through for my own good. 

Fast forward to last year. I have always been pretty self destructive, ready to go into spontaneous combustion, waking up in the mornings asking God if today would be the day I could finally die. Drinking too much and hanging out with the wrong people. Two years ago I became friends with the wrong kind of people, and last year I was made aware of how wrong they were. That same day I started my half sleeve, looking for something to ease the pain of hurt that I hadn’t quiet figured out. A few weeks after, I spoke with a friend, and what should have been a moment of release and healing became a moment of shame beyond anything I’d ever experienced before. 

Thought that conversation has since been clarified, the remnants of it have lingered. Last year was my most self destructive year since 2012. I was plummeting quickly, making  decisions that I don’t even want to speak of. I was in a fury of agony, careless with my life, done with everything. And then, January brought a beacon of hope. For the last 10 months I have battled with sorrow and shame that feel like a riptide, dragging me below the surface, into the dark deep. And the only headstrong decision I made at the beginning of the year was, that no matter what happened, I wouldn’t give up, I wouldn’t quit, and I wouldn’t back down in the face of adversity. 

I don’t have a language for my grief. I don’t have a proper way to say it where it doesn’t sound extremely offensive. I don’t have words for the sleepless, tear filled nights, the nightmares and consistent pain I feel in my body, on my skin. The nonstop throwing up and the headaches and vertigo that come when I’m most upset. More than anything this year, I’ve wanted to package my grief in a neatly, so that when I felt depression and anxiety consuming me, I’d have a nice way to present it so that no one felt overwhelmed by the words that I use. But it’s not in a neat. It’s a storm, brewing to fever pitch,  and if I slow down too much, the clouds get darker and the thunder cracks and I hide within myself. So I tuck it away and bring it to the feet of Jesus. I sing because that’s what I know how to do. 

I don’t have a language for grief. I more than anything want to. I’ve fallen somewhere in the cracks between the Pentecostals telling me to repent and I shall be healed. Pray and I shall be delivered from my demons. Reformed Christians telling me that trials and tribulations do come, but wait till Heaven because things will be made right then, but maybe not now. To the world, offering me a place to lay victim to my experiences and build a huge wall of offense around me to protect myself from anyone who threatens my peace and safety. And I have tried all of these things, thinking maybe if I just try one, everything will be ok. But, everything is not ok. I have cracks and fissures at the core of my being and outside of the kindness, grace, and mercy of God, I feel ignorant as to this season of my life.

Grieving, trauma, disappointment, tragedy aren’t neat and pretty welcoming boxes, that come open and shut quietly, with a bright red ribbon that reminds one of Christmas. They are lonely without context, they are an innumerable amount of “I’m fine, how are yous.” More than anything I wish they could be beautiful. And more than anything I wish I had a language, or maybe just a relatable ear to hear what’s actually inside of me, where I don’t feel the need to utter the same “I’m fine life.” I always want to point my posts back to God, remind myself and readers that He is good, and He is faithful. My world doesn’t make sense right now, and the wounds are too fresh to be touched let alone gazed upon by anyone that doesn’t quiet understand. I’m awkward in conversations, I feel myself stuttering and overthinking every interaction. Most of the time I’d rather not talk, but somewhere between my anxiousness and people pleasing, a whole train wreck of words spill out. 

The thing about grief is that everyone experiences it in their life, no matter what. It’s not beautiful, it’s trying. It’s messy and scary and lonely. It strengthens our resolve, and builds deeper wells of hope that maybe couldn’t have been created in any other place. And some people need days, some need weeks, months, years or even up to eternity. I don’t have a language for grief, but fortunately, I don’t have to. 

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:8-11

The Thing About Grief..