Landslide

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I took my love and took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too
Oh, I’m getting older too

I take my love, take it down
I climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Will the landslide bring you down
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Will the landslide bring you down, oh, oh
The landslide bring you down

–  Stevie Nicks

What’s Your Definition of Vulnerable?

11111058_848401048575319_1692519829997846752_n A few years back one of my writing teachers told me that he loved my writing, but he felt I was holding back. He said, “I can feel you guarding yourself. You needed to be more vulnerable; edit yourself less.” It’s hard to be vulnerable when we have been taught since we were young to edit so much of ourselves for the world. It’s hard to be bare bones vulnerable isn’t it? I’ve decided to push myself in my writing and to work hard on being truly vulnerable (I think I am pretty vulnerable already to be honest, but I am going to try to rip of the what’s left of the veil). It’s not easy to let your insecurities hang out for everyone to see. Truth is though that the people who move me the most are the people who can do just this. They talk about their truth and they are so open in all the details. This takes real bravery and I really want to become that person. I get tired sometimes of writing about my experience with domestic violence because there is much more to me than that. However, I know that my work is important and that I am a voice for many that don’t have one or can’t find the right words yet. I will never stop be an advocate, but I am going to try to broaden my blog up a bit with more of Ella; a more diversified view of me and my world. I was thinking about my Dad the other day. He is an amazing man and I love him so very much. He has been such an example to me in so many ways and has taught me what it means to be humble and steadfast in your convictions. I wanted to write a piece about him so that you would have an idea of where I come from; my history. (All of this is keeping in line with me being vulnerable.) So, I started to comprise this piece in my head and I was getting really excited about it, until I realized my truth like a brick to the head. I cannot write about my Dad in my blog. I can’t write about my mother, my AMAZING Grandmother, my siblings, or my darling children. I can’t write about my career before I started Rebel Thriver. Shit, I can’t even talk about my life before I left my abusive husband. This all came rushing back to me in a second flat. The blood pulsed through my veins and my heart started pounding so loud I could hear it out loud. YES, I have forgiven, but in moments like this the band-aid gets torn off and the pain cuts deep. The anger bubbles to the surface again, and again, and again. MOTHER**UCKER! He, and by he I refer to my abuser, has taken SO much from my life. He has taken my ability to freely write about my past. My history is so incredibly pertinent to who I am today, but when I write I must edit, edit, edit. I cannot be as vulnerable as I would like to be because of this man. It’s been years and his reach is still as long. He still has some control over my life and it infuriates me. I have come so far and worked so incredibly hard to heal myself, forgive the past, and learn a new way of being, but I cannot get away from this man. That is what domestic violence does to you. It comes in and grabs a hold of you by the neck, clamps down hard, and shakes you to your core. It tries to sever your roots and leave you wilting in the corner, thirsty and unable to bloom. It’s exhausting and it seeps into the tiny corners of your life and it is so damned hard to clean up. One step forward, two steps back. Instead of writing about my amazing Dad I am back full circle to domestic violence. It really is like this and I know that there are those of you out there who get this. How can one person wreak such havoc and destruction on another human being. People who are in situations like this are the epitome of vulnerable. They are open to being hurt and attacked at any given moment. Just another reason it’s hard to stop editing myself. I built some pretty big walls around my fortress over the years. My mother would like to see me “move on” and leave all the domestic violence in the past. She wants to see me have a “normal” life. There is nothing normal about my life, and as time passes and my children get bigger I deal with it on new levels everyday. Adolescence has brought up things that I wish wouldn’t surface and I have a child with PTSD and Acute Anxiety just like me. How bad is it exactly? Disabling. Remember that not all wounds are visible. Yes, we look like a “normal” family, but there is nothing normal about us. We have experienced a kind of hell on earth that not everyone can fathom. We are survivors because we made it out alive.  I walked away from everything with the clothes on my back and started completely over. How do I just move on and leave it behind? There is no way that I can do that for I would leave behind a part of me and so many victims who have no voice. I speak for them not just myself. I guess it is here that I find my vulnerability. I guess it is here in this great melting pot of experiences and emotions that we connect. I know its not always easy to share with others how you are feeling when everything is locked up inside like a steel vault. It’s much healthier to be real about it and let it flow if you can. So this is my reality, and want you to know that some days are better than others. I don’t like being held back and I have so much to say, but I can’t. I must bite my tongue in order to protect myself and my children. I am not going to stop trying to find ways to express whats inside of me. I may need to talk in parables, but I will be heard somehow. It really is amazing how one relationship can change the entire trajectory of your life. How’s that for being vulnerable? xo Ella

Far Far…

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FAR FAR

Far far, there was this little girl
She was praying for something to happen to her
Everyday she writes words and more words
Just to speak out the thoughts that keep floating inside

And she’s strong when the dreams come
‘Cause they take her, cover her, they are all over
The reality looks far now, but don’t go

How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess inside
How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess inside, oh

Far, far there was this little girl
She was praying for something good to happen to her
From time to time there are colors and shapes
Dazzling her eyes, tickling her hands

They invent her a new world with
Oil skies and aquarel rivers
But don’t you run away already
Please don’t go

How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess inside
How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess inside

Take a deep breath and dive
There’s a beautiful mess inside
How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess, beautiful mess inside

Beautiful, beautiful

Far far, there was this little girl
She was praying for something big to happen to her
Every night she ears beautiful strange music
It’s everywhere, there’s nowhere to hide

But if it fades she begs, “Oh Lord, don’t take it from me
Don’t take it yourselves”
I guess I’ll have to give it birth, to give it birth
I guess, I guess I have to give it birth
I guess I have to, have to give it birth
There’s a beautiful mess inside and it’s everywhere

So shake it yourself now deep inside
Deeper than you ever dared
Deeper than you ever dared
There’s a beautiful mess inside
Beautiful mess inside

Songwriters
YAEL NAIM/ DAVID DONATIEN

Where’s Your Fire?

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“You know when you’re in Do or Die mode? When you’re hovering and stumbling right to your edge and need to jump just to save yourself from what pushed you there?  That’s the beginning of everything amazing. Everything worth doing.” –Victoria Erickson

Why does life has to be so hard and so confusing at times? That may be the most rhetorical question ever asked. Even now after all this time one might think that I would’ve gotten used to notion that my life is composed of seasons. Some move in and out as fluidly as the tides while others come and settle in like a bear over a long winter. The truth is it can go either way; you can have short periods of joy and long seasons of discontent, but it works exactly the same in the reverse. That’s the thing about life, it’s not consistent. So, if you’re counting on consistency know that the only thing consistent in our lives is change.

Why do we find ourselves so resistant to change? We are resistant to change even when the thing we need to change is hurting us do deeply? Dammit it’s frustrating. When it comes to this I have little patience for myself. I forget to be tender and to treat myself as a struggling friend. I hate the feeling of my own weaknesses and yet they are what gives me balance. I know this and yet in the midst of the struggle I find myself treading water, holding my breath, and praying for an SOS. Anything to distract me from the present reality I am facing.

We crawl, we walk, we stumble, we fall, we get up again…on and on it goes. Day in and day out, month after month, and year after year we cycle like this. Sometimes I picture God looking down on us shaking his head. I often wonder what he is thinking. Perhaps, “What simple people I created. Why can’t they just learn go with the flow? Why can’t they learn to be the flow? They are always pushing against the flow and they wonder why they are always feeling depleted?”

Well no offense intended God, but I think we are the farthest thing from simple. If we were simple I don’t think life would be so hard because we wouldn’t notice most of what we are experiencing. The fact is we are incredibly complex creatures. Our minds are in constant conflict with our hearts; rendering our attempts to reason often painful and futile. We end up we often overriding our feelings to our detriment. So what is it that we humans tend do? We run away.

We run away and lose ourselves in our work, other people’s drama, we overindulged, we self-medicate, and so often we develop addictions to numb out our reality. We do this to avoid the uncomfortable and often messy feelings that surface due to changes that need to be made. In the moment it feels better to just escape it, but eventually it comes back to bite us in the ass. When something in your life needs to be changed then it needs to be changed. You can choose to do it now or later, but if you wait then you need to know that what it is you needed to change has now gotten even more gnarly.

When we run away from our issues in life we only create a shit pile of “stuff”. We toss one thing to the pile and run off. When another issue arises we chuck that one too. After a while that pile of shit can get pretty deep and the thought of dealing with it is a tad overwhelming to say the least. This is why living in the moment and facing your problems head on is so critical. I know better than anyone how hard it truly is and how tempting escape plans can be. I have learned it is better to feel and heal, then it is to numb and run. It take some intestinal fortitude, but you can do this. Clear the way for your future and your dreams. Be Brave.

xo,  Ella


The Importance of Celebrating your Quirks.

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One thing that most trauma survivors have in common is a knack for dissociating from the pain filled moments in their memory. It’s an act of survival that we have mastered; we do it without even having to try. The thing about coping skills is that you don’t always learn healthy ones until after the fact. I fell into that category. How do you prepare for living in an environment that is hostile and dangerous emotionally, psychologically, and physically? Unless you are raised in a situation like this you have no idea what is happening.  Most women who are victimized by domestic violence find themselves in a similar place. The shock of their reality is swift and paralyzing. It’s happening and escalating in real-time and before they can get their heads wrapped around it the bottom drops out.

Children who grow up in war-torn areas know the reality of fighting as a part of daily life. Here in the United States the wars are less apparent and the explosions are not always felt or heard by anyone but the abused. I know this because it is my truth. I lived in a war zone in the midst of millions of people for years and no one knew my personal hell. The psychology of abuse is not easy to understand if you haven’t experienced it. Have you heard of  Trauma Bonding? It is when strong emotional ties develop between two people where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other. It suggests that the victim assimilates the best they can to survive. Identifying with the aggressor is one way that the ego defends itself, and when a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be perceived as a threat. Every battle waged moves the borders of acceptance a bit closer, and every crime committed blurs the lines of reality a little more. Life becomes nothing but shades of gray as the mind shoves the truth so deeply down that it becomes indecipherable.

Exactly how does one go about losing memories of personal experiences that have transpired? I wish I could explain it because it’s something that I have become incredibly adept at. I have found no road map into the mind that anyone can explain it to me. It’s something that will leave you feeling incredibly lost if you find yourself here. My mind constructed a maze to protect itself from the reality of my life…heavy stuff. It’s like a fox who chews off its own foot in order to sever itself from a trap. It doesn’t want to do it. It may not even realize it is doing it. The shock of the situation is enough to cause it to act unconsciously to save itself. So does our mind…it creates a buffer for our soul by submerging the recollections of our reality deeply under a theoretical veil. Emotional sabotage is just another reality of this war.

Isn’t that they way of the human spirit though? We want to survive. We look for the silver lining and hope against hope that there will be a happy ending some how. It is in our nature to fight for freedom and to search for a way out of the darkness. Our spirits know what serves us best. I lived this way for longer than I should have, hoping he would be healed, change, or even leave. The fine details aren’t important now, but the psychology behind it is. How did I, a child from a happy family, allow another to treat me so badly?

Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. It has no boundaries against color, race, sex, religion, or socio-economics. In fact, it is one of the few things that is truly all-inclusive. In understanding the patterns, the cycle, and the red flags of abuse we can find a way to prevent the entrance of an abuser into our lives. People do not come into this world hardwired to abuse people, that clearly is a learned behavior. Children growing up in homes were domestic violence is prevalent will have a much higher risk of repeating the behavior that they learned. At the very core of the resistance to this every growning problem is our own self-worth. It is critical for us to educate our youth, both boys and girls alike. They must know that are of value; this is our best weapon in the prevention of future generations having to live with domestic violence.

We all have dings in our armor. It’s not easy growing up especially when so many of us have had to self parent in one way or another. Even if you are blessed with the most idea of situations you can find the dings. Where do our insecurities come from? Some are learned from experience and other seem to have just been born with us. As a parent I know that it is imperative to honor my children for who they are, and to simply guide them along. It’s not easy, but I find that honesty goes a long way. Most of us were handed an out of date “How To Guide” from our parents who in turn had received a similar one from their parents. Generational beliefs are tough to break because we seem to hold onto them as though they are a part of us.

I am doing my best to shine a light on the shortcomings in my life. If it could happen to me then it can happen to anyone. I have done deep personal work and looked at those embarrassing personal deficiencies; all the insecurities that I tried to hide away and really wish I hadn’t. How would my life had been different if I had been taught to celebrate my quirks? Low self-worth has become endemic for our youth in this society and we need to find a way around it. If you don’t have a sense of self-worth then you have no shot at self-esteem.

We need to be actively be teaching this stuff in schools. Kids need to know that they can celebrate who they are without omitting their flaws and that their quirks (that we all have) just add to their lives. We need them to know that they shouldn’t dim their light for anyone else’s sensitive eyes; they should walk tall and hold their heads up high and embrace themselves for the perfectly imperfect people that they are. You don’t have to fall down the rabbit hole when you hit adolescence you just need to be guided to find your value as a human being and learn to celebrate your magnificent quirks.

Xo Ella

A Hopeful Sadness.

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I am feeling incredibly vulnerable lately and this is not the norm for me; I am always the strong one. As an empath I am able to feel everyone else’s pain, sadness, and anxiety; but in doing so I shut my own out. I have boxed myself in by wearing this suit of armor. Today, I am taking it off and folding it nicely for a rest. It is my calling to empower people and help them transition from a life of just existing to one where they can truly feel all that life has for them. To drop the fear and jump on the adventure.

My belief has always been, and still is, that what is in the past is in the past. You are not your past. You are not what happened to you. You are here and living in the now.
Face your past, forgive, make peace, and then let it go. I still believe this for I have seen too many people get away from their pasts only to live forward with it. We get used to carrying the weight of our burdens and it’s hard to put them down. In an odd way it feels comfortable because it is what we know.

I am always looking within myself and trying to see what is making me tick, where am I heading, and what is really happening in my soul. It’s not easy to do when so many look to me to inspire them every day. My mind switches to auto-pilot and I just walk the talk. I keep moving and push through the pain. It seems to have caught up with me and I am at a bit of an impasse now.

I’ve been crying for days. I don’t know why. Perhaps it started with a case of the mid-winter blues and then just spiraled out. I can’t pinpoint it, but I know I am not trying to stop it. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to feel weak and vulnerable at times. It doesn’t make you less strong it makes you whole, and honestly isn’t that what we strive for?

I believe with all of my heart that life is all about ebb and flow. I don’t often allow myself the ebb part though. I fight it and dismiss it and soldier on. It’s what I know how to do. It’s what saved me in my past. However today I am feeling as though it has caught up with me and I am learning a new way of being. I am sitting with my sadness and I am trying to understand it. Right now I am not sure why it has surfaced. Perhaps it is a workshop I am taking about being tender to my own soul. Something that we all need to learn to do better.

What I do know is that this sadness is all-encompassing. The tears are flowing and I am feeling lost in my own space. A feeling of tremendous loss is here and sadness. The loss of people who I loved dearly in my life, the loss of innocence as a child, the loss of my dreams for my future, and the loss of even myself. For how can I be whole if I am not in touch with these darker sadder moments of myself? I am learning to listen. To reach down and hold my own hand; the trembling hand of a girl who has seen too much and suffered far more than ever necessary.

I am looking at her in the mirror and her reflection is so sad that it makes me cry.
I feel a disconnect from her. I am the girl who has survived so much and yet has never been able to grieve the losses that have accrued over my lifetime. This is scary shit I am not going to lie about that. However, in my sadness and my uncontrollable crying I feel more connected to myself and to others then I have in a long time. I am learning to be vulnerable in a new way. I am understanding my life within a new light. I am scared, but I am okay. I am sad, but I am hopeful. It is just going to take some time. xo Ella