Beyond The Headlines.

The media has had me floored. And almost silent. But that’s the opposite of the point of all this here so I felt like I had to say something. It’s not because of the debate of who did what. But what is actually coming out as lies instead of truth.

That beyond this one story, survivors… “should be, could be, would be” a certain way. It’s seeping into everyday conversations, everyday survivor stories, and so many are being hurt in the process.

God made us courageous warriors with voices that can be used to speak Truth.

This has been SO much more than about her story to so many of us.

This is more than politics (although so much of it has been politics, I know).

It’s about survivors everywhere. Our stories.

And how this has ripped our wounds open as fast as it has been ripped from the headlines.

It is so much more than that.

I will not post my opinion on the details of her story or his. Because honestly I don’t have one and I’m so beyond myself about the reaction around the world. I say reaction because a response would require compassion and although I’ve seen that too, I’ve seen the opposite just as much if not more.

But what I will say is that as a survivor of sexual violence. I am appalled.

This has crossed an absolute line.

The victim blaming is unbelievable.

I know the media is a place where things get twisted and you need to be careful about what you read and who you read it from.

But this is real people, saying these things on posts that are supposed to be supportive and encouraging to survivors as they bare the weight of a secret that has now turned into the weight of a story they should be able to feel safe enough to tell.

But with the way the world has responded, it has perpetuated silence all over again for so many.

This is why I stand up and Speak. And I will regardless.

My vulnerability is worth someone else finding their voice and potentially freedom and healing from it.

I am not someone who watches the news and my tendency is usually not to engage is big debates such as this and to only spread positivity light and love.

But it has been so much more to me than that this time around. I’ve felt the weight of it all relentlessly. There’s a lot of inaccuracy in the media, I am Aware, And I can usually find safety and peace in that and completely separate myself…..

But this. This has been absolutely horrifying to watch unfold.

And I’ve actually protected and separated myself from a lot of it but what I’ve seen is enough. Enough for me to see what is being said, beyond whatever is actually at stake.

We must love others as we love ourselves and this has been the complete and utter opposite of what I’ve seen for the most part.

Although I do see a glimmer of hope and change which I will talk about later on in this post. I see a lot of disheartening posts and I’ve heard a lot of disheartening things.

Safe Places and People in this context have gone out the window.

Survivors are being triggered left and right and people who we thought we could trust fall away with their words. Their words that sting… I don’t believe you. (Especially if you aren’t the “perfect victim” as they say. With all kinds of evidence) It’s no different.

But there are so many safe places and people out there, so please, survivors, don’t let all of this be your example.

Sift through the weeds and find someone who will rise with you, who will believe you, who will listen to you with compassion in their listening ears, deep care in their heart and their words, and safety in their hug or the holding of your hand every step of the way.

I am one of them, and I know so many in my circle and our circle who would say the same.

I’d rather be wrong and pick up the pieces of that than be wrong on the other side of not believing.

Let me tell you this.

1) I was sexually abused at ages 9-10

2) Sexually assaulted at 12.

3) And sexually harassed /assaulted at 23.

And I’ll tell you this…

Did I report # 1 right away and was there physics evidence or a star witness?

NO, someone told for me about a month later. Then I found my own voice thankfully and went through a grueling 2 year court process for little justice (but Justice nonetheless) and I am glad I walked through that, gave my impact statement and found my voice over and over again as a result.

Did I report # 2 right away?

No, never did. I thought about it, but it had been close to 14 years and I feared I wouldn’t be believed.

Did I report # 3 right away?

No, never will. Because he was drunk anyways and didn’t remember when a family member of mine confronted him. And there’s No evidence but my voice, my words, my truth.

#WhyIDidntReport #WhyDidntIReport

Not many know the depths of these Parts Of My Story. I didn’t report Sexual Abuse in childhood that happened around ages 9/10 repressed until I was 23 or an assault/sexual harassment by a much older man known To My Family at 24. My fear was Not Being Believed because of what I was seeing in the media and all around me about survivors not being believed even with memories remembered at the time, or breaking their silence not too long after and even in delayed reporting where it makes sense to not report because of the fear and shame we feel at one time or another or many other factors. There was no evidence. It happened without a trace. Also 11 years prior I went through a court trial for a Sexual Assault when I was 12 and testified at 14 (took 2 years and 5 postponements by the defense to get to that day) It was an exhausting & long process without much justice, but Justice nonetheless and healing in some ways, I just didn’t think I could do it again, especially with the scrutiny I knew in my heart I would face.

Regardless, it doesn’t make my experiences any less factual.

Although I’ve done a ton of healing work and have seen deeper healing and ultimate freedom as the days of my own Journey go by… This is still very real for me and so many others. And in light of this with my own experience; I have felt heavy in a way that I have never felt and find it hard to explain to those even in my most inner circle (“Circle Of Inspiration” -Hush By Nicole Braddock Bromley).

14 years later now, I work in the field as an advocate for survivors every single day. I am certain all of this has been a heavy weight as well for many courageous ones and their families who have walked through my office door. I’ll never know, but what I do know is that our first reaction makes a significant impact on a survivors healing journey. Survivors are watching. Will you be worthy of their courage to say those words? To sit with them. To hear them say, #metoo .

Regardless of the vote or the media or any of what’s happening and will happen…. as we don’t have much control over that.

What we do have control over how we respond to those closest to us, and those that may cross our paths at any point.

What I do also know for sure is that as a survivor and as survivors all around me would surely agree with, we ALL need safe places to go and people to walk with us.

Will YOU be one?

And as a woman of Faith, I know the Truth says we need to bare each other’s burdens and pray for each-other while we fearlessly walk through the trenches of these issues hand and hand; For Good. For Justice and Mercy. We are not the Judge. But we can love each other through it.

I’m not saying you have to engage is this debate. It would actually probably be better if many out there didn’t. Because our opinion doesn’t define what actually happened or is happening.

But what I’m challenging you with and asking from you is.. WILL YOU, through your actions, your words and your social media…

~> Support Survivors, Believe Them, Encourage Their Voices, Walk Alongside Them On Their Journey’s (No Matter the details, The when, The Who, The How, The Timeline etc) and most importantly…. Will YOU open your eyes, and listen compassionately before casting judgement or opinion? We are not the judge anyways.

Through the darkness of all this, I have seen the light.

-I’ve seen survivors taking courageous steps and raising their voices, some telling their stories or reporting for the very first time.

-Some people without their own story are educating themselves on Trauma and the impact on the Brain and Body and how each journey although with a common thread can be so very different and we all can hold onto or release the weight of the shame and fear this crime instills in various ways on various timelines.

-Some people are just listening compassionately, not saying anything.. and that actually says so much to survivors. That our voices matter and we are heard without someone trying to fix it, or comment about it. Just listen. It can be so healing.

-There’s so much more good that can come, if we shift away from the dark and into the light and the truth. Our own truth.

And for any survivor out there who is feeling more silenced than free in all this; I see you. We are your voice too.

The truth is, everyone’s got a story, everyone’s got pain, and everyone has value.

Let’s act, love, write and speak like it.

Like that’s the actual truth.

We need you.

With Grace, Upon Grace.

With compassion.

For all of us.

We need to know, we are not alone.

Survivors,

I’m with you.

I validate you.

I believe you.

I support you.

You will never walk alone,

This road is not meant to be walked alone.

We are here.

Pain to Purpose.

Shame to Shine.

Worthless to Worthy.

Scars to Stories.

Regret to Redemption.

Fear to Freedom.

Survive to Thrive.

We are SO much more than what is ripped from the headlines.

~Mel

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National Poetry Day

#NationalPoetryDay

I write to Survive, To Thrive. I Thank God For The Gift Of A Writers Heart.

Here’s a few poems I written/spoken. Past and Present.

{2014 Anchor Slam Poem}.

The Journey.

By Mel Sachs

12/9/09

As I look back on my journey,

Of who I have become

The paths that I have crossed

The days I came undone

This is a reflection of truth

My life, My strength, My pain

A journey through my eyes

What I lost and what I gained

It started when I was young,

A girl at five or six

Dealing with unexpected outcomes

A father who was sick

The disease that took him over

But never took him away

A long fight with alcoholism

A young girl begging him to stay

Some days I used to wonder,

When it was going to end

Lies, Fear and Manipulation

So young I couldn’t comprehend

A few years later

I was never alone

A program full of people

A love that was always shown

Peace, Love and Serenity

What I was looking for

A second family forever

A smile and a hug for sure

Finally able to share

What I never wanted to surrender

Finally felt the relief

My heart will always remember

Another step in her journey

A chapter in her life

That young girl has grown up

And her goal this time is to strive

A lifetime full of dreams

Have began to show through

From high school through college and 3 years beyond (2016)

She’ll say she’s gonna’ show you

Her compassion for others

Who have traveled down the same road

A career to bring justice

A voice that says, your not alone

A mission to happiness

A beautiful life ahead

I will not back down

I’ll show my strength instead.

*SEASONS OF HEALING*

Written 2015. Revised 2018.

-Trigger Warning-

Sometimes, it comes back. 

It’s Vivid Like Yesterday’s Sun.

But in reality – it’s DARKER,

DARKER than storm clouds on a rainy day.

It BURNS hotter than a summer sun.

It HURTS more than falling hail hitting your skin like bullets.

And at times, it is so much LOUDER than the CRACK of a tree branch, or the RUMBLE of thunder, or the BURSTING or fireworks.

IT IS MY TRUTH.

But, I can’t let it define me. I WON’T.

I survived. I am strong. I am a voice for others.

It’s been a over a decade.

Time passes as slow as leaves falling from a tree during the fall, but as fast as lightening strikes during an unexpected storm at the same time.

2002 I was 9 or 10 years old, no timeline. 

Their hands touched me like fire more than once. BURNING HOT. Unwanted.

2004. I WAS 12 YEARS OLD. I remember everything. 

It was a warm spring day, but a COLD reality.

His hands touched me like fire. BURNING HOT. Unwanted. Fingers and Tounge; Inside me , all over me. 

2006: Speak justice into healing. A small conviction but my voice and my God was louder and healed me more than any sentence. 

Waves of healing – peaks and valleys ; but hope lingers no matter what. 

Don’t let your dreams be just dreams, or gone with the wind, I didn’t. Trust.

2018, the sun shines so often now. 

I cannot get lost among the clouds and storms.

So much has changed – like the seasons.

The seasons of healing.

Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall.

❤️ Keep Writing ✍️

🦋 Keep Thriving 🦋

~Mel

The Seasons Of Healing – Fall. September. Surrender.

*SEASONS OF HEALING*

Poem by Me 2014, Edited/Added to 2017, 2018.

Trigger Warning.

Sometimes, it comes back.

It’s Vivid Like Yesterday’s Sun.

But in reality – it’s DARKER,

DARKER than storm clouds on a rainy day.

It BURNS hotter than a summer sun.

It HURTS more than falling hail hitting your skin like bullets.

And at times, it is so much LOUDER than the CRACK of a tree branch, or the RUMBLE of thunder, or the BURSTING or fireworks.

IT IS MY TRUTH.

But, I can’t let it define me. I WON’T.

I survived. I am strong. I am a voice for others.

It’s been a over a decade.

Time passes as slow as leaves falling from a tree during the fall, but as fast as lightening strikes during an unexpected storm at the same time.

2002 I was 9 or 10 years old, no timeline.

Their hands touched me like fire more than once. BURNING HOT. Unwanted.

2004. I WAS 12 YEARS OLD. I remember everything.

It was a warm spring day, but a COLD reality.

His hands touched me like fire. BURNING HOT. Unwanted. Fingers and Tounge; Inside me , all over me.

2006: Speak justice into healing. A small conviction but my voice and my God was louder and healed me more than any sentence.

Waves of healing – peaks and valleys ; but hope lingers no matter what.

Don’t let your dreams be just dreams, or gone with the wind, I didn’t. Trust.

2018, the sun shines so often now.

I cannot get lost among the clouds and storms.

So much has changed – like the seasons.

The seasons of healing.

Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall.

I’m going through a time right now that there is nothing sweeter than the release, than the ability to let go.

Fall is always a humbling time for me.

Especially the last 2 years since something pretty significant happened where I saw my life flash ✈️

With the changing of the seasons this time of year in particular, and September being my birthday month… I just feel a shift. A shift in heart and perspective that goes both ways. Abounding Joy but also a Heaviness that I can’t really explain, something I know that I am not alone in.

I’ve been finding my peace and reflection as always at waters edge, with sunshine on my skin and among the leaves, flowers, plants, trees and just nature in itself. Snapping photos along the way.

I am {Captivated} by so much Glory all around me.

For so many years I’ve been tethered to a past that has been so painful but so beautiful at the same time.

Sometimes I feel tethered to then, in the midst of now.

I am somewhere amidst tethered and free. But Most days I feel more free.

Some days I feel like I’m wondering aimlessly, and others and more often I feel defined where I am and that It Is Well on a deep, deep level. I feel purpose for the pain, and something brewing from a spark to a fire within me.

Someone said to me recently in an email that “God is certainly bringing so much beauty from the ash in your past. You’re a beautiful representation of that!”

It’s a nice reminder.

But a challenge at times to fully embody and embrace.

But I must. And I will.

I remember the many years I dreamed of what I have now. And I’m humbled every day that I get to be a part of Journey’s from silence to healing and so much more than that. That I live in a location I tangibly dreamed of for years and that I have such incredible Faith within me and community around me. My life is abundant today, and I am grateful. God is Faithful. And the seed planted many years ago, it just keeps growing.

But If I’m being real, I still grieve in some ways what could have been.

Who I would be without the tether?

I do my best to unwind it every single day and Surrender.

As a result of that, I’ve been really stepping through some heavy yet necessary stuff lately.

I’m in the trenches a bit some nights…

In the heavy, there is ✨ light ✨

I also claim the Truth, Peace, and Victory that I know is threaded within all of this, as it always was on the road to where I am now.

Recently,

I revealed things I’ve never told anyone before and stepped into some places I never in a million years thought I would. And It Is Simultaneously Freeing Me and so much more.

Owning our stories, and letting go (even one thing at a time) as the trees let go of their leaves year after year is life giving, and life changing.

We all have a Journey and we are never alone.

It changes year after year, in small ways or big ones; Healing is very much like the seasons.

For me, this is what it’s been like.

It’s been so hard. But so needed.

To surrender, release, and forgive.

To let go of what I’ve been holding onto.

To fight anxiety daily and replace it with fearlessness and courage.

To put my armor on.

To free my body.

To redeem my now and my future intimately.

I know in my heart healing is simultaneously right here and right around the corner as I know from experience.

My heart is breaking to be healed.

I’m holding on; to eventually release, to let go, to make more room, to let something else and something more in. And to be and become the {Woman} I was always meant to be. To show up and continue on the path in the midst.

There is always something greater.

“The Leaves Are About To Show Us How Beautiful It Is To Let Things Go”.

September = Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

**Heroes Among Us and Above Us**

Camp Sunshine, Forever.

By: Mel Sachs 2015

Poem Reflecting on Camp Sunshine

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“It starts at a place, full of sunshine,

Literally and Figuratively,

Through all seasons of weather and life.

The second you walk through the 3 yellow doors,

Life as you know it will forever be changed , for the better and with smiles through the pain for sure.

Kids , Teens and Parents of all ages come in,

through the door that fits their size, some instantly relieved,

Some totally caught by surprise.

Some have been to this magical place before,

Others are here for the very first time, it doesn’t take long for each kid and every person to shine.

Running feet, piggy backs and music too.

quick to play a game of ball.

Here there’s sunshine through the rain, and fun and games for all.

Memories with angels among us and memories of angels up above us, through the doors and in the hearts of siblings, parents, families and volunteers as a whole,

There’s a sense of never ending love, Through thick and thin and through it all – no amount of kindness is ever too small.

This is one of the only places,

Bereaved families can let their guards down, Instant friends like family forever, The time until the next session, Is always on a countdown.

A life changing place,

A boat to make a wish

laughter, tears, and good times.

The feeling of deep connection is so much more than mine.

When you look around – it’s often a place, where the lost get found and so many are shown – that they are absolutely not alone.

A battle that no child, their friends or family, should have to face

For fun, priceless memories and unconditional love,

Camp Sunshine is the place.

When yellow shirts take over,

The session has begun,

Given everyone’s circumstances,

Our goal is to make our time with families, nothing less than fun.

We help all we can; we give a much needed break,

To inspirational, irreplaceable, resilient families,

Who are often dealt much more,

Than they ever expected to take.

Stories told, memories shared,

And laughter through the years

When families experience camp sunshine,

Their fears tend to fall, and they are able to let down, each and every wall.

Cancer is a word, that can be talked about freely, names of angels often spoken, the memories are such a token.

Emotions, updates and personal experiences, Are talked about daily

We appreciate all we learn,

We are humbled That you share your child’s journey with us, and lay upon us such a foundation of trust.

Each child makes an impact, on each of us yellow shirts

Cancer doesn’t define, we have so much fun with these kids,

We often laugh so much it hurts.

From experience I can say,

The lifetime impact these kids have on you is true, And when reality comes and we lose one, It’s really difficult to explain, how much it breaks you.

The statistics of childhood cancer

Show the reality of what it can do

Every 36 minutes a child is diagnosed,And each day the heart-wrenching reality, is that 11 will die too.

Like me, if you’ve seen a kid fight cancer, It will impact your life forever

You will no longer be the same, you will forever be changed.

Volunteering my time, for such an amazing cause and place,

what an incredible extended sebago family to be part of- I will always remember each, and every face.

*****

I’ve lost 5 campers I’ve spent time with here just in the span of only a few years- These diseases and the impact they leave, is absolutely not something rare.

Nothing really hits harder or hurts worse, Than losing a kiddo, your buddy, your friend.

That meant and continues to mean so much to you

Then, before, today, tomorrow, and always, forever, until the end.

Through grief us yellow shirts will band together, and for all of your angels we will fight on and be strong.

We grieve the loss, for families and for friends, For the moments We had with them, for all that we learn about them and the connection, that we have to know, never has to end.

We cherish the memories, that all

Of you families carry in your hearts, and are humbled by the impact of each of your journeys, this is something that without a doubt, has tugged at my heart from the start.

Rest in the sweetest peace our angels, and my biggest wish for you,

Is that your healed and able to do above and beyond,

What Stupid cancer or any other illness took from you.

I pray that you all find each other, those who have earned their wings, so you can all play together- in your honor, hands up we will surely sing.

And for those who are here with us, I hope your balloons fly high, with written messages that mean so much, your angels hands they will surely touch.

To the new families and those who have been here for years- I hope you’ve had a blast so far, and always hold on to your ultimate shining star.

Camp Sunshine will always be a part of us forever, and remember that no matter what- the connections here will always last – no matter how much time has passed.

I love you all, to the moon and back with my sunshine filled heart.

You all mean so much to me – you’ve captured my love and commitment to you and this session from my 2011 start”.

Back to the Trees: Post #2 But in A Different Light.

Today, as I was leaving work at the Advocacy Center I work at, I couldn’t help but be stopped at the literal gate with gratitude (and I didn’t even notice the ✨Light✨ in the right corner that shines so beautifully through those trees).

Creation is really really beautiful if you look around and stop for a moment amidst this busy life and pain can be turned into beauty somewhere down the road (my example about TREES in post #2).

You see, I dreamed of this Job since I was 14/15 years old. It is so much more than a job to me. Even on the hardest days of it, I know in my heart that the greater purpose is underneath it all and I was healed in the ways that I have been to help heal others.

For years, I wanted so badly to give back in a big way for what was given to me but couldn’t figure out how or what my place would/could be in that as I was still in the midst of so much.

I wanted to be that person; who listens compassionately, and walks alongside people on their Journey’s using what I learned on mine.

I remember walking out of the Courthouse the day my long awaited sexual assault trial ended in 2006. I had found my voice, I had pursued justice and I had healed a ton (or so I thought at the time. But I felt so incredibly far from where I wanted to be and never thought I’d truly get there/here.

But, here I am. Thriving.

Still Navigating, and YES I still struggle (so, you’re not alone in that)….

But I’ve Also been equipped with powerful, beautiful, painful, inspiring, encouraging, hard work, knowledge and lessons learned among the healing journey and journey to advocacy for survivors in all capacities.

Full Circle Stories Happen Everyday – Don’t Miss Them!

🎶 It took me awhile to get here, but I got here. All the miles behind me on this road had led me back to Gold. I can’t tell you that I couldn’t do it differently, I can’t say that I’m not sure that I would. I choose the light now.; Forgive myself this broken heart. Working hard to mend the pieces. Who I Was and Who I Am are worlds apart 🎶

~> I always say it but it’s so true; Healing is NOT linear but it IS worth it.

~>Whatever your dream is, whatever your Journey is; Never Give Up on It. It may look different than you planned, but just like the light, you can and will be used to shine through the darkness.

🎶 I’ve gotta believe there’s a bigger plan. For all the Pain And Love And Lessons Learned, have helped to make me who I am 🎶

“Go where there is no path, and leave a trail”.

Happy Trails, Friends.

❤️

My Heart Can’t Possibly Break, When It Wasn’t even Whole To Start With.

Real Talk.

This song by Kelly Clarkson came on my phone by shuffle the other day… And it stopped me in my tracks. I remember the years and years and years this song was on repeat on my IPod and In The Car. I was in so much pain back then. I was in the midst of some of the most difficult years on my Journey.

You see, the song came out the year I was sexually assaulted at 12 years old (in 2004). I had already had a rough start to my story by then with family things as well. My Heart was broken. So much of me was broken. I clung to every word. I felt every word. I found my voice for the first time that same year , it changed my life. My case went to trial, Justice was served in a way, and I continued to fight for my voice and my life. I wanted my life back. The pain was so real then. So fresh. So unbearable.

I’m so incredibly humbled to be where I am today. I’ve learned so much. I embrace healing in remarkable ways. I gained Faith, Passion and Compassion. My life is abundant today. I have true Joy and Happiness and ultimately Peace that I can count on. I gained incredible people placed on my path in amazing ways. Beauty, Purpose and something so much greater than I ever thought possible is being woven through my story each day.

But this line;

“My Heart can’t possibly break, when it wasn’t even whole to start with”

Still rings true some days.

Some days I still feel it like it was yesterday.

Some days I wonder what it would have been like without this as my story.

Would my heart feel as broken sometimes?

Would my body feel like the enemy still?

Would I still be without an intimate relationship for 10+years?

Some days my heart does break and I remember that in those years I prayed for what I have now. And I smile. The most genuine smile.

God is Faithful.

& What I do know is that there is trust and hope and love all around us.

There is also possibility.

What seemed impossible back then could be your reality now and what seems impossible now can be possible someday down the road in a more beautiful way than you could have imagined.

Our voices bring us to freedom.

And although our hearts can be broken, our hearts can be healed too.

Just Hold On, Take A Step, Trust the Unseen and Find Joy in the Journey.

It’s worth it.

For Hearts.

❤️

Post #2 The Words and Trees that Changed Me but Don’t Define Me.

“Even when the jury and the judge, say you’ve got a right to hold a grudge, it’s the whisper in your ear saying… {set it free}”.

I’ve debated posting this for a few days now. But being real and vulnerable in this life is important, and authenticity is a value. There is strength in being vulnerable.

Out of the Abundance of her Heart,

Her Mouth Speaks.

These three things pictured owned me for many years. I was defined by these words, his words, these sentences. They haunted me. (Ty @brushtrigger on Instagram for lettering these for me so I could lay them down and let them go again).

Trees (Picture taken last week on Vacation) were a place of pure safety, but also reminded me of pure pain.

14 years ago. These 2 quotes were said to me as a crime was being committed against my body and I never thought I’d be set free from their grip.

Healing from Sexual Abuse/Sexual Assault is FAR from linear.

It steals things you never thought it could. Time goes by so slowly amidst it but also so fast that you feel like you’ve lost so many years, and hours and days from just walking the healing Journey.

It is messy, scary, painful and so much more in all facets of mind, body and soul.

But it can also be beautiful, redeeming, freeing and bring you people and to places that inspire, challenge, and change you as you love deeply, listen compassionately and become more bold and courageous than you ever thought possible.

Although where I am now is miles and miles from where I’ve been….

It’s still here. It’s still real. A part of me. But instead of it being the light that lights up the whole room; I’ve been moved to make it more of a desk lamp.

I’ve found redemption, healing and grace beyond what I could have ever imagined in the pain of it – Through Owning it, Speaking it (to one or many, it’s your journey and we are not all called to a platform), Writing it, and Laying it down at the feet of Jesus. This can look different for everyone and I can only speak for me.

By owning my story and holding on to my voice (sometimes at all costs)…

*I have felt, and seen {Freedom} in myself, those around me and some I may never know. Our reach is far greater than we are often aware of. We are called to reach people. And even in the midst of it, of a hard time, or in the rocky waves of the journey; we must trust in that glimmer of hope we just had or hope for and show up for ourselves and others; keep loving, keep speaking, keep writing and keep sharing pieces of ourselves to help bring the darkness to light.

When I first defined my Faith, these are some of the first things God freed me from. The words that were said, The things that were taken. I found forgiveness and freedom and I was given back the gift of healing and community tenfold.

The meaning of trees has been reclaimed for me and I can’t help but get lost in the beauty of them now; In the Light, In the Night and Especially in the changing of Seasons. Trees Fall Afresh, Make Things New and Hold Safety and Healing in the branches for me these days.

But, To be honest, the last few years, as I step boldly into the next season of this Journey ~> owning, loving and healing my body and surrendering to parts of my story that I never thought I would step foot near…

The words and sentences spoken over me all those years ago have been creeping back in; Gripping my heart; Holding me a bit hostage in my mind. Because I grieve for what could have been.

I’ve found through navigating this journey and process of reconnecting to my body again fully through taking care of it, listening to it, and honoring it ~> That it is also okay to not be okay and that although I’ve walked down a bit of this road before, it’s also okay to be walking parts of it again, as long as I keep my eyes fixed on the light , the path laid out for me, and always knowing through it all that I am so much more than all this and remembering that Once I walk through the hard parts there is absolutely deeper healing this time around and I am capable and have been equipped in my Faith to handle each thing with Grace upon Grace.

If I’m honest (which I’m trying to really be here); Sometimes I feel overcome again with the power they seem to have in those moments.

But, The illusion of power in those words is a lie.

The power, My power, My hope, My body, My relationships are held in the hands of something much greater than those words.

“I am teaching you how to be in a relationship someday”.

I am worthy of that relationship whatever it may be, whenever it may come, if it does come and only by the hand of God. And the only thing I am to be taught is Truth, and this is not it. That man will walk beside me, endure with me and all that in between.

“You’re not done yet”.

This one has been hard to wrap my head around since I was a young girl and I never should / could have known what it meant. And when I found out as I grew up, I was overcome with shame about it. But my choices are my own , shame has no place, and the woman I am today is now and will gradually be empowered to say so.

I’ve struggled as I step into the years of what seems to be everyone around me getting married and having children. This is something I long for more than ever right now but also something I’ve been terrified of for years. I grieve what it would have been like without this happening to me at such a young age, before I even knew what intimacy was and how deep rooted it is.

I know that without a doubt God is working through it for undeniable purpose and has already done incredible things with all of it.

I find hope and healing in the stories around me. Of Unconditional Love, and Endless Possibility.

This experience is so much more than the experience itself, the crime, the process or the literal trial I went through to some Justice. It is to be light, an example and so much more than that for the greater good of those I cross paths with who may feel hopeless. That even in the midst of it, there is always HOPE.

I’ve walked back into those woods that took so much more than once on my healing Journey. I literally laid things down and took them back. I sat in the exact place Where those words were said; Where those trees still stand.

My Heart is Changing, The Fear is Falling.

I’ve been moved to write this because of the stirring in my heart to JUST WRITE. I have so much on my heart. I’ve longed to write and reflect in more ways than I’ve been able to, because I’ve felt silenced in a way. It’s come up lately in some fruitful conversations with beautiful people, those who have also known similar pain; That even in the midst of struggle we CAN use our voice. We can speak, we can write, we can share and be with others even if we are in the middle of having to walk down a road again that we already feel we’ve healed from.. Or even if we feel like we don’t have it all figured out or wrapped up tightly in a nice box with a seamless bow.

…We can still be part of something greater.

I’ve learned that I can rise above by using my voice through writing what’s on my heart as much as I can to encourage someone out there. (Even at 1am, which I haven’t seen in this way since those years , but have actually a few times recently; so I chose to Write My Heart Out and will continue to). This is me Holding myself accountable.

So thankful for the encouragement and bold inspiration and courage of some incredible women running beside me on this race that spur me on to write these things out.

I’ve never identified with my womanhood until recently because I felt like my body never caught up. I’ve felt like that broken young girl for far too long. She’s still there but I surrender her everyday to the woman that I am and will be.

Final Thoughts~> The look in his (17) eyes held me (12) captive. He said things to me like “I’m showing you how to be in a relationship someday”. And “You’re not done yet”. His words stuck with me for years.

I found safety in the trees above while it was happening and healing and freedom in SO many ways now, 14 years later.

His words and His Eyes don’t own me anymore.

Whatever has defined you, won’t define you always. We are made to grow and thrive in the midst of every wave and on the edges of every shore even if we can’t see past the shoreline.

I am FREE to choose, to honor my God and My Body and to be every RADIANT part of me beyond my story…and you know what?… YOU are too. We are not alone. Never, Ever, Alone ✨