As I sit down to write this post, I'm aware this is the second tough post in a row.
Two vulnerable, hard posts.
My heart is open wide.
My healing is raw, painful and real.
When I realized I was raped at the end of last year, and realized I suppressed that information for six whole years, I was a mess.
One of the thoughts in my head when I was processing the pain of PTSD and remembering things so vividly from my past was, "I'm getting a tattoo to represent this!" I know...priorities, right?!
And here we are. Eight weeks of therapy completed and I'm overcoming my mountains. These mountains I drew myself, to represent everything I'm climbing to get to where I am and where I will be. It's a daily reminder of not only the pain and the fear that consumed my past, but of the strength and determination that has shown its face through the climb. It's not a tattoo to show off my artistic ability or to say "hey look at this tattoo!"...if anything, I hope it becomes a part of my life that provokes a conversation (probably like this self portrait will—since it definitely is different than my usual photos) and like what I said before when I set out on sharing my story of rape, I hope it can help someone else, even just in a small way. That's what this is all about, sharing my story to help you grow through yours.
Whenever I see this tattoo on my arm, I feel proud. Proud of who I am now, and proud of my story, no matter how dark and twisty.
This season I'm going through has taken a lot out of me. It's been painful to be in, but it's also been rewarding. I've seen my own strength, my own growth, my own mindset shift. I've learned so much about myself, my past and why I am the way I am today.
I've been reintroduced to me.
This isn't just a journey of climbing mountains, this is a journey to find myself. To believe in myself, to stand up for myself, and to stop lying to myself and everyone else. This is also a journey to find God again, and to love like Jesus.
I've let a few of you into my heart, I've let you know where I stand and what I'm going through. I've disclosed hard things. I've been honest for the first time in my life. I've been vulnerable. I've sobbed. I've broken down. I've felt lost.
Some of you have heard things and walked away, and some of you have heard things and came running toward me. Some of you have said harsh things and let me know how you feel. Some of you have said you want to change me. Some of you have surrounded me with love and truth and grace. Some of you will stand by me no matter what, and some of you I'll never hear from again.
What I've come to realize is I'm just me. And what I go through are MY mountains. They aren't yours. They aren't anyone else's but mine. Yes, you can walk beside me, you can take my hand and journey with me, but this is still ultimately my climb, and I'm responsible for my actions. I am just me.
I'm sorry to those of you whom I've disappointed, whom I've failed.... I've realized though, that in living for other people, I've disappointed myself. I've failed myself.
This will be harsh, but how come so many people think they know how to live my life better than I do? How come so many people tell me how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking and if I care or not, or what is natural or what I should be? I'm not pointing at anyone specifically...I'm just saying there are a lot of broken people telling me how to be whole.
I'm not yours to mold, or change. I've been a people pleaser my entire life and it's become so toxic in my mind that I've gone numb. What part of me has decided that what people think of me defines my worth? Apparently a big part of me because I've felt pretty worthless.
Have you ever felt that? Worthless?
As I climb what is set before me, I've had to remind myself that I'm not what I feel. I'm not the rape that happened to me. I'm not the domestic violence that has happened to me. I'm not the oppression that continues to flow into my life daily. I'm not the bad choices I've made, or even the good ones. I'm not defined by what I've been through or what I have yet to endure.
I'm still trying to find my way, I'm still trying to figure things out. I'm still holding on tightly to God as my strength. I'm still climbing MY mountains. I'm still trying to use my story to shape my future and help others with theirs.
If this is coming across as a selfish post, there is no way around that. In fact, I've been told I'm being selfish and that I don't care about anyone but me. So maybe I am. Maybe for the first time I've stood up for ME, I've stopped defining my worth with other's acceptance, I've decided I need to stop letting people use me, and I've decided I need to let go of doing everything everyone else wants for my life, because I'm not a cookie cutter Monica...I'm Monica.
I'm still the same Monica I was before, I'm just no longer defined by my past or what someone says I should be.
I'm climbing my mountains. I'm doing the hard work. I'm overcoming grief and pain and PTSD and things I hope someday I'll be able to unsee and un-feel. I'm doing this for myself, for my future, for my kids, for my sanity...and most of all for healing, because I can't pour from a cup that's broken.
I'm here to remind you (if you've gotten this far, thank you) that you are YOU. Let go of what people think. Be honest. Be real. Be vulnerable. Show the world who YOU are, not who they think you should be or whom they want you to be. Like I always say, you do you.
Climb your mountains and don't lose your footing. But, if you do, get back up and keep going. Just don't look back until you've got to the top.
Then, just then, look back at how far you've come, look at how high you've climbed, look at that view! Don't get stuck in the reasons that got you to the bottom of a mountain in the first place. Show those mountains how strong you are.
Show those mountains how big God is.
See you at the top xxxx