So, rather than begin this article at the end of this journey, I will begin 6 years ago when the world began to know my name. That was the era of Battling BARE—the birth of this conversation that was pigeon-holed by the media, and my newness to a global platform, into being about PTSD.
Seen publicly was a strong woman willing to do anything to save her husband and her marriage, while my private, internal reality was vastly different.
I hated myself.
I was a volcano of anger, hurt and pain ready to erupt from all the past trauma bottled up inside.
Pain, hurt and anger were kept hidden because that is what “good girls” do, but I was also so very afraid that if I addressed even the slightest bit of it that every carefully contained anger, hurt and pain, everything would unwrap itself... swallowing me whole in a way where I would never recover.
I was afraid on a very deep level that I would die—not from the memories of trauma themselves, but that the pain would be too much to bear. That I would become lost in addiction or die by suicide.
I used “having to be there” for my children—who had already lost a father to double homicide—as my excuse for avoiding this pain. “Being there” for my children was an utter lie because during that time of my life, I was so closed off and emotionally unavailable that “being there” for my children meant only for the superficial, surface-level stuff.
When Battling BARE began to go viral, I threw myself into it. Please understand that I had little to no internal self-worth.
So, this external acknowledgment was extremely validating for me. Even in the crafting of the picture and the pledge, I heard this small voice inside of me crying out—wanting to heal myself, but I rationalized that if I could just FIX him (my now ex-husband) and help other women “fix” their husbands in the process, somehow —the fixing of other broken people and broken relationships—would compensate for my own brokenness. It was a way of paying penance on top of the belief that I didn't deserve to be “fixed” myself.
Along the way of trying to “fix” my then husband--and show up to the world as an “inspiring leader”--I felt like an enormous fraud.
My internal and external worlds were not aligned at all—in fact, they acted as same poles of magnets…pushing each other apart.
I constantly felt at war with myself while trying to hold myself together.
After awhile everything began to systematically collapse right down to my adrenal system completely burning out in 2014.
That was my rock bottom.
I spent nearly a year exhausted. When I say exhausted, I mean waiting to get up and walk to the bathroom to pee until I absolutely couldn’t hold it anymore because getting up to use the restroom meant using energy that I did not have.
I felt mentally wiped out, physically weak and emotionally swinging back and forth from anger at my lack of energy to a deep and profound sadness.
My then husband was incredibly frustrated with me. He believed I was merely being lazy. My children were desperate for my attention while also worried about me because I was in bed sleeping around 20 hours out of the day.
I rarely cooked during that time. So, my entire family lived on highly-processed food from the freezer section of the grocery store. Laundry was never caught up. The house was in constant disarray, and I walked away from friendships and any commitment I’d made because I just didn’t have the energy.
Some might call this depressed. I wouldn’t because it wasn’t that I didn’t have the interest or the “want to” to get things caught up. It was that I literally didn’t have the energy or the strength.
Lifting a 20-pound bag of cat food was a struggle, and that was very odd for me. I even went over a week without taking a shower because showers were exhausting. This experience was like having mono, but mono on steroids.
So, I lay in bed when I was awake reading romance novels about relationships I wished I had or playing candy crush or scrolling through social media wondering what the hell was wrong with me that I couldn’t get myself together like my girlfriends.
Doctors told me I was depressed. Specialists told me everything was in my head