We are so honored to bring you our second guest blog. When I met Kinsey, it felt like our paths were absolutely meant to cross. After hearing some of my story & some of J's story, she immediately opened up and started sharing her story. We knew almost instantly that we were kindred spirits, as so many of us who share stories and experiences are. She has survived so much, but she didn't stop at survival. She has escaped a life of abuse and control, and she is now building a beautiful life for herself and her 3 children.
Yesterday's post on social media was Warrior Goddess day, and she, fittingly, was our Warrior Goddess. This woman has fought through literal hell, and she has such a moving, empowering story. We are proud to know her and to be a small part of her telling that story. With that, we turn it over to Kinsey. . .
As a single mom in my mid-twenties with three kids, I feel as though I have already lived an entire lifetime! But I now get a second chance at life to create an entirely new one with my kiddos.
I’ve always been quiet and reserved as a child, but when I was 5 years old I was sexually abused, and molested. It lasted for years, with more than one person and situation. I always kept it in and felt like I was carrying around a big secret, which made me feel different then everyone else. And I felt that it was always MY fault. I always felt like people could see right through me and were judging me, or that they WOULD judge me if they ever found out. But it impacted me, especially my confidence and self-esteem SO much, at such a young age.
When I started Kindergarten, I never said one word to my teacher. Not ONE SINGLE word! I would literally be frozen with fear any time she tried to talk to me. Later, I learned that I had Selective Mutism at the time, which is a form of anxiety, and at 5 years old, that was how I coped. I was already self-conscious of my body. I already felt unlovable and just "dirty".
Being sexually abused, no matter the age, is something that is completely life altering and hard to live with. Some of the feelings are so confusing, and there is always blame to be felt. I didn't understand it or know how to cope with it.
We ended up moving away when I was 8 years old, which was the best thing that could have happened. Things got better there! I was still self-conscious and had anxiety, but I felt like I could hide the secret a lot better. It was something I would think about every day, but it didn’t have as much power over me as it did before we moved.
When I was 14, the summer before starting 9th grade, I went to an EFY camp with some friends. And for the first time ever, I felt like I wanted to tell someone about the abuse, which ended up being my EFY counselor. I wrote up a note and slipped it under her door at night. By law, she had to report it. I was so scared! But they said it wouldn’t go anywhere unless I reported it.
But a week after I got home, a policeman showed up at my door. Immediately I felt my stomach drop and was beyond scared! I told him I didn’t want to do anything regarding that and the note I wrote, but since I was under the age of 18, he had to talk to my mom about it. I had never told her about it. She came in and we talked with him for a little, I ended up crying and running upstairs to my room. My secret was out and it was terrifying. Ultimately, since it had been too many years since the abuse/incidents had happened, nothing could really be done.
I felt a little bit better about things, but was still silently suffering, and hated myself for it! I was angry that I couldn't just get over it, but still felt like it was all my fault anyway.
During my 9th grade year is when a lot of things changed. I didn't know HOW to cope with all that I was feeling. I felt like the only thing I did have control over were the choices that I wanted to make, which ended up with me making some pretty bad choices!! I started drinking, which led to smoking weed, then doing more/other drugs in high school.
I would go to parties every weekend and come home under the influence so often. When I did want to stay out longer, I would lie and say I was sleeping over at a friend’s, but we would end up sleeping IN MY CAR, parked in some random place, even in the dead of winter! I was in a lot of bad situations and taken advantage of, mostly just small incidences, but there were other times that were not. I believed that it was all MY fault anyway, for putting myself in situations.
I felt so ashamed of myself during those years. I would always tell myself that I must have been the problem, since abuse related things had happened over and over again throughout my life. I started to really hate myself and my body. I felt unlovable, overweight and ugly. I just felt like I was the problem.
Now, looking back, I realize that I was getting into a spiral of depression, and some serious negative body issues that were affecting my daily life and all the self-hatred that I had for myself. I didn't know how to handle the pain and emotions that I was feeling, so I did turn to alcohol, weed, cutting, pushing people away, because that was how I ended up coping with it all. I didn't feel like I could turn to anyone, or even know WHERE to turn to get some help, or how or what to ask for. I always knew that I wanted help and mostly just wanted to be free of all of things I was dealing with.
Then, when I was 15, I met my ex-husband. He was 18 and about to graduate high school. This was during the time that I was spiraling downhill. He had a girlfriend when we first met, and I had no interest in him, but he kept pursuing me. He didn't give up until he got what he wanted then ended up sticking around- under his terms. I told him I was "broken" from the start, and, since he kept coming back for me, I felt a little less unlovable.
It was ALWAYS so rocky throughout our relationship of dating but not dating. He definitely had my naive little heart under his control, though. The good times kept me close, but there were so many bad memories. And yet, I kept going back. I knew that he was just using me, that our relationship didn't seem quite "right". And my friends knew it – they’d tell me not to go back to him time and time again. It was a vicious cycle.
I did start to date around my senior year in high school, but I was never able to get serious with anyone because he was always in the back of my mind. And he was always reminding me that I was "broken," so no one would really want me. I felt like I wouldn't know what to do without his tight grip on my life. By then, I had been seeing him for a couple years, and I would literally have anxiety attacks when I would think about life without him. I had been told time and time again that I "needed" him. I needed him to "save" me. That HE would be the only one who could love me. And all that did was isolate me.
I was about to graduate high school, and change has always been something that I have had such a hard time with. Whether it be GOOD change or bad, the unknown of life felt terrifying. We were really on and off during the next 6 months after I graduated, and I even had other plans to move away with some friends, to start fresh. But for some reason, I ended up going back to him.
When I saw him after one of our longer breaks, it was right before Christmas, and he seemed really mad at me. I had no idea what about. It would make me physically sick when he was mad or upset with me. I always felt like I NEEDED to fix it and make things better. I. had. to. I would bring him little surprises, or leave him little notes on his car, throughout our "relationship". This time I had gone over to make things right, which ended up with me having to prove to him that I meant it...
Which then led to me getting pregnant at 18, scared out of my mind. After quite a few weeks, I ended up telling him. I apologized over and over, like it was my fault. Because, wasn't it? He didn't even look at me but asked where the closest place to get abortions was. I left, not even considering an abortion, but I told him he had an out. He could leave, and I wouldn't hold him accountable for anything. He ended up changing his mind and reluctantly said he wouldn't leave.
We thought that since we were going to have a baby, we should get married. We both wanted to hide the pregnancy from our families until after the wedding, which meant that we needed to get engaged SOON and married SOON after. We got engaged in March 2011 and planned to be married in May 2011. A few weeks after we were engaged, I ended up having a miscarriage in the middle of the night. I woke up to intense pain, then blood, and I was terrified. I called, but he didn't answer. So I called one of my other close friends who came and got me and took me in. I was miscarrying at 16 weeks along.
We both talked about calling the wedding off, but when it came down to it, we were both too embarrassed and scared to. So, we went with it and reluctantly got married. I continued to always feel like I had to do and say the right things to prevent him from getting upset, which he often was.
In my journal at the time, I wrote, begging God to just let me die. Only 2 months after being married. I wrote how I didn't feel good enough for him, and that "he deserved someone better.” He was mad at me a lot, and I thought it had to have been all my fault, that I wasn't "good enough".
It was always such an emotional roller-coaster, with me being the one to blame a lot of the time, and always seeming to do the "wrong" things. Saying the "wrong" things. Acting the "wrong" way. Watching the "wrong" shows. Listening to the "wrong" music. BUYING THE "WRONG" DISH SOAP! He made me believe that I was always wrong. I was an unlovable, broken, person who couldn't do anything right.
I wasn't allowed to have any say about anything in MY own life. I was controlled down to every single aspect in my life, told what I could/couldn't do, say, have, wear, who I could see. I was isolated to the point where I didn't even feel comfortable to go to my family or the 2 friends I was able to keep, despite his efforts of trying to get them out of my life.
I was in a very controlling, manipulative, mentally abusive, emotionally abusive, and financially abusive (yes - it's a thing) marriage. The mind games, gas lighting, silent treatments, crude ways of making me feel less than human, it all took its toll. I was to the point where I was basically just a shell of a human, trying to just survive and be a decent mom to my babies.
I didn't even know how bad it truly was until I started going to therapy after I had my 2nd baby. It took me these last 4 and a half years to be able to find my voice and finally speak up. Getting out of an abusive relationship is SO SO SO hard. I am still dealing with his actions and still am not 100% out of the mindset of what's normal or not. I'm confused, I'm heartbroken, but I can breathe now. I CAN FINALLY BREATHE!
My mental health was SOO bad during all of those years. I felt trapped in a life that I hated. In a body that I hated. And to me I felt like there was no way out. Especially after I had my 2nd and was slammed with severe postpartum depression. I didn't know HOW to cope and resorted to some of the old ways that I had in the past, which made me feel even worse, since I was a mom now. I felt like I was the worst mom in the world. Even though I really did love my kids, I still felt like they DESERVED a better mom. A mom who wasn't broken. Which is the main reason that I attempted to commit suicide. The daily darkness was just too much. Until I finally got the help that I needed.
After getting out of the hospital from my suicide attempt, I was only shown hatred. He gave me the silent treatment for a good 2 weeks, JUST because he was mad that I wasn't a better person. But during that time was when I needed him/someone the very most. Instead, I quickly learned that I had to go through everything alone, and to just do the best I could.
I was diagnosed with PTSD, resulting from the abuse as a child, along with severe anxiety disorders and Bipolar 2, while in the hospital. Bipolar 2 is SO different than Bipolar 1, FYI. People are often misinformed. I have manic/depressive disorder, which is Bipolar 2 - no extreme or psychotic behaviors, like those who have Bipolar 1 have to suffer. I cycle through periods of hypomania and depression and will forever.
I am on medication that is a godsend and I COULD NOT do life without it! But life is hard managing these disorders. And I do the best I can (like 89% of the time – let’s get real. Haha!), but life is a challenge. When I am in a high, or good place, I am able to do so much. I get done what I need/want to, have so much more energy – I’m happier, more talkative, and able to handle so much more. But what goes up must come down. And for me, I know that this good phase won't/doesn't last forever. I come down, sometimes slowly, sometimes crashing, unexpectedly, into a depressive state, or deeper depression.
My cycles when I was married looked 9 thousand times differently than they do today. It's like a complete night and day difference. My lows are not NEAR as low as they would get before. And I know that it is because I am in a much better place now. Yes, I still go through my lows, sometimes more often than not. But I never get as low as before. And I am SO grateful. It just goes to show that negativity and abusive situations have so much effect on your whole well-being.
Now that I have gained my voice back and started standing up for myself, and ultimately MY KIDS, I feel empowered. I know that it is SO hard to get out of, and away from, toxicity and abusers. But SO worth it. So so worth it.
I am still so scared about the future and what it will hold, especially these next few years, but I know for a fact that things will get better, and that I am improving every. single. day. I realize that my negative living situation had a very negative impact on my mental health. I might not have been so bad off if I were in a different situation, but it is what it is. As soon as he did move out, I felt so much lighter. So much more peace in my heart and in the home. My kids and I were free to be ourselves!
The fear I felt daily was overwhelming. I was always walking on eggshells, making sure I did and said the right things, and having little panic attacks every time I heard his footsteps coming. I ultimately got out of the marriage for my kids, and, for them, I am forever grateful! Because they deserve the best and I am now realizing that it is up to me to give them the best that I can of me! I am clean. I am happy. And I have seen so much light and goodness in this world, and I can only hope to help other people get to a place where they can feel and see it, too!
I have learned that A LOT of women hide in the misery for years because they feel ashamed. Embarrassed. Like no one will believe you or think you are making it all up. Or terrified of even the THOUGHT of leaving. Of what might happen. But I honestly believe that there can be a way. There are good people out there who want to help and, along with all things related, I want to stand up for all these women! Be a positive outcome of a very negative living.
I made an Instagram account, @kinsplus3, for the sole purpose of sharing my story, in hopes that it will help others. I want to create a safe place for others to not feel so alone in all the crazy things life throws at us. I have a voice and I want to use it!
Struggling with mental health issues is a hard thing. It's hard to truly understand what people are fighting in their own heads. The battle was IN me, invisible to the outside world. Making those that struggle feel like they HAVE to put a mask on for everyone. End the stigma! Your mental health illness, or what you've been through, are NOT what define you.
I now am on a road to recovery, mentally and emotionally, and it feels so wonderful. I still have a long way to go. But even if the progress is slow, I would much rather keep moving forward then stay in one place. I no longer refer to myself as "broken," or let my past define me. Because we ALL have a story, and we all are a little broken in our own way. And every. single. person. has an important story of their own. I have witnessed so many miracles, within the last year, that I probably would have missed if I were not in the place, mentally and emotionally, that I am now.
My past is NOT who I am now. But it has had a big impact on me – it has shaped me into who I am today. I am now learning to fly free, with my 3 babes, and navigate our way through this beautiful, crazy life!
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