I had the most amazing opportunity when I was invited back to The Younique Foundation to share my story. The invitation to tell my story was literally something I prayed for after leaving the retreat last year. My goal is to continue on my healing journey, living life with Purpose, THRIVING and an Advocate for all Survivors.
I know I can fill in the small gaps by using my Voice and I hope to inspire others along the way. You are NOT alone 💜💜💜
I started writing this specific post about a year ago. It’s taken me this long to write, re-write, delete, cry, find the courage and finally publish it. Even if it’s baby steps I will continue to share every incident that happened to me. Why? Because how can I encourage others to speak up, come forward and be brave, If I can’t do it myself. I want to walk in my own journey, it’s very important to me!
Disclaimer: I recently in the last year or so reconnected with some family members (YAY! so happy and Blessed for that happening) and I struggled to share the “name” of my uncle. However, I have 5 uncles and I don’t want anyone accusing the wrong person. The uncle that did this was Robert Renteria!
(Me and my two sisters) We have only a handful of pictures of us as kids. This is one of them, blurry but still a photo I cherish.
It started with him paying a lot of attention to me, telling me I was his “girl”, giving me beer (yes beer!) in my bottle when I was an infant. I had a very close relationship with him and he was my “favorite” uncle. I wasn’t old enough to know what he was doing was grossly wrong/sexual abuse/molestation. I’ve struggled with the emotions that I genuinely loved my uncle and how I could love someone who did this to me.
The incident that happened to me when I was 17 years old has been one of the most difficult to open up about. I believe part of it was feeling ashamed and I never wanted to upset my grandmother. I remember moving out and getting my own apartment at the age of 17, going to school to finish my Senior year and having a part-time job. Things seems to be heading in the right direction and I was pretty proud of myself. After living in my first apartment for about a month, I heard a knock on my door. I run to the door thinking it’s a friend stopping by. I open the door and there stood my grandmother, who I had not seen for eight years. The last time I saw her I had been placed in foster care at the age of 10. I remember her trying to get custody of me and my two sisters. We would go and visit her on the weekends. I remember going to a few Court hearings and expressing that I wanted to live with my grandmother. I loved her very much and I remember her always trying to protect us from her own daughter (my biological mother). However, on a scheduled weekend visit no one could find my grandmother. It’s like she had vanished and we didn’t know what was going on with her. After months of not being able to track her down there was nothing we could do. So my sisters and I remained in foster care for the next 7 years.
Fast forward to the age of 17 and that knock on my door. There stood my grandmother! I was beyond happy to see her because I had missed her for so long. Standing next to her was my uncle who was my molester. I never wanted to disappoint my grandmother or upset her. So I did not say anything to her and I just pretended like everything was alright. I invited my grandma and uncle in to catch up. My grandmother explained they had nowhere to go and they were here to stay. This was very typical of the way my family lived. They would literally pack up at the drop of a dime and venture off to wherever with no real plan. I remember telling my grandma she could stay with me since I had an extra bedroom. At the age of 17, I didn’t know what else to do and I was also conflicted with wanting to be with my grandmother. I ignored the fact that I also invited my molester/uncle to stay. This same night my uncle came into my room and molested me again. It’s still difficult to think about and talk about what happened that night. For so many years I blamed myself. I felt like I had to grow up pretty fast when I chose to move out at the age of 17. So I held myself accountable and felt like I should of been mature enough to make adult decisions. I looked at myself as an adult and I repeatedly asked myself why didn’t I say no?
The truth is even though I had my own apartment. I was still a young kid trying to grow up into an adult world quickly. I have to remind myself of this because I can easily fall back into the bad habit of blaming myself. I will fight hard to never fall into old patterns again.
I have never publicly shared this and I have only told 1 person because of the shame I felt. There are incidents I remember and some my brain has blocked out due to the trauma. As hard as this may be to write or for YOU to read, please don’t feel sad. I want you to know that I am Surviving and Thriving!
I was emotionally broken for the past 3 months. It was so debilitating and I felt like I had no control or will power. I didn’t go anywhere and I wouldn’t step foot anywhere in public. I laid in my bed as minute after minute, hour after hour and day after day went by. I didn’t understand how I could be so unhappy (I just got married in October) one minute and completely knocked down the next minute. I was really beating myself up about this mentally. I would say things like “why are you unhappy, you just got married”, “Petra, you make no sense at all!”, “Stop it!”, “You have no reason not to be happy”, “You’re ruining a good thing”, “Here we go again” and the list can really go on and on. The truth is I still don’t really know what caused it. It hit me like a freight train and I did not see any signs coming. I share this because it’s a reality for people who struggle with depression, anxiety and/or PTSD. I’ve had my normal ups and downs throughout my life but nothing this severe. I believed in my head it was going to get better and I would snap out of it. I would have one good day or a few good hours and I thought to myself, “okay it’s over” but then the next day I was right back to feeling very low. Little by little I started posting in the support groups that I am a member of seeking advice and encouraging words. It definitely helped in those moments of feeling hopeless.
After some time, I just knew I needed more then just a few encouraging words and I needed more help than I realized. I found a counselor who was able to see me within a week of calling her. I began going to counseling on a weekly basis. Then I decided to try and push myself a little more. I began to do some research to try and find a support group to go to in person. I found a nonprofit organization and made an appointment. Unfortunately, the support group they have is currently closed for new members. However, the coordinator that I spoke to was very accommodating and invited me to come in weekly and she was willing to sit and talk to me one on one. They are not licensed counselors however, she is a Survivor herself and I felt like we would relate on a personal level. I don’t want to ramble on for to long but my point is, someone does care! It might be a complete stranger but maybe that person has great empathy or understands your pain. You won’t know if you don’t reach out for help, so PLEASE reach out for help! Don’t be ashamed to say I NEED SOMEONE!
From that ONE experience, I was informed by the lady I see for my one on one sessions, about of an upcoming event called No More Secrets. I got to meet Erin Merryn (the writer and activist who advocates to prevent child sexual abuse) from Erin’s Law. Then from there it was a trickle down effect. I found a dance class (a Twerking dance class LOL who doesn’t want to have some fun, right?) to put some “fun” back into my life. I also stepped foot into a local church this past Sunday and it felt SO good! I am going to be attending their Relationships service this coming Thursday. I even found another event happening next month called “Start By Believing Rally” for Sexual Assault Awareness month which I am attending. I am going to make it a goal of mine to stay committed to staying busy and doing things I love and that I am passionate about. I’ve come to realize it is extremely important for me to have something to look forward. And for me that is being part of my community and my Mission to empower others. I pray for anyone who is reading this and wish you ALL many Blessings!
P.S. – I apologize I have not updated my blog in some time. I can now get back into writing and hope to empower others through my honesty. As I said before and I continue to reiterate. I am STILL in my journey of healing and I may always be on this path. I’m okay with that because it only makes me Stronger and My VOICE will be Louder!
Learning what your fears are. You don’t always know what you fear and fear is not always noticeable. When you picture a person whose fearful, you think of a person verbally or physically acting out. However, fear that’s deep down inside of us; buried for a long time is not always recognizable. Why? Because we have gotten really good at masking our pain and fears, even from ourselves. Who would of thought that, right? My suggestion comes from my own self awareness that I am challenging myself with right at this moment as I am typing this post. One way is paying attention to your emotions and anxiety. Those are two big triggers… Okay, maybe that’s two things to pay attention to.
When your emotions get the best of you, boy do they really get the best of you. Especially if you’re a woman, because we generally experience higher levels of emotional stimulation than men. Fear can come out in emotional outbursts, racing heartbeat, needing to escape, feeling detached, feeling powerless, attitude, feeling overwhelmed, anxiety or panic attacks. Start by truly Loving yourself and pay attention to your body for the signs of havoc in your life. For example, feeling the need to escape is easy to ignore because it may be part of your “everyday” life now. You’ve become so use to burying those feeling alive. If, however, the subject of fear is vague and there is no clear escape, then a common alternative response is to deny the fear, pretending that it does not exist. You know I’m going to say this out of love. This is not a way to live, it’s not healthy for your soul and not fare to yourself either. I know you will benefit from these 3 small tips.
Understanding your triggers. Did you know that fear is related to anger? Fear can also morph into anger when the fight-or-flight reaction goes down. I seriously did not know that and it all makes sense now. Being on this path of healing, I am learning a lot daily. It’s important for me to share my “light bulb” moments because it’s not every day that I get to speak and share with others who can relate. I believe sharing is caring and I do truly care! A few common triggers for myself is being understood, order, respect, invading my comfort zone, consistency and being in control. I also compiled a list of some other common triggers which I hope will help you identify some of your triggers.
List of common triggers:
Be Treated Fairly
Start seeing fear as an opportunity. Fear can be used as a tool to help us identify problems and solve them effectively. It’s a guidepost, a red flag that warns us when something needs attention. Once the discomfort of the initial wave of fear passes, examine it more closely to see what you can learn. Maybe you fear failure, change, or something else that’s more difficult to pin down. Reflect on your fears and notice how much they affect your life. No matter what it is that scares you, learn how to acknowledge, confront, and take ownership of your fear so that nothing can hold you back in life. Realize that fear can be good, and acknowledge the positive and protective role it has. Courage can’t come into play unless you have a fear to face down. By owning your feelings you’ve taken the first step toward gaining control over the situation.
The Ugly, The Bad, The Good; becoming Greater!
It’s been some time since I updated my blog and I sincerely apologize to anyone who visits. I have had some ups and downs since my last post. At the beginning of this journey, I was adamant to share my story and I still am. However, I have realized I need to pace myself because part of my PTSD can easily be triggered with remembering past events. I do know how important it is to “talk about it” so I’m not going to allow my PTSD to get in the way of my goal. I will continue to share my story, the struggles and everything I conquer!
I never realized that a person struggling with PTSD can also struggle with commitment issues. When you think of PTSD the main things that come to mind are; nightmares, anxiety, irritable, flashbacks, hard time sleeping to name a few. Right? I’m bringing this up for a reason, I’ll explain toward the end.
PTSD involves many symptoms that can and does interfere with relationships. I can say this to be 100% accurate because I live it daily. The main issues I have emotionally battled with myself are; emotional closeness, communication and responsible assertiveness. Whenever a conflict arises I respond to it from a sense of responsibility and my need for control. When this happens your significant other may feel controlled as a result. I am currently working on this because to be part of a relationship you need to focus on what you can do for each other. You know what this action does in return? You start to feel like your doing something productive and you feel joyful. It’s always… always the little things that can truly bring you joy. I recommend that you find ways to bring happiness and joy into your life. PTSD is going to keep sneaking back around. So when you set yourself up with goals of achieving things that make you happy. I know that it will help you on those dark dreaded days.
I am so extremely happy to announce I am getting married next month! Why am I sharing this news? Well it pertains to PTSD and my journey. This is where I explain my point about commitment issues. I have been engaged for almost 3 years. I am now able to truly understand why I was never in a “rush” to get married. It all boils down to “giving up control” If you have PTSD, you may not be aware of how your thoughts and beliefs have been affected by trauma. For instance, since the trauma you may feel a greater need to control your surroundings. That’s exactly what I have been doing with my relationship subconsciously. I am absolutely happy that I took this time to figure this out for myself. I wanted to be in a better head space and begin a path of healing. I can honestly say that this “healthy path” I am on has been worth everything that I have gone through. I feel like a better person and my heart is happy. When my heart is happy my emotions begin to match. Please watch my video “PTSD emotions not matching my brain” so you’ll understand the importance of being alert about your emotions.