I’ve been designing and making clothes since I was a little girl. It started with my Barbies and then turned into me staying up late in high school to design a dress to wear the next day. My passion has grown and I still continue to LOVE it when I take the time to design and create a new piece. THIS one has my heart in it, for sure. Jennifer Paganelli (whom I adore) of Sisboom Fabrics sent me yards and yards of one of her designs. I knew I couldn’t use it on just any dress. Now I just need a festival to go to.
Photography by Bill Welch
Photography by Bill Welch
Photography by Bill Welch
The top I crocheted from my mind, as I went it took shape. Then I constructed the skirt and added it on. Who knows, I may yet add more to it. What do you think of it?
*THE NATURE OF THIS ARTICLE IS INTENSE. IT MAY CAUSE TRIGGERS FOR THOSE LIVING WITH PTSD ASSOCIATED WITH SEXUAL AND RITUALISTIC ABUSE. PROCEED WITH CAUTION*
There was a time in my life when even I could not experience my story at its full horror. Early winter of 2015 I began writing my book, about being a childhood, sexual, abuse, survivor. I told a couple of my confidants that I could feel that I was opening Pandora’s box. Anyone who has experienced trauma and especially early childhood, sexual trauma, rape and torture will fully identify with feeling as though your brain is not and has never been your own. I am still in the process of writing my story. It is important. It is important for all of us to come out of the shadows and refuse to keep the secrets that have all but destroyed us. It is important because as I go through intensive therapy through my flashbacks. It is the hardest thing that I have ever faced. I have a new hope that others need to hear. I use to believe that faith alone would heal. I no longer believe that. My healing is coming rapidly and with great effort on my part and those closest to me.
It gives me hope to see more and more in the media that is bringing attention to human sex trafficking, pedophilia and ritual abuse of children and young adults. It is all horrible. It is all beyond evil. There are no explanations for the levels of human depravity that I alone have experienced. When I think about the countless others who have lived these vile torments and others going through it now, helpless and hopeless…I am more and more driven to heal and to become a voice for those who believe they are voiceless. I AM ANGRY! I WILL NOT BE SILENT! I URGE YOU TO NOT BE SILENT!
From the age of 6-9 months old until I was 15 years old I was my paternal grandfather’s object. At his hands and those of many other males and females I was raped, tied and forced to do unthinkable things. I witnessed unspeakable things. I was punished severely the one time I tried to keep my parents from a trip that would leave me in his care…before I turned 6 years old I experienced ritualistic, cult, gang rape, electrocution, animal sacrifices and still more that I have not completely faced. I was sold in a hotel room in broad daylight. I was a blonde, blue-eyed, middle class little girl in a seemingly privileged, well-to-do American family. The face of sexual abuse and trafficking is every human face. It is my face.
In February I let my wonderful Facebook fans know that I was facing the hardest trial of my life and that is what I have been doing. The mental and emotional exhaustion are overwhelming. The physical pain has been more intense than I experienced in unmedicated, natural, child birth. There have been many times as I have relived the flashbacks that I feared the pain, the memories and the utter anger and sadness would be the end of me. But, I refuse. I refuse everyday to give another ounce of my life to those monsters. I refuse to give up. I refuse to not be happy. I REFUSE TO KEEP THEIR SECRETS! I REFUSE TO BE SILENT!!!!
I AM HEALING! I WILL use my story, my voice and my platform to cheer aloud to the others, still in the shadows, that IT IS TIME TO BE FREE!!! I WILL! I WILL be a part of the movement that demands that we STOP THE SILENCE! I AM MORE THAN A SURVIVOR!!!!
I am taking back my life and sanity.
I have a lot of laughter, hope and help to share….and I am just getting started!
Matching “Let it Go” tattoos
Men. I love REAL men. No, I am not about to give you an archaic definition of what a “real” man is (although I do think it is kind of sexy when a guy grunts….but, whatever) (oh…and beards….). What I mean by REAL is REAL…like, as a human. A man who KNOWS himself and says, “Hey….take me or leave me…if you do not like who I am or what I stand for that is okay and if you feel a need to disrespect me you can fart off now, savvy?”.
I will say I have met a couple of real men in my lifetime. Men, who, for NO ONES SAKE, wear a societal mask or its restrictions on them and whom they choose to be. I use to think this meant the rough and tumbly tattooed bikers, only. But, honestly, not all of them are real or being true to themselves by default. You can look anyway and attach to any group of people and still very easily be living a lie internally. You may be scratching your head now, “well, how do you KNOW a real man when you see one?” I am glad that you asked, because it has taken me long time to figure it out.
1)He is confident.
I am not talking about being an egotistical, toddler in disguise. I am talking about a deep, internal, confidence. He fears no opinion, or subject matter. He dresses HIS way, not bowing to materialistic crutches of labels and visual, wealth status. He carries himself with confidence because he knows who he is and he is at peace with himself…he radiates that peace back to others through respect and honesty on every front.
2)He is kind.
Regardless of his height, weight or physical strength, social standing and financial status, he treats everyone with kindness. Even when someone or something needs to be confronted, he is not cruel or malicious…EVER. He will never intentionally hurt you or anyone.
3)He is emotionally stable.
He does not need you. I know, it sounds harsh, but he does not NEED YOU. If you are in a relationship with such a man, it is easy and effortless because he is not hanging upon you for his emotional needs to be met. Will you meet some emotional needs? Of course, in a good relationship, you will both meet emotional needs in each other. The difference in a real man is that he is not DEPENDENT on you for his happiness and peace in life, he had that before you and now you only add to it and make it richer (if you are a REAL person also…wink, wink).
4)His presence brings you peace.
His presence brings you internal exhaling because he asks nothing of you, but that you also be at peace and be happy and whole. He wants ALL of you. He wants you to be all of who you are without fear of judgement or abandonment. A real man will add more and more and more to your life everyday, because he is all about making sure that you are at ease and he will begin to take care of things without you asking, to make your life less stressful, because that is part of his happiness, to see those that he loves not worrying and at peace.
5)He will never leave you guessing about where you stand with him.
I say it over and over because I have been there more than once, “If you do not know where you stand with a man in a romantic situation, then it is time to move on.” A confident man will, straight out of the gate, tell you, knowing there is a risk of rejection, that he wants you and only you and unless you tell him to go away he will be all in, with you and only you.
6) He will not quit when things are hard.
Not only will he not quit when trials arise, he will rise as the leader each and every time. EVERY time. He will assure you, “Everything is going to be okay, I am not going anywhere, we will get through this, together.” Period.
7)He will not let anyone disrespect you.
Pity the fool that disrespects this man’s lady. He is not looking for fights, but, he is always alert and aware of your surroundings. His protective instincts (not control or jealousy) are to keep you safe at every turn. He doesn’t need violence to set a fool straight, but, if the need ever arose, you better believe he would defend those he loves, without hesitation.
8) He is vulnerable.
The strong, real man, that lets you into his heart, when he gives you his heart, he is trusting you at the deepest level he is capable of. With all that he does and gives and how he cherishes you, once he feels safe, you will see the soft, sweet, gentle vulnerability in his eyes that craves your gentleness, your tenderness, your appreciation and above all, your respect of who he is.
In my own life things began to change for me internally when I allowed my self to be loved by a real man. When I saw that he wasn’t giving up on a scarred and damaged heart and soul. I began to see him pouring his time and energy into a woman (me) who was giving him no promises or hopes for tomorrow, but he saw through my pain and my demons and decided I was worth the fight. It is not for the faint-hearted to love a woman who has been severely abused. It is a calling. Ladies, there are good, strong, loving, real man in the world….YOU are the only one who can decide that that is what you deserve and choose to accept him when he is standing right in front of you.
It’s a long, hard, beautiful, sad, chaotic, peaceful journey…and it so much better with a REAL human by your side. Become real and that is what you will attract.
It still amazes me when people look at me with pity, when they hear that I have all of you…and that your dad and I are divorced…that I am single mom raising you 80% of the time. It amazes me because if they knew you guys at all…they would want to be me. I know as you grow older that more and more of our lives together will come into focus and make more sense to you…but, on the off chance that somethings are still blurry, and in case I never get to tell you…you all have saved my life. I know that statement is hard for some people to handle, but, I want you to fully understand what I mean. The happiest moments of my life, all come from moments being your mother. I have battled deep depression, severe to paralyzing anxiety and time and time again…knowing that you need me and that you need me to be strong is what has pushed me to fight to be happier, stronger and more successful. I never knew what unconditional love was until I experienced forgiveness from each of you, for various reasons. You will find out a great secret when you have your own children…and that secret is that all parents are scared to death…none of us really know what we are doing. I mean we are perfect parents….until you actually get here. We look around and compare notes with what everyone else is doing and find ourselves constantly falling short of what you, as our children, deserve. I thought you would be born with some type of magical fairy dust…but, you were born with so much more. You came here, flesh from my flesh and bone from my bone…you didn’t ask to be brought to life, but there you were, each and everyone of you…fully formed and needing me the second that you took your first breath. There is no way to prepare for that moment. If I never do anything else in my lifetime…there are 5 incredible humans on this planet that spread joy and laughter and acceptance everywhere that you go. But, seriously, less of the bickering at home would be awesome…seriously guys…a little more cleaning would also be fabulous.So many times I have questioned, “Why me?”, there are way more deserving people in the world, likely better parents than me, that could give you a better life, but, you came to me…I get to be your mom. I know I mess up a lot, I forget a lot, I zone out a lot and maybe you feel like I am not as in tune to your lives as I should be…I think it is because of all of the responsibility that is involved in keeping us going as a family takes a lot of my brain space, constantly…maybe you think that I am not thinking a lot about you…but everything that I think about and do is because of you. I have a lot of time to think when you are all with your dad and I have learned that the silence when you are gone is 10x more painful than the noise and raucous chaos that you all produce when you are here. If I could redo so many things and make our lives perfect…I would so do it…in a heartbeat, I would do it. I know how hard the last 4 years have been…but, I also know that you are all incredibly strong, loving compassionate young people and I know you have great purposes ahead of you. The most exciting part of being your mom is anticipating the difference that you will make in the world around you. You CAN change the world…every single one of you can…and I fully expect to sit back with a smile in my heart and tears of pride on my face as you all do. I know you will because, somewhere deep inside, you are part me…and I am a fighter…not just for sanity, life and survival, but a fighter for all of you to live full, happy, fulfilling lives…I have done my best to LIVE in front of you, so that it comes without you thinking about it and I get to witness each of you, TRULY living, every day.I’m not asking for much in my old age…just a few things as your mom…If you MUST tell the world that I am crazy, then please wait until I am gone, then have at it. E, I know you are afraid of me losing my mind as it is so weird already…so I appreciate fully, your promise to “Notebook” me and come read to me the stories of our lives together. A, I know that no matter what in this life, the other 4 will be able to count on you as the big brother, the leader of this eclectic pack. L, my bodyguard and protector, your heart and willingness to protect those that you love is truly a calling and a gift to the rest of us. A, you inspire me in your compassion for your friends, your creativity and passion…you remind me of someone….L, my sweet muffin…your love is so priceless, your hugs are so healing, your free-spirit so sweet. Again, what did I ever do to deserve any time on this planet with any of you?I know you HATE getting ready for our annual family picture, but, wow….every year…I am reminded that I have the best family EVER! Yep, a family. Some people want to call us “broken” and “shattered” but, honestly….I don’t see anything broken in these pictures…You know the people that I said earlier try to throw pity on me? If they only knew how incredibly rich I am…like I said, because of all of you, they would want to be me.Girls, there are some things that I have learned that I want you to always remember, they are lessons I have paid for at a very high price and pass them to you as “an inheritance” type of thing.
- You owe no man any part of you, ever.
- You are a priceless treasure, you are not for everyone…if a very above average young man comes along and can prove his worthiness of you, you will always have my full blessing and support.
- You do not need a man to live a full, happy, exhilerating, purpose filled life…I mean….the right one will make all those things richer, but, don’t wait around for him…LIVE your life and your purpose NOW.
- Your beauty is internal, in how you affect those around you, how your character radiates in a world full of lost beings…be a light…shine brightly….I know that you will.
- I love you, so much.Boys…I am watching you grow into men everyday…and I am speechless…where does the time go? Why do you do crazy things? I know by watching you and your love for me and your sisters that you are going to be amazing husbands and fathers one day…and if you choose not to be…you will always have my love and support. BE GOOD to yourselves, your bodies, your futures…every decision you make can affect your tomorrow….live in today with tomorrow always on your horizon. Be good to every woman that you encounter. BE GOOD to every man that you encounter. Protect the helpless, stand for what is right and just and true and call me at least twice a week when you are grown and on your own (between ages 18-21). Your power is in living YOUR purpose, do not let anyone tell you that you CANNOT do what is written in your soul to pursue and accomplish in this world.
I am once again…speechless….How was I ever chosen to be your momma? I don’t know….but, I’m going to keep getting better and better at it…because that is what you deserve.
Have you ever had something in your life that you HATED doing? Totally HATED doing? Things like, running? Or running on a treadmill?
I decided 4 yours ago to become a runner again. It was awesome. I started slowly and built my stamina up FAST! I was running MULTIPLE miles. I had given birth 5 times and had not run in 15 years. I felt awesome!!! I felt great until the winter came. The cold hurts my body, it hurts me bad. I do not run in cold weather and the only option is a treadmill. I HATE TREADMILLS. I especially HATE treadmills in a gym setting.
For 4 years, I have let my physical progress and muscle tone go up and down with the excuse that I CANNOT run on a treadmill. You know what, I was lying to myself and that excuse was causing a ripple effect throughout every other thing that I do. “How is that possible, MollyAnn? It’s only exercise?”. That is a great question, I am so glad that you asked me that. It caused a ripple effect because exercise is my replacement for anti-depressant medication. It is an investment in my health and happiness…it affects my mood, productivity, energy levels…EVERYTHING!!!
Now you can see why that one excuse was a cancer in my thinking. I was allowing that one excuse to steal my progress and success in every other area. I realized that 2016 is the year that I will teach myself to love the treadmill. I went to the gym… let me back that up…before I even left for the gym, I had to soak in a very hot bath, up to my neck to get my body ready to run….THEN I went to the gym, and before I went to the treadmill, I spent another 15 minutes in the sauna to keep my muscles loose and warm.
It took effort, a lot of effort to face my excuses. I use to listen to heavy, pounding music when I worked out, it would push me harder and faster…but, it also left me feeling mentally drained because of the messages in the music. Sex, angst, money, power….it drained me to hear the words.
I recently discovered that listening to worship music while I worked out worked as a double “win” for me. It lifted me, renewed my mind and spirit and allowed me to workout in a “zone” mentally and spiritually that I had never reached before. Wednesday, I got on the treadmill…I started the Pandora stream of modern worship song from the Jesus Culture station and began walking…but, there were screens in front of me….ISIS, CNN, Murder Trials, Bad Storms, Stressful talk shows….I could not focus, it was draining me, I struggled to absorb the spiritual connection that was on the other side of my inability to focus.
“Father”, I prayed….”Speak to me, renew my mind, my spirit, my energy…”. Immediately I heard Him, “Raise your gaze…”….so I looked at the horizon of the gym, above the screens, the muscular men gawking at me, the hurry and rush of everyone around. “Keep your gaze above the noise, above the chaos, keep your eyes on me.” The “horizon” was a metal ceiling, but all I saw, all that I heard was Him. The music rushed through my soul, He was teaching me. “Keep your eyes on me, above the noise, above the chaos”. Before I knew it, my hands were raising, my spirit open to Him and I ran, then I ran harder and faster, my energy grew, my spirit swelled, my God was present. He is present. I looked down at the treadmill data and saw that not only had I been on it for 50 minutes straight, but I had run 3 miles during this entire inner struggle.
I hopped off of the treadmill RENEWED! FREE! READY TO FLY!!!! A good friend said to me recently, “It’s usually that one thing that we make excuses about that we most need to face head on.”
What is your thing? What are you making excuses about in order to avoid it? I am telling you, friend, there is growth on the other side, there is renewal there, run towards it. Run through it, embrace it, grow in it. If I can do it, then you definitely can too.
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