I didn’t Choose

Warning: The following is really personal. It’s more for me than for you this time. And if you are a younger reader, it might be a little bit uncomfortable for you, and that’s okay. Don’t feel like you have to read it. I talk about sex.
If you are a survivor, know that this post is a lot darker than my usual ones and doesn’t have a happy ending, but that doesn’t mean your stroy can’t be different.
Background Info Part 1:
A few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast sent to me by my mentor/friend, Katie, and it made me think about successful women. I cleaned my room, listened to the podcast, and thought about the women I wanted to be like, and what it was about them that made them different. It’s something I like to think about every now and then. It’s something that sort of helps me to see if I’m on the right track.
I realized that what made them different was also something they all had in common. I noticed that each of them had an unwavering, deep-rooted faith & relationship with God.  They had a deep understanding of what it means to really love people (including themselves) and moved through the world with freedom and strength because they know their identity is in Christ.
I decided what I needed to do. I needed to strengthen my relationship with God and commit to getting to know him better. I knew that if I had God on my side, nothing could take me down. I’d have resilience and love and the ability to really make a difference. I knew that if I want to live my life in chasing big dreams, I needed God on my side…..or rather I needed to follow him
I remember the questions someone asked me once…”If the path isn’t blessed by God, then do you really want to go there?”
No.
I really don’t.
Because I know whatever he has planned for me is more than I could ever dream of planning for myself. 
Background Info Part 2:
I’ve always wanted to get married. In fact, it caused a little bit of anxiety for an embarrassingly long chunk of time in my life… worrying I’d never have a husband or find love or whatever (clearly I needed a hobby).  
One of the talking points for Christians is sex. Or more like not having it before marriage. So a lot of the same women I look up to in business, are also virgins or made a choice to abstain until marriage.

The Point:
Right now, I’m a few thousand feet in the air, on a plane headed to my friend’s wedding in Atlanta, GA.

This morning while I brushed my teeth, my mind wandered around & I thought about the women I’d be reunited with at the wedding. It’s been about a year since I’ve seen any of them. Out of nowhere, something hit me and tears started streaming. I spit out my toothpaste and tried to cover my face in a hand towel to make it stop but it didn’t.

All of the women I’m going to see are Christian. 
And All of the women I’m going to see are waiting.
It’s not until Today that I realized that I didn’t get to choose. 
I didn’t get to choose to save myself for my husband.
I didn’t get to choose to share that connection with someone I truly loved.
If I had not been raped I don’t know if I would have waited, but I do know it’s something that I wanted.  
Before the rape, I was waiting.
But I didn’t get a choice.
And I never realized how dirty I felt until today.
People told me after it happened that I was still a virgin in Christ. THAT made ZERO sense to me but I clung to it. I needed something to make me feel clean.
But I never believed it. 
And it shows. I ended up choosing to have sex with a different person almost immediately after because I couldn’t keep living in the state of uncertainty. The “am I a virgin or am I not” thing was not something I liked or could fix. So I solidified it. I wanted to choose something even though I never really had a choice to begin with. And then I chose again with another person. And again. Because well, why not? 
Today, 4 years, 1 month and 1 week later, I faced myself. I realized that each time I have chosen to have sex with someone it was because I already felt ruined. 
You can’t take that back. No matter how much you want, you can’t make time pass faster or slower, and you can’t take your actions (or anyone else’s) back.
I have never felt anger like the anger I felt this morning.

My relationship with God develops with knowing that I am whole in him.  I know I need to take this to him but I’m having a seriously hard time doing that. 

It’s like my brain is split into two parts. 

The surface part of my brain knows that the sex I’m choosing to have is just hurting me. The part knows the reality and consequence of my actions. This is the part of my brain that has tried to come up with a plan of action to help me make better choices and goes to my friends for advice.

Then there’s the deeper part. The part that isn’t communicating with the planning part of my brain. The part of me that doesn’t care, and doesn’t see anything better. And that part of my brain prays that my future husband won’t wait for me. Because I don’t deserve it.

P.S. I am setting up a counseling appointment on Monday. 

The Power of a Name: Annabelle Finds Her Purpose

Photo By: @ Pj.g

So if you know me or have followed my blog for a while you know that I’ve been wrestling with the meaning of life and struggling to find my purpose for literally years. Which is normal I think – a lot of people wrestle with this question for their entire lives. Some of them never actually find the answer.
My mentor, Will, taught me the best way to live, to give back, and to find your purpose, is to follow your dreams. I couldn’t agree more.

So throughout the years I would write down my dreams, and the things that made me truly happy.
Over and over again through different seasons of growth and change, I’d write down what it was that made me come alive. What were my passions? What did I love to do? When I felt lost or like I was lagging, I would go back to the list.

To my frustration, some of the things on this list would be different from the last time, leaving me feeling like I was at square one again trying to figure my life out. And it seemed like nothing I liked could ever work together for one greater purpose.

My Twitter Bio says “Writing, dancing, and brainstorming to make the world a better place.” Please tell me how that makes sense. How could I do all of those things at once? How could I give my random travels a purpose? My modeling? My love for business? For so long I felt like I liked too many different things to take any one job that would really make me happy. I knew I had to create it for myself – but I didn’t know what to call it or what it would look like.

Well, yesterday it hit me.

“It” is the guiding label I could give myself for my life purpose. Where I could combine my different passions to create all sorts of different projects that didn’t restrict me at all and would continue moving me in one simple world changing direction.

I was eating leftover spaghetti out of a plastic container for lunch when it hit me, and I got up and ran to write “it” down: “I love connecting people, so I create opportunities for other people. I produce opportunities through vision, connection, and passion. I am a producer of opportunity”

From my “Project Wall” AKA “The Dream Wall”

 I am the woman that makes things happen in creative ways. I connect people, imagine things, and inspire others to put their best foot forward and do what they love.

“Opportunity Producer” is my new job title.

However, “It” wasn’t able to come to fruition until I had met all the people I’ve encountered over the past 5 years that were able to show me a piece of myself or teach me something I would have never been able to learn otherwise. It is through other people that I found this title.

What is really interesting about this revelation is that on the very same notepad, I had written something down last week that was almost the exact same thing. In blue marker, it says: “I will be successful in lifting up and supporting others in the pursuit of their dreams.”

From my “Project Wall” AKA “The Dream Wall”

Apparently, my purpose has been with me all along. I mean duh…
But it took a name for everything to come together. A name. A frame. An idea.

Coming up with this name provided a lens in which I could see my future.
That’s how powerful names are.

What I mean is, if you call yourself Ugly, stupid, just lucky or not enough…. these are the ways you frame your future. It makes it hard to see how tomorrow could look magical when you give yourself names that suck.

This is a very real thing – I learned it and re-learned in absolutely every communication studies class I have ever had.

Ever since I accepted the things that made me different I’ve wanted to label them – in an attempt to understand their full potential and put them to use.

Things like being a survivor, being a thinker a writer, a dancer, a businesswoman and an artist. These are all thinks that make up a part of me, and each one took time to name. But once I did, I indulged my passions and my differences the way their names called for, until they lead me to one big name I could light the way with.

For the first time in my life, I feel grounded and rooted and safe when I think about the future, becuase I know I will be following my heart, and my heart can finally see where it’s going.

From my “Project Wall” AKA “The Dream Wall”

I Don’t Want To Be A Cool Girl

Photo by: Levi Guzman @levisule

So I came across Tove Lo’s new song “Cool Girl” last night and I’m obsessed with it. But the music video and struck me like a dagger through the heart.
(Here’s the link to watch the video if you want to know what I’m talking about before you keep reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsFneCExrCQ )

So if you watch the video without reading into it very much, it just looks like a horny girl touching herself on top of a car…and then on top of a coffin… and then with a group of dancers.

The music video might be about that.. but to me, it meant something much different.

The imagery & the lyrics at the beginning of the song triggered a lot of things for me. And then after seeing her on top of the coffin I was done. My heart was torn.

“Imma Imma
Imma cool girl
Ice cold
I roll
my eyes at you boy.
No, let’s not put a label on it.
Let’s keep it fun
We don’t put a label on it
so we can run free
I wanna be free like you.”

I was immediately transported back to my first years of college. After the rape. After losing everything that I was and any feelings of self-worth. Before I met God.

I remembered drowning myself in alcohol and making out with any boy I could get my hands on, and then feeling that horrible empty pit of shame in my stomach and heart the next morning. I was hungry to be loved. So hungry. So empty. So dead inside.

I remembered telling myself I was exercising my own “freedom of choice” to give myself permission to manipulate others. I thought that getting what I wanted meant I was a stronger woman.
In reality, the more I used people, the more I hated myself, and the more dependent I became on physical touch or the attention of men to feel valued…or feel anything at all.
I remembered feeling “cool” because I was getting so much attention, even though I knew it was only to satisfy my emptiness.

The image of her on top of the coffin reminded me of how I felt like I was two different people; the ‘Cool Girl’ came out to parties to satisfy her emptiness while the genuine, kind, loved and respected girl – the real girl – died a little bit more by each bad choice the cool girl made.

It’s self-destructive behavior and I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who has done it.

There’s a part in the video where Tove Lo says “Pain and pleasure go hand in hand. Pain is really just a path to more pleasure.”

She’s right.

But what she doesn’t say is that pleasure is not the same as happiness. or joy. or love. The book I’m reading this month called the Power of Now, talks about pleasure.

“Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.” 
– Eckhart Tolle

Pleasure is fleeting, lustful, and a temporary fix. Pleasure sucks you deeper into a cycle that is hard to break. Believe me, I know how hard it is to break.

“The buddha says that pain or suffering arises through desire or craving and that to be free of pain we need to cut the bonds of desire.” – Eckhart Tolle

Just be.
Be okay with you. Who you are – who you really are and what you’re true form is… not who you think you are because of the mistakes you’ve made.
You are not your mistakes.

This for anyone who feels like they need to try hard to be ‘cool’ or to be ‘liked’. For anyone who has ever felt the same way I did, and still do at times. For anyone who is afraid of losing their illusion of “freedom” or doesn’t know how to love and be loved.

I’ve been there. It’s a dark, scary and lonely feeling place.

But you’re not alone. The fact that you may struggle with these things makes you human and being human is beautiful. You CAN be full again and feel again and be you again.
It might be a long and hard battle, but it’s worth it because YOU are worth it. It comes little by little, day by day, choice by choice. When you decide to say ‘yes, I’m worth more than this, I can be better than this, I will love myself more than this.’ Your life changes. And if you can’t decide that for yourself – if you don’t think you’re worth to well too bad. I think you are.

 It’s a daily struggle, and sometimes it feels like you’re going backwards, but you can do it. Only you can do it for you. I did it. I mean I still fight every day, but because I fight every day, I am so much stronger, and now I don’t struggle the same ways.
I’m becoming more confident and secure in myself. I actually like who I am now.

To start I had to forgive myself for the pain I inflicted on myself and others during this time period, which was something very hard for me to let go of. But then you can tackle each small destructive habit, one at a time and replace them with healing things. Instead of going out one night, invite some good people to hang out. Surround yourself with love. fluffy things. pretty colors. I don’t know.

Being cold after something bad happens is a coping method. You do it initially to protect yourself. But if you let it take you over, it’s more harmful than helpful.
Your heart is so beautiful the way it was made to be – the way it was made to love and be loved by others. Protect it of course, but don’t let it grow cold.

Being a “Cool Girl” just isn’t worth it.

The Devils Hands

Photo by: Brian
IG: @lastis1st

The colors inside your being
are curious to know
how the evil found you
when the only thing you’ll ever need
is so close –  but you turned away
In His eyes you are holy,
but in the devils hands you choose to stay
An empty feeling in your chest
legs that want to run 
but need more rest
a relentless darkness stirring inside
temptation comes out to play.
in His eyes you are holy, 
but in the devils hands you choose to stay
You feel strings tied around 
your limbs – watch
yourself move unwillingly…
when its wrong you let it be.
In His eyes you will always be His,
but in the devils hands 
you will now live.

This is the unfinished story of a christian overcome by temptation. It is unfinished because I know this story will end in grace. I know – because this story is my story and I have already been redeemed. I just need to accept the love that has been poured on me from the beginning.

We are imperfect beings, and as imperfect beings we fall short sometimes.
Make a bad decision
Make a mistake.

And that’s hard to do sometimes but you are worthy and you are loved. Your past does not define you.