How I Overcame My Struggles
I was asked by my friend Madison to share a story with all of you reading today. This request both honoured and mortified me. I believe myself to be a private person but I am sure all my friends and family would disagree and call me loud and vivacious. And sometimes I feel that the woman I project into the world is a disguise that I put on to distract from the fact that I am a very sensitive and empathic person. My name is Dayle-Ann, and I believe that in order to gain knowledge, we must share our knowledge. I believe that in order to improve ourselves we have to push ourselves into uncomfortable positions. I have been pushing myself mentally and physically since September 28, 2009 and I still struggle with a few things.
“And sometimes I feel that the woman I project into the world is a disguise that I put on to distract from the fact that I am a very sensitive and empathic person.”
One of my biggest struggles is my family. Now like everyone else on this planet, I believe my family is messed up and crazy. But my family also consists of my biggest supporters. These people love me and I love them. It took me a while to realise that my family is much bigger than just my parents (father and step-mother). Unfortunately, I realised this after the death of one of my sisters earlier this year. I like to think of this revelation as her final gift to me and last smack upside the head – she knew I was stubborn. I believe that your family consists of the people you want it too – my story is about how I came to have a family that is large and loving.
When I was eight, my birth mother filed for a divorce from my father because she wanted to avoid a repeat of the conversation she and my father had three times prior about her excessive spending habits. She just assumed my father would come back to her like he had all the times before except this time she went too far. She claimed my father was abusive (he isn’t) and everyone believed her so when he was forced out of our family how he had finally had enough and didn’t come back. And honestly I can’t blame him. She had gone so far as to claimed that he sexually assaulted my sister and myself – which wasn’t true.
Since my father didn’t come back to my birth mother, she proceeded to mess with myself and my siblings in order to force him to come back to her. This involved emotional, psychological, physical abuse and genital mutilation of my sister and attempted genital mutilation of myself. Of course I didn’t realise what she was doing to me was wrong, because she was my mother and she “loved” me. She also threatened me by saying God would send me to hell if I didn’t help my father come back to her.
Because of all the destruction my birth mother caused, I developed depression and anxiety. I mentioned earlier I have committed years of self-work to develop coping mechanisms to deal with my mental illnesses. One of the things that took a few years for me to do, was ending the abusive relationship with my birth mother. I think the reason it took so long is because I was always told that “blood is thicker than water” and the my family was ordained by God – therefore it cannot be changed by man. And I also think it is because I was afraid that I would have no one to love me. This of course wasn’t true, as the family that took me in after I left my birth mother’s house in September 2009, was fully supportive and loving.
This family came into my life during my time in the Haven’s Way program with the Safe Haven Foundation. I lived in this home for two years, during that time I got my High School diploma and got into University. I also discovered that I love to dance, write, and sing with my sisters. But most importantly I started to develop a love for myself and in this, I found my second and most constant struggle – denying myself love, affection and support. I think I deny myself these things because of my fear of letting people close enough to me to see how empathic and sensitive I truly am.
This fear has caused me to do stuff that I didn’t want to do and caused me to not pursue things that I genuinely wanted. One of this biggest incidents of this is when I left Haven’s Way to go live with my father and step-mother (a relationship I was able to rebuild with the love and support of my family). Upon leaving, I pushed my family away to make room for my “real” family. I did this because I believed that in order for anyone to accept me I had to do and say things that would make them happy and if I didn’t they wouldn’t love me. My parents never asked me to push my family away, to them Haven’s Way consisted of the people who helped me when they couldn’t. They were just happy to be a part of my life. So instead of dealing with my fear of no one loving me, I found reasons to hate my family – thus justifying my actions of pushing them away. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t do anything to resolve this until my sister’s death earlier this year.
Since her funeral, I have decided not to waste her gift to me. I have begun volunteering my time with the Safe Haven Foundation and working on improving my connections with all the members of my family. I have made it a personal goal to challenge myself and my fear of love. The first step that I took towards this goal took the form of a spoken word piece. I wrote and performed this piece at my University’s Talent Show. Within this piece, I acknowledge my fear and the struggles that I have had because of it. This was huge for me because I never let people I don’t know see my empathic and sensitive side! My second step was coming out of the closet and declaring to my friends, family and strangers that I am pansexual. My sexuality has been something that I have chosen to hide because it was easier to pretend, than admit to myself that I am queer.
“But most importantly I started to develop a love for myself.”
And the most recent step happened when I shaved my head a week ago. I did this because when I was younger my birth mother shaved my head twice; each time she would tell me that no one would love me because I was ugly without hair. By shaving my head, I have chosen to take a negative childhood experience and make it a positive experience. Also this is 2018, a person’s hair length does not equate to the love that person receives.
Even with these steps that I have taken, I still struggle with my fear and mental illnesses. And I guess I will never be done dealing with theses issues, but as the years go by it does become easier to cope. And I guess that is the point, isn’t it? In reading this piece, I hope that you have been inspired to challenge yourself and make those strides to personally grow. And if you want to learn more about the Safe Haven Foundation, please check out their website. Thank you for reading and supporting my friend Madison and her mother’s website!
“And I guess I will never be done dealing with theses issues, but as the years go by it does become easier to cope. And I guess that is the point, isn’t it?”
Safe Haven Foundation
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