An open letter to my rapist.

April is very important to myself and so many sexual assault survivors. It's sexual assault awareness month and we have a guest blogger who is absolutely incredible. Meet Jacqima!

Jacqima (ja-ki-ma) is 20 years old and lives in Gibraltar, a British territory next to Spain. She helps raise awareness for sexual assault in her community. This year she really challenged herself to express her voice through her art. She recreated rape scenes, herself as the model and did all of the special effects make up. These photos were then used by the local police and schools to raise awareness about physical relationships and rape. To spread the message that "no" means "no."

Below is Jacqima's story she so bravely shared with us and allowed us to share with you. This is a graphic story that is powerful and all too common. 

*Trigger Warning* it is a rape story so please proceed with caution if you feel it would be a trigger.


An open letter to my Rapist 

There is a deep rage within me. To know that he’s still out there, knowing 

what he did. On Friday the 3rd of February, I was raped. 

This was someone I knew. This was someone my fiancé (at the time) said I 

could trust. I mean, they worked together. They had trust between them, 

but it excluded me. How silly of me. How stupid of me to trust someone who 

sees women as objects. That night, on the 3rd of February 2017, I had been 

drinking. I had let my guard down. I had decided to let loose. How stupid of 

me to think I had that right. I remember drinking with my friends, feeling 

the happiest I could have ever felt, but that was stripped off me in a matter 

of minutes. 

You. The man who raped me. You live everyday knowing what happened. 

You live everyday with no worry in the world, but I, I felt like my world was 

shattered. I felt like my worth was torn into pieces. Do you remember? How 

you offered to drive me home that night. More like forced. You dragged me 

past the police station and put me into your car, as a police officer watched 

on. Help me. I was too intoxicated to even shout, let alone run away. He had 

offered me a drink before then. Silly me to have accepted it. At that time I 

hadn’t thought he would spike my drink, was I wrong. 

Driving around I asked him to pull over so I could use a restroom. He pulled 

over on the side of the road and told me to go do my business on the beach 

behind a storage room. I stumbled out of the car, swaying side to side as he 

grabbed my waist forced. Once I finished my business, I began to pull my 

underwear up. He appeared and took them off me, putting them in his back 

pocket. He sat on the cold sand, pulling me down towards him. As I sat 

opposite him, I began to cry. I knew what was happening. I knew what was 

going to happen and there was no one around at 5am to help me. I began 

babbling to him, my mind racing at 100mph. I spoke about my 

grandmother; I found that whenever I spoke of her it calms me. 

So there I was, sitting on the cold, damp sand at 5am with no underwear on, 

and a thin black bodycon dress on. I had my jacket on, but he insisted I take 

it off. As we walked back to the car, I sat in the back of his car as he stood 

over me by the open door. I felt sick. Intoxicated. My stomach churned. 

“Take me home. Take me home now.” I pleaded. On the road again, he gave 

in to taking me home. On the way home he kept placing his hand on my 

thigh. His fingers crept up higher, closer to my bare vagina. “Stop. I have a 

fiancé.” He pulled back, only to start squeezing my thighs tightly, causing 

me to squirm in my seat. “Stop. You’re hurting me!” I raised my voice as I 

pushed his hand away. I felt my body slipping away. That’s when I saw the 

smirk on his face. That’s when I knew he had most definitely spiked my 

drink. 

I felt my eyes roll back. My body became lifeless, as I sat there in his car. I 

could still here him breathing. I could still feel his hand creeping up my 

dress. I tried to stop him, but my body wouldn’t move. I was paralized.  At 

this point, I felt a tear fall down my face. He began fondling my breasts. 

Caressing my cheek as he kissed me forcefully. There was nothing I could 

do. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t run. I could just pray. Pray that this will be 

over soon. Pray that I wake up not knowing what would happen. 

The next day I woke up in my bed, with no underwear. My body feeling sore 

as bruises covered my thighs. My make up smudged and my hair a mess. As 

soon as my feet hit the floor, I ran for the bathroom. I spewed my guts. 

Black, All I saw was black leaving my mouth. What drink is black? I thought 

to myself. That’s when everything that happened last night came flooding 

back. I stripped the black dress I had on. Tossing it in the bin, along with my 

bra. Anything he had touched, I wanted to burn. Including myself. I wanted 

to erase him from my memory, but now he haunts it. That day, I took 7 

steaming hot showers, and scrubbed myself till my skin became red and 

irritated. Throughout the day I had spew my guts too many times. How do I 

tell him? How do I tell my fiancé? He’s going to leave me. I told him. He got 

mad. Mad at me for trusting that man. Mad at the man that stole every 

ounce of my dignity. 

I cried myself to sleep every night for countless months since that 

happened. I would store spoons in my freezer, so I could place them on my 

swollen eyes in the morning. I continued having hot showers. I continued 

thinking it was my entire fault, because maybe it was. Maybe I was asking 

for it, Right? That was the beginning and end of many things. Depression 

came swooping in, taking over me. The end of a relationship with the man 

who loved me wholeheartedly. The beginning of walking around and seeing 

my rapist. My rapist. I say that as if I owe you but, no. You. You, the man 

who raped me and stripped me of my soul and mind are the one who 

owned me, but not anymore. Not anymore. I am no longer your victim. 

Three suicide attempts later, popping pills to keep my anxiety at bay and 

talking to a stranger about my problems, I have to admit, you had me in the 

palm of your hand. You crushed me. You broke me. You ruined my life. 

What would you do if you heard that I had tried to take my own life because 

of what you did to me? Would you feel guilty? Would you feel remorseful? 

Would you hate yourself like I hated myself? The day after you did that to 

me, you decided to wave my underwear at work in front of all your Military 

friends. My fiancé was there. My fiancé was feeling betrayed, angered. All 

he wanted to do was kill you. He took the underwear back and threw it 

away, as if everything would disappear. It didn’t. 

From then on I was called a whore. A slut. A cheat. A liar. A bitch. All 

because you told everyone a lie. You told everyone I wanted it, you told 

everyone I liked it. You told everyone I wanted to cheat on my fiancé with 

you. How insecure and inhuman do you have to be to want to ruin 

someone’s life? You ruined a lot for me, but guess what? 

I got back up.
You hear me? I got back up! 

No matter what was thrown at me, no matter how hard it was to get 

through (still is), I conquered. You are nobody to make me feel worthless. 

You are nobody to make me feel unloved. You are nobody. You are a spec 

on this planet of ours, but your consequences are much bigger. I hope you 

think of this from time to time. I hope you think of what you did to me. I 

hope you lie in bed at night starring at the ceiling wondering where you 

went wrong like I did for countless months. 

I forgive you. I forgive you for what you did to me. I forgive you for myself. I 

forgive you so I can move on with my life, because it’s what I deserve. I 

deserve to take control of my own life. It is no longer yours. My mind is no 

longer yours. I am free. I hope you are somewhere praying. Praying for 

forgiveness. Praying for some light. Praying that you never do that to 

another girl ever again. I am no longer a prisoner of my past. I have learned 

to love my life and love people who love me endlessly. The past can no 

longer haunt me. You can no longer haunt me. 

 

The United States does not have a rape problem—it has a rape epidemic. 

woman in this country is raped every two minutes, 42 percent of victims 

are raped before they are 18 years old. 

One in three Native women report being raped, as do almost 

Ninety-seven percent of rapists will never go to jail. 

 

To victims of rape, you are not alone. Never. You are strong, courageous, 

and beautiful, and you deserve to be here. You deserve to be loved. You are 

worth so much more than you think. You were put on earth to make a 

difference. You were put on this planet because you have a voice, and 

together, we’re unstoppable. All my love. 

A victim no more. 

 

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 model - Macey Brooklyn

model - Macey Brooklyn

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Jessica Ellen Cummings photography

 

The One That Got Away...

I was recently chatting with a friend about dating. See, I know how amazing this person is and I watched them get anxious and unsettled while waiting for a text from someone they had met recently and gave their number to. Days went by as we kept going back and forth wondering why they haven't texted yet and the longer we both waited, the more anxious and confused my friend grew. This is the same conversation I've had many times with single friends and hello, I was doing the same thing just a few years ago! I remember freaking out to my friend Whitney about Justin and whether or not I was reading into his reply or if he was really into me, when he would text, etc. 

Then this rang through my mind and I don't think I heard it enough when I was single: Don't be afraid to be the one that got away. 

I recall two specific times when a guy would say, "You're the one that got away," and I would think, "Yeah, but you're the one who let me get away. You made that decision." I would be so annoyed, but now I'm so thankful to be the one that got away to those losers because the Lord paired me with someone who is better than I ever imagined and never once let me get away. 

Have you ever had a friend go back to the same ex over and over expecting different results? Like the definition of insanity, it drives me crazy when someone doesn't realize how incredible they are and they fall back into old relationships that are doomed from each "restart."

When you are your most full, confident, passionate self, you understand your worth and that it's okay to be The One That Got Away...don't be afraid to be that if someone doesn't value you enough.

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Never Forget Your Worth

Sometimes I think back to years ago, or even months ago and reflect on how much I’ve changed. That seems to be a constant thing, change. Yet we don’t really notice when we’re in the thick of it, the fire. When I was younger I had an idea of how my life would go, I mean most of us do, right? We think we’ll have our shit together and accomplish everything, save the world, or conquer an empire all by the time we’re twenty two, or in the “real world.” The hard reality of it is time. Things take time, it’s why we take four years to go to school and think about our careers only to realize we won’t always have it together or know where we’re heading. 

It takes time to make a decision to move to a new city or take on a new job, and until these decisions are made you kind of feel like you’re flailing out in the middle of the universe, lost, confused and a little upset it’s taking so long to figure things out. One thing I can confidently say however, is it does get better, these decisions get made and we move forward. Always. Because if we don’t make the “right” decision we learn from it and grow, either way we move forward. For instance I can look back to six months ago when I hit my rock bottom, completely unable to be alone with myself as I couldn’t stand who I’d become, and laugh today because I’ve grown since then to the point where you have to kind of pry me away from my alone time. When I was in this dark period of my life I realized I have some issues with the way I was seeing myself and my body, I didn’t even realize my own thoughts and what I said out loud about myself was affecting me subconsciously. Think about when you meet someone new, you get a vibe that comes off of them whether its good or bad, you feel it from afar and make your decision whether you want to befriend the person or not, right? Sometimes you just know, hey, that person has a sucky vibe I don’t want to be around him. Well I truly believe this is based on what you’re sensing from that mind-body connection. Now think about your own vibe, is it overall positive or negative? Are you saying kind things to yourself everyday, uplifting yourself like you would with your best friend? Do you ever feel like you get lonely after spending your time constantly with other people? Are you happy with yourself? These were all pretty negative when it came down to it for me, I didn’t want to be alone and I felt completely unloved, like I wasn’t being cared for or wasn’t important to anyone. Depressed would be the word. And anxious that I couldn’t fix myself or feel like I was doing something with my life. 

I made a choice one day after my friends said something to me. I was going to make some changes and I felt this like a fire in my soul. I was in the thick of it, but again, it would take some time to get out. First, I worked on my self love. To tackle this task is easier said then done and to be honest, being a woman in this world, it is going to be a constant struggle. Ladies, you know just as much as me how complex it is to be a woman, to deal with society’s idea of what we should be like, what we need to look like or act like, and on top of it all not receive the same benefits as men or other countries for that matter. But you’ve all heard this before, its just another piece of news that we know about but continue to stand still on the subject. Well self love becomes a war when you consider all of these outside factors. But the battles for now, are won for me. I trained myself to consider that I am more then my past and my decisions every day impact who I become. My thoughts for myself are consistently positive as I think about all I’ve gone through in life, that in my senior year of college I didn’t think I would ever be happy with myself enough to get out of the constant cycle of depression. Today, I confidently say that I am happy. I am growing and learning and have so much to offer the world. A lot of it, I will admit, comes from involving yourself with the right people, those who motivate and uplift you. If you have people in your circle that don’t do that for you, cut them right now. I’m sorry but that is a must at this point. To have that reciprocation between you and your friendships is to understand you deserve to be loved and appreciated. With the right people motivating you (including yourself) you can conquer so much more then you would ever think of. 

Today I have started to really map out a plan for my consistent growth, to move forward and despite my fear do what I want to do. If I want to travel the world, I’m going to make it happen. If I want to be happier with my own body image, I’m going to eat the right foods to fuel my body, think the right thoughts to fuel my mind, and make being active the most exciting part of my day. I’m to the point where I love my body, I love sweating out my day in a 45 minute cycle or yoga class. 

I could write pages on what you should do to get to this point but that would be overwhelming for you I’m sure so here’s what you should take away from this. Changing your thoughts is the first step. Waking up every morning and making that first thought “Today is going to be a good day, because I am fucking fantastic.” Again, that mind-body connection is crucial here, that when you create that first experience of the day, your mind and body will eventually follow suit. You are in control of each and every day. Let me say that again so it sinks in here: you are in control of each and every day. What you make of that, of every second, is up to you. 

 

xx Backpacking Bee xx

 
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You know Bee as 1/2 of the Bohemian Babes that did an amazing job with our previous blogs. We can't get enough of her and hope you are just as inspired by her writing and radiant soul. 

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WHAT OTHERS THINK ABOUT YOU IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

Have you ever made a lifestyle change and had people give you a hard time for it? Maybe they disrespected you behind your back or even to your face? I had an experience like this a few years ago. I decided to make a change and had a few friends who were all of a sudden not so friendly. I remember being really upset because I didn’t know WHY they felt the way they did. Being a people-pleaser, I desperately wanted to make it “right”— I thought if I was nice enough, if I worked hard enough, if I bent over backwards to accommodate them, if I could figure out WHY they felt the way they did, that I could change their minds about me. I felt like I began walking around with this aura of desperation floating around my head like PLEASE LIKE ME! I PROMISE I AM A NICE PERSON! I AM WORTHY OF YOUR RESPECT. It was exhausting. I tried everything I could think of to remedy the situation. I tried reaching out to them—asking if they would talk to me about it. I tried convincing them that they had it all wrong—that I really was a good person. I tried talking to third-party people—maybe someone else could shed some light on the situation. I tried to act like I didn’t care—even though I definitely did. I tried being polite knowing they were still talking about me behind my back—sometimes even disrespecting me to my face (or my personal favorite—through text). I tried being as nice as humanly possible (sometimes over-the-top nice) to overcompensate, but no matter what I did, it didn’t matter. Nothing I did changed their behavior.

 

The saddest thing about the whole experience wasn’t the “friends” I lost. It was that I had allowed this negativity to seep into my life, and I let it steal my peace and my happiness. I wanted to be liked SO badly that it had completely consumed me. I was literally losing sleep over it, and I cared so much about what these people thought of me—people who are not in my life at all anymore. Letting negative people have that much power over you is exhausting and debilitating.

 

Not everyone is going to understand you or agree with your life choices. The good news is—you don’t need anyone else’s approval. Your worth doesn’t depend on other people’s acceptance of you. Because when you choose kindness, regardless of how others treat you, God (or the Universe, Buddha, Mother Nature, Jehovah – whoever or whatever you believe in) already sees you as good, and there should be great comfort and freedom in that (my friend Bree taught me that).

 

So much of my time has been wasted trying to win people’s approval and prove my worth. It gets to a point where your life isn’t really your own anymore—all of a sudden you realize that you are living your life for someone else, and that isn’t how it should be! You cannot prove your worth, and you cannot change what others think about you. Respect isn’t earned or even demanded—no matter who you are, how hard you work, or what you’ve accomplished so far in life, respect is not something that you can expect from others. You can only show others how YOU respect YOURSELF. People learn how to treat you based on what you allow. If you are allowing people who continually disrespect you to stay active in your life, they will continue to do so.

 

If a person is bringing anything but positivity into your life, you’ve got to find a way to remove them. You don’t have to be mean or rude or yell or scream or say anything at all for that matter. You can literally just cut them out of your life, and you don’t owe them or anyone else an explanation for it. Fight for your own inner peace. Because if you let it, that negative energy can and will suck the energy right out of you.

 

So how does anyone ultimately move past a nasty rumor or eliminate a toxic person from his or her life? Good news—you may not be able to control others, but you CAN control your own actions and behavior. Whenever I run into this issue, I (still to this day) have to make a conscious effort to stop giving it my attention. I pray a lot—I pray for them, and I pray for myself! I pray that God helps me to worry less. I spend more time focusing on the people who invest in me, encourage me, support me, and love me. I have to consciously STOP trying to gain the approval of those few negative people, and let me tell you—there is nothing more freeing. Because PSA: YOU CANNOT CHANGE PEOPLE’S OPINIONS OF YOU. You can be the hardest worker on your team, the most helpful kid in your class, the nicest person in the world—there will always be people who find a reason not to like you. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Keep in mind that when someone mistreats you, it likely has NOTHING to do with you. These people are dealing with their own issues and insecurities. Some people are sad, lonely, hurting, jealous—the list goes on. Some people NEED to put others down in order to feel better about themselves. Just be kind to them—whether you receive the same treatment back or you don’t—have peace knowing that you chose kindness.

 

My husband and I recently discovered this TV show called Superstore—it’s a comedy about the dynamic in the workplace (it’s similar to The Office, but this show takes place in a Super Walmart-type store, and it’s really funny!). We recently watched an episode where the boss (his name is Glenn, and he reminds me so much of myself) reads a particular nasty review about his store on Yelp. He tracks down the guy who wrote the review and brings him back into the store to try and remedy the situation (I would do this). This guy (his name is Tim) seems pleasant, and after he leaves, Glenn checks Yelp to see if Tim has updated his review. He is upset to read that Tim has written an even nastier review than before! Glenn tries again and again to change Tim’s mind, bringing him back in multiple times, but it always ends with nastier and nastier reviews—sometimes even with Tim personally attacking Glenn. The episode ends with Amy, a manager at the store, paying Tim a visit at his house. It turns out that Tim lives with his very sick mother and his home has been overrun by what appears to be dozens of wild rabbits! Not saying you should laugh at anyone living in these conditions, but just to circle back to my original point, the people who mistreat you are dealing with their own issues so try not to take it personally—even though it may be really hard.

 

I truthfully don’t believe that people are inherently evil or that people actually just like being mean and live to hurt other people’s feelings, but I do believe that people can be incredibly troubled, unaware, selfish, and insecure. It is NOT your responsibility to babysit people’s insecurities. You should not feel obligated to shrink yourself so people can meet you at a level they are comfortable with. Continue being yourself. Continue growing and evolving. Live your life how YOU want to. Be a nice person. Take an interest in other people’s lives and endeavors. Encourage and support them. It might be cliché, but I truly believe that you should treat others how you want to be treated. Support your friends and those around you because it is what you would want them to do for you. Choose kindness. Choose love. Choose happiness. Forget the other stuff.

  My name is Erin, and I am 27 years young. I was born and raised in Louisiana, played Division I college tennis at the University of Kansas, and even tried my hand at stand-up comedy in California. I consider myself to be a pizza connoisseur and a Netflix-binger. My husband and I now live in the beautiful state of Colorado, and we have one furry kid—a cat named Penny (we love dogs, too!). My husband is a hip-hop artist, and I am a personal trainer, Rodan + Fields® skincare consultant, and a lifestyle blogger. In other words, we can work when, where, and how much we want! We both live sober lifestyles and love Jesus more than we love each other.  I strive to bring joy and laughter into the world on a daily basis, and I hope that by sharing my own experiences through my writing, I can inspire self-love and encourage love and kindness among others.  _____________________  Erin is one of my childhood friends who I have such sweet memories with. I always laughed the most with her and she continues to inspire me daily. Thank you, Erin!!! 

My name is Erin, and I am 27 years young. I was born and raised in Louisiana, played Division I college tennis at the University of Kansas, and even tried my hand at stand-up comedy in California. I consider myself to be a pizza connoisseur and a Netflix-binger. My husband and I now live in the beautiful state of Colorado, and we have one furry kid—a cat named Penny (we love dogs, too!). My husband is a hip-hop artist, and I am a personal trainer, Rodan + Fields® skincare consultant, and a lifestyle blogger. In other words, we can work when, where, and how much we want! We both live sober lifestyles and love Jesus more than we love each other.

I strive to bring joy and laughter into the world on a daily basis, and I hope that by sharing my own experiences through my writing, I can inspire self-love and encourage love and kindness among others.

_____________________

Erin is one of my childhood friends who I have such sweet memories with. I always laughed the most with her and she continues to inspire me daily. Thank you, Erin!!! 

Why the Relaunch?

I've gotten this question so much, it's time we chat... Why the relaunch??

My heart for teaching girls their self worth and unveiling the lies behind life controlling issues through media is more on fire than ever, but over the last two years I've personally had a TON of life adjustments that were very overwhelming and made it difficult to keep Unveiled at the quality I wanted it to be. Two of my grandfathers passed away, I was in a stressful job scenario and one of my best friends had a huge health scare. So, I took a little break from videos while I lived in NYC to focus on self care and make sure those around me were okay. Now, guess what. We are BACK! My husband and I have moved from NYC to the south again and filming has commenced! I'm so excited for 2018 and can't wait to serve you better. 

I hope you'll love our first video and blog of 2018. Daphne's story, bravery and recovery has inspired me through her music. She's incredible. Show her some love! 

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Bohemian Babes - Savannah

Growing up, I constantly struggled with my identity in a career and self doubting questions of what I could actually accomplish. I’d start a fitness blog and share it with no one or journal while traveling but leave it untouched in my notebook. I was fearful of getting judged on social media by my skills or mindset. I wouldn't share my fitness routines yet my friends would ask me to train them. Out of fear of incompetency, I declined saying I was too busy.

That all changed in college when I realized you aren’t doing something right unless you are consistently making yourself go out of your own comfort zone. No one stays happy with “what could have been”. My dream was to move to California (away from the rainy city of Seattle), I was infatuated by the idea of living somewhere people vacation. Along with that, I knew I could make connections with what I was passionate about, fitness, wellness, and entrepreneurship. Once I graduated, it wasn’t even a question on where I’d move, so here I am now! Living in Huntington, a few blocks from the beach, I’ve met so many incredible individuals that teach me what 1% can accomplish if you pursue your own passions or businesses and give your all.

The first question I was almost always asked when I said I was moving my life to California is: why? My only response is: well, why not? nothing was holding me back other than myself. That usually ends in silence because they realized how ridiculous the question was in the first place. Never let your fears get in the way of accomplishing all you’re truly capable, and when in doubt, jump. Go for it and make the mistake because that’s what life is about.

 

Savannah Wright

Boho Babes

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Unveiled has partnered with Bohemian Babes. Here's a little bit about them: 

Bohemian Babes was an idea we created in our old work setting. We met as graphic designers for the university we attended. Both of us constantly blogged at work, (we did that a lot) and started talking about our strong suits and weaknesses when we realized that if you were to combine us we could really be something rad. It’s been a slow and steady process but we really want to get it right and eventually grow into so much more. What’s kind of unique about us as digital marketers and bloggers is that we each bring such different aspects to Boho Babes. Sav is the yogi, fitness freak, with a great mind for business and always constantly challenges us to be better. Bee is passionate about writing, working with charities and focusing on the social media aspect. Together, we both love traveling and adventuring through whatever comes our way. Plus, I mean working with your best friend is the dream, right?

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Bohemian Babes - Bianca

When it comes to my own story, I look back at everything I've gone through and think damn, I’m amazing. That’s not me being self-involved or anything, it’s me acknowledging that I went through the ringer but continued through the trenches to get to where I am now. Often times we as women have this concept of shame in never feeling good enough, all while at the same time feeling like we’re too much. It’s absolutely ridiculous if you ask me. My first thought when I think of other women is how strong and beautiful they each are in their own unique way. So why is it so hard for us to think of ourselves in the same context?

When I was younger I had this dream of creating my own non-profit and to this day it’s actually still something I work toward. However, this past summer I went through quite a few hardships and starting doubting my goals because of course, I felt I couldn’t hack it. I had been broken and lost to the point where I didn’t think I was good enough for anything I had planned for my life. What to do when a complete life breakdown happens? Travel. Solo. For the first time.

Taking a cue straight out of eat pray love, I decided to head to Italy, France, and Germany to find myself again. Travel, in general, is always a good idea, it clears your mind and gives you a perspective on life in other cultures, keeps you out of your comfort zone and surrounded by new people. Over this trip I blogged like crazy, writing out my every thought in my journal and every day capturing a new story to tell, I was reminded of who I was and to never falter in that confidence in myself. In the end, that’s what matters. 

When it comes to confidence in one’s self it’s not something that comes easily though, and I still struggle with it to this day, as I’m sure every human being does. What makes a difference at the end of the day though is recognizing that you matter, you create your happiness, and you’re in control of how you deal with everything that comes your way. And what you do with all of that is everything. 

 

Bianca Dukesherer

Boho Babes

_____________________

Unveiled has partned with Bohemian Babes. Here's a little bit about them: 

Bohemian Babes was an idea we created in our old work setting. We met as graphic designers for the university we attended. Both of us constantly blogged at work, (we did that a lot) and started talking about our strong suits and weaknesses when we realized that if you were to combine us we could really be something rad. It’s been a slow and steady process but we really want to get it right and eventually grow into so much more. What’s kind of unique about us as digital marketers and bloggers is that we each bring such different aspects to Boho Babes. Sav is the yogi, fitness freak, with a great mind for business and always constantly challenges us to be better. Bee is passionate about writing, working with charities and focusing on the social media aspect. Together, we both love traveling and adventuring through whatever comes our way. Plus, I mean working with your best friend is the dream, right?

 Bianca

Bianca

Dear Unveiled,

Sweet girls (& a few guys!),

I've been thinking of you constantly for the last 4 years. My heart yearns for you to look in the mirror and see beauty and strength looking back at you. I want you to know how incredible and worthy you are. My heart feels like a brick as I type this, remembering the flood of stories that came through my email when we first launched, January 14th, 2014. You all have been through so much. I reread some of them recently and my fire has never gone out for you. I've wanted to give up, trust me, I have. I wanted to walk away from the effort, planning, filming, and writing. I wanted to "get a real job" and forget this dream. Yet, here I am. I'm happy to announce that we have officially received 501c3 status which means we are OFFICIALLY A NON PROFIT!! I honestly never thought this day would come and as I read the approval letter, each of your faces raced through my mind. This is for you. For the girl who was abused, for the self-harm scarred and for the one skipping meals. I will continue to serve you, using every resource, skill, and effort I have in me. I will. I'm so glad I never gave up so I could write this post. I want to encourage you not to give up on yourself. Take a bite, get off the scale, put down the weapon against yourself. I pray our community continues to grow and support one another with kindness and encouraging words. It's only just begun <3.

- Ainsley B. 

13 Reasons Why, for Parents!

If you have a teenager or young adult, you need to watch 13 Reasons Why. 

I’m going to be honest with you. It’s a hard show to watch. I mean at some points my skin was crawling for the door while my eyes hid behind the steel trap door of my fingers. I was dying to whip out the Sword of the Spirit on these fictional characters as my heart ached for them. 

Despite the fact that it’s hard, it’s real. As I was watching, I could identify each character as someone I knew when I was in high school. Maybe they went to my school, maybe they went to another one, but Justin, Jessica, Hannah, I knew them all, just with different names. 

It’s scary to think that. It’s also crazy that most shows are dramatized, but this one didn’t seem as unrealistic as most.

I know, I’m not a parent so who am I to be giving advice, but hear me out:

Remember your first heartbreak? Or when you didn’t make the team that one time? What about the rumor your ex-boyfriend spread about you? Now those things don’t seem like such a big deal, but back then, remember, it felt like an earthquake. That was the first time you felt betrayal, anxiety and other emotions that you had no idea existed before. Or maybe you had an idea, but not in this magnitude. Also, this stuff called social media isn’t helpful either. Teens and young adults are constantly scrolling through beautiful photos of places and people that they are comparing themselves to. I was the teen of dial up internet and the very beginning stages of Facebook, Myspace, etc. I’ll never forget the pain in my chest when I read negative comments on Facebook about myself from classmates or the drama that followed who you did or didn’t include in your Top 8. Why will I never forget? Because it was the first time I’d experienced anything like it. Had I known that life was going to be a lot more painful and beautiful at the same time, maybe it wouldn’t be so significant, but I didn’t know. It felt like an earthquake. Oh, and hormones and body changes and the pressure of doing well because your entire future hangs in the balance of your 17-year-old self, so it seems.

Keep in mind, parents, that it’s likely that your teen is facing some serious issues for the first time and doesn’t necessarily have the coping skills to actually deal with them. This is their first encounter with an eating disorder, self-harm, sexual harassment, etc. When I was in middle school, yes, middle school - every Wednesday was a day that the guys were allowed to grab our butts. I don’t remember who made the rule up, but I remember feeling violated. During my senior year of high school, one girl per week was “exiled” from the group and couldn’t sit with us at lunch. WHAT!? The nonsensical actions of peers make it difficult to cope. Your teen feels the impact of these experiences in a big way, so please don’t be passive if they bring it up or tell them they’ll get over it. 

If you want a glimpse into their lives, watch this show. Learn how to use social media. Reach out and I’m more than happy to teach you. I’m sure you’re doing a phenomenal job at loving them and that’s great, but they also crave to be understood and heard. 

My prayer is that we can build a bridge of communication between parents and teens so we can eliminate life controlling issues in young adults. Please watch this show & for more awareness videos & resources, visit UnveiledCampaign.com

Hearts & Rockets,

Ainsley

What to do when your friend tells you they've been abused...

*True story, names changed.

Madison and Grant have known each other their entire lives and are best friends. She helps him with Christmas presents for his mom, he helps her with the latest guy drama. He’s a bit more reserved, she’s a wildcard. They’re very close and Madison, for the first time, is about to be more vulnerable than she’s ever been. 

Madison: I have to tell you something.. 
Grant: What?
Madison: It's serious and I haven't told anyone
Grant: Wait what? What’s wrong?
Madison: I was raped. 
Grant: Oh, you don’t remember, you already told me that. Whew, I thought it was serious. Wanna go to Starbucks?
Madison: Oh. Um, I guess.. yeah.

Madison thought to herself, “Wait what? I don’t remember telling him that, but I guess I did…or maybe someone else did? but who would know?  but… he still just brushed it off and acted like it wasn’t a big deal…I guess it isn’t THAT big of a big deal, I mean…I’m okay now…kind of…” and this topic was never brought up again. Not when Madison felt triggered, not when she had flashbacks and nightmares, not ever. 

Why do I tell you this story?

It’s important to know what to say or do when your friend tells you something like this, whether it’s the first or second or third or seventeenth time. 

When your friend tells you they’ve been sexually or physically assaulted:

  1. Do not brush it off and act like it doesn’t take courage to tell someone. If they feel comfortable enough with you to tell you something like that, sympathize and thank them for being vulnerable enough to share such a tough situation. Understand the gravity of the situation.
  2. Don’t panic. Maybe on the inside it’s inevitable, but keep a calm and caring front with them. They are probably panicking themselves and need someone that isn’t going to jump to conclusions on what actions to take right away immediately.
  3. Ask them if they are okay and how you can help, but NOT about the details if they don’t voluntarily share them. 
  4. Don’t make a police report without their consent
  5. Tell the victim about RAINN or any Rape Crisis Centers in your area. It’s important to know what their safe options are.
  6. Don’t treat them like a wounded bird. They’re still your friend and likely don’t want to be treated differently long term. He/she wants to be heard, supported & not patronized. At the end of the day, your friend is still your friend. 

I hope this is helpful on what to do or say when your friend discloses shocking news. Don’t be like Grant. 

 

Refer to the Resources tab on UnveiledCampaign.com for the RAINN website.

Inhale the good, exhale the bad.

I'm reposting this from last year on my personal blog because I never realized how the same emotions can pop up even one year later. The pain of loss isn't temporary, but community and support makes it a little bit more bearable. Tell someone you love them today. 

_________________

12/1/16

May I start by saying that my brain has successfully turned to mush because when I was typing the title of this,  this is how it went:

"Inhale the good, outhale the bad. *wait* *backspace* exhale the bad."

Mush. 

Continuing to walk through grief during the holidays is such a whirlwind. Tears attack at any given moment with no warning. I wondered to myself how long I'm supposed to keep Poppa's picture on my phone background. Sometimes I see it and I smile, some times I'm too distracted with my task at hand to notice, and some times I look a little too long and a complete and total meltdown rises up and boils over. Luckily, I live in NYC and I don't seem that crazy when that happens, but on a a serious note... when is the time?

I don't want to rush the process. I want to properly go through the emotions and be sad that Poppa is gone and mad that he won't be at my future wedding and devastated that he won't meet my future children. My eyes are already raw from wiping them just thinking about the reality in that last sentence. My heart feels like a 500lb. weight is rested on it for the pain my sweet grandmother must feel. I truly can't imagine.

As we go through the holiday season, add an extra ounce of joy to pass around. You never know who needs it. 

(I realize I didn't write remotely what I meant to, but I'm keeping the title because of the great example of my brain mush as mentioned in the beginning. carry on.)

Ignoring the issue...

Ignoring the Issue

 

By Gregory Henn

 

Fingers tingle with anticipation as they type the words out, each one more hopeful than the next.  When the final message is constructed, it gets read and re-read countless times to ensure that the wording is just right and conveys the exact feelings we want it to.  We hover the mouse, or our thumbs, hesitantly over the “send” key and mentally try to not think about the outcome, no matter how nervous we are.  And then, with one click…it’s done.  The message is sent off into the great oblivion to hopefully be read and responded to quickly.  But sometimes, that just doesn’t happen…

 

Ignoring people is by no means a new concept, but looking around lately, it’s not hard to see that it’s become much easier.  So easy in fact that we’ve been trained to ignore people on a daily basis.  We ignore the people around us at Starbucks by being on our phones as we wait for our drink.  We ignore the homeless person asking for spare change on the street corner.  We ignore knocks at our door or phone calls from numbers we don’t recognize.  Granted, some of those are for safety purposes, but if we’re being honest, sometimes we just don’t want the bother of interaction.  Now, before I proceed, please understand I am NOT advocating that we engage with every single person we come into contact with, because that’s just not wise.  However, when I look around at all the “barriers” people have created around themselves, it’s a wonder that interaction with other people is even possible.  Perhaps the worst perpetrator of all is how we engage one another on social media. 

 

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, all encourage their users to interact with other people.  That is after all, the “social” part of social media.  Yet how often do our comments, messages, and other methods of reaching out fall off unanswered into the silent abyss that is the Internet?  Forgetting about celebrities for a second, how often do we try and communicate with even our own friends and find that we are faced with…silence?  When we later discuss it with them, they apologize for not checking, or for simply forgetting to respond and the issue is quickly forgotten.  Except not entirely, because simple excuses do little to quench the pains of being ignored. 

 

Why do we do this?  Well, in short, I think we ignore because ultimately we want to be the ones to decide who gets special access to our lives.  By putting yourself on social media (unless you become totally private) you are allowing yourself to be open to incoming attention, both wanted and unwanted.  But the genius rests in the fact that since you never actually sit face to face with the person, you get to plan out your response in a careful and calculated way.  If this individual doesn’t seem like someone you want in your life, you can ignore their friend request and hope that they eventually lose interest and go away.  When you get a reply to a tweet you wrote, you aren’t obligated to respond.  In a sense, it was designed that way.  Never before have we had such platforms for people to be “connected” on, and ignored simultaneously.  It’s truly a marvel.    

 

If you stop and think about it, none of this would exist in the real world.  It would be far too awkward.  Imagine you’re sitting down at a table at Starbucks and a person comes in and sits down across from you.  Now imagine that they begin talking to you.  If you just sat there and did nothing (silently hoping they’d just go away), people might begin to think there was something wrong with you.  Yet, somehow we don’t even think twice about doing this over social media.  One can make the claim that they are just inundated with messages and comments and that it is hard for them to respond to them all, but I cry foul on that.  Even within your own inbox, you will prioritize who you want to respond to or not. 

 

Now, while being ignored for any length of time hurts deeply, it’s when we are never responded to at all that hurts the most.  People who never get a response are left with a million unanswered questions, while the other party involved gets to skip and jump and play their life away feeling “free” from the annoyance.  But, speaking as someone who has been ignored quite frequently in my life, let me encourage you that a non-response is the worst thing you can give another person.  Please believe me when I say that we would rather all be recipients to the truth than to silence. 

 

Truth seems to be one of the few remaining currencies we still have as humans.  When we give truth, we often gain truth in return.  Truth about ourselves as well as truth about someone else.  This whole mentality of ignoring something and hoping things just go away on their own is actually quite damaging to people.  If someone is repeatedly ignored because they maybe do things a certain way, but no one ever tells them, do you think they’re going to keep doing it?  Of course they are, because they don’t realize that what they are doing is resulting in them being ignored.  It usually just takes one honest person to finally tell them the truth, and they’ll realize where they’d been going wrong all those years.  One honest person that could have prevented years of heartache and confusion.

 

There’s that age-old phrase that says, “the truth will set you free”, and I think that is definitely true.  But there is another aspect to it as well.  Truth not only sets you free, but it sets the other person free as well.  People who are frequently ignored often harbor negative feelings about themselves for a long time.  Someone who is repeatedly ignored might grow to feel they have less worth than they originally thought and begin to question their sense of value compared to others.  The often ignored might grow to become a bitter and jaded person who seeks to avoid human contact, or worse.  Now, I am not suggesting that ignoring someone once will turn them into a sociopath, but the truth is, you don’t always know where the other person is coming from at that particular moment in their life.  You might just be yet another in a long stream of people who have ignored them in the past, and this time might push them over the edge.  (I admit I’ve seen a few Lifetime movies.  It never ends well.) 

 

So what do we do with this?  Are we to engage every single person we come into contact with in deep meaningful conversations?  Definitely not.  There is a time and place to keep things short and surface-level with someone.  But I think we need to re-assess the way we look at ignoring others as a good avenue to take.  What might appear on the surface to be an easy out, rarely ever is.  We might think we’re doing nothing wrong, but I can guarantee you it hardly feels that way from their perspective.  I think if we truly considered the other person’s feelings above our own initial comfort level, there would be a lot more honesty being tossed around.  And while the truth might hurt their feelings at first, in the long run, everyone winds up better for it.  

Who Runs The World?

*Steps onto soapbox*

During the past 10 months or so, we've been in wedding mode. Planning, working, enjoying and laser focusing in on our relationship as the exciting events surrounded us. Everything was about "us." While that's so fun and exciting, I forgot to focus on myself as an individual and what fills my tank. I can't speak for Justin, but I know I sucked at keeping up with my friends and what was happening in their lives. It was all wedding all the time, or if not the wedding, then work or Unveiled or Hearts & Rockets. My mind was so cluttered that I was 100% a sucky friend (sorry yall...).

PSA: Husbands don't like to talk about the same things you like to talk about. They can't relate to your cramps and get super grossed out when you say anything related to Aunt Flo. Kardashians are the last thing they want to see on TV and "OMG I HATE THE BACHELOR BUT HOW FAR DO YOU THINK I WOULD'VE MADE IT ON THIS SHOW?.. " - direct quote from Mr. Glenn.

So, 

The other night my friend Sarah came to NYC for work and we went to grab dinner. As we shared the most delicious kale & sausage pasta and dipped our overpriced cookies in milk, we talked about all sorts of girl stuff. I probably talked her ear right off but it was so refreshing and fulfilling to just talk about nail polish and The Skimm and the highs and lows of living with a boy (They are so weird. Must've been some side effect of the cootie shot. You hear about those in vaccines you know). 

Then, the next morning, I went to breakfast with my friend Lauren who also happened to be performing in NYC at Carnegie Hall (I cried. It's cool. whatever). Listening to her Grandmothers tell me about how one of them met her husband when she and 48 other students sailed overseas was like a real life rom com storyline and the other lived in Colorado for a while and threw caution to the wind in her sassy car was so fun and inspiring! Remembering our middle school church trip and how one of the girls got caught kissing one of the guys by the lead Pastor, was all so fun and silly and as my heart overflowed with a giddy feeling, I remembered how insanely crucial your girlfriends are. 

I was always the girl who had more guy friends than girl friends because "I don't like drama" when really, I just wanted attention and to be "cool." This changed around the time I turned 19 and realized how much I love having girls I can be silly and dramatic with. Yes, of course girls (including myself) can be crazy, but at the same time, they are the ones who you can stay up all night nail painting and hair braiding with. Girls are the ones who will watch that RomCom movie and eat pints of ice cream with you, and I swear we will go to Pilates tomorrow, yet when tomorrow comes, Pilates turns into brunch and bottomless mimosas. While, having a husband/fiance/boyfriend and being in love is such an incredible feeling, it's also so important to be able to relate on the most random things like which nail salon is the best and who did your hair because I can't live with this mop on my head any longer!?

What I'm trying to say is to cherish your girl friends and nurture those relationships as you keep your independence and individuality while in a relationship. Justin actually loves when I have girls nights. Girls encouraging girls brings out a sense of confidence and joy. Let's nurture that in each other and love on one another. 

Beyonce said it best. Who runs the world? GIRLS.

*Steps off of soapbox*

.

My best friend in high school was the most beautiful girl in school. She was smart, athletic, gorgeous and ALL of the guys wanted to date her. I mean ALL of them. One catch - her dad was the Dean of Discipline... Yikes. He was very strict as you can imagine, but she carried herself with grace. While she was more shy than I was (shocker, I know), the most outstanding quality that she possessed that guys were SO attracted to was....

SHE DIDN'T SETTLE.

I mean, she didn't even have her first kiss until Junior year of high school! Which, oddly enough was the same guy I had my first kiss with, only 3 years before that.. awkotaco, right? That's not the point. 

 

She kept her standards high and guys noticed that. She wasn't the girl who they called in the middle of the night. She wasn't saying "Yes" to every date offered and she was intentional about her female relationships, not ditching her girls to be with a guy she liked. 

 

Hear me on this: It wasn't easy. As her best friend I heard the struggle it was to always be the single one (meanwhile, I'm over there dating an athlete that bored me to tears), but the things that she saved herself from were so rewarding:

1. She didn't have her heart broken a million times

2. She invested in her friendships and no one gossiped about her

3. She made straight A's and got a scholarship to college

4. She didn't carry guilt or shame from one relationship to the next

5. She knew her worth. 

 

 So, embracing your confidence and self worth as well as investing in your girls is attractive to guys, but if you read anything from this, read this:

Don't settle. As she would say, "It's not about someone being good enough, it's about finding my right match."

 

Go ahead girlfriend. 

 

ps- she's now successful, still gorgeous & has incredible friendships. She's still selective on who she dates, but she's met some really quality guys by keeping her standards high.

Pss- I can feel you rolling your eyes at me for not saying "wear a short skirt and laugh at all his jokes" as a way to get guys to notice you, but I'm telling you how to get QUALITY guys to notice you, not quantity. Yer Welcome...

Your Story VI

Before you read this:

1. Grab a tissue

2. Remember the resources page if you have experienced a similar trauma

3. This is an upsetting story with a positive ending, just prepare yourself.

4. To the author of this story: Thank you for your vulnerability, willingness to share & bravery. You are truly a warrior and I'd love for you to email unveiledcampaign@yahoo.com so I can personally thank you. 


Have you ever been cold? Like absolutely cold? And no, I’m not talking about the coldness you feel on that first winter morning. You know, that one morning when you step out for your coffee run and wish you had put on a little more than just a t-shirt and jeans. I’m not even talking about that moment when you’re showering, just about to rinse, and the pilot light goes out. Those moments might be cold, freezing even. However, that’s not what I mean. Those flashes of cold are wimpy compared to what I’m talking about. What I’m describing is a feeling that freezes you so deeply, you can actually feel it touching your soul. It takes full control of your mind, and makes everything about yourself feel unrecognizable. And the feeling lingers. It lingers long and it lingers hard. 

Unfortunately, this is a feeling I used to get often. The cold would find it’s way towards me and I could never seem to escape it. There were triggers, you know? Like, take The Lion King for example. I know, it’s so hard to believe that such an innocent, beautiful, amazing movie could trigger such an awful feeling. I wish it weren’t true but the second I heard The Circle of Life, the coldness and the foggy mind would hit me. That’s all that would have to happen. That movie, the music of that movie, any sign of that movie became one of the many triggers because, well, that movie was playing in the background when it happened. 

It was summer vacation. My junior year of high school had just ended, meaning this would be my last summer with that high school label to my name. As usual I’d be spending it out on the softball field, and I’d be hoping to not just enjoy my time on the team, but also catch the attention of some college coaches. That was the dream at least and I am happy to say now it’s a dream that luckily came true. However, that’s not the story I’m telling here. 

My story starts with the arrival of one of my father’s friends. He was in his early thirties at the time, was a few months out of the basic training he was to weak to pass, and he would be spending time with us in hopes of finding some work up here in his dream state of Massachusetts. He’d grown up and lived in Tennessee and my father had connected with him through work - education. My dad was a principal, and here was a friend of his looking for a job, a job my dad might be able to help him get. It all made perfect sense. There was nothing wrong in the plan. It was a very casual thing. There was nothing uncomfortable about it. But then, sadly, that’s what it would become. 

I can still remember sitting in the back seat as we picked him up from the airport, still in my rugged, sweated over softball uniform. Dirt is a known accessory for me during the softball season. Not comfortable, not flattering. But at that moment, wearing a softball uniform in front of someone whose mind was addicted to sports in an almost robotic way, I guess that was like putting gravy on top of your dogs dinner. I guess that athletic factor inside of me just drew him in even more. 

He’d only be staying with us for a week. The weather was hot, our small house on Cape Cod was barely enough to fit my family let alone a guest, but it was kind of fun hosting someone who was so fascinated by the Boston lifestyle. He had never seen Fenway Park, had never experienced a Boston accent outside of my father’s, and as someone who has lived beside the Cape Cod ocean their entire life, it was almost priceless seeing him smile when he saw that view of the lighthouse for the first time. It was fun. It was summer vacation. However, what started as fun quickly became tricky once I got dealt some hosting obligations. 

My father, he had to handle work at school come the weekdays. My mom, also being a teacher, had the same deal. My sister, had a job up at Dunkin Donuts keeping her busy. So me, with nothing but softball on my plate every now and then, would be given the job of entertaining. This lead to an afternoon at a Patriots practice, both an afternoon and night game at Fenway Park, even a few rounds of catch down at the beach. It was alright. I didn’t mind any of it. But to me I was just hosting my dads friend, keeping the guy busy until he was home to do the entertaining. That’s all it was, that’s all anyone would have seen it as. Then again, that didn’t stop him from seeing it from a different angle. Where I saw it as entertaining, he took these instances as a sign of a bigger “relationship”, one that was “heating up”. So just like that, after an evening of steak tips and fourth of July fireworks with the family, I was introduced to that cold feeling for the very first time. 

Everyone in the house was sound asleep. I was tucked in but still awake, finishing off the night by enjoying that wonderful throwback The Lion King. It felt like a solid way to finish the day. But like I said, everyone was asleep, so my heart was already a little surprised when I heard my bedroom door opening. I could hear him, I could see him, and thinking about it now I can still feel the silence of the house. I wasn’t all that alarmed at first. I just figured he needed something, was looking for something in the house and I was the only one awake. But he was getting closer, coming towards my bed and he eventually climbed in. He wasn’t in here looking for something. No, he was just simply looking for me. 

And he found what he wanted. He’d locked the door so there was no way of running out and he kept his hand pressed to my face, muting my mouth so my screams only became wasted energy. In such a small house I still question how he was able to keep it so quiet. So deathly quiet and my God, in the summer, how could his hands have been so damn cold?! 

Before he started, in an unnaturally calm voice, he gave this story about how I egged him on. That this would stay our little secret or else. Besides, with the things we did, with the “dates” we had, no one would believe it. Then, without saying anything else, he did whatever he wanted. When it was over, when it was all finally over, when he finally left the room, that is when the coldness hit me the hardest. It could have been shock, it could have been pain, it could have been fear. Whatever it was I just know I could hardly move. Not because of how it physically hurt, I don’t even think any of that had registered in my mind yet. But I still remember just shivering so hard that I could barely breath. The next morning, after an entire night of being sick in the bathroom, it was off to the hospital. 

My mother thought my sickness was dehydration. She figured that had to explain my shaking and rapid heartbeat. The doctors even figured thats all it was, solving my nerves and nausea with just a few bags of liquids. They credited my scratches and bruises to softball and that’s what I let them think. I didn’t tell them the truth. Because I was too scared to tell them the biggest piece of the story. I was too embarrassed to tell them what really happened. It would be to uncomfortable to explain the real details to my mother. It would be awful to make my family worry like that. Just awful. 

So I let the nurses do their usual smiling. One kept bringing me a freshly heated blanket to stop my chills, and I kept a smile painted on my own face the entire time. I’m an athlete. A “never let them see you cry or ache” type girl. So even when I looked down at my phone to see a text from HIM, I still kept that smile on. I even nodded my head and agreed with my mother when she said how nice it was of him to check in like that. I smiled and thanked HIM. 

It only took me roughly twenty four hours though for me to find the courage to make some kind of stand for myself. I didn’t say why, I didn’t say what he had done, I just made it very clear that I would be getting in the car and I wouldn’t be coming back until he was out of the house. That was the only message my family needed to hear to conclude that yes, something wasn’t right. He complained, cursed, and whined that entire morning. He didn’t want to be leaving, he still had jobs to check out and a vacation to enjoy up here. However, as he made up his bed and complained to one of his friends on the phone, my sister overheard and learned quite a few details about my dads friend that hinted to my strong request. She heard a bit of the truth and that’s all my father needed to know to make sure he was long gone and never able to see our house again. My prayers were answered and he was kicked to the bus stop curb before he even had a ticket back to Tennessee. I was safe again, and I still had a good amount of summer left to enjoy. Then why, still, did I feel so cold. 

My senior year would become such a fog. I was already the distant type so I just went through my normal actions in the hallways at school. I kept to myself, I didn’t have friends to keep me busy, I didn’t think I needed friends to keep me busy, so I just kept my head down pure usual. I played softball so that was my way of venting when I was away from home, and my passion for music and the guitar kept my mind safe and steady when I was home. I remained my bubbly and happy self for my family, but that was all just motions. I was just keeping up an act to try and make it seem as if nothing about me had changed. But something had changed, and because of that secret boiling inside of me for so long, it eventually lead to a breaking point. 

The breaking point happened my freshman year of college. I had just returned to school from winter break and although I still kept on a smile for my friends at school, my family was beginning to notice a much more ghostly me. I talked about hating and quitting softball, something I had lived for, and I didn’t want to be at school. To them, it didn’t seem normal for someone with all these new friends, caring friends, to want to come home every chance they got. And it wasn’t normal. As much as I hated their attempts and eventually the doctors attempts to snap me out of that fog, I am beyond thankful that they finally forced it out of me. It took time, a lot of patience, and lordy was it exhausting. But my family finally heard the full story of that summer, and very suddenly, almost as if there was a switch turned on inside of me, my world was beginning to look so much brighter. I was finally feeling warm again. 

I still don’t talk about this glimpse in my life much. In fact, I don’t talk about it at all. The doctors bring it up every now and then but even with them I like to try and look at the positives in my life TODAY. Why? Because in the end, those positive moments are the ones that matter. College has gifted me with so many things, the ability and strength to let other people into my world being one, and I like to use these friends of mine as a reminder to look forward. They have given me so many memories worth cherishing and those moments all combine beautifully to push out, drown out, and almost erase that one terrible chapter of my life story. That’s not to say that I’m fully healed, that I’m fully free from those triggers. But with so many people around me now who keep me smiling, and with this refreshed mind set, I am able to remind myself during those difficult flashbacks that there are still so many things that I am blessed to have in this life. 

With places like this, the Unveiled Campaign, and with so many other beautiful things to turn to, I have learned that there is still so much out there. Since stepping out from behind that wall, even taking the chance and letting a real, trusting man into my word, I now know that there is a way to direct my story so that I only see the happy ending. 

I want to see the happy endings. I want to hold the moments of smiles close in my heart forever. And I hope by sharing my story, this story, that if any one out there is ever feeling that same earth shattering coldness, that they read this as evidence for the warmth that is still out there and worth fighting for. Because there is still light. There is still color. In fact, there’s a lot of it. And as some girl named Miley Cyrus once said, “Life’s a climb, but the view is great”. 

It is great, and I’m lucky and honored to stand as proof that those mountain parts of life are definitely worth climbing.

 

Wrong Sandwich...

“Wrong Sandwich”
By Gregory Henn
It might seem like a pretty ridiculous set up, but I recently learned a very valuable life lesson from a sandwich…
Allow me to explain. 
The other day I had gone to lunch and ordered some food to-go.  Before handing me my meal, the worker repeated the correct order, but one inquisitive glance in the bag, showed me that it wasn’t exactly made the way I had ordered it. Now, I like to think I’m a pretty rational person and I understand that in quick-food services (especially during the lunch rush), mistakes happen.  And so, since the visible error wasn’t anything that would have put me out completely, I said nothing, happily accepted the food as it was, and went home. 
It was only after I got home though that I realized I had actually received the entire wrong meal.  It wasn’t just that they had used white bread instead of sourdough; it wasn’t even close to the sandwich I ordered.  I sat there in a moment of consideration.  I could either take 15 minutes to drive back to the restaurant, explain the problem and wait for them to give me the correct food, OR, I could do the alternative, keep the entire matter to myself, and just eat what I was given.  I feel like any normal person would have just gone right back out the door, but I just sat there and ate it. 
Now the sandwich I had received was actually pretty tasty, but that’s beside the point.  The POINT to all of this is that none of this would have happened if I had just spoken up in the restaurant the first moment I saw something wrong.  But, because of who I am inside, I also knew that saying something would have taken a lot more guts than just keeping my mouth shut.  This then, is the plight of the people pleaser.  
If I didn’t know it before, I sure did realize it after this experience.  I am a people pleaser and while that sometimes isn’t an inherently bad thing, sometimes it can be a truly backwards approach to life.  Within seconds of realizing this, a thousand other compromising decisions filled my mind, and I realized this is something I do on an alarmingly frequent basis.  
You might not immediately see how people pleasing leads to compromising decisions, so let me explain.  For the people pleaser, the number one priority in any situation is making sure the other “person” is happy.  This applies to friends, family, and yes, even the cashier at the restaurant.  For me, going back in with a “complaint” would not have made the cashier happy and would have soured their day which would have undoubtedly caused a chain reaction of other negative actions all resulting in the downfall of civilization…in my mind.  
In total seriousness though, this event was eye-opening.  It made me realize just how easy it is for me to choose to settle on something rather than go for the thing I actually want because I’m often too afraid of hurting someone else’s feelings in the process.  Almost providentially, I recalled the old words of a friend: “You don’t want good things for yourself”.  At the time I balked at the notion, because well, who wouldn’t want good things for themselves?  But the more I realized it, they were right.  Rather than wanting good things for myself, my people pleasing mentality wanted good things for everyone else.  As a result, my life turned into a large collection of settlements and acceptances of things that I never quite asked for, but I accepted because it made other people happy.  
The problem with all of this runs deeper than just winding up with a bunch of less than amazing things though.  When I people please, I preach myself a lie that convinces me: I am personally responsible for someone else’s happiness.  I wrongly believe that if I’m not just accepting the things I am given, then I am letting other people down.  As a byproduct of people pleasing, I often fall into the “nice guy” trap.  To illustrate this more clearly, recently someone told me I was a nice guy, and used that as one of the reasons it was “OK” that I hadn’t gotten paid for doing three months-worth of work.  But that’s another story for another time… 
For too long I have happily received the “wrong sandwich” in life all because I chose not to speak up and cause a fuss.  But in doing that, I have also sold my life short.  I could have easily enjoyed all the wonderful things I had originally set my mind and heart on…if only I had found the nerve to just say something and not watch them slip away into someone else’s hands (or stomach).  Now, I’m not saying that life would have always handed me exactly what I wanted, but in a way I guess I can say that I don’t know that for certain because I never took the chance to find out.  What is certain though is that the more I people please, the less I actually respect my own life.  The more I live under the rule someone else’s perception of happiness and not my own, the less likely I am to find actual fulfillment in my life.  
Clearly, if I had brought up the error in my food order, the cashier would not have hated me.  In fact, she probably would have been grateful I said something so as to prevent another complaint from the person whose food I did end up with, and they got mine.  The truth of the matter is, by not saying anything I probably very likely caused someone else to be upset anyway.    
When you’re a people pleaser, you strive to make everyone else happy and it feels good to do so.  But I think you ultimately do it at the risk of disappointing yourself, and your life is too precious and valuable to do that. 
 After all, doesn’t life taste a lot better when you get the right sandwich?
   

 

Your Story V

I may only be 24 years old, but I have had my fair share of experiences just like any other person. Like many other people, I grew up in a small town. It was bigger than a village but smaller than a city, populated by 2100 people, having increased since then. My childhood was great, I didnt really begin to experience anything until I made it to Jr. high school. For me it was very difficult. Growing up where I did, it was very hard to find a place where you felt like you could fit in. Most of my classmates parents made a lot of money, allowing them to have pretty much anything a young kid in school would want. High end school supplies, high end clothes. These were all the same kids who got good grades and took part in football, track, cheerleading, you name it. I was an outcast from the start. My parents weren't rich like their parents, but how much money my parents had never really bothered me. Money and items dont make you who you are. On top of not having a place to fit in, I never had that many friends. There was a small group of us, but it wasnt anything huge. This was a group of friends that I loved very much. We didnt care whose parents had more money, who had the better house or stuff like that. This group of friends only cared about the important stuff. It was a place to fit in. For a long time, it didnt really seem to bother me. Then I discovered my feelings for a guy. This is where I began to start dressing up more, putting my hair up all pretty and wearing what little make up my mother would allow me. While doing all of this it never occurred to me that maybe I could just be myself and that might be good enough. I never really thought about it because this place, this school, all the girls had such high standards of what they looked liked. Here I was looking like a tom boy. I grew up out in the country, so for me all that work to make myself look "good" really was work. I was trying my hardest to be somebody I wasnt to impress a boy. Eventually he began to show interest and I was happy. But long story short, he was showing interest for all the wrong reasons. It was a dare or something, one of his friends put him up to. Talk about kick while you are down. As a girl in high school, that would be enough to make you wanna go home and never go anywhere ever again. I never told anyone about it, not even my friends, not even my family. I just swallowed it all and went back to being my "dirty" country girl self. I began to really wonder if something was wrong with me, I started shutting myself off to the outside world. I would just go to school, do my work, and then go home. I would wake up the next day and do the same thing all over again, showing no emotion ever. It didn't help matters that I loved wrestling. My mom got me into watching wrestling on tv and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. It became my hobby. It really consumed me, but it gave me something to look forward to and something to show interest in. Of course that got an immediate negative reaction at my school. I began to wear all different kinds of t shirts for different wrestlers, and one week during homecoming for career day I dressed up as my favorite wrestler. I got made fun of so much for it. I would just shrug it off and act like I didnt care, but on the inside my heart was just crumbling more and more. This was going to be my life until I graduated and left it all behind. Things didnt get any better either. Im gonna flash forward to my senior prom. I had been talking to this really cute guy for awhile, and it really seemed like it might go somewhere because he seemed to be showing interest in who i really was. The real me, my dirty cowgirl, playin in the mud, playin in the woods self. He asked if I would go to prom with him and of course I said yes. I had never been asked to go to a dance or anything of the sort. Not even a date, so I was very excited to say the least. I got my dressed picked out and my mom bought a corsage for me. The day came and I couldnt have been more excited as my sister in law helped me get ready. I made it to prom and he was nowhere to be found. Eventually I found out that he stood me up, and decided to go to his ex girlfriends prom with her. I was very hurt and upset. That was probably the worst thing that could have happened to me. I didnt confront him, and I didnt do anything about it. I just wanted to find a hole to crawl into and never come out. Needless to say it didnt help with my self esteem at all. All I could think was there had to be something wrong with me. Graduation came around and we all said our good byes. That was probably one of the best days of my life. I couldnt wait to leave this school and all these negative small minded people behind. And I did just that. I began going to the gym on a regular basis and eating healthy. Yes, I was unhappy with my body, but I also wanted to make a lifestyle change and prove to people that I could become so much more. When you struggle with self esteem, your weight can be a huge issue. And it was very huge for me. But I am also a tall girl. I am 5'10", which I never really liked. I mean what kind of guy is gonna want to date a girl thats not only bigger than him, but taller as well. Eventually I just stopped caring and focused on what I wanted. I wasnt happy, but I wasnt miserable either. I just felt like there was something missing. I felt like there was something else that could really help me, something that could help me with how I see myself when I look in the mirror. Thing is, (not to mark on myself) but I am a very humble girl. When I stand in front of the mirror I dont look into it and say "Dang Im freakin hot" or anything like that. I just look into it and decide if I am happy with how I look that day. Thats just how I am, its how I was raised. 6 years later, to this day, I still do the same thing. And I still workout, but now I do it because I enjoy it. I eat right, because I enjoy it. How did that happen? Well I ended up making some even more amazing friends, and these girls never missed a day of telling me how beautiful I was inside and out. And God, I found God. I discovered a new found faith that had been existent in my heart, but it was just shut away because I had so much sorrow that I could not get past. And there is music. I have always loved music so very much, but I cant play a single instrument. I cant carry a tune either but I still sing my heart out constantly. After everything that has happened to me, I look back on it all as a blessing. All the heartbreak, all the pain, it made me a stronger person and it made me who I am today. People may label you, they may judge you, but they only opinion you should care about is your own. When you look into that mirror, what matters the most is what you see, and how you see yourself. For me music, god, and friendship were my saviors. I finally feel like I belong. It has been a long painful journey, but I made it. No matter what you are going through, I promise you, it gets better. Stay strong and join me in becoming unveiled!

Thoughts on Friendship

Friendships are the best, right?  I mean, can anyone else remember being back in elementary school, when you and your friend decided to solidify the fact that you would be best friends forever with BFF necklaces?  Friendships back then were so simple.  They were based on what class you were in, or what you liked to do, or which boy band was your favorite.  And, for the most part, they were pretty steady.  It wasn’t until middle and high school that things started to get a little more complicated, when we all started separating into cliques and groups.  I remember that time of my life being challenging, as I considered myself a “floater” who got along with almost everyone.  I kind of bounced around from group to group each year, never really knowing who my closest friends were until I was a senior.

At this point, I have been out of high school for almost ten years, and I have consequently learned a lot about what healthy and unhealthy friendships look like.  I have learned that some friendships form very naturally and can last a long time, that sometimes the hardest friendships are the most worth fighting for, and that sometimes you just have to let go of the ones that are not encouraging you to be the best version of yourself.  So allow me to share of the things that I have learned about friendships with you:

  • You get to choose your friends, so choose wisely!  Look for those who will encourage you, challenge you, and love you no matter what; the ones who call you out on your crap and remind you of your true worth.  Those kinds of friends are absolute keepers.
  • You have to work to maintain your friendships, especially post high school and college.  When you’re no longer living with or sitting in classes with your friends everyday, you will need to be very intentional to stay close wth them.  Snail mail, coffee dates, and spontaneous road trips are always winning options.
  • It’s okay for some friendships to slowly fade away.  Some friends are for a reason or for a season, and are not necessarily meant to last forever.  This is natural and happens to all of us, so feel free to grieve any losses while moving forward in your other friendships.
  • Sometimes, the best thing you can do is end a toxic friendship.  If you have a friend who radiates negativity, is a bad influence, or has boundary issues, know that it’s okay to walk away.  It won't necessarily be easy, but you want to make sure you are taking care of yourself in your friendships, too.
  • You might find yourself on the receiving end of a broken or dying friendship.  Maybe your friend tells you that they can’t be friends anymore, or maybe they just shut you out for no reason at all.  These situations are really tough, especially when they are someone you really care about.  My advice in these situations comes straight from the Bible — “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." (Romans 12:18).  Do all that is in your power to make peace with that friendship, and if it is not received, feel free to walk away knowing you tried to make it right.  And remember that sometimes it has less to do with you than you may think.

Friendships are beautiful, wonderful gifts from God, but that doesn’t always mean that they are easy.  They take work, intentionality, and a whole lot of grace, but they are most certainly a picture of God’s love for His kids.  So get out there and grow deeper with the friends you value most, seek new friendships with those that will encourage and challenge you to be your best self, and always remember that Jesus is the greatest friend of all.


“A friend loves at all times…”
Proverbs 17:17
 

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up…”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
 

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Colossians 3:12-14

 

- Gennean (blog / instagram)

Your Story IV...

*Before you read, buckle up. This is amazing.*

______________________________

My story begins when I was 17. I was a young girl who was struggling with anxiety to the point of not being able to eat. I was dropping weight and was not able to keep anything I ate down.

Then I met him. We’ll call him Dan. He swooped in right when I needed someone the most. My father moved out of states a few months before for a job and my identical twin had just had a major surgery a few months before as well.

I had a crush on Dan for months, but when we officially met, we were inseparable. It was the summer, I was going into my senior year of high school, and we spent every day together.

Dan was a year older than I was and went off to college when fall came. He was only an hour away, and I visited regularly.

But things started to change when he got to college. He started talking to me poorly, get annoyed constantly, and crabby.

I blew it off as him being stressed from school, or that maybe I was doing something wrong to make him mad.

When it came time to choose college for myself, and I allowed Dan to cloud my choice. He convinced me to go to the same school, and when I brought up the school I had fallen in love with, he guilt tripped me to the point of me not applying.

I ended up going to the same school, but getting into a competitive research program.

The first day we both were there, I jokingly hid one of Dan’s desk chairs, and he cussed me out loud enough for others to hear, and for my family to hear. I was skyping my twin when he realized the chair was gone.

That moment my stomach turned into knots, I knew I made a mistake.

Dan started controlling more and more of my life and I did not even realize it.

I couldn’t talk to guys in my class without him making me feel guilty, I couldn’t go to parties without him there and he refused to go to anything I wanted to go to. If I wore a shirt that was lower cut, I’d get guilt tripped.

After Fall Semester, Dan was dismissed from the college because of grades. I was assured that he wouldn’t fail out, but he lied about how much class he was actually missing.

When I returned to college for Spring Semester, I was going alone. I had made no friends of my own and knew no one on my floor.

I fell into a deep depression. I struggled not only with not having Dan there, but being my own person. I had always been a twin, and when I got the chance to be my own person, I still was attached to someone else.

After my first year of college, my mother and younger sister moved to where my father was living. I thought about transferring to the school I wanted to go to originally, even talked to a Transfer Counselor, but Dan made me feel bad about even thinking about it.

When my family dropped me off for my sophomore year of college, I stood outside my dorm watching the van drive off and tears streamed down my face. I had asked Dan to be there when they left for comfort; he didn't show up for over an hour after my family.

That was the moment that I knew that I deserved better.

"I'm transferring".

I said it out loud to myself, and I knew that I meant it this time. I was going to transfer to where I wanted to go to school for ME. No one else.

Dan started making me cry on a weekly basis, I barely left my room because I did not have many friends, and I sat alone on weekends begging Dan to come visit. Every weekend it was another excuse as to why he couldn't come visit and when he did, he'd treat me horribly. He would raise his voice to me a few times a day, and I let him.

Family would tell me he talked to me poorly and I'd say it wasn't like that all of the time.

But it was.

I'd get embarrassed that they would notice how he talked to me. Not only was he embarrassing me in front of people, he had given himself the power to embarrass me even when he was not there. I was constantly embarrassed about just being myself.

One of the moments that stick out in my mind was when we went to the big mall together by where I used to live. We walked into the food court and I was walking around looking for food. He got in line and ordered. I walked up to Five Guys and thought it was a little ridiculously priced. I turned around and walked back to him and he asked if I ordered. I said, "No not yet, I don't know what I want". He immediately went off on me. "What?! I already ordered. God. You can't pick from the selection that is here? I'm going to get my food way before you. Come on!” The guy that was standing waiting for food next to us looked at us, then at me with the most disgusted look on his face.

I felt immediately humiliated. This complete stranger must think I'm stupid for not being able to make up my mind. 

But then when they called Dan's order, the guy who overheard said, "Hey! I think that's yours" with a bite and glared at Dan. I knew then that he didn't look disgusted because I couldn't make up my mind, he looked disgusted that Dan was talking to me the way he was.

I constantly was asking, "Why do you always have to make me feel stupid?" or "Do you always have to do that? Make me feel stupid?”

Yes, I am a little unorganized and klutzy, but that should be lovable and goofy, not annoying.

Dan did get physical one time, and it scared me.

He grabbed my arm and yanked me away from a bird that was hurt. I felt a flash of fear; he'd never done that before. There were people sitting on a bench that saw him do that, and I saw their eyebrows go up with surprise. Yet again, I was embarrassed that someone saw that, but I didn't say anything.

As a girlfriend I was never valued. Anything that bothered me, "you're too sensitive" or "you're overreacting". I'd never get a phone call or text but whenever we were together he was always on his phone.

I had to ask to hold his hand, or ask him to cuddle. I never was told I looked nice or beautiful. He was constantly degrading me.

Too clumsy to remember where my keys were.

Too untrustworthy to be allowed to go out.

Too sensitive to "jokes"

Too clingy or pushy for asking for positive attention.

My accomplishments were never anything to be proud of.

When I got accepted to the school I had turned down to go to where Dan wanted, I was ecstatic. I could not believe that I was getting the opportunity to do what I had always wanted.

Dan didn't say, "Congratulations, I'm proud of you", he said, "Took long enough".

I moved out of the state we both had lived in and to where my whole family was, and I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I breathed a little deeper, and found myself not missing Dan.

One evening, in the summer before I moved to my new college, I broke up with Dan because he had lied to me about trying to move to where I was. He was caught and I was done letting him lie to me.

A few hours later, I called him back and told him I was sorry and that I didn't want it to end.

They say that it takes someone who is in an abusive relationship five tries to get out of the relationship.

When I got to my dream school, I flourished. I made friends, got invited over, did better in classes, and truly smiled.

The happier I became, the worse Dan got. He would yell at me on the phone, guilt trip me for having friends that were guys, and needed to know where I was going all of the time.

One night, Dan told me he was never going to move out of our home state and I knew in that moment that if I stayed with him, I was going to be trapped in the state I moved away from.

"What are we doing then?" I asked.

We broke up mutually, but I still was upset about it. We were together almost three and a half years. I didn't understand why I was upset when he treated me so poorly.

When I found out that he had started dating someone who was 4 years younger than him less than 3 weeks after we broke up, I became numb.

Dan started doing drugs and hanging out with the wrong kind of people.

After finding out about his new girlfriend, who it seemed like he was with while still dating me, I knew that I couldn't focus on the past or him, I had to work on how I viewed myself.

I realized that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship after men started paying attention to me and I would question why. Why would they want me? I'm nothing special.

It took a long time to break that train of thought. I'd cringe when I would lose something, I would hear Dan yelling at me and be embarrassed, even if no one was there.

When it came to men, I steered clear. I had guys that were interested in me, but I wasn't interested in dating for months.

The lies I allowed Dan to put into my head about myself were not who I was, and I unveiled the lies and saw the truth.

I was me. 100% unique.

Instead of being ashamed of who I was, I started embracing it, recognizing my likes and dislikes, and thrived on being authentic.

I did all of the things that Dan had stopped me from doing.

I went out dancing and didn't care how goofy I looked.

I wore a dress out for a girl's night.

I joined a women's group.

I started painting and doing creative things.

I had finally got the opportunity to do whatever I wanted to do.

I graduated a year ago from my dream school, and I have never stopped living fully.

Life had it's hard points, like what to do after graduating, the realization that I know am starting my life, and moving two times.

I moved away from the state where my dream school was, and in the region of the US that my home state is. I don't regret moving, but I definitely miss it.

I got a job as a Life Skills Trainer for people with developmental disabilities and I love it. I look forward to going to work and have amazing coworkers.

Through my job I am teaching classes, and making a difference in the client's lives. I am helping them become more independent, and it makes me proud of not only where I work, but also whom I work with.

Because of my job, I have become more aware of disability rights and now am an advocate for those who have disabilities to have the same rights as you or I. I volunteer for a candidate for my new state's senate.

If I let Dan keep his control, believe what he made me believe about myself and not become the person I am today, I would never be here. I would not be helping those reach their full potential. I would not be helping a great person win a senate seat. I would be trapped in a life that was not meant for me.

The next challenge for me is to actually date someone. I have a fear of being vulnerable with someone again due to how I was treated. I have become independent but also am getting to the point of wanting a companion. I don't want another Dan either. But being able to talk about the emotional abuse it one step in the right direction.

Learning to be vulnerable after coming so far will be tough, but I am ready for it.

I want to make sure that others know to not let someone control so much of your life that you forget to live it.

I knew I deserved better and I haven't stopped looking for that better person.

I am living unveiled.