#MondayMemories (Letter to my 6th Grade Teacher)

Dear Ms. G,
(My only teacher I had ever had to use the term MS.)

Remember me? I was that chubby little red-head who wore the clear framed glasses 2 sizes too large. You know… they had the little white daisies on the sides? I couldn’t seem to find a picture with me IN those glasses, but anyway, it was 1986 and I was at my prime of childhood awkwardness.


You may not know this but out of all of my teachers I liked you the best. That out of all of my teachers you taught me the most. I don’t remember squat about the books we read or your school forte… MATH.  YUCK. But what I do remember of you was learning a valuable lesson that would later teach me about life.
You see, I had never been chosen by anyone in school for anything. When it came to kids choosing me to be on their team for whatever dumb sport we were playing in gym, I was the one they didn’t have the choice on. They just got me. Last goes with team whose turn was last. It’s okay. I hated gym anyway.

But you know, those kids who always seemed to get out of school work and run errands for teachers? Up until I got into your class, I was never chosen, but for whatever reason you picked me. Not just once, but a few times! I remember even thinking to myself, could I possibly be a “teachers pet”???? Oh how I wished to be disliked by everyone for a reason like that instead of the multiple reasons they already had.

The seasons were changing and the bulletin board needed updating. So you chose myself and another girl in our class to cut out several letters for the board. To this day I cannot remember what they even said.  I hoping to remember one day,  now that my good childhood memories are slowly coming back.
Now let me tell you, you have no idea how big of a deal this was for me. First of all, I LOVED art. The closest thing I ever got to art while attending St. Hyacinth School, was a xerox copy coloring page that had pictures of the saints or bible characters on them. I never got lucky enough to have a teacher that valued art as a subject in my dear old catholic school.  But here was my chance. Not only did you,  my awesome teacher choose me,  but you gave me a project you thought I could successfully execute.

I can see myself now, sitting at my desk earnestly cutting away with my eyes laser focused on my scissors.  I was going to give you the best letters EVER. They were going to be WAY better than the other girl’s letters for sure.  So with excitement and unfortunately no attention to detail, I handed them in way before the other girl.  The next day when I arrived at school, expecting to see my work stapled to the cork boards, I quickly realized you hadn’t put them up yet.  SO I sat down at my desk, and reached for my first book of the day, and I found a ziplock baggie with the letters I had cut for you.

In the bag was a note that said:

Please look at the edges on the letters. You can do much better than this. Please take your time and fix them.
Ms. G

Now at first, I was really, REALLY upset. Questions of self pity flooded my mind like “Why wasn’t anything I ever did ever good enough?”But regardless of how I felt, I took my time to recut the letters more smoothly and later that week you hung them up as you intended.  What you don’t know is that entire season I remember not wanting to look at those letters because of my feelings of failure. (probably why I cannot remember what they said)
You didn’t know how my mind saw things back then or why, but I didn’t have the emotional capability to look at the situation simply for what it was.

Instead I saw it as:

I screwed up because I was a screw up. I remembered myself as the fat, dumb 6th grader who couldn’t even cut correctly.

For years this memory haunted me.

But today,  as I am now slowly peeling paging back and looking straight on to my memories as they were,  I see that it wasn’t rejection you showed me.  Instead, it was that you BELIEVED in me.  You wouldn’t have given me the task if you thought I couldn’t do it. Yes, you saw I rushed through it and knew I could do better.

Because you gave me a chance that day, I DID DO BETTER.


You CHOSE me AGAIN even when I didn’t meet your expectations.

So Ms. G, even if it wasn’t intentional, you taught me that one day I would have to grow up and enter into situations where there would not be anyone to tell me to try again. EXCEPT FOR ME.  This taught me that I would have to look at my failures, my pain, my past straight on (sometimes for seasons or even years) and even though things aren’t always as fixable as your letters, that I can still TRY again. And even DO BETTER.

Because of you seeing that potential in me, I always had the stepping stones to one day see potential in myself.

Thank you Ms.G


Chantel A. Szyka

(btw, I’m still trying to cut)


Transformation Tuesday: Forgiving Me 

This almost decade long journey of self discovery and the tiring process of learning how to forgive those who had harmed me has not been easy. Not easy for me and really not easy for those around me. 
Your going to read this a lot in my blogs- “Hurting people hurt people.” Thank you Celebrate Recovery

In my opinion, Joyce Meyer, (my most favorite women ever in ministry) describes this kind (my kind) of brokenness best.  

Those who have struggled through life because of the mental trauma childhood sexual abuse brings, we often struggle with having a bit of a broken personality. 

Whether you agree or disagree with her terminology, I’m going to say that as I am now beginning to live on the healed side of recovery, I sure the hell didn’t look at things correctly.  

As a child and well up into adulthood I believed that anything and everything that ever went wrong was my fault. I believe this thinking started after I had tried to tell an adult about the “things” that were happening to me. Instead of concern, she responded with calling me a liar and to shut my mouth. I never told anyone again … until many years later. I didn’t understand it then, but that feeling of everything being my fault all the time was rooted in the guilt from that time. You see after that was said to me, the abuse continued and then I KNEW what was happening was wrong. But I didn’t stop it. I never even tried. I don’t even know why. Maybe I was afraid. Maybe I just couldn’t comprehend. I really don’t know. 

But this guilt and shame allowed me to take everything that happened to me to a new level of personal. If the kids at school were mean to me, I thought it was because of something I was. That’s why bulimia was such an easy thing for me to fall prey to as a tween. They usually made fun of my weight so I got to believe that maybe if I were thinner, they would like me more. If my hair was blonder they might like me more, if I got rid of my glasses I might get a boyfriend. 

You get the picture. 

So with all that being said, you can bet I didn’t handle my relationships correctly either. I tolerated half hearted friendships where I was only good for them when there was no other option. I observed my parents relationship and longed for my father to take some interest in our family and all the things my mother had to offer. 
But instead all I saw was his interest in a cute waitress that might have been serving us at the time or his 90 hour work weeks. 

So as time went on, my personality changed. You can say it broke. The More and more people began to disappoint me the more I became angry. So I became one to hurt people too. Regardless of desperately wanting and needing healthy friendships and family relations, navigating my emotions was almost impossible for me as I got into my teens. I was turning more inward with my struggle with body image. Bulimia was a constant friend in helping me control.  I would also  smoke and put out the cigarettes in my wrist so the burn would mask my feelings of hopelessness.  

My friendship problems had typically blew up in my face when I came to figure out I could not control how things were going to go.  

I never handled conflict well. 

It’s textbook really. 

I didn’t have control when all the abuse took place, so I learned how to survive by trying to control everything that came my way.We all know that the only one we have complete control over is ourselves. And as Dr Phil would ask.. “How’s that working for ya?” To which I then could reply … well Phil, my fright, fight, and flight knee jerk reactions are getting pretty old. Really old after age 30. People got really tired of me. I was getting really tired of me and I knew this wasn’t who I wanted to be.  

I didn’t know how or even why then. All I knew was, back me in a corner and I’m going to do anything I have to, to survive.  

So if that meant saying the absolute most terrible thing to hurt you because you hurt me, I did. If that meant writing you out of my life for good if I felt you might never understand, I did.  I just couldn’t open my heart one more time and have it trampled on again because of my vulnerability.  No more was I going to allow people to hurt me. 
 But I did allow one person to hurt me most.


I took myself out of life before I even tried. Even though I was a wife and a mom I slowly started to become cynical and depressed. I didn’t understand it then but every single person, place, or thing that we invest our love and time in is a big risk. Fear can have a way of slithering its hooks into our minds and hearts while stealing any possible joy from us when we have been hurt. Fear reminds us of the past like a broken record. 

Fear says it may not work out. But reality says… Yes, it may not… But it just may! Nothing and no one except God himself is a SURE thing.  When your talking relationships, failure and disappointment are not if’s, they are WHEN.  

What I have realized now is my fear allowed me to behave like all that I hated. It was an endless cycle of self hate. I’d go into a friendship thinking super positively, but the minute something would change, my trigger receptors would start my train of self sabotage. The lies I would tell myself would eventually fester and destroy. Sometimes the person was toxic and these instincts were good to have. But a unfortunate majority never saw it (me) coming. 

It has taken me years to see into my own reflection and my own self construed destruction. But regardless of my journey , my past is not an excuse for any bad behavior I had.  

I had lost many friends and the possibility of friends because of my severe trust issues. Even recently this has been a challenge for me. But I continue to keep working on myself by being open and honest with those who still remain in my life. 

It’s a total mind douching process. 

To actually believe that not everyone has an underlining plan to destroy. That some definitely do but not everyone sucks. And sometimes I suck as a person too. A lot. The thing is I know me. I know my heart. It’s trusting others that’s the daily fight. 

We all can be selfish at times. 

We all get mad or angry.  

We all have gossiped. 

We all have said or done things in anger or sadness we have regretted.

Yes I know. 

We all have.  

I have too. 

Up until the last few years, I had looked at most relationships pretty black and white. If trust was ever questioned or if an argument ensued I would pretty much write the person off.  
Sounds wrong, immature, and drastic but if I felt threatened, that’s how I handled it. I just moved on. 

The problem was I realized I moved on from EVERYONE. I had virtually no friends and family because I couldn’t figure out a way to wait and see what could happen if we tried to see it through.  
There’s nothing like loneliness in the midst of recovery to make a person look hard in the mirror at what part she played in this.  

Now there’s a “teeny” victim in me that wants to stamp her feet and scream and cry and say this isn’t fair. I’m the one who is screwed up because of sick people. 

I’m the one having to heal, and put my own pieces back together and NOW I have to humbly own all the damage I did to others because I didn’t know how to be because they don’t understand me!!!?!? 

Yes boo hoo. 

And with my pity party dress on I can say that Life can suck. 

But after my tantrum, I realized how I had to own my wrongs to move forward.  

It’s all I could do. I’m the only one who can control me. 

It’s been really hard.  

But when I owned up to the wrongs I had done to others, look it dead in the face and humbly asked to be forgiven. Be forgiven by God and by them. In doing this it forced me to come to terms with why I did it to begin with. 

My coming to terms with why had been leading me to acceptance of it all. 

Which now is moving even into forgiveness of those who had hurt me and forgiveness of myself for not knowing better.  
I’m still going to struggle. 
History will sometimes repeat itself in reactions or behaviors – because I’m still not there yet. 
I know better today, so I’ll do better today. 
I have said I’m sorry to those who’ll hear it from me and leave the acceptance of my apology to them to make.  

I cannot control whether or not they choose to hear my heart or not. 

God knows my plan to do right and better for myself and for him. He says I am forgiven and I believe him.

Other peoples resentments toward me I’m no longer owning.  

I just will be here for them when they choose to see things differently like I have. 
Because it’s so much better on this side of it. 

LOVE happens and grows in the grey. 

  It was July 2nd, 1996. I was 20 years old, 70lbs more than I was 9 months prior and 2weeks past my due date. Yep 2 weeks because back then they allowed that bullpoo to happen. 2 weeks prior My legs didn’t look like over cooked hot dogs that exploded in the microwave.

2 weeks prior I had prepared our bedroom for our new life and was ready to begin anew. I was so excited 2 weeks prior. 

But by July 2nd, I was done. 

Fat. Swollen. Hot. Moody. Miserable. Don’t let the smile below fool ya. 

But finally it happened, ouch… The tightening  of my belly and then ouch again 5 minutes later. So off to the hospital we went. Finally!!!

Because I had never done this birthing thing before, I was kinda afraid of the pain I was going to endure since I was determined to go at it the “natural” no drugs way. 

Well after 6 hours and still only being barely dilated to 3, they decided to induce me into the depths of hell. 

No time for pain progression. Just non stop hard back labor, and so much for the all natural thoughts on no drugs and doing like Jesus’s mom. 

F that.  

Drugs were the only thing I wanted other than to be done with it all. 12 more hours later and 1.5 hours of trying to push in positions only a pro yoga instructor could do, his heart rate began to drop. There was no more time to waste at that moment and in a flash I went rushing into an emergency c section where the last thing I remember was a mask on my face and the words 3, 2, anesthesia out. There was no time for daddy to scrub in so he stayed back. 

When I see the pictures and hear about the beautiful birthing stories of countless others I think what the heck happened here??? Literally not my story. Even my husband was traumatized. He was like …Chantel I’m not sure anyone REALLY knows how it’s all going to end. Anyway. 

I began waking up as the nurse was bandaging my belly dressings that were bleeding and stapled like Frankensteins head. I slowly opened my eyes and I got my words together enough to ask What was it? And is it okay? You see, we chose to not know the sex cause I wanted to be surprised and I honestly really did have the instinct that he was a boy. 

And I was right. 🙂 
He was a big beautiful baby boy. 9lbs 2oz and all I could said was hell yes to that!!! And thank you Jesus for almost 10lbs off my body. Head start! Now at this time in recovery, I still hadn’t see him yet. Don’t ask me why. 1996 wasn’t the dark ages but … Neither did his scared clueless daddy. Mike who happened to be remaining in the hallway where they left him 45 minutes prior to rushing me into surgery was still in the same hallway waiting. 

He always tells that story of how the moment he met his son for the first time in a hallway of the hospital. There was a nurse that happened to be passing slowly by with a baby (our baby) through the same area Mike was.He stopped the nurse and asked “Hey, whose baby is that?” The nurse looked down, picked up the card and asked, “Are you Mr Ferraro?” Which he replied yes… Mike noticed him wrapped in a blue blanket and said … “I have a son?” And she replied, “well it looks that way.” And in that moment, our life was changed. Me in the recovery room waiting to meet the boy who made me a mommy,  and Mike in the hallway marveling over his junior.

Our life was changing … Drastically. 
But regardless of the known and unknown obstacles ahead, for the first time I was confident about the fact that I was going to be a mom. My mind always feels safe and works best dealing with situations you have no other choice but this or that. You know… Black or White. Control freak is another way you can look at it. But we all know that 98% of our lives are spent in living and surviving in the shades of grey. The uncertain, scary, unpredictable shades of grey. Screw you grey.  

But for a moment, 20 years ago today, my purpose for living appeared to be crystal clear in the grey. 

I was a mom now.  

Something no one could ever tell me I wasn’t. Something that I really always wanted for my life. Something I knew would be the absolute most important part of my journey in this short time here on earth. 

Our Michael who would grow up to love Elmo, Lion King, Pokemon, and eat only eggs toast and jelly for breakfast for years. Our Michael whose gentle, protective, strong, spirit weathered through some crazy times with his momma growing up. 

Michael whose greatest gift has been to continue to be himself regardless of what other people think or say. My anime-loving, geeky kid, whose tender heart really loves people and because of that I love him even more. 

Michael the one whose greatest strength is compassion for those whose struggle with life and connecting with them through listening and helping them through. 

Our last 20 years were not black and white. Life has made sure that we would all learn to know for certain there is no map that takes you exactly to the golden gates of perfect motherhood. 

That even moms who really want the best for their children can screw up – struggle- and even fail at times. 

I know I have. 

But what Michael has taught me these past 20 years is that just because things don’t look the way you thought they should, doesn’t mean they won’t be good.
And that they are better than they ever could be BECAUSE of the trials survived it took to get to right now and the people who stuck in there with you. He’s my first born, my boy, but he will always be my baby. 

A mothers love, my love, is unconditional, strong, never failing, and true. 

So to honor my boys birthday, I want to say thank you to the one who may not know the degree of importance his life has played in mine yet. But one day when he is a daddy, I know he will. 

One of the best scriptures I believe was written about love, most use for weddings, but I think it’s message is universal. 

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhoodbehind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Cor 13:4-13

It’s not about you, them, or even me anymore.

It’s only been 4 actual blog posts since I launched My Heart Sees Hope and I have already gotten some raised eyebrows and fear expressed to me about writing on this very personal subject publicly. 
I want to clarify a couple of reasons why I would choose to share my story at all. 

Reason 1. “We are only as sick as our secrets.”

If you were to ask me about my childhood 10 years ago, I would probably tell you that I grew up in the city of Chicago. That I have 2 siblings. That I attended a Catholic Grammar School K-8. That I moved to the suburbs in my sophomore year of high school. That I became pregnant at 19, a wife by 20 and that my parents were divorced shortly after I had my oldest son. Period.
End of story. 

I would have never believed that I would one day have courage to ever come forward to admit that as a young child, I was sexually abused from the ages of 5-11 by 3 separate people. That at 13 years of age, I was raped in the basement of my house by a 17 year old boy. 
It’s not comfortable to be this open and vulnerable. But it’s even worse to feel as if this part of my history, something that is a part of who I am, should be forever smothered with avoidance. 
My story today is not for anyone to pity me. There was a time a few years ago when I was in the really raw part of my healing process and hurting extremely bad and I needed people to feel sorry for me. I dwelled in it for a period of time. I’m not happy with that part and time in my life, but it was all part of the grieving process. The moment when I came to terms with the answer to the question… How did I become so broken?

 I lost many friends then. Some because they didn’t understand me, but most because I pushed them away. 

My story today is to take back my life. Take back my story from the perpetrators that stole parts of who I was and to find my true purpose in the world as a survivor of this. 

Because whether you want to hear this or not, I will never be able to forget this. 

It will never go away.  

But I can take what was once sadness and confusion, I can change what once was shame, and turn it into good. So to those asking why…this is why. 

I really want to help others like me. Period. I don’t know exactly how I will yet, but I have a really good idea that it starts with the words … “me too”. 
We need to know we can share our stories and that there are places to be encouraged, safe, and understood. I made the mistake these past few years sharing my story to the wrong people. It has been terribly retriggering and it caused me to retract into my shell for a bit. It’s a story I will write more about later and an important lesson in my journey into to healing and recovery. 

My Heart Sees Hope was born out of that one really difficult lesson. That’s my motivation and mission. 

I will not be ashamed. 

There are people who really don’t get it. They really don’t care, and you or I can never make them. But on the flip side, I do care. Many people do get it and we can ban together and be a tribe of our own. 

Reason #2 
“To educate the ignorant.”

The biggest problem with the world and these issues is the shame that surrounds it. Nobody wants to talk about it because it’s … icky. It is. But to those who know someone or are actually related to someone who has been a victim of this – if you truly care about them, then you need to understand how this affects a person. I’m not everyone. My story is only my story. However, every single group I have attended, every recovery blog I have read, and every person I have met that has experienced this type of trauma, have experienced the same exact struggles and effects I have. 

So who knows?!? My story may help you understand a friend or a relative a little bit better. 

Reason #3 GOD

Throughout my life God has been a pivotal force in my existence. Throughout my years of therapy, I have been told by more than one doctor that people have committed suicide for much less than I have experienced. I’m going to tell you what, I would NOT be here right now with out my relationship with GOD. 

My journey as a Christian has not been smooth, or easy. It’s not been always positive either. People can suck whether they attend church or don’t. However, I know they are not GOD. They are flawed broken people like me. Hurt people – Hurt people. I am grateful for my volatile faith journey because it tested me and my faith today is stronger than ever. I cannot say enough about how GOD heals. 

This parable below says a lot about why… 

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Matthew 13: 4-9

You see I don’t know who my story will reach. I just am trusting that GOD who strengthens me to do this, knows my heart is good in this, will have it fall on the right ears and one day will help. 
Because it’s not about the people who did these things to me anymore. It’s not about the people who weren’t there. 
It’s not about me anymore either. 

It’s about HOPE for the broken and living in the light. 

We are HIS

It’s Sunday. 

A day of rest, a day of worship, a day of fellowship, a day to repent, a day that for many years of my Catholic life, I didn’t think much about unless it was Christmas or Easter. 

However, I will admit,that I have always sought to know God and all that he was on a deeper level. I was always drawn to the faith & hope that there really was something bigger and better out there. I wanted to believe that “someone or something” knew the real me inside, loved the real me, and that there could be someone I could talk to when I felt alone. 

Although I no longer practice the Catholic faith, I will be forever grateful for the foundation laid in my heart of who God was. In my personal experience, Catholism distracted me from the true meaning of the Gospel by the church keeping their traditions and rituals at the forefront of everything. It wasn’t until I went to a bible based evangelical style non denominational church where I was taught by a “normal guy” (pastor) in normal clothes reading straight from the bible that I even learned what all those traditions even were for! 

But regardless, I always knew God was “up there” and for whatever reason I never questioned it. 

I just never did. 

Even throughout my painful experiences. I never really blamed God. I did wave my fist in the air a lot and curse sometimes. I have been angry with God and how he has allowed things to go for me. But I just never lived a moment thinking he doesn’t exist. It’s like I always knew him. Even when I didn’t always feel him in my life.  

The only questions I ever had of him were why can’t HE just take me with him?  Take me out of my messes and can’t I just get wings like an angel and fly away? Because my self worth had been so beaten down growing up,  I didn’t even question why he let people hurt me so much, I just question why he made me at all.  

Why did I even exist? 

A question I asked HIM many times throughout my life. As I grow in my healing process that question and it’s  answer has been slowly revealing itself to me. 

Without my hitting those dark levels of brokenness, I’m not sure if I’d ever truly look to God at all. I’d still be trying to fix everything on my own. That day on my stairs I mentioned 2 blogs ago, was the beginning of learning to surrender all. My battle to release of control of my life that I never had control of anyway, and the day I started to listen more, and say less. 

God has always been with me.  Through all of it. But he wanted me to be in it with HIM.  It’s hard for some to wrap your mind around that, I know.  It wasn’t until today I could really understand things this clearly my self. But what my plea is for anyone who is struggling, anyone who feels alone, anyone who doesn’t think they matter at all. 

You do. 

I’m not a pastor or a psychologist. I still swear a lot , wrestle with being selfish, jealous, self centered, judgemental, critical, and I even miss church on many Sunday’s. There really is absolutely no reason anyone should think I’m an upstanding representative for God. I mess up way more than probably most who don’t believe in God. 

Yes I’m extremely flawed and will be forever a work in progress. But you know what my faith in God and his son Jesus says about all that I’m not?  It’s says no matter what,  I’m loved and forgiven and that I CAN change. That I was meant for so much more. 

That He KNOWS everything about me. He knew me before I existed. Memorizing Psalm 139 in the NIV bible was a turning point in my life. It took me now 2 years to finally believe it, but I now do.

If there is anything I can leave you with today- Sunday June 26, 2016, is to give faith a chance. 

Hope was found when I finally gave up the idea that my life would look anything remotely like I thought it should. Our lives and whatEVER they have been, do not define who we are. God says we are HIS. God is love. God is light. If we are his, we are both love and light. Even if we cannot see that in ourselves, HE CAN. He will use our broken, screwed up, messes to connect with the world and to further his kingdom. 

To God be the glory. 

I never saw it coming… 

Never in her wildest dreams would that girl believe that the boy right next to her was going to be the single most important person in her life to come. 

This boy would pick her up from school every day. 

This boy would look at her like she really was the only one in the room.

This boy would tolerate her smoking even though he absolutely hated it and would several years down the road convince her to finally quit. 

This boy would laugh at her jokes even though she always screwed up the delivery. 

This boy would survive hitting a tree head on, full speed in a snow mobile on a day she should have been at school but decided to cut. (The hospital visit broke the news to the parents) 

This boy would help her understand that not ALL boys want one thing. Some really do want to know you. 

This boy would teach her to how to drive….fast.  (He can’t complain- he taught me) 

This boy would help her learn to laugh at herself. (Especially after falling so often) 

This boy would teach her how to eat and one day not feel guilty about it. 

This boy would teach her how to feel beautiful not wearing makeup but was always amazed how blonde her eyebrows were without pencil. 

This boy would choose to stay with her and grow up to be a young father while his other friends partied and were still in college. 

This boy loved her when pregnancy changed her body at 19 into a a mural of red stretch marks. 

This boy would hold her up after the ultra sound said there was no heart beat, just after she shared the news that she was 4 months long with their 2nd. 

This boy would allow her to stay home with her baby while he worked 2 jobs because he understood why she was so afraid to leave him with anyone, in fear  what happend to her could happen to her own. 

This boy would teach her that parents don’t have to fight on Christmas morning. 

This boy would teach her that daddies love their children no matter how much they weighed or how smart they were. 

That this boy would learn to become her best friend even when she tested him continuously. 

That this boy was going to be the only man to show her that men can love unconditionally, and they do stay. 

Love is not easy but it is worth fighting for.  

I’m just glad my battle partner is him. 

Love you Forever Mike Ferraro. 

Understand the misunderstood. 

“Just get over it already!”

 “Let it go”

“You really need to move on” 

“How much attention do you need?”

“Why can’t you just BE HAPPY?”

There is nothing I wanted more for my children, my husband, my mother, my siblings, the friends I have today, as well as the friends that I have lost on this  journey then to just simply 

LET IT GO. How about not even having anything to let go at all???

But to those who have no real understanding of sexual trauma and abuse, (a.k.a. Didn’t happen to you) 

I needed to understand that I even  wanted happiness for myself. That I deserved to let it go for myself in order to move forward. That in doing this, it wasn’t saying it didn’t happen. That in doing this it wasn’t being selfish. That I could do it at all. 

As I write today, I know it’s possible. I’m currently living in a new world of growing self love, finding my peace and worth, as well as understanding who I am and where I came from. 

But for those of you preaching those words, it really is a little more complicated then Elsa’s beloved lyrics. 

I wanted to share a little insight on what I know on experiencing  trauma like this. Trauma at any age definitely affects us emotionally – we know this.  

Scars heal but never go away. 

Physically body scars change how we look right? Well if they are in the brain, how can you argue that emotional scars don’t change how you actually think? 

Here’s the real deal:

Trauma causes legit “Brain Damage” 

Trauma especially during childhood while your brain is growing, can rewire a persons thinking structure. 

Another words, in my case because the abuse started from such a young age I never looked at the world as my children do.


Only today am I understanding how different the world and people actually are.

Most people trust others if there isn’t a reason not to, but for 30+ years of MY life, my view has been someone must prove to be trustworthy and then will be allowed in. This is a HUGE struggle even today. It’s a continuous battle. Probably will always be. 

So the words to just “be happy”or “let it go” fuels ugly cycles in survivors like me. 

Let me explain: 

When you are a person that is already swallowed with secrets and shame, these words become the constant reminder that you will never be understood or belong.  Because honestly we see everything differently. I see everything differently. Period. 

When your identity is not rooted in  safety and truth, those words might as well be in another language. 

We don’t get it. We want it, but we can’t figure out a way to understand it and in the the cycle turns into a shame game. 

Here’s what I have learned today, I CAN let things go. It just takes me more time than others. 

I believe I have forgiven and let go of a lot and as much as possible at this point in my life. 

I’m here right? Writing this. 

 But I couldn’t for a really long time. I needed to believe and understand that my identity wasn’t what happens to me. That my identity wasn’t in what anyone thought of me. 

You see when you are abused like this, boundaries are not healthy nor understood. 

So in my case I had allowed who I was to be determined by everything happening and everyone around me. If something was bad, I was bad. If someone didn’t like me, I didn’t like me either. 

I never just understood, I have the power to believe I am worth it regardless. It’s like that piece of myself never grew. It was really crazy when it all clicked. I found my ruby slippers! 

Literally this just happened recently. 

As a person who has been looking in the mirror at herself for a really long time at all the ugly she has come from and in return created around herself because of not feeling heard, I know that WE MUST learn to let it go. 

We DESERVE to feel happiness. I deserve to like me and feel like I’m worth having relationships that are safe, loving, and let’s not forget ….fun.

But it took some real unconditional love from my husband, my children, and my mother to see it through with me.  

I needed to be held.

 I needed to scream and cry. I needed days to be quiet and be sad. 

I needed to say I was angry and that life wasn’t fair. I needed to pity myself. Not forever but for a time. 

I needed tons of grace and forgiveness for my lack of trust of good people and my actions to them because of it. Apologize and own it. Then move on whether they get it or not. 

I will be the first to admit, 

I have not been easy to love.  This process is terrible and unfair to all involved. 

But there comes a point when I had to choose to accept that life wasn’t fair and these were the cards dealt to me. 

I had to say I have the choice now. I’m not a victim anymore. I had to grow up. 

I have people in my life who not only love me, but they truly like me. 

They HEAR me and because I know this of them, I trust them, today I can let it go. 

The worst part of being a victim of sexual abuse and rape is the isolation you feel because of SHAME. 

Shame is the ugliest word in existence. It’s what the devil will try to use against me every day of my life. 

He’s losing though because his games are always the same. I’m smarter, I’m stronger, and I see it when it’s coming. I have a support system that I trust to share my struggles with and they are what have helped me let it go. 

If you are a person who struggles like I have, please know this. You need people. You cannot do this alone. Their are people who will go the distance with you. I will. 

Write me. 

If you happen to be someone who knows someone with struggles like mine, love them anyway. Know that it will be worth it. That this is a process. Don’t leave them. That’s what they expect. 

Help rewire what was damaged and be a part of their story that leads to victory. 

See this little girl??? That’s me! Just trying to play.. Like any other little girl. 

I know God didn’t put me on this earth to see his world that he created and had Jesus die for, to just hate and see as I had for so long. 

Amongst all the crazy turmoil in this world today, I can see God everywhere working. He uses people like me, the broken, the damaged, the misunderstood, the unfit, the crazy, the slutty, the tattooed, the try to hard people to change others. 

Because like that little girl in the picture, we didn’t start out this way. 

This is our journey, we can find our way back and to see even better. We will change the world. 

A New Day Has Come

It was a seemingly non-eventful moment in life, while driving in my car a few weeks ago when a bit of clarity hit me.

These words…
“I’ve been waiting for so long, for a miracle to come… Everyone told me to be strong. Hold on and don’t shed a tear.”
Recognize those words? Well if you don’t, it’s time to get real with your inner cheese ball side and listen. Cause there’s some good stuff to be heard and felt.

But, although I had heard this song at least a thousand times, my profound clarity came from a feeling and not the words you just read.

Ahhhhh. This is one of the many steps into finding a true Acceptance of myself.

That Celine Dion can sure belt it out. “A new day…….haaaaaaass…….Come….” You know it and you wanna sing it.

The Def Leppard, Cindy Lauper, Dixie Chick, Neil Diamond, Celine Dion,  top 40hits, cover band loving crazy chick inside of me that said I really do love this damn song!

Yep. I do.

And it’s ok if no one else understands the pure joy of shamelessly singing Celine Dion at the top of their lungs on a summer morning, in a VW bug with the windows all down. Because for someone like me, who lived most of my life waiting on the world to tell me who I am, what I should be, and what I should like, took a stand for her self and owned something out loud she loves to herself. (now you 😉)

To most, this may seem like a really minimal silly victory. But in my life it says volumes of how far I have come. Because for me, and many others like me it’s about living in the now, and realizing how special moments of peace can be. Clarity just keeps coming and it’s amazing. I’m just bursting with new stories to share. That’s what this blog is going to focus on.

But I do think it’s important to share some bits along the way of what brought me to here -today.

Although it’s been a life long really, my story, my journey of true healing and acceptance began just a decade back. From the outside looking in I looked like a woman who had it pretty good. 31 years old, 3 spectacular kids, and although we struggled to accomplish financial success without college degrees, we finally had figured out a way to buy own our home. Thank you to the bubble bursting housing market that gave everyone loans. 😬

To celebrate our 10 year anniversary we decided to throw the wedding we never had. My husband Mike and I renewed our vows in October of 2006. I had the cake, the hall, the pastor, my kids, family and friends. I finally had my day. I had gotten everything I thought I wanted out of life. Now it was time to just live. Raise our family, have fun, and grow old together.

But in the few short months following, in April of 2007 I collapsed. I couldn’t breathe. I was on my stairs, head in my hands and thinking I was really going to die.  Mike came home to my frantic inconsolable struggling with heart pain and palpitations. He didn’t know why I was so weak, and so scared. He didn’t know about all the starving, the purging, and the boxes of laxatives I was ingesting on a daily basis.

What he knew was I worked out a lot because I struggled with body image. What he knew was I struggled with depression because of a multitude of experiences I had in my past. But what he really didn’t know was if I didn’t get serious help I was literally going to die. That after engaging in serious eating disorder behaviours since I was 12, my then 31 year old body was turning on me. My body was saying enough is enough and my mind was screaming why are you even doing this???!!

So it was that day in April I finally got real and said I needed help. That was the beginning that led me to today. I signed myself self into Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital and began the journey of change and healing. The photo below is one of my original notes from my very first process group. I haven’t looked at it since.

Until today.

It’s a lot to read. It’s wonderful to know that I have survived most of this and although I have had a lot of relationship casualties along the way, the ones who are here by my side today understand  that this process doesn’t happen over night. That grace saves people.

That change and healing happens by taking 10 steps forward and 9 steps back. And sometimes the steps are huge, and other times they are found in a song while driving to work.

My recovery journey as my life has not been a straight line. It has been a crazy rollercoaster of tears, heartache, drama, and lots of hurt. Digging up memories to figure out the whys and how’s have been the best and worst part. People dont get that hurt people can hurt people. Hurt on my part and hurt for those in it with me. That eating disorders or any addictive behavior is just an effect of the real issues. But unless I crossed this bridge first I would have never gotten to today.

Thank God I’m still here. I felt ashamed for quite sometime that I had to enter a treatment facility to regain my life. But it saved my life and opened the door to learning how to live. Shame stole so much from me. It even tried to steal my recovery. But  I am grateful for it all and especially for today.

To anyone who reads this. Thank you for joining me on this new beautiful journey.

A new day has come.