The whirlwind and constant focus on the Ted Talk meant I had to ditch working on the book for a bit. And I honestly wonder if I subconsciously had to get through the talk first in order to write the next few chapters of the memoir.
I’m about 17,000 words into the tale of the journey I’ve been on and I’m feeling stronger than ever. Prior to baring my soul on stage, I’d been dreading drudging up the past to write the next chapter. You know, THAT chapter of my life. It’s still not easy to think back to the days of walking on egg shells, intoxicating highs and desperately low lows, financial devastation, and being called a “thick fucking brick” but I knew in order to keep moving forward in the memoir, I’d have to face it. Just like I faced being vulnerable on the Ted stage. I didn’t feel ready to relive those three years until this very moment. I can’t really explain it, but something has changed in me. Maybe it’s called healing? Whatever it is, I’m grateful for the feeling.
Ironically, one of the folks who organized Tedx Sedona said to me, in tears, “I can’t believe how much you’ve been through yet there’s such a lightness about you.” I feel lighter. Prior to the Ted Talk, the thought of looking back at that period of my life and having to recount it—one abusive episode after the next—paralyzed me. Now, for some reason, I feel like I can take it on and not absorb it.
It’s been a year and a half since I received the first email from a brave woman telling me her story (and screenshots) about being used and abused by him while he was still trying to keep me on the hook, and here I am, finally ready to take on the memory of it all head on.
Turns out, I’ve got this. I can write this. And that chapter I’m about to write—tentatively called “TNF”—will lead to the next one which is undoubtedly the best chapter of my life.
Maybe we all have chapters we have to get through to get where we’re supposed to be.
I know one thing: it’s time to fire up the keyboard, again.
This past weekend, I completed what is the equivalent of running a marathon for me—a Ted Talk. And I lived! J
Not only did I meet the most amazing people from all over the world, I got the chance to talk about healing from childhood and adulthood abuse on a big stage with a big red dot. (I’ll tell you later how I “fell off the red dot” at one point because you know, it’s hard to stay on a rug while you’re speaking. Ha!)
I have intuitively known for about a year and a half I would be doing a Ted Talk but you see, Ted is pretty picky about what it allows. I wasn’t sure my topic would be approved. And it clearly wasn’t when I applied for Tedx Las Vegas and didn’t get picked. Thankfully, the good people at TEdx Sedona said yes to my story and topic just three months after I was turned down in Vegas.
With that said, I did get a little push back about including the “visions” or mediumship talk (about working with cops) but I stuck to my guns and in the end, one of the organizers told me how happy she was I pushed back on them. I found myself in a similar position with Shark Tank producers, as well. Maybe it’s just one of those things I have to do. More tests and faith to trust my intuition on what I should share until I never question it?!? Not sure, but I’m happy to report it seemed to work well with audience members, too. Many who were laughing and crying during my talk came up after thanking me for being so vulnerable and real. Naturally, I teared up, too, when they approached me. And I choked up a little during the talk but managed to pull myself back together and keep going. I honestly didn’t think it would as emotional as it was, even though I know the subject matter is deeply personal.
In addition to being nervous about not being picked, I was super nervous about not being able to memorize my speech. You see, my memory sucks to begin with (because of the abuse as a child and then repeated abuse as an adult) so I really questioned if I could do it. I did my best and only forgot a few small parts so I am calling that a major win for my noggin!
Before I walked onto the stage, I thought of all the women I know (and a few men) who are still trapped in abusive relationships and even a few friends who have passed on who never got to really, fully enjoy life as it should be. I thought of my dear friend, Jason, who has been with me in spirit since 2013 and his mom, Yvette, who helped me trust my intuition and climb out of abuse. He was a childhood abuse survivor, too, before he passed.
When I was told I would likely get a spot on the Sedona roster by the head of the event but I had to do a few things, Jason came in with a message for me saying that it was happening and my life would change in amazing ways because of this talk. That news came on my birthday on September 9. Now mind you, Jason was also the first one to alert me to the fact that the abusive relationship I was in from 2014-2017 “wasn’t what it seemed.” When he said this a few months into the relationship when everything seemed perfect, I didn’t want to believe it but deep down, I knew he was right. He’s always right.
Little did I know (because I was all wrapped up in my own Ted Talk head), that Saturday, November 3rd was the 20th anniversary of Jason’s death. And it was the day I was doing my Ted Talk. He came in spirit saying that was no coincidence and that he has my back. He’s a funny guy so he also began singing The Carpenter’s song, “We’ve only just begun.” I didn’t get the full significance of it at first other than it’s a new beginning for me but he continued on…. “Plus, you know, like your belt. Your CARPENTER tool belt. Get it.” Ahhhhhh, yes! I get it! His beautiful mom, Yvette, shared all of this with me (she channels him with such precision) and said he hadn’t really been around her in spirit much until I popped on to tell her about the talk and see how she was doing. But he popped in to cheer me on and tell me he was there and is always there, helping me do what I came into the world to do.
I’m constantly amazed by how much we are guided and helped to be where we need to be at the right time. For all intents and purposes, I probably shouldn’t have been accepted because of Ted’s strict rules about pseudoscience but I’m so happy I was given the chance to tell my story.
And I was even more thrilled to look out into the crowd and see my husband and kids proudly smiling back at me, and sometimes with tears in their eyes. None of this road I’ve traveled has been easy on them and it affected all three of them deeply in many ways.
After the talk was over and Noah was heading home, I got a message from him saying that I was a kick-ass woman who is going to change the world. Of course, I teared up reading that. I’m just overwhelmed with love and admiration for Scott, Noah, and Grace, and I’m so eternally grateful they are mine. And I hope with all my heart, our children and their children will never have to experience anything I did in their lifetime.
If my Ted Talk opens up channels of communication with just two people about the bigger picture of life, stuff that can’t be explained by science, patterns of abuse, repression, and rebuilding life after all of it, I am a happy woman.
For now, I’m going to kick back and relax and NOT MEMORIZE ANYTHING for a long time.
Now what was I doing? Oh right…NOT MEMORIZING ANYTHING and enjoying being exactly where I am at this very moment.
More on the topic of memory loss related to abuse:
Here's a snippet of the Ted Talk that was filmed by our son, Noah. The official Ted Talk video will be uploaded to TED in a couple months, I believe. They produce a beautiful video for each presenter. So grateful! You can find more info on Tedx Sedona at www.tedxsedona.com.
I sat on the couch yesterday morning watching CBS cover something I didn’t even know happened over the weekend: #whyIdidntreport in response to the Brett Kavanaugh assault allegations.
Then today, I watched as the networks covered the Bill Cosby sentencing.
It got me thinking—I’ve never spelled out why I didn’t report my childhood abuser. And what happened when I started talking about it. In addition, I want to share what happened when I started talking about the abuse I endured as an adult.
I did not report my uncle because I repressed the memories of abuse, and subsequently didn’t put together all of the clues until I was 40. At that point, it was so far past the statute of limitations that I couldn’t even try to hold him accountable legally. I was 5. I finally understood what happened to me at age 40. (According to many psychology experts and my own survey work, this is common with extreme childhood abuse.) Not only did I have physical “proof” in the form of vaginal surgery at age 19, but as a medium, I also had help clarifying the harrowing visions I was seeing. My dear friend and internationally renowned medium, Necole Stephens, tapped into the rape scene and managed to describe (without knowing a thing) details like drapes, room set up, room color, bedspread detail, and much more. Now, I couldn’t remember it all to a T but when I shared what Necole said with my sister (whose memory is spot on), she confirmed it all. I finally knew what happened to me and connected the dots of my life. And it finally made sense why so many of the kids in spirit who were killed by pedophiles were coming to share messages with me.
But then there was the telling.
When I discovered it all, I told my parents who were devastated. I assured them it was not their fault. No one could have known. Most predators are just that good. I'm learning that year after year as I help law enforcement with cold cases (If you just thought to yourself, "WHAT??!! She works with cops?? I thought she built furniture??", go to HERE for an endorsement by ex-NYPD detective, Mark Pucci). Sure, there were clues but they couldn’t have known. They believed me, for the most part, but I still think that unsure part was mostly shock. I know it’s hard to receive that kind of news. They knew who he was as a person and what he’d done with hundreds of women so it wasn’t a far stretch to think he’d also abuse young children. I know I’m not the only child. There are at least 4 more who are now grown.
Now, when I told his ex-wife, I received what most survivors are told.
“You must be mistaken.”
“I don’t believe this.”
“ We weren’t together enough.”
Denial? Probably. Heart wrenching for me? Absolutely. It take so much courage to come out and share what happened because there's shame and fear around all of it. Deep-seeded, subconscious shame that keeps most survivors from talking, even childhood survivors like me. But also, if they do talk, they know they may get the shamed, blamed and/or dismissed…again.
I saw this happen AGAIN when I shared the narcissistic abuse I endured as an adult. Many of his long-time supporters can’t fathom he could be one way on social media and another in real life. So instead of looking at the facts. The public record documents like restraining orders and such, they call me crazy. Call me a liar. And here’s the thing: most of them are WOMEN.
If you are one of the folks wondering why women (and men) don’t report sexual abuse (and other types of abuse), maybe consider this: Not only is it dangerous for many survivors, we know we will likely be re-abused in more ways than one. We simply don't believe survivors as a society. Cosby drugged and abused 60 women. Some folks STILL don't believe he did it.
Bottom line: Stop shaming and dismissing survivors because you feel uncomfortable. Because you don’t want to look at it without rose-colored glasses. Because you believe the façade. Just stop.
Abuse is a silent epidemic and thank god many of us refuse to be silent anymore. It is not our job to protect our abusers. Never has been, never will be. #ENOUGH #TIMESUP
Today, I’m 45.
And I’m so freakin’ excited about it! The journey, as many of you know, has been less than smooth but I feel like I have my wings again. I'm waiting to hear if I got selected for Ted Talk Sedona and I'm about 30K words into a memoir I'm writing.
Scott brought me to a beautiful hotel for a day and a night of relaxation. It’s been just that. I even took a nap yesterday—something my go-go-go wiring doesn’t let me do often.
After we left the spa pool, we took a walk over to the Desert Zen Intention Labyrinth Journey. It looks like a maze but it’s anything but a left-brain puzzle. The way in is the way out—one path leading to the center of your deepest self and back out again with a broadened understanding of life.
Scott reminded me that when we were separated, he visited his aunt and uncle in Birmingham where they installed a labyrinth in their back yard. He stepped into the walking meditation asking the question about us. Specifically, he was hopeful that we would find our way back to each other but unsure what he should do. He walked with purpose asking this question and heard something to the effect of, “patience.” Or so that’s what he remembered but he couldn’t quite remember exactly what the line was that helped him understand his role in 2016.
Yesterday, he walked the labyrinth again with the intention of gratitude. The exact line he’d heard the first time came back to him. It was “stay the course.”
And I’m so glad he did. He stayed the course of being kind, loving, and concerned all the while owning his part of our separation. We both grew and healed.
When I read the directions for the labyrinth, I was reminded that it is truly a way to focus your body on an activity so that you can open yourself to your intuition. When I first started channeling messages from kids in spirit, most times, I was doing something physical like building furniture. Or driving a car. Or walking.
Many people feel they need to take classes and meditate hours on end to access their own inner knowing and channel messages from spirit. It’s never been that way for me. Plus, let’s call a spade a spade: I’m way too ADD for that. I think all of that is useful and to each his own, but I don’t necessarily think you need to study intuition to access it. Pay attention to when you get “downloads.” Is it in the car? Shower? During exercise?
You might be wondering what happened when I walked the labyrinth. Well, because I was so focused on walking it, I thought about what we were doing for dinner and concentrated on not tripping. Some kind of spirit medium I am, right?!?!
P.S. Last night at dinner, spirit did come in wanting me to share a message with a fellow diner. But I’ll keep that one to myself because it’s not my story to tell.
People smile when they see the bracelet Scott surprised me with out of the blue. Not just because there’s a cuss word on it, but because when you read it, it just says exactly what he wanted me to know.
To keep fucking going.
This was one way of saying keep speaking out. Despite what it all means for him—me talking openly about a past relationship and all the pain it brought to our lives—he wants me to keep going. To keep lighting the dark spaces of our world that are pretty scary to talk about for a number of reasons. He knows what it means for me when I do speak out.
It means retaliation.
It means nasty, bullying messages and covert operations to keep me from speaking out. It means bullying people (as recently as few weeks ago) who are standing by my side.
It means lies being put out into the world about me. I remember reading awhile back that my ex claimed I said “If you leave me, I’ll ruin you.” Of course, I said no such thing. Anyone who knows me, knows that’s not something I’d say. It took a lot for me to start talking about what happened because it’s hard to admit that I would allow it and that I wasn’t strong enough to break free long ago. And he’d done a fabulous job of grooming his followers and friends to believe I was the one who was abusing him. The old “flip the script” tactic my psychotherapist told me about is in full swing.
Now, will I stand up for myself? Yes. Will I protect myself and my family and go as far as to stand in court in front of a judge in order to be granted a restraining order based on REAL EVIDENCE that he was trying to “ruin me” and bully me? Yes. None of his exes or current wife have ever fought back publicly but I heard from many privately that they endured very similar abuse, and in some cases, worse. I certainly wasn’t begging him to stay, I had already packed up his stuff and carried all of it to UPS and shipped it to his place near Seattle. Not really the kind of thing you do if you’re trying to keep someone in your life. I was fighting for my life.
It means potential danger for me. And now you know why.
Keep fucking going has now become my mantra. As long as I breathe, I will share the good, bad, beautiful, ugly, embarrassing, and messy about life before, after, and during abuse.
I never want my children or their children (or anyone in the world) to endure what I allowed for a brief time in my life. But first, they have to recognize the signs of narcissistic abuse before it turns abusive.
If you’re in a relationship that has turned abusive, keep doing the hard work to figure out how to save yourself. Even if it’s not right this minute for a variety of reasons, keep pushing towards a life without abuse. Learn how to not absorb the verbal and emotional abuse being slung at you. Baby steps until you can take one big, giant leap.
You’ve got this. Keep fucking going.
You’re so worth it.