‘If you tell anyone about this, you won’t live.’ I was determined to break the generational curses and trauma. Survival mode kicked in.’: Abuse survivor shares journey to healing and self-love

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Disclaimer: This story contains details of abuse and mentions of suicide that may be triggering to some.

“When asked about how I began my journey to self-intentionality, I always go back to the beginning. As my therapist puts it, I’ve been in and out of trauma my entire life. And like most, the journey to healing and truly loving oneself isn’t always linear. So, to fully understand who I am today, I have to revisit my past and hit a few milestones that eventually all add up in the equation that produced this woman before you.

Domestic violence dates back to my earliest memories of my existence. I remember being about 3 or 4 years old and being forced to drink raw eggs and smoke half of a cigarette by my mom’s boyfriend/sister’s father, as punishment for picking up a cigarette butt in my grandmother’s front yard and pretending to smoke it. I remember being woken up in the middle of the night for ceremonial discipline and being watched like an animal or prisoner as I gagged and was forced to drink my own vomit or start over. Even at such a young age, I remember feeling so helpless and sorry for myself and fueled with so much frustration and anger because I had no control over what was happening to me. The abuse didn’t end there and turned physical as I got older. My kindergarten teachers would ask about marks on my body which I tried to hide, and by the third grade, I was pulled out of class for scratching my wrists with paperclips in an attempt at suicide.

Courtesy of Charis, The Mama

At this point, my biological father had stepped in and tried to take custody of me, but the court system failed and sent me back to my mother’s home where I was explicitly told by my abuser if I told anyone anything that happened to me again, I wouldn’t live. Survival mode kicked in, and I was nearly as intentional as I possibly could be as a child. I was a straight-A student and tried my best to stay out of trouble. I obviously wasn’t a saint, but I intentionally was aware of my actions to avoid as much discipline and trouble as possible. I thought if I intentionally was a good student and relatively good child, I’d be able to survive my adolescent years and start my life over as an adult.

As life progressed through my teens, I managed to work nearly full time while juggling school and a social life. I will admit the use of the intentional mindset wasn’t really at the forefront, but when I reflect back, I realize how dedicated and intentional I was about maintaining all of these aspects of my life in order to maintain my peace.

Courtesy of Charis, The Mama

I did a pretty decent job at keeping up with the juggle of working and school until the end of my sophomore year of college. Things took the high road, and although I may have thought I was grown before, I was certainly finding out quickly what adulthood was about. At 19 years old, I became homeless due to issues with roommates from a neighboring university. I thought I needed the freedom to be an adult in college and decided to move in with coworkers from my job, who ended up kicking me out and attempting to fight me after living with them for less than a month. I was fortunate another coworker was able to let me move into his apartment since he stayed with his girlfriend. However, I don’t think I was quite prepared for the life I was choosing to live in the heart of Druid Hills in Baltimore City. With my car full of my items and sleeping on a busted mattress in an apartment filled with mice and bugs, I knew I had to start shifting my mindset if I was going to change my circumstances.

Courtesy of Charis, The Mama

I remained positive and found myself staying in the apartment, truly pouring into myself, journaling, and beginning to dive into my spirituality for about 3 months. It ended shortly after connecting with another woman who was about 7 years older and had a similar experience in college herself. She signed the lease on our apartment and even paid the first month’s rent and the deposit. My life was finally turning around, and ironically, this is also when I started to recognize Angel Numbers and considered my calling in life as some sort of healer. This new roommate was so vibrant, and she taught me about self-care and self-love and the deeper sides of both. She embodied and taught me so much about being present and the power of intention and its role in manifesting better for one’s life. However, the happy ending, as you can imagine, didn’t start then.

She ended up moving out after the second month into the lease and I found myself facing eviction while also embarking on a new diagnosis of lupus. Just a couple of short weeks after being hospitalized for nearly 2 weeks without much food or water, since they couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong, I was sent home with massive amounts of medications. Every painkiller you can imagine I had a prescription for. Lupus is a chronic disease, which means there is no cure, so you take medication to manage it. Due to the fact the flare I had was chronic chest pain that made it nearly impossible for me to even take a breath without shooting pains and sharp back spasms that paralyzed me, I was given copious amounts of opioids and steroids to manage my symptoms. I remember coming home and counting my medications on my kitchen counter and telling my dad—a surgeon—about them. I remember telling him, ‘I can’t maintain these medications. They’re making me feel weird, extremely tired, and literally weak in the knees.’

Courtesy of Charis, The Mama

I don’t think I even made it a full week trying to balance going back to school and working with this new diagnosis. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage, but I knew the over-scripted zombie route was not for me. From here, a new chapter in my intentional lifestyle began. I was already a picky eater and not fond of meat, despite my Jamaican roots, so I decided to commit to pescetarianism at this point. I focused on what I was eating, maintained low-stress levels through consistent exercise and ensuring amid my chaotic schedule, and adequate sleep. I sustained and managed to keep my flares down to a minimum. I saw the power of paying attention to my body and being intentional with how I treated her with my chronic illness. It was like miracle work. I found myself in my best shape, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. However, once again, this was short-lived.

Courtesy of Charis, The Mama

About 9 months after my diagnosis, I found out I was pregnant, ending my junior year of college, going into my senior year. I struggled with depression and found myself overworked and stressed as I dropped out and began my career in property management. Just when I thought I had the reigns on my life and truly got the hang of things, I lost grasp just that quickly. Thankfully it didn’t last too long, as I knew I had a responsibility to my daughter and wanted to provide her with all the things I didn’t have physically, financially, emotionally, and mentally. My journey with intention picked back up and I went into high gear. I had a condo and was a portfolio manager all shortly after her first birthday. I finally felt like I was stepping into a safe space in my life and adulthood where I was capable and accountable for maintaining this relationship with myself. I was determined to break generational curses and trauma and was elated to do the work.

Courtesy of Charis, The Mama

I lost my way again when I met my ex-husband, who led me to believe he was just as stable, only to find out he was an alcoholic, an addict, and abusive—a terrible combination. I tried to leave the relationship but found myself fighting an uphill battle. Because of my childhood experiences, I was highly aware of the situation I had gotten myself into and foolishly tried to change him. It was seemingly working, but by the time I realized he wouldn’t change, nor was he willing, I had my second daughter and knew I needed to find a way out. Not only did this man leave to get drunk after her delivery while claiming to get me food my first night home from the hospital, but he also went out and got so drunk their godfather had to walk him home. I put on a brave face and many people didn’t know how severely toxic and dangerous my home life was. I intentionally hid it to keep my safety as he often made threats of taking my life, or using his employers, or even at times racial status, to keep the peace while I figured out how to get out of it or get him help to change.

Courtesy of Charis, The Mama

I found out I was pregnant with my third daughter right after the second had just turned one. A few weeks later, he choked me and tried to kill me after a disagreement I chose not to engage in. I tried to leave and escape then, but he manipulated me into thinking he was suicidal and told me if I ever was suddenly not pregnant with our third, he would kill me, so I returned—but this time, with a stronger conviction and mindset to get the h*ll out. For a year and a half, I worked on myself and truly was intentional in building my true support system and building myself back up from the emotional and mental abuse suffocating me. I remember journaling and crying in frustration about having to sleep with my purse next to my head for the past 4 years because he was known to steal and pawn our items for money. I remember the same intentional little girl from my childhood coming out again trying to be as close to a saint as I could to avoid an altercation.

Courtesy of Charis, The Mama
Courtesy of Charis, The Mama

My last daughter was born and at just a few months old, he had pawned my DSLR camera and lenses, my childhood jewelry, TVs from our basement, and, the final straw, our daughter’s double weatherproof stroller. I remember being so deep in my healing journey and acceptance of his toxic behavior it didn’t even anger me, and I calmly asked where the stroller was. The conversation, as you can imagine, resulted in a disagreement. Ironically, I remember staying so calm as he got angrier and angrier as I dispelled the lies with practical sense. He went into a binge, and the next day, he attacked me with the baby in my hand and pushed the older two into our marble kitchen counters. This was it for me. I packed my bags, called my therapist, and left until he was gone. We moved back temporarily and a few months later, after he attempted rehab, he was back worse than before and kicked our front door in. From this point, we filed and kept our protection order and moved. We haven’t looked back since.

Courtesy of Charis, The Mama

The power of continuously feeding myself with love and affirmations during this process and this relationship was manifesting and feeding the light within me. It powered me through some of the darkest times of my life. Knowing and surrounding myself with an inner circle that wouldn’t let me forget who I was and what I was capable of kept me going on days where it felt like I had nowhere to turn. Over time, being intentional and the power of intention transformed as I did. It took on stronger, deeper, and new meanings as I evolved into the woman I am today. Intentionally living, the intentional mindset, deliberately choosing how and what I wanted for myself in increments over my life, directed me along the way and brought me to this point in my journey. It led me to open my shop, mom-tings, which encourages women to start their own journey of intentional relationships with themselves with a simple bar of soap, as well as offering intuitive healing services for those who need help getting started.

Courtesy of Charis, The Mama
Courtesy of Charis, The Mama

I use my platform to share how deliberate and positive deposits into self-will always reap positive returns. Intentionality was something that derived from childhood survival mode and has now grown to become the very essence of my being. I do everything with intention. I intentionally choose where to share my energy, from the way I talk to myself as I bathe and get ready for the day to how I choose to parent my three daughters to the shops and brands we choose to purchase from. Now, I am nowhere near perfect, but every day I intentionally strive to show up as the best version of me and work hard to show my daughters, clients, and anyone willing to listen, they have the power to co-create the life they want if they just simply tried. The definition of living intentionally is literally showing up every day and deliberately making decisions that align with your highest and best self.”

Courtesy of Charis, The Mama
Courtesy of Charis, The Mama

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Charis, The Mama. You can follow her journey on Instagram, here and here, and her website. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more powerful stories from abuse survivors:

‘I love you, Mommy. I love you. MOMMY!’ She interrupted her daddy’s beratements. He was a pastor and he ‘never’ laid a hand on me.’: Domestic abuse survivor urges ‘every soul has the power to fight’

‘He said, ‘Mommy sad.’ We wouldn’t see our son again. The truth was, he was never ours.’: Child abuse survivor advocates for foster son ‘no matter the cost’

‘My mother said, ‘We need to have a talk.’ She placed me in a trance. She kept me close, controlling all my decisions in the name of ‘love.’: Narcissistic abuse survivor urges ‘you deserve to be safe and happy’

‘I broke up with my boyfriend only to find out I was 9 weeks pregnant. I had to break the news.’: Teen mom, abuse survivor says ‘my story made me the badass I am today’

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