Friday, July 29, 2011

There is Life After...

When people ask what is my favorite song, I immediately say New Order's "Vanishing Point". I feel an extremely deep connection with the lyrics, because it's true, "My life ain't no holiday. I've been to the point of no return. I've seen what a man  can do. I've seen all the hate a woman too." The truth is, I saw the darkest side of humanity before I was age 10 that has left my body with permanent scars, but emotionally, I feel damn near untouchable.

From the ages of 2-12, I was molested... nah, let's call it what it really was, raped by a close family friend. Not only that, I was also passed around among a group of his male friends with the same sick fixation of young girls. To make it worse, I was in constant fear for the life of my family and of his wife that he beat unmercifully in front of me. I lived a secret life of fear and stress. I was never really worried about myself because I knew how to go into a different world when the abuse began. I even came up with plans at age 7 to make myself less attractive by gaining as much weight as I could. My weight became a comforter to keep people at bay, but unfortunately it did not make the abuse stop. Beyond my weight, I did not show any signs nor let anyone know what I was going through. I was afraid of my parents hurting emotionally because I loved them so much and knew that they were worried about me enough with the divorce that I did not want them to worry about me further. I just became a master manipulator and learned how to put on the perfect smile, make the perfect grades and just be the perfect child. The only thing I wanted was my weight.

By time I turned 12, I finally told my parents that I did not want to visit for the weekend anymore and they wanted to know why but figured I was just turning into a typical teenager. Years passed and I continued to be a success in school, a good kid, still gained weight and to everyone's concern, had ulcers. My parents wondered if it was the bullying at school (partially, yes), was it unresolved issues with the divorce? What was making me so sick? My parents took me for a ton of physical tests with medical specialists and even to a child psychologist. I was able to fool them all. As a matter of fact, everyone considered me the sweetest and most considerate child they ever met, and I was too because making everyone happy kept people at bay. The more I made everyone happy, the more they loved me and the less questions they asked. My mask and my weight were my perfect cover.

As I entered into my teenage years I took on the persona of the ice princess. I felt so incredibly awkward and was unsure how to relate to others in a romantic fashion, so I just did not really date. That same awkwardness stayed with me into adulthood and I did not feel like I knew what I was doing until I became sexually active. With sex, I saw it as more of a duty and a job that I even enjoyed sometimes. When I did let someone in, I felt obligated to have sex with them whenever they asked. I never even made my sexual satisfaction a priority. I was just floating and still detaching. I longed for that connection, but did not know how to obtain it.

Finally at 25, I met a wonderful man by complete accident and he opened a part of my heart that I never explored before. I suddenly began to actually see myself and it was frightening. He saw me as beautiful, smart, witty... plain amazing and all of that made me want to cry because I did not see any of that. I just saw myself basically as a cum rag. Sad huh. After being together for 5 years and a bad breakup, I was at a serious crossroads in my life and could not carry on with the way I was living. I thought I would find and love myself through the relationship, but I still felt just as insecure as the day we met. He was not the problem; I was. With the start realization that this could be my life, I OD'd on my anti-depressants and was rushed to Baylor Hospital. At that moment, I knew I was at my rock bottom, but was unsure how to get out.

With the prospect of getting back together with my ex and the looming issue of me losing my job, I took FMLA and started outpatient treatment at Green Oaks and The Family Place. I went through almost a year of hard core, 6 day a week therapy to deal with all the pain and to break through all the masks I had. It was the hardest year of my life. I never knew I could cry so much, but I also never knew I could be so free. I also learned what an ally I had in my Mom. She was there for every step and although it did hurt her and my father to know what I went through, and the permanent physical damage I have to contend with, they weren't mad at me.

I remember one day waking up and I looked around and the sky was so blue. Everything was just so CLEAR. I was amazed by everything because it was like the haze I was walking through my whole life had been lifted. When I smiled, I meant it. This new found clarity gave me the backbone to not only start living authentically, but to also accept life challenges on life's terms. When I was laid off, I immediately filed for unemployment and took the opportunity to return to school to study to be a Addictions Counselor. Now, I'm about to start grad school in hopes of being a Psychologist with a specialization in Trauma and Addictions and life could not be better because finally, life is worth living for myself.

So, yes "My life ain't no holiday. I've been to the point of no return.", but I've lived to tell my tale and I can tell you that life is beautiful and worth living. There is life after.


  1. This post really moved me Zandra. It takes a special kind of courage to reveal these "pearls" of our pasts. I wanted to personally thank you for becoming a follower on my site at
    Journey Through Silence.

    Much Love and Respect To YOU...
    Mina Astran

  2. Thank you so much for being brave enough to change your life and to share your story. You are my hero.

  3. You are amazing Zan, and don't let anyone tell you different. I really believe you are going to move mountains and help so many other people push through their own issues and become happier people.