Trauma survivors come from all walks of life, all over the world, and while each of us are unique individuals in our own right, our survivor stories is often very similar. It’s that similarity that helps us all connect, relate, and unite in a common goal of healing and awareness.
Those similarities were evident once again, when I recently had the opportunity to speak with Abuse Survivor, Author, Advocate, and Ambassador, Nikki DuBose. It was such a privilege to spend some time talking with Nikki about not only her past; the abuse and trauma that she endured, but also about her advocacy work now and her amazing story of survival.
As a former model, Nikki has spent time in the public spotlight, living and working all over the world, but at the same time, also hiding a secret of a traumatic past that she could not escape.
Starting this Friday off with some #selflove and #beauty 💕💕💕💕 For my African Queens 👸🏽
As I previously mentioned, I will be posting some of the pages I have found the most inspirational throughout the month. Today- let’s show @sassy_latte some love!!! #Repost @sassy_latte
Black girl magic, you ask? Is it real?
We are told our skin is too dark, yet we glow with pride. We’re told our hair is kinky and short, yet we grow our Afros big enough to block out the sun and locs so long they drag on the ground. We’re slut shamed for birthing children by different men, yet we raise our children, often alone, with passion and perseverance. We’re told we’re ghetto, loud, and dumb, yet we’re quickly becoming the highest educated population in the country. We’re told throughout history that our bodies are exotic and should be used sexually, yet we’re learning to stand in solidarity and take back ownership of our sexuality. We’re painted as desperate arm candy to rappers and athletes, yet many of us own our own businesses and organizations.
The list goes on. The obstacles never end. The judgment never ceases. The only thing that holds true is that Black Women keep shedding light on these myths. We keep our heads held high. We keep surpassing boundaries placed around us. We keep charming the masses despite being told we’re nothing. We keep pushing back, fighting for ourselves and one another. We keep proving you wrong and changing your mind. What else could that be?… To come from the ashes of slavery in America, to endure the metaphorical shackles of the present, and to be born-again QUEENS? … It has to be Magic. Black Girl Magic. And only We have it.
It’s so easy to miss the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder. I know, because I had one for over seventeen years, and I was a master at not only hiding it from my family and friends, but deceiving myself into thinking that I didn’t have one.
Thankfully, with the help of God and my support team, I was able to get into a healthy place in my life and learn that it is possible to recover. And just as easy as it is to miss an eating disorder, it’s easy to miss loving yourself in recovery. I am a hard worker, and I love helping others, in fact, it’s one of the things that has helped me to recover. So in this VLOG for the Eating Recovery Roundup, I’ve decided to focus on #DontMiss loving yourself in recovery. Enjoy, and if you have any self love or self care tips you’d like to share, email me at email@example.com.
There is a road I’m walking on that I never thought I would. The road is simultaneously full of potholes and patches of silky, green grass. At times, just when I feel as though I’ve reached the end of this road, the wind whispers, and I realize I’ve been fooled. The illusion fades, melting the road into a thousand miles again.
“Pela primeira vez, um grupo de tops decidiu se rebelar contra as regras estabelecidas pela indústria da moda. A poucos dias do início da Semana de Moda de Nova York, 35 modelos, entre elas Iskra Lawrence, Ashley Chew e Carré Otis, escreveram uma honesta e necessária carta aberta.”
“…She flipped the truck into a ditch and just left the scene. Nikki…we can’t find her.”
I hung up. My momma: the adult, the child, my everything.
I slid to the floor and smacked my head with my fist.
“God, help me!” I thought. I desperately wanted the pain to end, and for our lives to be normal, but life had been chaotic for so long, perhaps this was our normal.
…I let the cold water wash over my blistered knuckles and stared into the mirror. The only face I recognized was Momma’s; she was all I wanted. Her reflection blended into mine and brought me face-to-face with some disturbing truths. Why was I incapable of taking care of myself? Why couldn’t I take care of her? “God, where are you? Don’t you love us?” I thought.
For most of my life, I never wanted to come to terms with the fact that I was an addict to pretty much everything. Addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, money, fame, success, love, food, on and on. Basically, I just wanted anything to simultaneously temper the sting of loneliness and boost my low self-esteem.
“Recovery is not all about work, it’s also about having fun. It’s a balancing act, and that’s been one of my biggest challenges over the course of my four-and-a-half-year sobriety. And making the decision to become sober was a complete lifestyle change; besides quitting drugs and alcohol, I had to make a commitment to change who I spent my time with. Our friends and social circles have a tremendous influence on how we live our lives, especially when it comes down to our entertainment choice. Since I made the conscious choice to leave behind many people whom I felt were having a negative influence on my health (including my modeling career), it was not an easy transition, but it was a worthwhile one. For a long time I was extremely lonely; all of the people and activities I once filled my schedule with were no longer there and adjusting to the new way of life was painful. How was I going to spend my time sans drugs and alcohol?”
I love you,
Now bow to the moon.
Go to sleep
Rest your eyes
Dream of our love.
That can arise
Only in Heaven
A breath, a sigh
Then we are back
I love you,
Let us bow to the sun.
Your eyes glisten
Through them I see,
My dreams, my eternity.
Welcome to Episode 6: Facts, Myths & Healing — Child Sexual Victimization. On this episode I talk about what child sexual abuse is and demystify “stranger danger,” a topic surrounding Matthew Sandusky’s new book, Undaunted, out now on Amazon.com. In my upcoming book, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, I share my own story with child sexual victimization and abuse and how that led to a plethora of mental health issues. I am fortunate to work with Matthew at Peaceful Hearts Foundation; Matthew, his wife Kim, and countless others are passionate about helping survivors of child sexual abuse and making sure they receive the help they need.
There’s alot of miseducation about not only child sexual victimization, but about the Sandusky story as well, and in Episode 6 I dive into both and bring to light some of the truth about topics that have been hidden for far too long.
Have a question or comment? Something you’d like me to talk about on a future show? Drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s the workshop I did at UCLA recently involving art therapy, child sexual abuse and eating disorders.
Here’s some awesome art therapy exercises in case you’re interested. You’re never too old for art. 😉
“All right now, hold my hand real tight, don’t let go until you know when.” Dad peered down from his dusty baseball cap marked 88 and gripped my hands in his big bear palm. From my tiny viewpoint, the world was blanketed by the nighttime sky and littered in stars. Dad’s smile lit my heart, and at once, I released my faith and threw back my head, revealing a deep, belly laugh.
“Anda- one, anda-two, anda-three!” Dad swung me higher and higher, until the third count, when he released me and I soared, just for a few seconds, like a superhero amongst the crowds of blurry faces who were scattered amongst the bleachers. It was race night, and like every other Saturday, it was our time; we didn’t get to see each other often, but when we did, time stopped and life became precious.
I hit the rocky ground on both legs safely with a resounding “thud,” and, although shocked, I quickly dusted myself off and turned to face the one person who I knew would be right behind me. “That’s my girl! Didn’t think I’d let you down, did ya?” Dad swept me up in his arms and carried me back to the bleachers, as all fear of the unknown faded away.
My dad has always been my hero, whether or not he truly knows it. In my eyes, I couldn’t tell him enough. And when it comes to my relationships I’ve learned a lot through my biggest one: the one with my father. He’s taught me so much about what it means to love people for who they are on the inside, to see beyond the exterior package. The obvious is not what we see, it is what we choose to get to know about someone that makes them beautiful. Growing up in a small, country, two-bedroom home that raised over twenty children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Dad learned early the value of staying close and loving through it all. As I went through my struggles, he not only taught those to me, he showed them, too.
I’ve learned what it means to let go and allow love in. What it means to heal. For most of my life I shut myself off to love and used relationships as a way to abuse myself and others, long after my abusers left. Dad has always been there, in the background, offering advice and encouragement in his own kind way. The faith that he instilled in me as a child has slowly grown over time, and without his care, I don’t know where I’d be. At thirty and through two marriages, I can’t deny the huge role that his stability has played.
I finally know what it means to love myself. Although this one, like every relationship, is one that is a constant work in progress, the love I have for myself is mirrored by the love Dad has for himself. As we’ve grown and constructed healthier lives, our self-images have been strengthened. My dad has a much better image of himself than he used to, especially when I was living in the depths of my eating disorders. A perfectionist at my core, Dad’s voice was always in the back of my mind whispering, “You don’t have to be perfect for someone to love you.” When I was at one of the lowest points in my life at eighteen and attempted suicide, I never imagined that I could flourish and get to the place of contentment that I am in now.
Because of our relationship, I’ve learned what I want in a partner, and what I don’t want, the latter through my own trials and errors. I learned that I want someone faithful, loving, and kind. A person who looks past the obvious; someone who sees my soul. And just like Dad, someone who is always there to catch me when I fall.
We have now arrived at the twelfth and final step of the recovery program. Congratulations! Give yourself a huge hug and relish how far you have come to reach this point. Your recovery is the cornerstone of the success for the rest of your life.
Step twelve touches on what is single-handedly the most important part of daily recovery. Although all of the steps are essential for a healthy soul, mind and body, the twelfth step is crucial because it instills the importance of giving away what you have been given. After all, where would we be if recovery, support, and guidance had not been given to us by others all along the way?
Helping other people get their life back on track by sharing our experience, strength and hope can be done in the form of sponsoring up to the level of your recovery or by being an accountability partner. Just being kind to others and allowing positivity and love to flow through your personality to the world around you enables all kinds of continual healing to take place. When we don’t pass on the knowledge that we have received, we run the assured risk of falling back on our own recovery and becoming selfish and proud.
The steps need to be repeated for the rest of our lives. We never become “too good” for program; rather, our success in life is dependant upon our daily surrender to God and being willing to work on ourselves. Recovery is a beautiful thing; how will you pass it on today?
Thank you to The Life Recovery Workbook by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop for the following questions.
Our Mission Isaiah 61:1-3
1. How have I passed through the pain and despair of enslavement to addiction and moved into healing and freedom?
2. Having had a “spiritual awakening” after being set free from my addiction, am I excited or hesitant to share my experience, strength, and hope with others who are struggling with addiction? Why?
Our Story Mark 16:14-18
Describe the story of your spiritual awakening and how the first eleven steps have brought spiritual principals, truth, and healing into your life. Describe what you were like, what happened, and what you are like now.
Sharing Together John 15:5-15
1. Am I connected to the vine? How do the Twelve Steps help me to “remain” in him?
2. Is my recovery attractive to other addictive/compulsive people because I am becoming more loving rather than condemning those who need my help?
3. What am I doing to reach out with Jesus’ love?
Listening First Acts 8:26-40
1. What is my attitude about sharing my story of recovery? Am I reluctant to tell my story, or am I the type that wants to share too much, too soon, with too many people?
2. From either extreme, am I willing to wait for God’s timing for sharing recovery?
3. Do I see my story as valuable to God’s plan? Describe how.
Talking the Walk 1 Timothy 4:14-16
1. Paul encourages Timothy to “throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.” What changes in my life can others observe since I have been sober and working the Twelve Steps?
2. Paul wanted Timothy not only to teach others, but to be an example. When I share my story with others, am I preaching, or sharing my experience, strength, and hope.
3. Am I able to let the other person make his or her own decision by relinquishing control and letting God do his work?
Never Forget Titus 3:1-5
What do I remember about my last drink or my last binge? Describe that last time, including actions, feelings, behaviors, and thoughts that led up to it and followed it:
The Narrow Road 1 Peter 4:1-4
1. Peter pointed out: “You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy-their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties” (1 Peter 4:1-2) the pains of recovery.
2. Does the approval or judgement of others keep me from sharing recovery? Do I fear negative rumors?
Step ten is the first step that I take daily in order to keep myself in check. When I find that my character or food plan might be getting a bit sloppy, I try to immediately surrender myself to God and ask for His help to renew my mind In Him and take account for exactly where I am going wrong. In doing so, I am able to get back on track much faster and have a fruitful day. In the past before I found strong recovery I just kind of floundered around mercilessly inside and felt very lost. My mind was weak because I had let the eating disorder and other problems control it for many years. Thank God for His Grace and the twelve steps of recovery to bring daily help in every single situation that can arise.
Thank you to The Life Recovery Workbook by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop for the following questions.
Personal Boundaries Genesis 31:45-55
1. In order to restore trust in relationships, what particular weaknesses do I need to set boundaries around?
2. Is there a trusted person to whom I can clearly define my commitments? Who? What commitments am I willing to make?
Repeated Forgiveness Romans 5:3-5
1. Do certain behaviors and character defects that show up in my Step Ten inventory point to a pattern? Which ones? What is being revealed to me?
2. Am I having trouble admitting these promptly and forgiving myself?
3. Do I give myself grace? Why or why not?
Dealing with Anger Ephesians 4:26-27
1. What is my first response when I am angry? Lashing out? Stuffing down? Avoidance and covering up?
2. How was anger dealt with in my family? How did my mother deal with anger? My father? Which pattern do I follow?
3. When I am angry, can I promptly admit it? Why or why not?
4. Do I have support people who can help me learn to deal with anger more appropriately? Am I willing to ask for assistance with this issue?
Spiritual Exercises 1 Timothy 4:7-8
1. As this continual inventory is important for spiritual fitness, where in my daily routine can I set aside time to make myself self-assessment part of every day?
2. Do I have any resistance to evaluating my defects daily? What are my objections? What do I fear?
3. An example of a simple, daily, personal inventory:
Where have I been selfish, dishonest, fearful, inconsiderate, or proud?
What have I done right today?
What do I need God's help with tomorrow?
What am I grateful for today?
Perseverance 2 Timothy 2:1-8
1. How do I see my recovery as a war against addiction and as a fight for my soul?
2. How do I see myself as an athlete in training for the marathon journey of recovery and serenity?
3. Am I working in every season and situation? planting seeds of recovery by applying the Twelve Steps to my life?
4. Where do I lose heart in fighting, training, and working through the Twelve Steps?
Looking in the Mirror James 1:21-25
1. Have I been quick to recognize but not take action in a particular area of my life or defect of character? If so, I can take action without self-criticism by going back through Steps Six and Seven, then Eight and Nine on that particular area or defect.
2. On what area or defect do I need to take action today? This week? This month?
Recurrent Sins 1 John 1:!-10
1. Have I hoped for immediate release from my defects as I may have had from my addiction? Have I perhaps unknowingly hoped that by doing all this step work I could attain perfection? Write any thoughts and feelings that arise from reading this meditation:
2. Am I clear that I still need inventories to continue my spiritual growth? In other words, have I developed enough humility to accept that inventories will be a regular part of my journey?
3. Am I sensing that my conscience is returning or developing so that I more easily recognize my faults? Am I humble enough to admit them more readily? Record any progress you've noticed in your conscience:
Bunnies, cows, pigs, oh my!! I was in hog-heaven this Columbus Day weekend at Alstede Farms in Chester, NJ. Not only was the scenery surrounding the Fall-Festival breath taking, but the “scene” inside the park wasn’t half-bad either! From kiddies to pumpkin fudge (who knew?), animals galore to more Pick-Your-Own activities than you could shake a honey flavored stick at!!
I don’t know about you, but fall time is my absolute favorite time of the year. The beautiful colors on the leaves changing signal that the Holidays are a-comin’ and that the layers on my clothes will be a wrappin’!! I am so thankful for the beautiful seasons that God has created, but fall and winter have always been my favorite! You can be sure I will be blogging much more during this time as it brings back my childhood memories with my family, and I love to create that here on my website.
My nine and a half year old niece *Colette loves to sit with me in the bathroom and watch me fix my hair in the mornings and put on my makeup. The other day we were spending time together while I was doing just that, and I frequently stopped to dance around the room with my hairbrush and sing songs on the iPad that she knows almost every word to. We just laughed and laughed until a hour and a half had passed and she was half silly and I had half of my hair and makeup on still, ha ha! These are precious memories and ones that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
After we had finished our mini concert in our jammies, Colette became pretty quiet and started to stare down at the floor. “Are you ok, Colette?” I asked. She didn’t really answer even though I knew she had understood what I was saying, and instead she went over to the weight scale that was over by the sink and promptly put her two feet firmly on the face of it. I carefully but discreetly watched as her face fell and she immediately became disheartened. Again, I repeated to her to tell me what was wrong, this time in French to make sure she understood. “Qu’est-ce que c’est ?”, I asked her beautiful, tiny face. After one enormous huff of a breath, Colette pointed to her belly and implied that she was overweight, and by her face, that she felt horrible about her body and appearance because of the number on the scale. I was shocked! A nine and a half year old child!! A child, so concerned about her weight and appearance already! What in the world is happening to our society?
Right away I took her and looked her straight and lovingly into her saddened eyes. “Colette, you. Are. Beautiful. Jolie. Do you know?” Obviously my French is terrible, but I could see in her expression that she understood because she peaked through with a microscopic smile. “Bon, now I want you to come to the mirror, look straight into it at yourself, all of you, and repeat after me, I. Am. Beautiful. Just. The. Way. I. Am.” Well, my first attempt failed. She could not even look at herself, let alone repeat the words. This was a total learning experience for me, and I was just so heartbroken that this incredibly gorgeous, inside and out, talented, bright, sweet, charming, gracious child was deep down full of intense self-esteem issues because of a number on a scale. And where in the world did she pick this up? How did she even know to go and weigh herself and what these numbers mean? Ooh, I was just so infuriated!! And then subsequently all of the feelings that I had as a child came flooding back to me all at once. I had the same emotions, fears and knowledge of myself and body at her age and had already developed serious, serious body and food issues at the age of eight! Eight! Imagine, the psychological effects and damages that society can have on a child, with all of the messages it sends on what it is to be acceptable. This is plum ridiculous!
I gently repeated it to Colette over and over until she said it to herself in the mirror. “I. Am. Beautiful. Just. The. Way. I. Am.” And you know what? She finally had a smile on her face, and she had a face of confidence where she could at least say it and look at herself in the mirror at the same time! It is so important the words that we speak to children, and the words that they say to themselves and how they see themselves. Growing up, I did not really have any encouragement directly at home. Abused in my childhood in many ways from some family members, I had zero self confidence and in fact I hated myself from as early as the age of eight years old, when all of the abuse started to take on a more serious turn. There is so much power in our thoughts, our mind, our actions, and the words we say to ourselves and others. Just the kindest and most gentle sentence can help to change someone’s life. I often wonder what would have happened if instead of constantly hearing words of discouragement and disapproval, I would have been raised in an environment of positive reinforcement, encouragement, kindness and concern for my well-being, as every human being deserves to hear and know from childhood.
Believe it or not, I struggled for seventeen years of my young life with body issues, self esteem, weight control, and loving myself, the real myself; and in fact, I don’t think I ever even knew who I really was because I never started my life with any kind of a healthy foundation on which to grown on or to have guidance from. When you are eight years old and start having deep-psychological food issues and base your worth and value on how you feel when you look in your kid jeans in the morning, there is a serious, life-altering mindset that takes place; And child, it’s not pretty.
Needless to say, when Colette started to talk negatively about herself in the bathroom and play the “blame game” with her body and the weight scale, I knew that I could not and would not let her leave there without trying to get her to see herself and speak to herself loving, caring words the way that God sees and loves all of us. It is important to share with you all how I was treated as a child and the problems I went through, but it is much more important and exciting to shout from the rooftops what God has done for my life! God took a messed up, broken, abused and helpless woman who had a hurting, angry little girl still living on the inside of her; a victim of her own perfectionism. He took me, when I had finally had enough of living like a victim and decided I wanted to live a victorious life, and in fact, He came running with open Arms to me, picked me up, carried me, and gave me a totally New Life that could only be found In Him! When I surrendered every single area of my life to God, it was not easy, it was very challenging, in fact, but I began to see myself the way that God saw me, as I first learned from His Word. In the Bible, there are four key adjectives that are used to describe how we are seen in God’s eyes, and although there are many more I want to share the following with you, and invite you to repeat these powerful phrases in front of the mirror, and to yourself throughout the day whenever you need a “pick-me-up.”
I am created in the Image of God. In the Book of Genesis 1:27 it says that, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Well, this verse really changed a lot for me. If I am created in the very image of God, and God is supposed to be All-Seeing, All-Knowing, All-Capable, All-Powerful, Always in Control, just PERFECT, then right here and now I should understand that I should NEVER, EVER, EVER say another bad thing about myself ever again! If I know that I am created in God’s very image and He did so ON PURPOSE because He loves me, and He has an amazing future for my life, then speaking and thinking bad things about myself would be just like slapping Him in the face, never-the-mind all of the damaging effects it would continue to do to myself. So the next time you feel like you are ugly or not worthy just the way you are, that is total crap and hurtful to God because He. Made. You. Unique. And. Precious. In. His. Sight.
I am accepted. Ephesians 1: 3-8 says, “I have been chosen by God and adopted as His Child.” Wow! You mean all of this time I did not have to have feelings of abandonment, loneliness, unworthiness and shame for not having my family there for me? NO! As children, we tend to idolize our parents, and see them as being perfect and incapable of making mistakes. When we become adults, we tend to blame all of our problems on our parents and our childhood, but what we really should be doing is accepting the fact that all our parents really did was give us life, bring us into this world, and raise us the best that they knew how to with the resources they had. The only One perfect is God, therefore, we have to learn to forgive our parents, even if we never even had any, even if they mistreated us, even if they left us as children. Why? Because we are not perfect either, and we can never point the finger because that is being hypocritical and God is not a hypocrite. When we understand what God says above in Ephesians 1:3-8 then it takes all of the pressure off ourselves having to constantly live in regret for not having the “perfect” childhood that maybe we would have liked to have. For we can discover that having a personal relationship with Christ gives us something far beyond and better: a Loving Father Who is with us Eternally and Who has a Home for us on Earth and in Heaven, and Who will never Leave us Nor Forsake us. So it does not matter what your childhood was like, the next time you feel sad about your family, feel comfort in knowing, “I. Am. Accepted!”
I am secure. 1 John 5:18 states, “I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.” Safety is critical to a child’s wellbeing mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. How many times have you seen a child act out in anger or frustration or how many times have you done this yourself, all the while knowing that the root of the action was fear? Fear is a joy-killer because it is not something that is valid, but it is something that we tend to believe. Fear is the opposite of faith, and when we live in fear, we can act out in all kinds of negative emotions on ourselves and to other people, places, and things. Deep rooted fears of gaining weight, past traumas, fears of not getting approval from others, etc., can be a main cause of eating disorders that start in children, and can develop into more severe problems if left untreated. Perfectionism and People Pleasing are very common “disorders” that, myself included, hundreds of millions of people struggle with, and it all really stems from childhood, the lack of feeling accepted and secure, and trying to make up for it all as adults by doing way too much for the sake of everyone else, when on the inside you are dying. God gives you unlimited security, safety and rest in His Arms, when you begin to study His Word little by little you will find that you do not ever have to feel afraid to take another step in this life and beyond alone. You are valuable and you have unbreakable security bank in the Kingdom of God. When fear starts to creep up on you, you pray, “Devil, shut up! I know who I am and what I have with God. God is with me always and I will not fear. I am secure. You cannot touch me, fear.”
I am significant. 1 Corinthians 3:16 clearly says, “I am God’s Temple.” Our body is God’s Holy Temple, and how dare we disrespect, destroy or disregard what God made! Whatever size, weight or shape your body is, you need to embrace or love that! The number on the scale should be left there, and should not follow you throughout your day, determining your value and significance. Your significance is found in Jesus, and what He says about you, that you are HIS Temple, His Body, and You are FREE to love your body! So you should not go by the world’s standards of “measuring up” and obtaining worthiness from a certain dress or pants size because you are important enough in God’s eyes just the way you are!
So throw away all of your worries, take deep breaths and release them, go and look in the mirror, and I mean really look in the mirror. Now see yourself the way that God sees you.
Aaahhh. Now say, “I. Am. Beautiful. Just. The. Way. I. Am.”