After reading Nikki’s memoir I was lost for words. What a remarkable woman, I thought, and oh so courageous! To openly speak out about darker times in your past is draining, difficult and so daunting (I know because I’ve also opened up about my mental health issues through the form of poetry in book form). Putting it out there, for the world to see, is absolutely terrifying. And Nikki shares so much with us. You can’t fault a word in Nikki’s memoir: It is her whole life in your hands. You can feel it. You can feel her pain, her thought process, and more importantly – her desire to be loved. Nikki desperately wanted to be loved throughout her whole life and it breaks your heart reading about her life knowing that there is nothing you can do. I wanted to reach out to this young girl and tell her she is deeply loved – if only someone had.
On June 7th, 2017, Gary Greenberg of Fighting for Children PAC (Protect NY Kids), Peaceful Hearts Foundation and Nikki DuBose along with Lauren’s Kids will host a “Walk in My Shoes” display at the Albany Capitol with accompanying stories from survivor’s/victims impact statements displayed to raise awareness during Children’s Awareness Month. Although this month typically brings awareness to the violence against kids, we are standing up and calling forth to the sexual violence and sexual abuse that affects more than 43,000 children annually in the state of New York and more than 43,000,000 around the nation. You can help in two ways.
Donating shoes. We are collecting men’s shoes, women’s shoes, children’s shoes of all types – high end, tattered, athletic, and so forth, to show that sexual violence can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. We need shoes and stories to show lawmakers the enormous impact that sexual violence has on our society. After the event, all of the shoes will be donated to a local homeless shelter or rape crisis center.
Participating virtually. Take a picture of your shoes and upload to social media with the #walkinmyshoes #s809 along with a sentence on why ending child sexual abuse is so important to you. We will repost every entry.
Remember back when I read Lady Injury, when I told you that I liked a book…but then warned you not to read it? That’s exactly how I feel about Washed Away. In fact, the books are as similar as they are different, just as the two women are. Both books are about eating disorders and extremely severe mental illness. Both books are horrifically triggering and devastating. But, just as no two people are the same, no two mental illnesses are the same–and thus, no two memoirs could be the same either.
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.
I remember the first time I felt self-conscious about my appearance. I was four, and my cousin Thomas proceeded to make fun of the birthmark on my butt cheek, which is shaped like a man’s face. It was then that I felt shame, realizing that my body was something others could use to make fun of.
A few years later, I binged to deal with sexual and physical abuse by my mother and a male figure. Looking back, I realize how much I was bullied within my own family; harmful words were used to describe my maturing body and face.
Child sexual predators often place themselves in areas where they have easy access to children. This is one reason why teachers, babysitters, nannies, mothers, fathers, priests, and summer camp workers make excellent abusers. And while Florida has made great strides to protect children from predators in child-care centers, they are falling behind in one major area: summer camp. (1)
Recently, the Palm Beach Post probed and discovered that camps in Florida have no restrictions, therefore there are no boundaries placed on how the camps operate. (1) Abuse can happen and does happen, and nobody is there to prevent or stop it.
Defying Mental Illness (DMI) recently had the unique and exclusive opportunity to meet Nikki and interview her. Nikki’s story is truly remarkable and will inspire you…
DMI: Wow, Nikki, what an honour to interview you today. You have an interesting story that you would like to share with DMI. You were a former model that was climbing high in your career at remarkable speed. However, there was a dark side you were struggling with.
You were challenged with several mental disorders. While you were probably the envy of your friends, secretly, they were your envy! Tell us, a little bit about who Nikki first and foremost. Give us an insight into your childhood.
We recently got to ask Nikki DuBose – A former model turned author, speaker, and mental health advocate a few questions.
Here’s what we got to talk about.
1) Do you have any advice for young teens and young adults battling with an eating disorder who want to get better and start their road to recovery but don’t know where to begin or don’t think they’re strong enough to make that commitment of an everyday fight to recover and start the healing process?
I’ve spent many an afternoon wandering around the library. To me the library has always been a place of opportunity, and it has helped me find books that ignite new interests and explain unknown worlds to me. I’ve loved collecting books over the years, and looking back at my favourites reminds me if where I was at that point in my life, how I was feeling and what I was doing.
Having depression and anxiety means I often look for answers in the books I read. Recently I reflected on some of the books that helped me make sense of my own mental illness and it’s something that I think you might find helpful, so I’ve listed my top 3 books below.
A consortium of anti-sexual violence groups led by Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR) has asked the Commonwealth Club of California to cancel the appearance of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, scheduled for May 1. Mackey is set to appear at the Cubberley Theatre in Palo Alto, in conversation with Dr. Dean Ornish.
Author Nikki DuBose of Washed Away: From Darkness to Light was recently interviewed on addiction and recovery. Here she offers a recap on everything from when her addiction began to how to help a loved one who may be suffering.
1. Can you pinpoint when your problems with addiction began?
I was wired for addiction – my mother had bipolar and dissociative identity disorder and her mother (she was adopted) died from cirrhosis of the liver as a result of alcoholism.
“. . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me . . .”
I let the words sink in, and then I looked out my bedroom window that overlooked the water; for once, I took in the scenery not in fear, but in admiration of the sun as it descended below the horizon. The setting of the sun was a reminder of the magnificence of creation.
“If God made the sun, surely he made me. He must love me, too. I’m going to believe that no matter what, God is with me. When I’m afraid, God is right by my side. I might not see Him physically, but I can see him with my soul; simply because I believe that God is with me, He is,” I thought.
Today as I hiked with my blind and deaf Australian Shepherd and friends up and down rocky trails and around the azure waves of the Pacific, I was amazed at the beauty of God’s creation and the magnitude of his power.
I had no idea what to expect going into this book. I never thought I’d finish the thing in just a few days and feel so utterly connected to someone I’d never met. Knowing Nikki’s story has reminded me why I started to write about mental illness online, even though it often leaves me feeling vulnerable to expose myself to the world.
I had to get rid of the victim mentality to move forward in my healing journey. I couldn’t become a victor until I stopped believing that I was a victim.
Victim and victor sound similar, but the only thing that separates them are the last two letters; a small difference, with an enormous impact. Sometimes in life two letters is all it takes – or that extra dedication to recovery – to make a substantial change.
Stories of girls being sexually abused by male relatives are sadly all too common. But on some occasions the predator in the family can even turn out to be that most trusted confidant of all – the mother.
That was the case for Nikki DuBose who carries mental scars from the trauma of her own late mother sexually abusing her for several years. Now an activist and author, the 31-year-old ex-model is bravely sharing her story with ENTITY.
Washed Away: From Darkness to Light reflects a story of recovery and determination. Dubose allows us not only into her world, but similarly, into her thoughts, feelings, and emotions. She opens up about important conversations surrounding mental illness and the modeling industry that teaches a standard of “beauty” that is not always healthy and realistic. The memoir provides honest reflection as we see the stages of childhood, adolescence, adulthood and what Dubose takes away from each stage of her own life.
You had a very rough start in life. Tell us about your childhood.
I grew up in a violent, dysfunctional family, however, hardly anyone knew that because I went to a private Christian school and we lived in a nice house. My parents divorced when I was two and my mom remarried to a much older man who kind of swept her off her feet.
Starting at four, I was subjected to physical abuse and then at 8, sexual abuse by a male figure. I developed binge eating disorder as a way to cope with the trauma, and later Body Dysmorphic Disoder and bulimia, which lasted for over fifteen years. My mom sexually abused me from the ages of 9 to 13 until the police removed me from my house. I suppressed those memories until my late twenties.
Former model turned author and activist Nikki DuBose, was in San Francisco to challenge Whole Foods Co-CEO John Mackey to stand up for child sexual abuse survivors and speak about her role in the Omnibus Child Victims Act in the state of New York.
Pick up Nikki’s book Washed Away: From Darkness to Light on Amazon.
“What will matter 100 years from now: Your organic fruit, or the fact that you chose not to stand up for children who have been sexually abused?” That was the question I posed to Whole Foods Market executives on Tuesday, February 28th, at the Omni Hotel in downtown San Francisco. Myself along with other key business leaders, anti-animal abuse organizations and child sexual abuse advocates, came together that day to encourage Co-CEO John Mackey to disavow his relationship from alleged child sexual abuser Marc Gaffni.
Listen to the podcast with Nikki and Bill Murray here.
Tonight’s special guest is Nikki DuBose from Los Angeles, a returning NAASCA family member who was abused as a child and later as a young professional model. Nikki works closely with Matt Sandusky at the ‘Peaceful Hearts Foundation,’ and will tell us about her new book, ‘Washed Away: From Darkness to Light.’ In her memoir, Nikki details how being sexually abused as a child led to a seventeen-year battle with serious mental health issues such as eating disorders, depression, self-harm, substance abuse and sexual addictions. She experienced a great deal of success, yet that prosperity came with a high price that often mirrored the sexual abuse from her youth. Among other things, Nikki advocates on her web site for better regulation of the modeling industry. Coming to a place of full healing has not been easy for Nikki, but she says, “I wholeheartedly believe that full recovery is possible. It starts with speaking out and reducing the shame and stigma that is so often attached to mental health issues.” She goes on, “Being an advocate is what allows me to wake up every day and feel truly alive. All of that pain that I lived with for so many years is now channeled into making a difference in society. Whatever issues you’re passionate about, use your voice and the resources you have; love yourself first and from there you can help to change the world.” We’re delighted to have Nikki as a card-carrying member of the NAASCA family!
If you are looking for a story about a remarkable human being, with perseverance and resilience, who describes her horrifying and haunting life story with candor and courage, than I highly recommend Washed Away: From Darkness To Light, a memoir by Nikki DuBose with James Johanson. It is definitely not a light read – so be forewarned now. Washed Away is emotionally wrenching, compelling and brutally honest, truly providing insight into the mind of someone with mental illness and allowing the reader to understand her deepest and darkest thoughts.
The same goes for this book. It shows the hard truth about mental illness, and sometimes that truth is hard to hear. So even though I never experienced abuse, drugs, or alcoholism, I recognized the truth in Nikki’s words. Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is an absolutely amazing book for many reasons, but one of the things I loved was that it didn’t shy away from the tough topics, showed the thought process that I have very rarely read in other books focused around mental health stories, and I thought the ending was absolutely perfect. You turn the page, asking where’s the rest, and it brought a smile to my face when I realized the book ended.
During my first day at James Island High, I wandered aimlessly through the halls. Hundreds of students buzzed by, but I couldn’t hear anything for the dark voices. “Nobody will ever be your friend. You’re a loser!” I kept my head down toward the gum-spattered floors. I wanted to spare everyone from my hideous appearance. When the teachers called out my name During roll call, I didn’t answer; instead, I sulked in the back of the class, afraid to utter a single word.
As the days passed on through March, I wanted to disappear. I was certain that if I stayed at James Island High much longer, everyone was going to find out about my past. Deep down, I longed for others to understand, but I knew that no one could, so I avoided conversations at all costs.
During lunch, I anxiously raced through the lines and grabbed a couple of brown paper bags and desserts. I thought it best to dodge the noisy chatter at the tables and skipped straight ahead to the bathroom stalls. There I at least had silence. The crinkle noises my sandwiches made as I unwrapped them was all the friendship I needed. I had my food, and I had my thoughts. Although, I questioned my thoughts most of the time. I could only sit with my thoughts for a few minutes before purging; it seemed like the rational method to rid myself of the pain.
I squeezed in between Vanessa and Sarah on the bow of the sea doo boat and leaned my head back into my shoulders to let the sun bake away at the freakishly boy short tan lines on the tops of my thighs. As the boat bobbled further away from the campground on the small lake waves, Sarah pulled out a bag of chips. Vanessa tapped her stomach and shook her head no and then she patted mine.
“I envy your tummy you know. Always have.”
“I do too. It’s so flat. You must do something at home,” Lana said from behind.
I felt the blood rush to my cheeks and I quickly draped a Minnie Mouse beach towel over myself.
“No, I don’t do anything.”
“Well I’ve been doing these crunches that I saw in my mom’s magazine. I do like 100 of them. I brought it with me. We should all do them when we get back.”
It is a widely-known, yet little-talked-about fact that trauma in childhood can lead to the development of unhealthy and potentially-fatal coping behaviors such as eating disorders. Until a few years ago, I never spoke a word about the abuse that I had endured in my household, as well as the disordered behaviors I lived with for most of my life as a result.
That all changed when I left my high-profile modeling career, got a mentor, went through recovery, and began writing. Once I started writing, it was as if I had blown the cap off a lid of a tightly-sealed bottle of explosives; all of my memories shattered onto the keyboard, and I couldn’t stop writing about them.
Trigger warning: Descriptions of eating disordered behaviour and abuse.
In December last year we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with the lovely Nikki DuBose about her recent memoir Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, her experiences in the modelling industry, her current advocacy work and her inspiring path to recovery from an eating disorder.
What is the life of a high fashion model. Is it all glam and fame and perfection? Are those celebrity models we idolize like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid really leading the amazing life that we perceive? Or is it a life of “fakes and… lies,” as top Australian Model Ajak Deng announced last year when she left the industry that she said she could no longer take? Or even one that is literally making its participants sick as writer turned model Madison Schill asserted in a Glamour Magazine article, detailing, among other things, how her agent literally asked her if she “drank butter for water.”
In her new, both disturbing and inspiring memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, former model, Nikki Dubose, who has appeared on the covers of and in editorials for all the biggies – Maxim, Glamour, Vogue, Vanity Fair and more lends her voice to this debate.
It may be easy to think that our attitude doesn’t matter when we are recovering, but I beg to differ. I have found that having the right attitude has been just as important as forgiveness and perseverance. In my new memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, I share why attitude is critical for those recovering from addictions.
When I made the decision to leave the modeling industry, I was forced to confront all of my destructive behaviors and truths head on. Life was not fun anymore; it was painful because I had to face my real self. On top of it all, I had to recover, and there were many times where my family and I thought that I was going to die; living became a moment-by-moment process, not day-by-day.
But pushing through, and working with my mentor helped me to understand that having the right attitude was essential to my recovery because life is life and it is not going to change according to my feelings. If it did, then I’d float around on a pink, fluffy cloud all day and avoid pain and growth! That’s not realistic, though; to rise higher, we have to feel pain. Keeping the right attitude makes the growth process tolerable, and it helps to develop our character, which is necessary for every stage of life.
Being broke, frustrated, and uncertain about the future wasn’t such a bad thing. The ball was in my corner; I could start over clean on the West Coast. I left Charleston on a Saturday morning around nine and hightailed it through the states.
The next day, Sunday evening, I rolled up to my new place in Mission Valley. It was a little after eleven; I lugged all of my trash bags into the shared apartment and fell asleep on the couch.
On Monday, I took my remaining money, and on a whim, enrolled in another school. Southern California Esthetics Institute was a four-month-long, intensive esthetician program, and it started the next day.
On the way back to the apartment, I called Dad from the car and told him about my new plan. He was impressed by my persistence to obtain a degree and wired me money to help with the expenses. I felt ridden with guilt; I knew he couldn’t afford to pay my way through school, so I looked for a job right away.
The other day, while sitting and rehashing all of my thoughts over to my psychiatrist through the computer screen, I began to feel annoyed. There he was, blissfully writing away on his notepad, while I regurgitated the same, unhappy words. “What does he really think? And why does he find my pain so funny?” I thought. But then I stopped and started to listen to my words. And I realized something. As much as I had tried to fool myself into thinking that I was no longer a paranoid person, or unaffected by the thoughts and behaviors of others, I was completely and utterly wrong.
So I snapped out of my tunnel, looked him square in the eyes (which can be hard for me to do with him), and said, “Stop writing on your little notepad.” He stopped. I noticed that he was maintaining that smirk on his face. I continued. “No matter how much I talk to you, my paranoia still exists, and in fact, it seems to get worse. And…all you can do is smile. I feel crazy!”
On February 28th, from 11am to 1pm, myself, along with many other prominent leaders, will be speaking at the Omni Hotel in San Fransisco. Our message to Whole Foods CEO John Mackey will be very clear: reject your relationship with former rabbi, spiritual leader Marc Gafni.
The reasoning for our demand is credible: The New York Timescited Mackey’s and Gafni’s relationship, as well as Gafni’s alleged sexual abuse of a 14-year-old. Ever since I found out last year, I have been protesting for Mackey to step up as a business leader, and speak for the millions of consumers who have been sexually abused. Refusing to do so and remaining silent on the issue, Mackey is enabling the culture of sexual abuse, something that I am all too familiar with. His silence and failure to advocate for consumers demonstrates his inability to be socially and ethically responsible. For more than a year I have stopped shopping at Whole Foods as a direct result of this issue. The Washington Postcovered a national protest that I helped organize and participated in along with Peaceful Hearts Foundation, NAASCA, and author Nancy Levine (The Tao of Pug).
The way I see it, Mackey has had significant time to respond to this situation and address the growing culture of child sex abuse and violence. Instead, Mackey has remained friends with Gafni, and Whole Food’s organization, Conscious Capitalism, which was founded by Mackey, has blocked my Twitter account.
Model and author Nikki DuBose struggled with a variety of mental health issues for nearly twenty years; all while forging a career in the demanding fashion industry. Her problems began in childhood, where she was emotionally and sexually abused, and as patterns of self-abuse influenced her choices and progress in life, she found her self in a puzzling juxtaposition between success and failure as she worked as a TV host and began her modeling career.
While on the surface she appeared to be successful, traveling the world and leading a life that seemed enviable, in reality her struggles with PTSD, eating disorders, and mental and physical challenges were never-ending and became life threatening on more than one level. Washed Away: From Darkness to Light tells her story and illuminates the forces which contributed to her warped self image and the paths she took to emerge from her personal version of hell.
Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, speaker, and mental health advocate. She recently released her memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light. In Washed Away, Nikki recounts her experiences navigating the dark side of the modeling industry, while battling abuse, addiction, and various mental health issues. She recently appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network on the TD Jakes Show to speak about her recovery from Body Dysmorphic Disorder and eating disorders, and how the pressure to “fit into” the modeling industry nearly killed her.
Keep reading to learn more about this incredibly strong and inspiring woman, Nikki!
Nikki Dubose says she won’t give up on her fight make kids safer.
The 31-year-old model-turned-activist has already made a name for herself by speaking up about sexual assault. Now, though, she’s taking the platform she’s built and using it to try and change laws to protect children from sexual violence.
“In New York, they have the worst laws in the entire nation as far as protecting children from sexual abuse,” DuBose told A Plus. “There is only a five-year window after you’re 18 years old that someone can report what has happened to them.”
“Author, speaker, and mental health advocate, Nikki DuBose, epitomizes the word brave. She courageously talks about tough topics that others shy away from. I know, because I am one. For a long time, I wasn’t prepared to talk about my own trauma. (I didn’t even realize I had experienced trauma.) But, with the support of people like Nikki, I have opened up. Thanks, Nikki, for encouraging many of us to share our stories. With this post, I am thrilled to have had the chance to interview Nikki about the release of her memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light.”
“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.”
Yesterday, while at a meeting for the League of Women’s Voters Los Angeles, I sat and took it all in. There I was, amongst women who, held varying political preferences, but who were all in the same room for the same reason: to make democracy work. I felt elated and strong. To my right were two teenage girls, who, just a couple of weeks ago, had travelled all the way to Washington DC to attend the Women’s March. They didn’t appear older than sixteen, but they cared enough about standing up for women’s rights that they got on a plane, put on pink, knitted hats, braved the harsh cold and made their voices heard along with over a million men and women at the US Capitol on January 21, 2017.
To my left, were some of the veteran board members, well in their years. And I thought, “Damn. This is amazing. This is how I inspire to be. Continuing to fight for the rights of women and marginalized groups for the rest of my life. Never give up, Nikki. Never, ever give up. These women are so inspiring. What’s their secret?”
In light of the latest presidential election, I think it’s great that the Western world has sort of woken up and decided to get more involved with advocacy work. After all, there is a positive side to every seemingly negative situation, not that I hate Trump, because I don’t. What I am saying is that, every time I go on social media, it seems that a vast majority of Americans, particularly liberal females and the men who support them, are constantly pushing forth issues they are passionate about, and how they can make significant changes for good.
I am all for being an advocate . Five years ago, I began to campaign for the rights of those in the eating disorder community, while I was still in the throes of my own eating disorder and learning how to recover from a range of mental illnesses. In fact, helping others and pushing for change in my community, teaming up with national associations and bring awareness to issues is one of the biggest reasons why I believe I got to a strong place of recovery. It’s also why I am now so heavily involved in helping to pass legislation and want to run for office one day.
“That face. . .Look at it!” I didn’t question the voice. I leaned in until my eyes crossed and my nose touched the mirror. My glasses began to fog from my breath. The voice continued, and then another voice joined it: a giggly, female voice. “Four eyes! Loser. No one will ever love you. What an ugly thing you are. I can’t tell if you look like a girl or a boy. Get to work fatty! Change that face. Don’t stop moving until it’s done. You can win, you can be the winner!” — “Washed Away: From Darkness to Light”
In my newly released memoir, “Washed Away: From Darkness to Light,” I discuss many of the graphic events that led to my mental breakdown in childhood. I think that sharing our stories is critical because there are many hurting people in the world who will benefit from our experiences, and also the more we share, the more we continue to heal and grow.
I could feel the sadness creeping up again, like an unwelcome relative looking over my shoulder and breathing down my neck. I didn’t want it to come, but it did, and I knew that I was helpless to stop it. And then it washed over me; it poured down like a river of madness, and bathed me in uncertainty. As the tears poured down my face and I crawled into bed, I wanted nothing other than to end my own life. Again. But I couldn’t move. I was drowning and stuck staring into nothingness, and the nothingness was ripping my heart apart. As much as I wanted to end my life, I had no energy to get up and do it.
Some time went by, and the energy slowly came back into my body. I muddled around and managed to answer work emails, walk my dog, feed myself and finish some schoolwork. As I drifted around the house and tried to connect with life again, my phone rang. It was a friend, calling to check up on me. My brain told me not to answer it, and I listened. Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, I told myself. Right now, right now I need rest.
“…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.
Nikki Dubose’s Washed Away: From Darkness to Lightis a modern take on an old genre, namely the salvation narrative. It begins with a brief anecdote of the author at her worst, before providing a chronological memoir of Dubose’s life. Dubose’s early childhood was riddled with abuse and neglect. She is brutalized by her stepfather, sexually molested by a family friend, and forced to deal with her mother’s mental illness, which results in yet more abuse. Dubose internalizes this abuse, and the reader witnesses her become her own worst enemy, hounded by the voices in her head that tell her she is disgusting, ugly, fat, and worthless. These voices are only silenced by her compulsive behavior, which includes round after round of binging and purging. Despite all of this, Dubose manages to become a well-known model, which unfortunately only exacerbates her eating disorder and body dysmorphia. Dubose only truly begins to heal after her mother’s untimely, but not unexpected, death. The tragedy allows her to begin to forgive not only those who harmed her, but herself as well.
The other evening, I had just sat down to a nice dinner with a newly acquainted colleague at a posh restaurant overlooking all of Los Angeles. As I began to gaze over the menu, I suddenly heard the question slip from his lips.
“Sooo, what would you like to drink?” I raised my head, trying to fight back any signs of annoyance. Surely, this guy must have read my book. Surely, he must know that I’m sober. But no, there he was, staring and smiling, blissfully unaware and nudging the wine list in my direction.
Nearly seven years ago, I was living in New York City, modeling, and battling several mental illnesses. My mother and I were trying to work through our complicated relationship, one that stemmed from years’ worth of domestic violence, abuse, and alcoholism. In my heart, I wanted so badly to try and understand my mother and have a genuine connection with her, but it was like trying to climb a giant hill wearing cement shoes. Not only did my mental health conditions keep me from moving forward and connecting with her, but so did hers. Bipolar, dissociative identity disorder, and her battle with the bottle were demons that kept her permanently trapped until her death in 2012.
Today would be Mom’s fiftieth birthday, and here I am, in New York City on a business trip, thinking about her.