In this story, I’m going to share with you the most vulnerable parts of me.
This is a blog post I shared a couple of years ago. I’ve updated the timelines, as this story has mostly remained the same — but the journey did not end, as all journeys never do.
Before then I had not ever shared like this before, not even with many close friends and family, because of fear of judgment. I did not want to appear weak or flawed in the eyes of others.
Not to mention, building a business based on helping others claim their authenticity and purpose, while having experienced a series of traumatic life events that I was not sharing, seemed somewhat contradictory to me.
I was afraid of the judgment of others, because I judged myself.
That is no longer my truth. In fact, the opposite is true. I see everything differently now — it was just that my courage had to catch up.
We are not in control of everything life brings our way. We are only in control of how we choose to deal with what life hands us. This was one of my biggest lessons — to let go of control and surrender to the unknowingness.
This journey called life is full of immense beauty and also full of heart-wrenching sadness. If we don’t dive into the depths of our pain and walk through the darkness, we will never reach the light — and true happiness will forever elude us.
And I believe that sharing our own stories and hearing the stories of others is what gives us hope, as well as the courage to show up as our amazing, authentic selves.
Here is where my immense heartbreak began:
Five years ago, my only child, my beautiful son, Trey, came home after a five-year prison sentence for a crime he did not commit.
He entered the prison system at 18 years old. During his time there, he received very few visitors. Somehow people forget about loved ones who are behind bars. Most of his family believed that he was guilty, because, if he was found guilty in a court of law, he must have committed the crime.
We were given two choices by a court-appointed attorney, who offered us a 50/50 chance that Trey would spend 25 years in prison if we allowed a jury to decide his fate — or plead guilty to a crime he did not commit and spend five years in prison instead.
We made an impossible decision.
It was surreal. Standing in front of a broken justice system, he pleaded guilty to a crime he did not commit.
The U.S. legal system is hierarchical, and therefore by nature, designed to oppress. It was African Americans who collectively suffered from this hierarchical system for centuries.
Southern Strategy was designed to trap African-Americans in poverty and keep them out of power. The larger picture: you cannot control an entire body of citizens unless you divide them and make them fight against each other.
Divide and conquer was the name of that game, and it’s still happening in politics and media. In-fighting takes your attention away from what is really happening.
And now, the pendulum has swung.
The privatized corporate prison system is a big business. Anyone living just within their means can easily become swallowed up by the system. Children are being plucked off the streets and into prison beds. It has become the norm to imprison children in our country.
And inevitably, groups who oppress other groups eventually become oppressed themselves. Everyone will eventually feel the stinging slap of oppression in some form, because we are not separate from each other.
So, it was inevitable that the white population would eventually feel the weight of that oppression. White poverty is now rampant, and also largely misunderstood.
I could go on, explaining this concept for days and how I woke up to the reality of what many of us choose not to see because it is too uncomfortable.
But, for now, I will get back to the topic of my own unraveling.
My culturally white-identified son grew up in a beautiful planned community. He was a good student. He and his friends volunteered tirelessly for the nonprofit organization that we began in order to build a skatepark. And he would spend hours on the phone with friends who just needed someone to talk to; he was a sensitive child who cared for everyone deeply.
When the economy tanked in 2008, we lost everything. We spent nearly three years in poverty, which was all it took to end up in our impossible situation.
During the years he spent in prison, the only thing I could do was keep hope alive for him, and he did the same for me. Hope fueled me to pull myself out of poverty and into a six-figure income.
Trey also did everything he could to make the best of his circumstances. He became the internal litigator for the prison at 18 years old, representing the inmates who received charges inside. He never lost a case.
He led efforts to revitalize baseball and volleyball fields and bring in sports equipment. He formed a volunteer group that worked to improve the grounds; creating a sense of teamwork and camaraderie, which gave the other inmates the opportunity to feel empowered by improving their present circumstances. They took pride in their results.
He taught people how to read. He was responsible for changing emotionally-violent prison policies. His empathy grew by leaps and bounds.
Despite all this, the emotional violence he endured was heavier than anyone could comprehend.
After five years of holding onto hope and our dreams for the future, Trey finally came home. That nightmare was over, but nothing could prepare me for what was next.
My worst nightmare came true.
We had Trey home with us for only six precious weeks before he died of a drug overdose. He was only 23 years old.
Time stopped. My heart broke into a thousand pieces. I entered a thick fog.
Trey was my Everything. He was All I lived for and the reason for every decision I had ever made since the day I found out I was pregnant with him.
I decided several weeks after his death that I could not allow myself to fall into a bottomless pit of sorrow, mostly because I was terrified that I would never climb out.
So, I went back to work. When I walked through the office doors, I immediately felt a wave of nausea. I decided to leave the corporate world and the foul toxicity that came with it.
I decided to stop waiting around for happiness to find me and began a desperate search for my new normal.
I began manufacturing happiness.
I got married. The decision was rushed. I met my husband a month before my son died. He was in the Navy. We learned that he would soon be transferred clear across the country. So we went for it. We had a private ceremony and planned a wedding for our friends and family, scheduled for months down the road.
The immediate result of our marriage was that he was able to leave the Navy with an honorable discharge after only three years of service, because of what we were going through. The outcome was a relief.
Two months later, my father died from a long-term illness. I am not sure how I handled his care in the months after Trey died; dealing with hospitals and nurses and making all those hard decisions.
Everyone reminded me how lucky I was to have found such an amazing man who loved me so much. I have never seen big love in action, they would say, in various ways.
Six months later, we had our wedding. I drained my own savings to pay for it.
We decided to start a family. I became pregnant immediately.
Two months later, I miscarried — on the same day of my son’s death, one year later. The pain and sorrow was more than I could bear.
We tried again when it was safe to do so, and succeeded.
A few months later, my husband left me; pregnant, with no income and no car. I miscarried again.
I became engulfed in a web of confusion and depression. I tried desperately to climb out of the fog, and was getting there, when …
Two months later, he came back, begging to come home. He said he was sorry that he had made such a terrible mistake and would never leave me again. I decided I had to give my marriage another chance.
Two months later, we experienced another death in the family. This time, it was my first husband, the father of my son. This man was another beautiful, sensitive soul taken by opiates.
Two months later, my husband left me again, this time in worse financial shape than before. I was on the verge of losing everything I had worked so hard for — everything I had built, back when I only had hope to fuel me.
It took years of working, saving and climbing the corporate ladder to achieve what I had, and it took only months to lose it all.
At this point, there was absolutely no denying that the man I married and loved dearly was trapped inside a dark, inner battle. More confusion ensued.
My husband’s coming and going continued, over three long, painful years.
I felt like my soul had been sucked out of my body and I was dying a slow death. I felt like I had danced with the devil. He danced me into oblivion.
There I was, utterly alone. My son, my father and my first husband — the only person who would ever love my child as much as I do — were gone. My brand new marriage was over. With no real income, the future was bleak. There was no more hope to fuel me.
Gradually, I lost touch with my heart, my soul, my mind and my dignity.
I felt like there was absolutely nothing left for me to lose.
While living through what felt like a nightmare that would not end, I somehow found the courage to become vulnerable, over and over again. I chose to keep my heart open, even while it was breaking.
I witnessed my already broken heart bust wide open into thousands of pieces. I watched those pieces shatter into thousands more.
By the grace of God and the Goddess, I am still standing, now holding even more space for love and light to exist inside my heart.
The masks I once wore have all disintegrated into ashes.
Today, there is no turning back. My authenticity will no longer be denied. My walls have crumbled, never to be built again.
Together, grief and I began the painful metamorphosis — lovingly enveloping and embracing one another — while holding on for dear life. We didn’t let go until the transformation was complete. There was no other way out but through.
In my quest for understanding, I found many teachers — shamans, coaches, healers and mediums who taught me about Oneness — through conflict resolution techniques, inner child healing, meditation, yoga, and the divine masculine-feminine dynamic.
I discovered the knowingness inside of me that time is not linear — and there is much more to our existence than meets the untrained eye.
And I learned that happiness cannot be taken away by any person or circumstance.
I watched as grief transformed into purpose. And confusion transformed into clarity.
I settled into the knowingness that we are all connected to everything, and from that place, I was able to heal wounds I wasn’t even aware I had.
Then, I found peace. Just like happiness — it was always there inside of me, waiting to be acknowledged.
Pain was the catalyst for realizing my purpose.
I had the honor of working alongside some amazing women who were spreading the awareness of Oneness through creating safe spaces to resolve conflicts. They were healing wounds, without using our broken systems.
The reason I chose this work is because our broken societal systems need to change. Addiction, the school-to-prison pipeline, poverty, war, divorce and narcissistic abuse are all symptoms of a larger problem — broken systems that we have come to believe are the only way.
We don’t know what we don’t know.
When we operate out of fear and separation, no one benefits; not our children, spouses, parents, siblings, nor the community at large.
Fear keeps us playing small and denies us our natural right as human beings to experience joy. And since we are all connected, everyone suffers.
Recognizing our connection to All That Is, is impossible when we are following the rules of our current social systems. Each and every one of us has the power to choose differently.
We have the power to choose loving values over oppressive rules. We have the power to refuse to participate in systems that hurt people.
We have the power to step out of victimhood and heal our own wounds.
We have the power to choose to live into our purpose in service to others, instead of participating in toxic consumerism that supports collective oppression.
It’s time to do something different. Anything else is insane.
If everyone knew how powerful they actually are, our world would look very different. And if everyone knew we were all connected on a fundamental level, no one would ever want anyone to suffer, and we would not allow it.
Oneness is the Truth of All That Is.
Oneness is where joy lives.
Inner peace, joy and happiness are already present, inside all of us; we only have to peel back the layers of toxic societal conditioning which perpetuates our perceived separateness.
Get curious. Learn about yourself. Question everything.
This is how we heal our wounds, uncover our gifts and claim our authenticity — so our purpose can find us.
Love and light,