January this year, I broke up with my fiancé, cancelled our wedding, removed myself from the toxic relationships with my entire family and friend circles, packed my house up (for the fourth time in five years), put all of my things in storage, took my boys and moved into the 1994 Georgie Boy Motorhome I had just bought in December. Needless to say, 2019 didn’t have the best start.
This was not the original plan when I bought Bonnie (The RV was named by the previous owners, and we kept rocking it.) We had intended on using Bonnie to get out of Vegas for random trips, work travels and just to manifest more travel in our years to come.
At the time of Bonnie’s purchase, I was in a dark place. Like, really dark. I couldn’t seem to escape the dark cloud that continued to follow me, no matter what I did, where I went and who I was with. It was the wedge in my relationship, it was the driver for all that is now and I hope this story finds you feeling gratitude and inspiration, because I certainly do. Now, at least.
June of 2018, an old friend came into town from Massachusetts. (I used to live there over a decade ago for a few years and we’ve managed to stay in touch.) He and his brother were coming to Vegas to celebrate his big 30th. An invite was extended, and as I thought it’d be nice to see an old friend, so I decided to go. Mind you, this party was at a casino pool on the strip, mid-day; so, not something I’d normally want to do, but it was a special occasion.
The day started out fun, but didn’t end this way.
I had told my (at the time) fiancé, Seth, that I’d be back home by five that evening. I didn’t get home until after seven.
He was upstairs in bed as I walked into our room. He asked me in an upset tone, “Where were you? Why didn’t you call me?”
I fell to the floor, held my face and sobbed, “You have no idea what just happened.”
He quickly came to me, crawling on the floor, attempting to hold me begging me to tell him what was wrong. He was a sensitive soul, always so tender with me. His apparent frustration quickly turned into a sincere concern. I wasn’t able break my cry to speak, so I pushed him away and ran into the bathroom and locked the door. As I kept envisioning what happened over and over again in my head, the anger inside of me found it’s way out as I started screaming as I punch and kick holes in the bathroom wall. Seth, crying outside the door begging me to unlock it, I eventually did.
I finally mustered up the courage to even speak the words I’m about to and it hurt just the same as it felt.
“I was sexually molested at the pool,” as I fell into his arms. He was upset, too. Like, incredibly angry, emotional, in-shock, hysterical. Just like I was. It was no suprise. He was always so protective of me.
As he asked the millions of questions any decent person would ask, I couldn’t answer a lot of them. I didn’t remember a lot of things, as I blacked out. My therpaist said this is completely normal as this wasn’t the first time this has happened to me. I won’t talk about it but it was in high school and with my (at the time) male best friend.
As you can imagine, the post-trauma effects this incident had on me came roaring up even louder than before. A cloud of fear and guilt filled my heart and mind and I couldn’t find the answers. I was stuck in this moment of misery and it wouldn’t escape me.
We were devastated. I was devastated.
After several days, weeks, months of trying to work through it, going to therapy, it continued to hinder me. It hindered our relationship. It hindered my family.
Finding the small pleasures in between kept us afloat, at least for a little while; the distraction of planning our Washington coast elopement, I decided last minute in September I wanted to move– so we moved, I spent money on things to constantly be consumed by anything else– so long as it wasn’t the original issue. I was running. We were running.
There were good days, but there were a lot of bad days. Days where I couldn’t feel anything. Days I wouldn’t let Seth touch me. Days I just hated myself and projected it onto him and my kids. I stopped eating. I weighed in at a little over a hundred pounds, doing the math I had lost over thirty pounds in less than six months. I would have panic attacks that would lead me to harming myself. I even punched myself in the face multiple times leaving me with a swollen and bruised cheek. It was incredibly detrimental, not being able to let go of the shame and guilt that replaced our love and compassion. This was killing me. Literally.
The incident was just a couple of weeks after Seth and I got engaged, too, and despite the shit that happened, we continued to plan our wedding day. It was hard, somedays I just didn’t want to because I was just so sad. It didn’t seem right, almost as if it was all tainted, but we carried forward despite the pain we both were feeling.
As the days kept coming closer and closer, I got more and more depressed, anxiety ridden, agoraphobic almost– to the point where I couldn’t even work anymore. Seth understood, giving me the time to heal, going to therapy, but all while I was trying to heal, he was disappearing, slowly but surely. He stopped going to therapy with me. He replaced date nights with work things. He started saying no more than yes, leaving me feeling unworthy, unloved and abandoned. Every week, I felt a little more of him go and a little more of me needing him. I was hurting even more now, and I’m sure he was, too.
Now, as I’m writing this, I’m crying but this has been a long time coming: me writing this story.
The further along we kept the charade of being a “happy couple,” I just couldn’t supress the pains and greivances any longer. There was no communication, no unconditional love, no compassion, no space holding. So, I called it off. All of it. I told him I didn’t want to be together anymore, that I needed someone to be there, to show up and hold space for what I was going through. I couldn’t be fixed, as much as he wanted. I couldn’t be saved, as much as he hoped.
I mean, isn’t this what marriage is? Leaning on one another when we can’t lean on ourselves? Fighting the storms together? Loving unconditionally despite what the world may throw at you? Choosing to evolve, heal and grow together?
This wasn’t what we had, even though it’s what I so desperately desired.
After making what felt like the most difficult decision of my life, I couldn’t turn back now. It was just me and my two kids, again.
Even though these days weren’t easy, I didn’t have a choice other than to keep fighting, to keep learning, to keep moving forward. My heart was shattered, my world was upside down and I had lost my best friend, my most-cherished person, forever. I still loved him and I know he still loved me, but we both needed to heal.
Every day, every week, every month– I got stronger. I was braver, smarter and more clear than ever before. I found myself out of my head by living in Bonnie. She kept me on my toes. She kept me busy and kept me moving. Also, because I took so much personal time off from my own business, that basically bottomed out, too, so I had no other choice but to start over, re-brand and be more direct as to what kind of photography I wanted to bring in my life.
For the entire duration of June this year, I took Bonnie (by myself) from Vegas, to LA, Big Sur, San Francisco, Red Woods, Brookings, Oregon to Portland, then Seattle to the Olympic National Forest, through Reno and back down to Vegas. I had creatively planned multiple shoots, elopements and collaborations all up the coast and in some of the most beautiful locations in the world. I was broke, I was hungry (in all forms) and I decided to chase my dreams. I mean, what else did I have to lose?
This trip was necessary, it was calling my name and it was one of the greatest experiences I’ll forever hold to my heart. It was so hard, it was lonely, it was life-changing, it was accomplishing and taught me I can do anything I put my heart and mind to. It taught me that I truly didn’t need anyone and that nothing was, in fact, wrong with me, but moreso of that I needed to find forgiveness in myself. It was the most liberating notion I’ve ever made up to this point in my life. In other words, I was finally showing up for myself. I realized I needed me and only me all along.
Every day, I did what called to me, whether it was shooting what I wanted, meeting people that inspired me, eating what I craved, singing and dancing when I felt like it, praying, meditating, chanting when I needed, writing what I knew to be true, crying when it hurt, laughing when I felt joy. This was my time. My time to really dig deep and learn what it was I truly desired. I learned who I was again, or learned who I grew into. I accepted this new me. I learned how to love me, the way I really needed.
The road is a healing place. Nature is especially healing. It can be incredibly lonely but introspection can often times bring clarity, and that’s exactly what was called for. So, I put it all on the table. No judgement, no criticism. Just acceptance.
This year started off in the worst possible way, but it’s now October. I just turned thirty-two yesterday and I’ve never been more sure and confident of myself and where I’m going in this life. I found my purpose, I found my why. I found ways to heal and leaned into the fear, I shed many layers of identities I found myself attached to and I let go of what wasn’t serving me any longer. Trust me when I say, this is not an easy process. It required a radical change, radical acceptance, instilling boundaries (which pissed a bunch of people off), saying no to what wasn’t for my greater good and saying yes to things that scared me but also offered further opportunity to grow. It was ugly and beautiful all at the same time.
At the beginning of this year, feeling the most broken and victimized I’d ever felt, after everything I was going through, I would have never told you I’d feel gratitude for these experiences. But now, I can. I truly am grateful. For my friend who invited me, for this detrimental, life-changing experience, for my ex-fiance Seth, for my family, for it all.
People may not understand my why, they may not understand my thought process on all of this, but this is my path and this is where it’s all led to. I’m done being afraid to share my story, or all of my stories for that matter, as these stories are what made me strong, smart, brave, fierce, courageous, empathic, a better mother, a better friend, a better me.
This trip was very personal and I was able to heal in such a way by documenting this trip in such a beautiful way. I’m finally able to happily share it with you and sincerely, I’m so grateful for your support and love throughout this entire healing and growing process.
Looking at the bigger picture now, I know these events were meant to happen, to push me to my greatest potential as this is all I ever manifest. I always want to be a good person, to be great at what I do, to be an unconditional loving wife (one day), a concious parent and to invest in each of my children as they each deserve and to continuously grow in compassion, love and light.
The love in my heart couldn’t be greater, for all of it. All of you. For the happy, for the sad, the gains and the pains, the wins and the losses.
As far as I’m concerned now, I definitely won. I found the greatest love and what I just learned is it was in me all along.