When Healing Feels Like A Lie

TW: Sexual Assault, Self-Harm, Stalking

I’ve been lied to. It was all fake. All that work for nothing.

This is what I say to myself when I wake up angry. I sit up in my bed and see that I failed again. I thought I was doing so well, and one bad day, a terrible night and a flooded mind and I’m right back where I started.

This is what it’s like trying to recover from a mental illness. This is what it’s like for me every few months. At the beginning of 2019, I was diagnosed with PTSD. A diagnosis I never thought would be applicable to someone like me, but I was wrong.

In 2017, I was assaulted, and spent the next couple years shoving it so far down because forgetting seemed like the only way to get better.

Those couple of years until my diagnosis was filled with denial and repressed memories, thoughts and feelings. It was filled with emptiness.

When I started to have flashbacks of what happened, that’s when I knew I wasn’t okay. I have been dealing with depression and anxiety from a young age, but this was different. This left me frozen. The flashbacks caused migraines and nausea so severe that I couldn’t get out of bed. I thought I was sick, but it was the PTSD.

Before researching the physical effects of PTSD, I believed and felt like my body was failing me. It left me tired and sick. I was, and sometimes still am, so exhausted that getting out of bed or brushing my teeth feel like it might be the last thing I do. My muscles would give and I dropped things, broke plates and cups just trying to load the dishwasher. I looked over my shoulder constantly, thinking he could be there at any moment. I was angry and sad and tired and I didn’t know why. I have fought depression for so long, but this was not the same. This was worse. This was more violent. It was sharp and cold, and so sudden.

I finally mentioned my trauma to my doctor, and instead of more tests and migraine medication, I began therapy.

Therapy always scared me. I only talked about my feelings and my experiences through writing, that was my way of unpacking these things. But it wasn’t enough. I needed to learn more about why I felt the way I did, I needed to learn how to help myself. I remember my first appointment. Walking into a waiting area with a long, curvy couch, signing in and describing my need for the appointment. I waited and waited until my new therapist came out and called my name.

She was younger. She was pretty. She was smart. She told me she specialized in trauma and sexual assault. I sat in her office, looking out the window at the view of The U, it was raining. I didn’t feel like I deserved to be there. The thought that I was a “survivor” was surreal. Then I began to speak.

It was like I was a shaken bottle. Every bubble ready to blow once that cap was twisted. Things I didn’t even know I remembered came out when I told this woman why I was there. This was the very first time I had ever described in detail what had happened to me. I told her about the threats of violence he promised if I told anyone. I told her about the time he sent me a video, captured from a distance of me leaving my apartment, getting into my car, with a target drawn on my head. The video ended with the sound of a gun. I told her about how that video plays in my head when I see someone in the grocery store that might look like him from behind. How when I hear loud noises, I feel like he’s there, watching me, ready to take his shot. I tell her about the fact that I wish I never remembered what had happened. That I wish I couldn’t still feel him behind me when I walk alone at night. That I’m scared to be alone outside in the dark because I feel like I’m running through his apartment complex parking lot again, scared, wanting to be home.

I told her I felt like I was being dramatic. I felt crazy that I couldn’t even remember what happened until almost two years later.

I went to therapy every week from March to July, and every other week from August to October, and it saved my life. Therapy allowed me to spill my guts, but only clean up the parts I still needed. I learned that I am not a burden, I am not crazy or pathetic, but that I was strong and I was here. I learned to use a container.

The container is a tactic my therapist used so I could talk about and process my trauma without taking that burden with me everywhere I go. During therapy, and times when I needed to talk, I would opened the container, pull out the trauma and assess it, then put it back in, and lock it away until next time. Although it was heavy, I did not have to carry it like I had been for the last two years.

My last regular therapy session was in October, 2019. I left that day feeling so powerful. My therapist moved my appointments to “as needed” and I had this new grip on my life that made me feel more in control than I think I ever had been. I was perfect. I had it handled.

Until recently.

I wasn’t fixed, but I really wanted to be. I wanted to go down that elevator and be done. I wanted to be strong for the rest of my life. But I was wrong. I underestimated how powerful trauma can be. I underestimated how dark and lonely PTSD can be. I caved.

I relapsed with old coping mechanisms. Starving myself. Hurting myself. Because the build up was so much, even screaming at the top of my lungs could not get it out.

I woke up after one of my worst breakdowns in a very long time, ashamed, regretful, and empty. I saw the marks on my body, I felt the soreness in my throat, and I felt the same panic I did before. I told myself that I ruined everything. I was doing so well, now I have to start all over. All that work for nothing.

But then I was reminded that this only shows that progress is happening. I was not lied to, I wasn’t tricked, I hadn’t failed. I had simply hit a speed bump. I left the container open for just a bit too long, but this did not mean I was still broken. I was doing better because I knew I needed to get back up the moment that I slipped.

This process of healing will take the rest of my life. I will never be fixed, because I don’t need to be fixed, I just need to rebuild the parts of myself that were taken from me without permission. PTSD does not disappear overnight, let alone 10 months. It does not stop just because you tell it to. It persists.

But so will I.

The thought of going back to therapy is scary. Walking into that office, sitting on that curvy couch, it makes me feel embarrassed. But it also reminds me of all the work that I have done, and I have done so much. The work that goes into something like this is tremendous. It is honestly so damn hard. I wish so many times that I could just stop, but that’s what will ruin it. Stopping will be a waste of the work, not the speed bumps.

There is a certain power that comes with making the decision to heal yourself. You must keep getting up, you must keep doing the mundane tasks that come with getting better. You must hit those speed bumps, but you also must enjoy the surprise of one day waking up and the load you carry is just slightly lighter. You must enjoy not hiding from your life because of your fear of losing it.

Carrying something so heavy causes so much pain. It causes heartbreak, misery, and loneliness. To be honest, healing does too. But it also carries light. And in the moments when you slip, it’s so dim, but it will be there every time you decide to get up.

I am not weak for needing help over and over again. I am not dramatic for looking over my shoulder when I thought I didn’t need to anymore. And I am not a failure for falling after marching on such slippery ice in the first place. I am healing.

And that is not a lie.

The lie is that there is no hope. The lie is that it will not get better. The lie is that I cannot be changed.

I have been changed. I am different from the girl I was ten years ago. I am different from the girl I was three years ago. Even one year ago. I am different. It’s because I decided I wanted to heal. The only way through it is the thick of it.

And that’s the truth that gets me up from each and every fall. That’s the truth that keeps me from going too deep into the dark that I dread. The fact that I persist is what overcomes the feeling of failure.

It persists. But so do I.



12:37 a.m.

He opened the rusting, black, metal gate with no hesitation. He didn’t care if it was loud enough to wake the neighbors, the bolts and hinges would grind and squeak together no matter how gently he pushed. He always meant to fix it, but never got around to it.

As he approached the cement steps of his porch, he noticed silhouettes of people from behind the curtains. The lights were dim so he guessed his roommate, Matt, was having a movie night. He didn’t mind, as long as they were quiet and didn’t try to make small talk.

He turned the knob on the white door with cracking paint and to his surprise it was still locked. Matt never locks the door, he thought. He shook his head and swung his bag from off his shoulder and rummaged for his key. After looking closely at three other keys in his hand, he found the right one, and turned the lock. The door was heavy, but opened with ease. After he hung his coat on the chipped wooden hook to the right of the doorway, he turned and stopped. All of Matt’s friends’ eyes were on him. They did not say hello, did not make small talk, it seemed like they weren’t even breathing. It was still.

He raised his eyebrows, gave a toothless grin–the kind you give a stranger on the train after accidentally looking them in the eye–and made his way past the guests. Their eyes followed him as he moved swiftly through the living room and into the main hallway. The house was cold and felt empty. The rental had always been old and creepy, but it was different this time.

He entered his room and shut the door, and immediately after, he heard hushed chit-chatting in the living room. He fell face first into his bed and thought about the guests in his home. They were old, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but why would his 23 year-old roommate be hanging out with a group of people old enough to be his grandparents? They all looked alert. Like they were expecting him. They knew he was coming but they were quiet, secretive. Their eyes were dark, and even the flickering flames from the fireplace were not enough to show the contrast between their pupils and irises. They sat in chairs, old wooden chairs from the basement, facing the door. There were perfectly good couches just feet away. They held their hands in their laps and crossed their feet under their chairs.

Their hands. They were so pail, almost translucent. Their veins, so visible. Like thick webs under the skin.

They weren’t surprised when he walked in, but they were waiting for someone else.

He couldn’t think about anything else. Despite being exhausted from his shift, he had to get one more look.

1:06 a.m.

He slowly opened his door, he didn’t want anyone to hear him this time. Trying his best to listen to the guests in his home, he leaned further out into the hallway. The guests were speaking so fast, he tried to make out what was being discussed, but no luck. It was harsh, hissed words back and forth, like no one bothered to take a breath in between. He then realized that what they were saying was not in English. Matt could barely spell out the word “restaurant” let alone have conversations with people speaking who knows what language that was. Who were these people?

He was out of his doorway and into the hallway by now, and took a step forward. He took another step and Matt interrupted his sneaking with a loud yawn behind him.

“What are you doing?” Matt moaned while rubbing his eyes.

“Who are these people? How do you know them?” He half laughed.

“What? Those people?”

“Yeah, the one’s in the living room. The old people.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, I just woke up cause I heard noise in the living room. I thought you brought people over.” Matt had been playing pranks ever since they moved in together, but when he said this, it wasn’t a joke.

“Who the hell is in our house?” Nate whispered back.

Matt disappeared into his doorway and emerged with his baseball bat in hand. He marched into the living room while Nate followed.

Only this time, the living room was empty. The guests were gone.

The fire was still going, lighting up the backs of the old wooden chairs. The guests left them facing the doorway, like they were waiting for something. This time, it wasn’t Nate, or Matt. Something else. Something important.

Matt went to the door and turned the knob, bat ready to swing. “What the hell?” He shook his head and backed towards the living room.

Nate was confused as he walked toward the entry way wondering what Matt had seen. He looked down at the knob on the exterior of the door to see a red key still in the lock. He looked closer and reached to pull it out, but something stopped him. The key was not red, it was covered in blood.

“Is it yours?” Matt asked. He had lost his key months ago, that’s why he never locks the door.

Nate reached into his back pocket and pulled out his key.


1:13 a.m.

Student Death Letter

When I heard the distant sound of sirens,
when I saw the faint blue and red flicker
against the white sidewalks,
making the rooftops bleed,

When I was forced to peer out my window
and wonder what it was like
to see the night sky
for the last time,

I began to catch my breath.

I became silent enough
to hear the working parts inside of me
keep themselves alive.

I looked upward
and saw my breath leave my body
and I was there.
I was alive.

And I could see snow begin to fall
and I looked even closer
toward the home of each tiny flake that eventually
fell to the ground.

Each tiny piece of the sky fell onto my tired eyes
and I wondered if it was falling
so someone who would never see the sky again
could at least feel it one last time.

And I wondered if the pieces of the sky missed
being up that high,
watching everything below,
instead of turning red then blue.

I Want You To Live

I don’t even like kids. They’re sticky and loud. Plus, if anyone deserves to be yelling in the frozen pizza isle at Wal-Mart, it’s me.

Regardless, I know that one day when I’m ready, I’m going to have one or two that I will really love. One of those might be a daughter, and I want her to know that life sucks. Life is, at times, the actual worst.

There are going to be a lot of times where you’re gonna hate it, it’s going to be ugly, you won’t like what you see on the news, what you see at school or on the streets. There are going to be days where you don’t like what you see in the mirror, where you wake up with a headache from crying all night, and there are going to be days where you wonder why it’s worth it.

And to you I want to say this; it just is.

I don’t think I could ever bring someone into this world knowing it wasn’t worth it. I’m still basically a kid myself, but when I’m ready, and when I’m sure, you’ll be here, and it will be worth it. There are some things I want you to know.

First of all, nobody cares. I went through the first 19 years of my life always wondering what people thought about me, what they thought about my clothes, my ideas, my music taste, my hair, my crooked teeth, and everything else. I worried that I had to change things about myself to make people like me. I liked that mustard-yellow turtle neck I found at goodwill, but I didn’t buy it because it was too “out there”. I liked my pink and yellow plaid converse that I threw away sophomore year of high school because they didn’t match with anything. I thought everything was so important. Everything was being watched and critiqued. I thought everyone cared, but they didn’t. I didn’t realize this until about halfway through my 4th semester of college. I found that I didn’t care about what shoes that girl was wearing, or how that other girl wore green parachute pants to class. I admired them for the very fact that they wore them with the confidence they had.

This isn’t just about clothes. I realized that I had not been myself. I didn’t know who I was and it wasn’t making me happy. I changed my standards, my values, my feelings, all for other people. I wanted to be like-able and cool. I was so quiet and reserved because I didn’t want people to judge me. I regret this. Please know that you don’t have to be quiet. You don’t have to hide parts of yourself that others may not like, because hiding them will make you not like yourself. Wear that turtle neck, don’t throw away those converse, and please stop caring so much, the people around you don’t care about these silly things as much as you think they do.

The second thing I want you to know is that you’re worth so much more than you think you are. You are the bees knees, my friend. There will be times when you look at the people around you, and think to yourself, they have everything I don’t. I wish I could be more like them. I wish I had what they had. Stop it. You are incredible. While those people may have things you don’t, you also have things they don’t. Every single person you meet on this earth will have characteristics or gifts that you admire, but never envy them, because you have your own. You won’t look like everyone else. Nobody looks like everyone else. You will have a different face, different body, a different sense of humor, personality, different everything, and that is okay. There are so many times where I wish someone could have told me this. It’s such a simple concept, but so difficult to understand at times. I was so insecure. I was angry at myself for having crooked teeth, I was angry because my hair was shorter than most girls’, I wanted to be funny and flirty and confident. I was so angry because I wanted these things that others had. Looking back, I know that if I had the confidence I have now, I would have been happier. I wouldn’t have starved myself to look a certain way. I wouldn’t have hated myself for the way I looked. I would have been patient. After braces and learning how to fix my hair, I gained some of that confidence. That didn’t solve everything, but learning to love myself began with being comfortable in my skin.

I had to fake a lot of confidence at the beginning. I had to pin down that voice in my head that told me I wasn’t good enough, and tell it to leave me alone. I began to realize that I wasn’t hiding those negative feelings, I was simply letting the positive ones be louder. You will need to remind yourself more often than you’d like that you are enough. You are more than enough. Knowing me, I probably strategically planned your existence, so you are definitely not worthless. Your Father in Heaven has also strategically planned your existence. He knew you, and you Him. He knew that you would be sent to this earth, and He gave you to me with a purpose. He misses and loves you, and will trust me everyday to remind you of that. Know everyday that you are worth more than you could ever know. You may not be like everyone else, but you are you. And that is enough.

Third, I want you to be kind. Being kind, truly, genuinely kind, takes guts. There will be people, events, experiences and ideas that will make you think being kind is not worth the trouble, but you will have to be patient. Someone who knows that this world is not perfect, and the people around them are not perfect, but shows kindness is something rare that this world needs more of. Do not underestimate how powerful this can be. There are people all around you, at school, on the sidewalks, sitting next to you on the train, living next door to you, teaching you, learning with you, that you will never fully know. They will be struggling with things you will never fully understand, so be kind. To everyone you see, meet, love, and learn about, be kind. They will see something in you that they haven’t seen in anyone before, because it is rare for someone to be kind even when they know not everyone will be kind in return. I haven’t mastered this yet, so I can’t tell you that I know everything, but I have experienced the kindness in others that has shaped most of who I am, and who I want to be. I have learned to be patient with others, and to be something the world needs more of, something that I want you to be.

There will be people who take advantage of this. They will see that kindness and take it as passiveness, naivety, and weakness. They will expect you to tolerate things that you shouldn’t, to accept things you don’t want to, and to put your feelings on the back burner. But being kind is not a weakness, so don’t let it be. Don’t let yourself become surrounded by negativity simply because you are a nice person. Be strong, and if you need to let people go who take advantage of that kindness, then let go.

Fourth, you can do anything. This world is too big for you to be what a fraction of this population thinks you should. There are so many different places to go, things to see, people to meet, and things to love. Find those things you love and be good at them. You can be and do anything. Be who you are, and who you’ve grown to be, but become part of something that adds to it. I want you to know that success comes in so many forms, so don’t let others tell you differently. Success is how happy you are with your situation, not the approval that comes from others. If you truly desire to become an art teacher, and you love it and put more of yourself into it than anything else, do it. If you put everything you have into running a fortune 500 company, do it. If you feel that being a mother and caretaker is what makes you successful, do it. Do not think you have to be one thing, either. I’m not only talking about a career, but don’t stop learning and growing because you have found something that makes you happy. The only thing you can take with you when you leave this earth is the knowledge you have gained, so acquire as much as you can.

You are growing up in a world that can be so cruel, one that will judge your decisions as if they know who you are, but you are the only one who knows you. There are still people who doubt women, who doubt your strengths and abilities, who have preconceived ideas of who you are, so prove them wrong. Be proud that you are a woman, because you have capabilities that are more powerful and important than some will lead you to believe. While you do this, support those around you who share this goal. You are not the only one on this earth with the worth and potential I described earlier. Help and support those who have no voice, and empathize with those who do not have the same privileges as you. Listen to and understand your brothers and sisters on this earth to help them be successful too. You can be anything, but make sure one of the things you decide to become is an ally, a friend. Someone with integrity.

The fifth and final thing I want you to know, is that you need to live. Although there are billions of people who share that same worth and potential, you are still so important. Do not shape your decisions around others. Do not let the actions of other people dictate how you feel or think. Do not build your life around other people. Build your life around yourself, and allow others to build with you. You are so much more than 1 out of 7 billion, so much more than a friend, an ally, you are so much more than just my daughter. Build your life around that. Let yourself feel everything, do not think that you have to hide what you feel because it’s not right, or because it’s not what people want to see. If you feel something, feel it like you’re meant to. Experience this world in all the good it has to offer. There are terrible things that happen, negativity, people who hurt others and you will see and experience things that will make watching unbearable, but remember to live for the good. Just because there is darkness does not mean there is no light. Do not rush through life to get to the next best thing. Every minute and the minute ahead of that is the next best thing. Go to that football game, to that dance, and dress up for spirit day because it might seem stupid but in that moment it’s something to help you get through it. It is so small, but it’s so much better than the negativity you will see. Go on that hike even though no one wants to go with you, go see that movie by yourself, ask that cute boy in your apartment complex out on a date, eat that fricken cupcake, dump that boy that doesn’t call you back, stop being friends with those people who do nothing but talk about others, learn to play that instrument you’ve always wanted to, go to that zumba class even though you dance like a white dad at a barbecue, raise your hand if you know the answer, join the intramural bubble soccer team, say yes to things that might scare you. This life is not meant to be optional. Yes, you get to make these decisions and choose how you live it, but you still have to live it.

Do not be afraid to jump into that pool. Yes, the water might be cold for a second, but it will feel better once you’re in there. The shock comes from the transition, not the pool. We fear things in life because we anticipate the shock of transitioning. That fear is so temporary. You don’t fear the actual pool, you fear the change. You fear the shock. Let the shock happen. It will be quick, and you will feel so much better after.

I am going to make mistakes, I am not going to know absolutely everything, but don’t let that define you. I will teach you all I can, and I will do everything I can to make sure you know your potential, but don’t rely on me to help you define exactly who you are. You belong to you, and you belong to God and no one else. Live with that knowledge. Live with kindness and confidence and courage, but please just live.







Project Two Event Ad


  1. Description: An event advertisement
  2. Process (Programs, Tools, Skills, FOCUS principles): Microsoft Word, I made sure I aligned the text correctly and matched the colors to the pictures.
  3. Message: Advertising for and event on campus, it is a singing competition and this is the finale where the winner gets crowned.
  4. Audience: On campus students at BYU-I
  5. Color scheme and color names: I used a triadic color scheme, which is teal, gold, and violet.
  6. Top Thing Learned: I hate Microsoft word and matching colors with fonts can be tricky
  7. Title Font Name & Category: I used BEBAS which is in the sans serif category
  8. Copy Font Name & Category: Same font as title
  9. Scanned images used, sources, original sizes, location of scanner used: I used an image from a last voice standing show (i used to be a co-manager) from the scroll newspaper online