More than just a Girl from the Projects…

Did you know that researchers found that children’s immediate neighborhood area has significant effects on life outcomes, which can differ considerably compared to those experienced by children just streets away? 

Well, this is, in fact, a true statement in some aspects! I was born into poverty. A single mother raised me with five children in low-income housing. The neighborhood I grew up in had the regular gun violence, murder, drugs, homelessness, lack of two-parent homes, and the everyday struggles of families living in the low-income projects. Although my mother lived in the projects, she made our home much more than that. She cared about our grades, activities, and where we hung out in our neighborhood, and she most definitely did not tolerate bad behavior. Our mother was not perfect, but she always tried and never gave up! She would say, “It doesn’t matter where you come from; it only matters where you’re going.” So, where I lived did not matter to me! Until second grade, which was the first time I was told, “You are just a girl from the projects.” It may seem trivial, but it came from someone I admired and thought was a friend. This friend had more than me, she was living in a two-parent home, and she would constantly brag about all she had or point out what I lacked. So, after the second grade, when friends would ask where I lived because they wanted to hang out, I would always come up with reasons why I couldn’t hang out to prevent telling them where I lived. Being a little black girl from one of the worst projects in our area always made me feel like I was not enough. It was not only students, but when teachers learned where I lived, they were sometimes judgmental. If not for what others said, I would have thought I was living the good life because our mother made us feel like we had more than enough! 

Middle School was a lot better than elementary because many of us came from the projects, and we all linked together, and I felt like I fit in! The only issue was that I was often labeled a trouble maker because of “the birds of a feather flock together concept.” I admit to often acting out while I was in middle school because I wanted an adult or someone to ask, “What is going on with you? Is everything okay at home?” It was middle school when molestation started. Therefore, I acted out for attention. I acted out because I was angry and confused about why this was happening to me. In class, I was the class clown who kept everyone laughing because it helped to alleviate the pain I was feeling every day. Being violated so young shifted me into this rage. I am ashamed of some of the hateful things I did or said during my middle and high school years. Violence & criminal activity was how I released anger. Running away was all I knew to do, but I realized early on that running away from home or dropping out of high school never would fix my problems. During this time, there was no such thing as “Mental Health Support,” but with what I know now, I was depressed and dealing with PTSD.

My anger stemmed from the fact that my childhood trauma could have been avoided and stopped, but it was not. No one took me seriously, or no one tried to protect me. It was not until the 11th-grade year that I joined ROTC and met a sergeant that would not give up on me, so I decided not to give up on myself. My 12th-grade year was when I decided that I wanted to be more than “just a girl from the projects .”I wanted to prove wrong my English teacher, who said, “You will probably end up in jail one day.” Or My chorus teacher, who often said, “You are nothing but trouble.” My goal was to show and prove that children from low-income housing matter and can also be educated and successful! 

Once I changed my mindset, I started to cut off those toxic friends that I used to run with and began to think of how I could get out of the environment I was in to do better for myself. One thing I knew was that my mother could not afford college or anything else. Therefore I worked until I came up with the idea to go to the Army, and that was the best decision of my life. The Army was just supposed to be my ticket out, but the Army became an amazing outlet. While serving, I was able to go to college, travel, learn, and experience things I would have never experienced in my hometown. Once I was enlisted, I realized that I could not do what I used to do, I had to change, or I would not last in the Army long! I went into the Army with trauma, just wanting a getaway. What I learned about running from trauma is that it will follow you until you face it! I had suppressed so much pain and memories for years that I had rather forgotten. I hoped to start fresh and gather all the resources to better myself! I did not know how, but I knew I wanted to improve myself mentally, physically, & emotionally. I pushed a lot to the back of my mind during my time in the Army, and I thought everything would be good because I was finally okay, I was living in a better environment, and I thought I could start over and forget the past. 

But the thing about trauma is that you must begin healing before truly living a productive life. 

Michelle

Unfortunately, my healing journey started later in my life because I was not aware of all the available resources for mental illness, domestic violence, or trauma. Due to untreated trauma, I scaled through life from eleven to about twenty-five years of age, suppressing trauma and on the edge of a breakdown. I was like a ticking time bomb, and eventually, I would explode. After losing my grandma, who was my heart, having to leave my kids for deployment, being abused and cheated on, being away from my family, and feeling like there was no other choice, I decided to end my life. I have no regrets because that suicide attempt led me to many great resources, gave me the courage to end a toxic six-year marriage, and forced me to face my trauma. After accepting that I needed help, my healing journey began, and I have been healing ever since. It may sound unnerving or does not make sense, but Afghanistan saved my life and gave me a different outlook on life. I learned how short life was, and I realized that I was not my circumstances. I had been walking around for years shameful, scared, angry at the world, & suffering inside. I hated myself, and I was ashamed of where I came from. I never wanted to talk about what led me to a psychiatric ward in Ramstein, Germany, until Covid hit and all the trauma I had been in therapy for started to eat me alive and swallow me whole. I remember having suicidal thoughts and feeling isolated from any support. Instead of taking the wrong route, I stepped out on my faith and started The Pearl Blog: Where the Healing Begins & it was the best decision I ever made.

Blogging helped release my feelings and those heavy burdens that I was so carrying during the covid lockdown. I was hurting so bad that I wanted to find a way to spread awareness. I wanted to create a platform that promotes prioritizing mental health and healing, which was detrimental in 2020 with mental illness at an all-time high. If you are reading this, I want you to know that The Pearl Blog and my Mental Health Instagram @healingandgrowing_ are my passions, and  I advocate because I want to, not because I have to. There are many stigmas regarding mental illness, and I want to be a voice for the voiceless. 

So many of us are fighting mental battles alone. I know this because I tried to fight a battle alone and almost lost my life. When I look back on my twenty-four-year-old self that just wanted to end it all, I wish I could hug her & let her know, “It’s okay to ask for help.” I did not ask for help because I was ashamed. Shame, intrusive thoughts, self-doubt, anxiety, PTSD, and depression kept me voiceless. My family and those closest to me had no idea what I was going through. For that reason, I choose to be vulnerable about all my trauma because someone may be reading this right now and decide, “I want help.” My goal is to advocate and spread awareness. I am a witness that circumstances, my environment, or my Mental Health did not prevent me from prospering in life! I am still on my healing journey and have struggles just like you. The only difference now is that I recognize I have a problem, and I am in the process of healing those wounds and not allowing myself to be a victim anymore or allowing myself to project my unhealed trauma on others. I have no shame about who I am, and I can now proudly say…..

I am Michelle from Bethel Homes Project. I am a wife to an amazing man, a mother of 4, a combat veteran, retired military, trauma survivor, mental health advocate, mental health blogger, and NOW A PUBLISHED AUTHOR! My first book will be released tomorrow, April 28th, on the 4th anniversary of my fathers ascending into heaven. I usually hide out during April, and I soak in depression while isolating myself from the world. This year I decided to gain control of my life, and I refuse to be depressed. My father loved me, and I know he is very proud of me! In my E-book, The Pearl Blog Presents: The Healing Journey Healing & Growing One Day at a Time! I discuss the healing journey & the importance of maintaining your mental health. I answer the questions: What is healing? How do you start the healing journey? How do you recognize unhealed wounds? What techniques should you use to begin your healing journey? This e-book is a good read for anyone on their journey to heal and prioritize their mental health! The e-book is available for purchase here! Pre-order here to enter into the raffle to win an item from my Mental Health Merchandise and a $100 gift card! Also, remember you are more than what they say! You are a conqueror! Keep healing and growing and living life on your terms! 

-Michelle

Reclaimng my Peace through “Self-Reflection”

Hey Pearls,

So, it has been a while since I posted a blog. The last three weeks has been hectic, and I allowed things that I cannot control, to take control of me. I allowed certain people, circumstances, and emotions to deplete my energy. On The Pearl Blog I have discussed not allowing others to disturb your peace, but there is so much more to not allowing others to disturb your peace. Peace is a state of being that only “YOU” can control. I feel obligated to share how I have regained a new level of PEACE and the lessons I learned over the last three weeks that never clicked before! 

Let’s get into my chaotic and draining life over the last three weeks. Firstly, our youngest son was diagnosed with Colic and that led to postpartum depression, and in the beginning, I was not aware that it was PPD because I thought the colic just made me sad. I thought once he got over the colic, I would be better. Boy I was WRONG! The colic started to improve but my emotions were still out of whack, and I felt like I was failing as a mother. What made this situation harder is the fact that I am a mom of four and believe it or not I thought I was an expert on motherhood! Mj for sure has humbled me and made me stronger mentally at the same time. When meditation, prayer, fitness, or taking time alone was not helping… I decided to reach out to my doctor for extra help, and this was the best decision I ever made. Fast forward to today MJ has been teething and crying which has led to less sleep for me, but emotionally I feel an inner peace like never before. Now hold on just a second, because I do not want any of you to be fooled and think that medications just magically made my life better. Medication helped, but what I did about two weeks ago is what changed everything, and we will get to that in a minute!!

Secondly, all at once something was happening with all four of the children. When the children are going through things separately it can be emotionally and mentally draining. Although I have a partner that makes sacrifices to ensure we are all okay; him being superhuman around the house wears him thin. When my husband is stretched thin it throws everything off between us and that sucks because he is “my person” and I hate to see him overworked, exhausted, or sacrificing so much that he does not have anything to give himself. So not only did I feel like a bad mother, I started to feel like I was lacking as a wife. Having a new baby can really take a toll on a marriage, luckily for us we both knew this would be a hard journey. My husband has tried to be understanding, but NO man could ever understand how much work carrying a child, breastfeeding, caring for that child over yourself, and healing from childbirth can really cause a woman to completely breakdown. Over the last two months I had a major breakdown internally and I do not believe anyone around me noticed, because everyone assumes I am so invincible and strong. I get so tired of the “Strong Black Woman Narrative”. I do not want to be the strong black woman anymore. I just want to be a healed woman that loves herself, put herself first, but still is seen as human and need grace like everyone else. Okay enough of that, but I honestly checked out mentally and emotionally and nothing was helping me get through it. Then BOOM, a NARACASTIC shows back up in my life and turns everything upside down even more. 

Right when I started to feel mentally better and physically better after covid, a new baby, and just life suckling for a moment… Here comes my Narcissistic ex-husband who hates to see me healing and growing in life. This man has pretended for the last seven years like he was so happy for me, when internally he is dying inside because another man is loving me like he never did, caring for our two boys like he never did, providing like he never did, and not being a manipulative narcissistic like he was when we were married. My ex-husband says he has moved on, but he constantly interjects himself into my life by crossing boundaries and attempting to alienate our children because he is bitter and unhappy with himself. I was so angry when he started to intrude and disturb my peace and I honestly felt like I was being revictimized all over again. I felt like I was being controlled and manipulated. This bothered me for about a week and then I stared reading this new book. The Real Lives of Strong Black Women, which talked about the lives of many different black women who all have dealt with different traumas and circumstances but the one thing they all had in common was figuring out how to be in control of their lives. Then I started researching and came across an article on Self-Reflection and realized I was the problem! Yep, you heard me correctly. All these things were happening around me, but because I did not know my inners self, was not aware of my body reactions to certain situations, and simply unaware of who I was or how to deal with who I have become. 

So, it clicked! I needed to do some self-reflection. Self-Reflection requires digging down into your own darkness and learning how to deal with that darkness by unraveling yourself and breaking down your feelings, actions, or thoughts. I started isolating myself and I began learning things about myself, which is why I posted my last post Introducing: Michelle A. Murray. At that point I had accepted myself and reflected on past emotions, present emotions, past behaviors, present behaviors, and the outcome of situations from the past and present. I started to track my emotions in my journal, and noticed that I was triggered by certain people, and certain environments, and even certain words that people were used when speaking with me. I even noticed how my body reacted to certain people and situations and I felt like I had no control over me. Then the last two weeks of January after an inner breakdown, I started some self-reflection practices and slowly began to regain control over my life. Self-Reflection is not easy! While practicing self-reflection I had to accept some hard truths about myself. I accepted that I have been stuck in the past, I accepted that I can be a bitch sometimes, I accepted that I can be overly emotional, I accepted that a lot of people, situations, and circumstances could have been avoided if I had a relationship with the inner me and accepted myself. 

As of February 2, 2022 I decided to be in control of my inner-peace. Peace within is when you know yourself so well, and you have mastered self-awareness to the point that no matter what is happening in your environment; nothing or no one can affect the inner peace within you. I have been doing self-reflection exercises, regulating my emotions, and being self-aware. Another huge part of finding inner peace through colic, marital ups and downs, children, toxic ex, or family issues was realizing I really had to remain self-aware and focus on my triggers, behaviors, and feelings. For example, when my ex-husband text me a toxic or rude message and my heart starts beating fast because I want to react off emotions… I put down my phone, breath, recalibrate my thoughts and feelings and then I respond if necessary; in a positive manner because I do not have to be a bitch because someone is a bitch to me! Recognizing my triggers and tracking them has helped more than anything. It is okay to get upset but having anxiety over someone that does not add value to your life is pointless! I have learned slowly to accept what is happening when my children are sick, or my husband and I are not getting along, or I am having a bad day. I allow myself to feel those feelings, then I express them and release them. Holding on to negative feelings will keep you mentally disturbed instead internally at peace. 

I said all that to say this, no matter who, what, when, where, or why STOP expecting others to care or think logically when they are continuously hurting you or disturbing your peace. If someone cares for you there will be no ill feelings involved. Remember that you are in control of you, and you cannot control a narcissist, your kids getting sick, your husband’s attitude, or anything else the only thing you have control of is ‘YOU”! If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, anger, or your inner peace being disturbed; try some self-reflecting. There are so may different ways to practice self-reflection. I like to read self-improvement books, track my emotions, and attend therapy regularly. I will post a list of self-reflecting practices below! Also, while I have been MIA here, I have been doing 28 Days of Reclaiming Life Through Healing Series!  on my @healingandgrowing Instagram page. Come over and check that out! For the month of March (Women’s’ Month) I will be interviewing different women from different walks of life on their healing journeys. It feels good to catch up with you all and let you know what is happening on my side. I hope this year has been good to you so far! Keep healing and growing, and remember healing is not linear! 

-Michelle A. Murray 

INTRODUCING: MICHELLE A. MURRAY (read caption)

Introducing: Michelle A. Murray

Life for me has not been easy at all! I still can not believe that little girl from Bethel Homes Projects is ME! Since elementary I was always told I was this or that because of where I was raised. Me & my siblings come from a single parent home with a mom that did her very best, and she wasn’t perfect but she did her best to keep 5 kids out of jail, the streets, or dead. As a little girl I would always pray to get far away and have a better life. God definitely has been with me this entire journey, even when I felt alone. I’ve been abused, molested, betrayal by people close to me, lied on, loss people I thought I couldn’t live without, traumatized, and abandoned. And with all of that I still have the urge to live and change my life! I don’t want to give up, and @healingandgrowing_ has been my safe place and so has The Pearl Blog. 

It’s healing for me to no longer live in Shame & in fear of what people would think if they knew the real me! Truth is I had no control of what happened to me and I’m no longer ashamed. With that said my page will now have my government name “Michelle” aka Shell to those who love me. I don’t care who find me anymore, who judge me anymore… I’m proud to be “ME” Michelle A. Murray and I won’t live in the shadows anymore. I’m here to heal and grow and I don’t care who see! #mytestimony#testimony#noshame#nofear#acceptance#selflove#noregrets#healing#healingjourney#traumasurvivor

Taking a Mental Health break🧘🏾

I’ve shared with you all my struggles with Postpartum Depression & I must admit it has been super hard.

I’ll be taking a Mental Health break so I can regroup & come back better than I am right now!

See you all soon!

-Toni💜

I’m Struggling, What’s Next?

Hey Pearls! 

So, Thursday has passed, and my weekly blog was not posted because what I originally planned to post is not matching my current mood or situation. I have been stuck in this dark place for about two-three weeks. While in this dark place I have worked out, meditated, spoke with my therapist, & been proactive with my mental health and although I have prioritized my mental health nothing and I mean nothing has been able to help me! So, what should you do when you have tried everything to help yourself & nothing is working? 

Firstly, if you are struggling in life and nothing is helping to improve your suffering then it is time to make some adjustments. Often, we become accustomed to our everyday routine, and the idea of changing our everyday routine can be scary. If you are waking up every morning and ending every day unhappy it is time to make some major changes in your everyday routine. Did you know changing your routine can bring you happiness and make you feel more confident while getting through your day? Keeping the same routine keeps you from progressing. Deciding to break your everyday routine and changing up your normal schedule can be rewarding and bring a new level of happiness into your life. Believe it or not changing your routine will assist in feeling less burnt out, exhausted, or mentally overwhelmed. Change is necessary and I realize I am lacking in that department. I have become so used to my everyday schedule, but obviously my usual routine is not working, and I am left feeling burnt out, exhausted, and mentally overwhelmed. Starting Monday, I will be making some major changes in my day-to-day life. One problem I have is attempting to complete too much in one day. After my morning meditation and workout, I have decided to only complete 1-3 other task throughout the day and allow myself time to “be still”! Along with being still, I have also decided to rest or do light work when the children are napping because it helps prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed once they wake up. Wanting to get things done is great but think about creating a short task list each day with 1-4 task and having different task each day so responsibilities are split and there is no stress to complete everything in one day. So, first thing first, we must change our day-to day routine if it is not working in our favor. 

Secondly, check your ego! You are probably thinking what does ego has to do with this? Well, ego interferes with life running smoothly. Ego causes extra stress, confusion, and unnecessary disagreements. Ego also causes irritable moods and makes it hard to keep your life on track. For example, I often attempt to do everything on my own. My husband is the most amazing man I have ever encountered, and he supports me in everything, but I often deny help from him. Once I deny his help, I find myself getting angry at him when I start to have “too much on my plate” My ego tells me 

“You got this, and you do not need his help”! My ego tells me “He is to blame, because he is not here during the day to help carry the load”. My ego tells me “It is all about me, I am the one that just gave birth to a baby”. Although my ego tells me those things, I know in reality my husband is not to blame for my burnout, exhaustion, or mental state. I cannot blame him. Being burnt out is one thing but add ego into it and that is a deadly combination. When you are already tired and not aware of your ego it can lead to bickering between you and loved ones. Allowing your EGO to take charge prevents you from seeing things clearly and assessing the situation or problem objectively. When life is already hard it is important to be able to assess what is happening around you. Not being able to assess situations and work them out causes battles and conflicts between you and those who could be supporting you through the hard times in your life. So, if you are struggling in life and nothing is working; do not allow your ego to step in and push away those who love and support you. Be open to hear advise and other perspectives. Remember ego can cause you to lose touch with your actual reality, so keep the EGO in check! 

Once you have made changes and checked your ego, what should you do next? Think of ways to take care of YOU! What makes you feel good? Does work make you happy? Does shopping make you happy? Does fitness make you happy? Or maybe traveling makes you happy? Sit down and make a list of things that make you happy and start fitting those things into your life. Once you find a routine, support, and things that makes you happy; life will slowly start to get better. It is okay to need support to lighten your load. Maybe you need to delegate task to others. I have decided to start having my older kids to clean their own upstairs instead of me cleaning our upstairs and downstairs. Also, I will now be having one self-care day each week and a self-care weekend once a month. It is important to put yourself first even if you are married, in relationship, a parent, a business owner, or whatever. You are important and you must prioritize your mental and physical health. Tough times, builds tough people. If life does not seem to be improving take the steps to make changes. If you do not make changes in your life, you cannot expect any changes to occur. I have been looking at myself in the mirror hard lately and because of my day to day struggles I wanted to share the changes that I will be making because it may help someone else. Look deeply into yourself and be honest with what you need to be happy. Look at yourself in the mirror today an ask yourself am I okay? Am I happy? Do I need more support? Is my ego in the way? Answer those questions and make the change. Life struggles are temporary, stop focusing on what is not working, and trust that the changes you make will bring you nothing but joy, success, and peace that you deserve.

-Toni

Happy Monday Pearls 💕

Here are my Mental Health Affirmations for the week! What are yours? Please comment at least one below! Have a great & productive week! 🧘🏾

Comment your affirmation below! 💜

Childhood Trauma…

Childhood trauma…

The one thing I hate about childhood trauma is the shame, hurt, & memories that never go way. I am thirty two years old and I still battle with trauma that I experienced as a child. My childhood trauma started early and continued into my early teens. What I will never understand and I have tried to figure this out in therapy…. Why wasn’t I protected? I used to think that in African American families trauma was just ignored because of cultural reasons, but then I learned that all races hide childhood trauma. There is a stigma behind childhood trauma and no one wants to speak on it! Well guess what I’m going to ruffle some feathers and I’m going to talk about adverse childhood trauma and all trauma because it is happening and we as a society need to stop “sweeping things under the rug”.

So the big question is “Why do most families prefer to keep trauma a secret?” In my own experience I believe my trauma was kept a secret because the people who knew felt second hand embarrassment and did not want to take responsibility for their carelessness, lack of support, & lack of accountability. No one wants to admit this happened under my watch, or this happened and I had a clue of feeling it was happening, but I ignored it. If you’ve been here at “The Pearl Blog” awhile & you have been following then you’re aware that my first experience with childhood trauma that I did not repress completely was the child molestation I experienced at the hand of a very close family member boyfriend. This man gave me the creeps, and made me feel so uncomfortable in my skin from the moment he laid eyes on me. I tried keeping my distance, but that was impossible because he lived in my home. I used to blame myself, but what I have learned in therapy is “I was a child!” At the age of eleven ba child brain is not even developed enough to understand child molestation. I truly in my heart believe that everything from my childhood led me through all the adult trauma I experienced. 

So, do childhood trauma have a long lasting effect on your mental and physical health? The answer is YES! Believe it or not adverse childhood experiences (also know  as ACEs) — traumatic events bin a child’s life can leave emotional and psychological scars on a child forever. Childhood traumatic events can affect a child’s mental and physical health for years and often lingers into adulthood. Psychologist Kate Eshleman, PsyD, says that often, children can move on from traumatic events and thrive. But they may need a helping hand. “There are things parents and caregivers can do to support a child after trauma.” My childhood trauma lingered into my adult life because it was not spoken on,  I received no support, and I was left to cope alone. I felt abandoned, I felt used, I felt like no one loved me or cared about what was happening to me. Still today I struggle with trust! I rarely trust anyone and I have major PTSD when it comes to strange men. I also deal with separation anxiety when away from my children and my biggest fear is someone violating them and I never know or they never tell. I’ve lived my life in fear since I became a mother. I do not allow anyone to keep my kids that I do not know very well, I don’t allow my children to have sleepovers at other children houses, and I speak to them about good touches and bad touches. Since I was not protected, it is imperative for me to protect my babies no matter what. My goal is to break those generational curses. 

Adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, divorce, witnessing violence, or natural disasters are things that must be addressed early on, so that a child can have a chance to heal and face the trauma head on before it affects their lively hood as an adult. It is adults and parents responsibility to be mindful of the affects trauma can have on a child. What an adult may think of as minute, can be major for a child. If I received therapy in middle school I believe I would have turned out as a completely different adult. Because I’ve researched, been in therapy, and experienced a lot of life I can say research is accurate… my childhood trauma followed me into adulthood and led me into situations that would never have transpired if I was told it wasn’t my fault, I was still beautiful inside and out regardless of what happened, and given the tools I needed to heal and grow properly. Unfortunately for me my teenage and young adult years were traumatizing and although I have healed from a lot I still am suffering on a mental and physical level. 

Adverse childhood trauma can affect how your body moves and react to people, the type of relationships you partake in, and what you allow or don’t allow due to not knowing you are worthy. The body can have stress and emotional reactions that are caused by childhood trauma. “Stress affects the body from head to toe. When something scary happens, stress hormones set your heart racing and make you break into a cold sweat. But if those hormones stay elevated for a long time, they can cause inflammation in the body and lead to lasting health problems. “The stress response can wear on our bodies,” (Dr. Eshleman). Also, significant stress or trauma in childhood can lead to anxiety, depression, increased risk for disease, and addictions. Due to my childhood traumas I do not cope well under high levels of stress, I have been diagnosed with anxiety, PTSD, & depression. Although I haven’t had any addictions to drugs or alcohol I used to be addicted to chaos and toxicity and I fed off of it for years. There were at least 10 years of my life when I did not know my worth, I allowed people to abuse me, mislead me, and treat me as if I was not worthy enough to be loved. I allowed and accepted a lot, I did not know what boundaries were, and I rarely spoke up for myself because I was stuck! I was twenty five years of age, stuck in the mindset of my eleven year old self. Although I was an adult I was still scared, unaware of my worth, not able to walk away from toxic people or situations, and I was lost! 

I didn’t get a voice or start my healing journey until after I divorced my first husband. Divorce from a narcissist is what forced me into therapy, forced me to speak about my childhood, forced me to take responsibility for me, and forced me to finally admit all that I had endured and allowed for years. I was embarrassed to sit in therapy and say I allowed a man to put his hands on me, or I allowed a man to cheat on me for years and still stayed. It took my first husband literally treating me the lowest of the low before I woke up one day and looked at myself and realized I did not know the person in that mirror. I was a shell of a person, but I had no feelings and I did not care about life anymore or self- respect. I don’t know how or why, but one day something in me snapped! One day I woke up and said I’m leaving him! One day I woke up and said NO MORE TRAUMA! One day I woke up & said I’m ready to heal God, please just give me strength to walk way! 

I walked away six years ago and I never looked back. I did not know how traumatized and damaged I was until the Army mandated that I get into therapy and it was a requirement for my medical retirement. The Army and therapy saved my life. I finally had a support system and I had HELP! Therapy has been a gift and a curse. I enjoy the release and sometimes I hate even remembering or discussing what I once allowed or all the trauma I have endured over the years. When you see me or read my blogs on healing and growing please know and understand this has been a long process for me, and I’m still healing everyday. There are days I have flash backs and I am depressed the entire day. There are times when I just feel disgusted because I get the sensation or memory of unwanted touches or I find myself dealing with PTSD because I can not process my trauma even as an adult. Trauma is real! No matter how much you try to repress childhood trauma it will seep through some how. Adverse childhood trauma can not be swept under the rug. I’m not a therapist, but I am an advocate for therapy and putting mental and physical health as a priority! If you or someone you know are dealing with adverse childhood trauma please seek help and start healing now. There is no age gap or cap for healing. It’s never too late to tell your story, and heal from it! It is my hope that someone who has not received help, reads this and take the first step today. I have listed some resources below, 👇🏾 please check them out. I have also listed other helpful Pearl Blogs that discuss trauma so check them out as well! 

Thanks, 

-Toni 💕

Resources for adverse childhood trauma:

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/resources.html

https://www.ncfr.org/cfle-network/summer-2017-ACEs/aces-resources-family-life-educators

The Pearl Blog, blogs about trauma: 

Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset

So much has transpired in the last year and since vulnerability is my forte, I must admit that I have been on an emotional rollercoaster this entire month leading up to October 28th, 2021. The featured photo is of me on October 28, 2020. Last year at this time I was in a dark place mentally. Before COVID I struggled mentally, but COVID made my mental illnesses challenging and harder to maintain than usual. Advocating therapy has been my passion for the last six years, and although therapy is great it was not helping me climb out the mental black hole, I was in. The only activity that made me feel better was journaling, fitness, or being creative in some way. The pain I felt at this time last year was something I kept private, and I suffered alone for a long time until I started “The Pearl Blog”.

The Pearl Blog is where I started sharing my life with the world. I believed sharing would be a release. I decided once I released the pain and shared it here then I would not dwell on it any longer. Releasing emotions with pen and paper (blogging) makes my soul feel good. Believe it or not there are so many people scared to speak on their mental health issues, personal life struggles, traumas, or anything that requires vulnerability. This platform was the first place I spoke on my nasty divorce from my first husband, sexual assault trauma, PTSD, domestic violence, motherhood, love, & just my life struggles that I never spoke about unless I was in a therapy session. 

It was imperative that I share because I knew I was not the only one suffering while trying to heal and grow through life. Blogging aka releasing has been healing for me. Healing is not an easy journey and I have started over so many times. What I have learned through the healing process is that it requires a growth mindset. A growth mindset is being optimistic and always knowing that no matter how low you feel or where you are in life there is opportunity for growth if you remain resilient and trust your abilities to progress. Carol Dweck, a lead researcher on the topic of “growth mindset”, states that as humans, we operate in both a fixed and growth mindset. Dweck goes on to provide a definition for both: Fixed Mindset: “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.” (Dweck, 2015)

Growth Mindset: “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Dweck, 2015)

Growth mindset is how I am here today, instead of where I was last year.  Have I reached my full potential? No. But, have I grown tremendously because I now know and understand that I possess the ability to heal and a resilience that has helped me every time I had to start over. The growth mindset has helped ensure that I do not fall back in the “black hole”. I have grown tremendously and although I am still struggling today, I am not stuck because I am constantly growing. I can admit I was stagnating in a lot of areas in my life and inside there was resentment, anger, bitterness, and pain from the past hindering me. How could I grow into a better version of me if I did not decide to grow? I had no choice but to grow into a better version of myself. The person I am today would not recognize the person I was last year. Take a moment and read some of my first blog post and you can see how I progressed. The purpose of sharing my experiences here is to help someone else that may be feeling like I was last year. Helping someone else who may be suffering alone makes me feel like I am doing my part and putting positivity back into the universe.

 I am one of the most introverted/ private people in this world, but after sharing here and only getting positive feedback I realized my potential. The Pearl Blog gave me a freedom and feeling I never had. If you would like to see more of my growth, check out my Instagram page which is linked on my homepage. Also, feel free to use the contact me tab and let me know if there are certain topics you would like me to share more. Additionally, if you are a woman that struggles with mental health, body positivity, shyness, relationship issues, motherhood, or just need to be encouraged and heard then my Facebook Group would be perfect for you (links on “Meet Toni”). I mentioned on my last post I will be posting about different topics every other Thursday to receive alerts you must be subscribed to The Pearl Blog. To all of my subscribers Thank You! I have received nothing but great feedback. The support is appreciated. I hope that you all are healing and remember that in order to heal we must “grow”! No matter where you are in life there is always room for growth & healing. 

  • -Toni 

Mental Health Check-In 🧠✔️

Mental Health Check-In

I can not do this anymore. Why do I feel so alone? I was doing great, what happened? Why am I like this? These are the thoughts that have been crowding my head lately. This is anxiety, this is depression, this is self-doubt and I have struggled with the ups and downs of being mentally great & mentally hurting. Since my diagnosis of Anxiety, PTSD, & Depression I have had good weeks, bad weeks, and even good & bad months. Certain circumstances can cause my mental health to decline… & this pregnancy has been challenging. Pregnancy is a blessing, and I am grateful for the opportunity to bring life into this world for the fourth time, but pregnancy is also mentally, physically, & emotionally draining. Since my last mental health breakdown, I have been proactive in my mental health treatment. Being proactive about my mental health is the most important thing in my life right now. I have attended therapy regularly & I have been transparent with those around me about how I am feeling.

What I am going through at this moment in my life is the reason why I advocate mental health awareness. I know that there are others whose struggles are like mines or maybe even worst and I want you to know that you are not alone in this fight. Being mentally stable can be a fight for some, and I can admit it has been one of my hardest battles in life. Compiling mental illness on top of being a full-time mother, wife, entrepreneur, sister, daughter, aunt, and much more can be overwhelming. On top of my mental struggles, I often feel like I have to save others around me who are struggling and that also interferes with me staying afloat. Right now I just need to stay afloat so that I can get through this pregnancy gracefully. Each day I wake up and take it one day at a time because I know that I have so many people depending on me. Worrying about those who are dependent on me is what makes me tell myself “Do not give up now, you have come too far from where you started from”. I often speak life into myself, because if I did not who would?

This too shall pass is my current mood, and until this storm pass I will just keep my umbrella up and my head high. I have decided to challenge myself to take the time to put myself first mentally, physically, & emotionally right now. I can not allow myself to experience a mental burnout like this again, because being this low is not healthy. The growth in it all is that I can now recognize when I am not okay, and I can accept that it is okay to not be okay! We are all human, and it is so important, to be honest with ourselves. If you are reading this right now I would like to encourage you to have a transparent moment with yourself and ask yourself “Am I okay?” & “How am I doing mentally, emotionally, & physically?”. These are important questions that need to be asked regularly. I am publishing this blog as a mental health check-in and a moment of transparency. I wanted to post this blog as I am going through it because I feel in my soul that there is someone that needed to read this.

July flew by! There are 4 more months left to make a change and do something to better yourself. Think of one mental health goal that you can work on during these last four months. I have some creative projects that I will be working on, I will also be bringing a new life into this world, & my life will be hectic. With all that I have planned before finishing up the year, my #1 priority for the next four months is to put myself first & then let everything else follow! If this blog resonates with you please like, share, or comment! Also, I would appreciate it if you would comment on your #1 mental health goal for the last 4 months of the year.

With love,

Toni

Do your Absolute Best‼️‼️‼️

💙I am doing my very BEST‼️ I’ve been saying these words a lot lately!

Although I know I am doing my best, I’m my biggest critic & I have been the hardest on myself! I’m not sure if it’s the hormones or what! I’ve found myself crying, upset, worried, & completely stressed some days because I did not complete my to-do list for the day, or I’ve burnt myself out and now I’m mad at the world 🌎

It has been super hard because I usually get it done with no excuses! After my latest meltdown I have decided to just DO THE BEST that I can! If I do not finish something oh well! I’m done setting super high expectations & finding myself mentally & emotionally drained when I do not succeed!

I remind myself that this too shall pass! I will not be pregnant & miserable forever! Until then Oh well‼️‼️‼️

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