Photographer: Tristan W. -Los Angeles
As we wrap up this month’s blog series “Making Peace with Your Past,” we wanted to encourage you with some lasting thoughts...
Making Peace with my past isn’t so much of trying to “get over” or “move forward” as quickly as possible. It may seem like that; or appear as if everyone is moving on better or without a care in the world. It may even seem like what happened to you was one big mistake...”maybe I was over-reacting,” or this stuff only happens in the movies; this couldn’t have happened to me. But it did happen, the pain creeps in and the pain of that realization can’t be ignored. You still have you to take care of inspite of it all.
From Devin Marie:
“I’ve had to allow God to gracefully interrupt my process of finding peace by ultimately BEING my peace.
When I didn’t surrender my problems or questions to God automatically, I tried to figure it out on my own. I lived in constant frustration of trying to FEEL BETTER, and get back to living MY life; but to no avail.
I felt like I was trying to beat this ticking time-bomb before it was too late. I felt being sexually assaulted and living with PTSD meant I had to fix myself before someone would truly love me. I self-sabotaged opportunities and relationships because I constantly used my pain as a crutch when things got rough.
Truth is—this pain was too much for everybody including myself. Surrendering what happened (which was completely out of my control) to the One is IN-control was my first step towards my peace. Letting go of temporary fixes and inviting Jesus into those spaces of brokenness helped me to get to where I am today. Not everyday is perfect. I sometimes have to catch my feelings, acknowledge them before they overwhelm me into making decisions that are not in my favor. As you continue your journey of healing; please know, there is no perfect day: there will be a process to get through the pain, but how you navigate that doesn’t have to be done alone. God CAN what we can’t, all we have to do is invite Him in...♥️
With love and solidarity,
This week we wanted to follow up on last week’s blog post. Cofounder, @demarieluv reflected her experiences with PTSD related to surviving sexual assault. These realities are far more common than we might think. That being said, this week we wanted to bring you some ways we have activated our faith in healing through different coping mechanisms.
Read more to find out these unique coping mechanisms we have personally tried and others that might help you or someone you know “coping with triggers.”
Healing looks different for everyone; although both Cristal and myself experienced sexual assault, our journey for contextualizing such an experience is explained in this week’s blog post.
I mentioned last week, how there were moments earlier in my journey of healing where I feared leaving my house. My triggers varied from seeing certain images that were related to my attack, or certain scents that reminded me of a pain I was trying to run away from. It took a lot of support and also strength to be able to not only identify these triggers but be able to cope with them amidst trying to move on with my life. I was blessed enough to work with a therapist that I trusted to help me through this phase of healing, that gave me tools to help cope with PTSD better. She explained , and I will again, reiterate the fact that everyone’s healing looks different. The way that I cope with triggers from my past may not be helpful or useful to those who aren’t at that particular step in their journey, (and that’s okay). That being said, I believe it’s incredibly important that you navigate the spectrum of resources that are out there for you to better assimilate yourself back into the world. We aren’t meant to flourish, and spread wings that were kept captive in a cacoon of fear, and pain. We CAN live a happier life without the debilitating effects of PTSD.
So....I continued to see my therapist for a couple of years about a couple times a month and it was vital in my faith to not only pair worldly coping devices, but also tap into my strength found within my faith in Jesus Christ. I was able to combine the two, and it worked best for me.
I was able to use God‘s word as my foundation while actively trusting in my faith through my work in therapy.
When I didn’t have the means to see a therapist, I spent a lot of time in prayer and spoke with someone who understood from experience (that being Cristal).
I didn’t however, want to be dependent on another person when I was feeling attacked again...God would tell me that “in my weakness HE is my strength.” And in order to trust that voice I had to holster myself up on His Word, I had to be my own heroin when I couldn’t reach out to others out pride or guilt that I was burdening someone else. I had a choice to make. I was going to either heal for ME, or wait for some to save me.
I still to this day actively use my tools for coping include the following:
• daily affirmations/ mantras
•”tapping” method of meditation
Meditation was a bit like prayer to me. As a good friend of mine once said “prayer is our time speaking to God, while meditation is God speaking to us.” (J.C.)🙏🏽
It’s something that was equally spiritual in essence and practical for coping with uncontrollable triggers. I spent a lot of time during my sessions of therapy strengthening my focus on a place that was “safe” for me to go to mentally when anxiety, PTSD, and depression overwhelmed my life. Physical exercise shares the same principles of mental exercise ; if you don’t condition your body or mind enough it will remain weak.
Sexual assault not only attacks the body, but such an experience attacks one’s mind as well. I can’t tell you enough how grateful I was that no matter where I was, no matter how uncontrollable circumstances seemed; I had complete control over where my mind went during these moments, as well as what I chose to focus on in times of fear.
My mental safe space is so vivid now, that when I feel danger, I assess those feelings disregard the I irrational ones; and calm myself through some form of meditation.
If I’m in a public place, and I can’t close my eyes or be in a comfortable seated position, I speak mantras of peace, of love, of security over my life until the only focus I have is on those positive words, sayings, or scriptures. Over time, the triggers lessen in intensity, and I can carry on acknowledging what was, and moving past what is not. 😌
I will disclose that this isn’t a quick fix. There might be times of frustration, of anger, or of helplessness when introducing yourself to the strength embedded in you. Please know...the strength IS THERE! I am seven years removed from what I would consider the worst experience of my life...trauma no one should face, but they do. People are still hurting and are being hurt as I write this. This reality compels me even more to say, you CAN SURVIVE THIS, yes, even this. The hurt that keeps on hurting doesn’t have to be the end, but the force that opens the door towards an inner strength you never thought you had—its in there, and we can discover it together.
I have faith in you, because I believe in a GOD, who is faithful...and who showed me that amidst such pain is glory on the other side.
My reflections for this week’s blog post compelled me to ask, “How many of us had a blanket or toy growing up that we just couldn’t live without?” It made it difficult to let go of; that snuggle blanket that automatic sense of comfort you recieved on those scary nights or that toy/doll that you just couldn't leave the house without?
Post-rape, and dealing with PTSD left me afraid to even leave my house. I wouldn't go out unless I had to which was only for work, school, or other family events. I made sure no matter what that I would get back home before sunset afraid that my rapist would be out to hurt me once again. My fear motivated me
to move from LA to NYC. I rationalized in my head, that if I left my pain, it couldn’t follow me. Moving away from my triggers was the best solution for me at the time, (so I thought).
Even after moving to NYC, I was still afraid. I left my safety-blanket; I was away from family and anyone that could really protect me.
A friend moved with me and I'm so grateful for that bit of familiarity; but at the end of the day, fear still ruled my life, and I didn’t feel safe in my own skin. in addition to being assaulted, I was told by doctors that I was diabetic a couple of months
before getting raped, and thoughts that my own body was no longer safe or healthy worsened the triggers occupying my mind.
The triggers suffocated the majority of my faith in God. I thought, “if I was seconds from
losing my life when rushed to a clinic because I was was diabetic, then why God, would you give me a second chance that would lead to being assaulted by a ‘friend’ leaving me broken, to the point of wanting to take my own life?"
I was not trying to ask GOD to help me and protect me because I oftened wondered “Why didn't you protect me that night?" So, NO, I have not always trusted GOD will my full heart, but I always some how knew that trusting GOD was the only way.
Yes, I’ve been through ups and downs in my process to healing, yes, I questioned GOD because of my trials and felt I lost my faith of who GOD was and what God can do in my life; but I committed to attending my church TRUE LOVE WORSHIP Center.
One day, during a bible study we spoke on "choosing your friends wisely," I then realized my purpose, and how GOD would turn what the devil meant for bad into good.
I continued to channel my fear and negative thought patterns into God’s word, which was becoming my new security blanket.The power of God became real to me through Psalm 6:10. The day my trigger became my reality; I came face to face to my rapist at a fashion event in Las Vegas. I trusted GOD that I can move forward that I didn't need anyone to really be there to protect me but that all I had to do is trust God and the plan HE had for me; including confronting my worst fear of all.
Let me tell you...I walked past my rapist, making eye contact as I prayed Psalm 6:10. Psalm 6:10 says:
All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.
and they were! The man who assaulted me turned in shame amidst that crowded space, and left me alone in my peace, in my VICTORY.
I didn’t breakdown, I didn’t run, I felt safe for the first since that experience in front of the man who was responsible for taking advantage of our friendship, and my life.
I can’t explain to you thebfreedom God gave me, when He SHOWED UP; and turned my triggers intonTRIUMPH. Coping with my triggers through His Hold Word transformed me from VICTIM TO VICTOR" the devil lost any battle he though he had going. It took me 4years to win a victory walk, go out with no fear and really start a healing process that will take a life time of continued prayer that those spirits of fear don't interfere with me living MY life. I claim that I'm healed and set free; but we must continue to pour into our life and speak life into ourselves. We must continue to walk on the life thatGod intended INSPITE of what we’ve gone through, and what continues to shake us; we were Made to live in our WHOLENESS—and we can do so together!
Till Next time Survivors...sending you
Love and solidarity,
DevinMarie & Cristal Lowe 💗
Happy Friday Queens and Kings!
This month is all about “Making Peace with Your Past”
Have you ever made efforts of moving forward from that previous relationship, job, or bad experience? Have you ever intentionally made those efforts and no matter how many attempts; you feel like you’re back at ground zero?
This is the part your heart tries to skip; the part your mind tries to ignore, that “throw a band-aid over your wound and keep it moving” mentality. For some of us, we don’t realize we are even doing it...but honestly, who would volunteer to go through THAT type of pain again? Eventually, we have a decision to make; we can either continue to find quick-fixes to soothe these pains in life or show our wounds some much needed TLC. ♥️
My real healing began when I stopped running from my past, and made the intentional decision to confront it. I stopped trying to fix the symptoms related to my pain and get to the root of it. I also stopped placing my idea of healing in relationships and activities that were depleting me, or keeping me from fully accepting the reality that “I was not okay” <——-and that it was okay to not okay.
Without really knowing, I was trying to navigate my life post sexual-asssault while dealing with PTSD.
According to recoveryranch.com;
“Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when you develop four types of symptoms in the aftermath of a traumatic event. Broadly speaking, these symptoms are:
I was dealing with all four of these debilitating symptoms and displacing each one on those closest to me. My relationships, academics, and work suffered dramatically. I often woke up from night terrors mistakenly thinking my then boyfriend was the man who raped me, I dropped a semester’s worth of classes because I was either failing or didn’t want to show to class I was constantly anxious/uneasy at work, and severely unhappy.
Dealing with PTSD isn’t actually “living” I was in constant fear, so much so, I retreated into myself and suppressed the pain as much as possible in hopes that the pain from an unwanted experience would eventually dissipate. But these types of wounds needed to be addressed, not masked in alcohol, or my co-defendant relationship. Gaining agency over my own body meant I stopped sharing my brokenness with other people and experiences hoping to be whole.
In addition to weekly therapy, and small groups at my church, was my faith in Jesus Christ. However, If I am going to be completely honest, God was the last option and not my first priority when seeking my healing from sexual assault trauma. I only let Him have parts of me...not fully confident in surrendering my body to a God that watched as I was being violated in my past.
How could I have faith in Jesus, a man who once healed the sick and the blind, to now, heal me from the emotional and mental attacks I never wanted? How could I allow God to enter the most vulnerable part of me when it’s been exposed, manipulated and taken advantage of in years past?
What kind of God would allow these things to happen then expect me to crawl in His arms for comfort?
My questions are usually answered with the following scriptures:
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
Meditating on these scriptures continued to be a life source for me, removing the crutches from my past allowed me to see God manifest Himself in my life and to heal the wounds I covered up daily.
I realized the more you ignore a physical injury, your condition often worsens. As a dancer and athlete I would often perform and compete in sprained ankles and broken toes. Rather than rest and allow my body to heal, I further injured myself, making me unable to do what I loved. Same regard should be held for our metal and emotional state—if you’ve been hurt, it’s time to call out that hurt, surrender it to the doctor of all doctors, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His Holy Spirit will guide your ways towards the healing YOU need. For some of you, seeking therapy will be really helpful, for others confiding in a friend or family member you feel safe talking to will be enough. Whatever that next step is, begin with acknowledging how you feel—and if you or someone you know might be dealing with PTSD please seek the help you need!
TXT Crisis hotline:
Text HOME to 741741 in the US
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
You are not weak, you are not irrational, you are not less worthy of love. You are simply, hurt, and we are here to tell you that hurt does NOT have to be navigated alone!
We happened to find Jesus amidst our pain, and He graciously and lovingly helped us find our purpose. We want to be here every step of the way so please, reach out via email or any of our social media handles so we can be a better support system to you or someone you may know who needs access to resources or insight on steps we took in our journey to heal.
With love and solidarity,
Devin Marie and Cristal Lowe
photo credit: IG @julianoni for teen vogue
It’s that time of the month again—and no I don’t mean “that” time of the month. 😏 I mean that point in time when the world pauses for even a moment to say “yay, us...we’ve made such great leaps and bounds in the systematic oppression we were birthed in” that WE birthed in...So this is for you, the young girl in Harlem or the grown woman in the Hollywood Hills...and everyone in between who has forgotten their superpower.
Your body has been made into a commodity, but don’t forget that you are Mother Nature.
You have been bruised and shaken to your core; but not to be compared to the depths of our dear Mother Earth.
You continue to pull the weight of fallen towers of fragile masculinity that failed our brothers; you my Queen are superwoman.
Did you know they Fear us, which is why they applaud us tearing each other apart?
Did you know it’s free to congratulate a sister’s rise to the top?
Did you stop to consider the powerful of armies get attacked the most?
Are you aware that your temple is a goldmine; perhaps the reason they wish to possess, own and control it?
Are you willing to extend love and kindness to your sister who needs you the most?
Are you able to make room at the table and share some space?
Regardless of your status, your background, your beliefs or style of dress...
We are women, Queen, superwoman, business woman, boss, mother, sister, daughter, intellect, empress. 💛✨👑
Let’s pass the torch when our paths are already lit, let us raise generations with resilient love & support.
One thing remains true;
We need US to get there.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.