thank you

Being the uninformed technical person that I am I realized that I had been overlooking something very important for the past few years. While cruising around the WordPress dashboard of the Rebel Thriver blog I realized that I had 54 pages of mostly unread comments on many of my posts from over the years. These are comments that were left for me that I had never seen. I spent last night reading some of them and I was really overwhelmed with gratitude. I also felt very dumb. How could i have missed them for so long?!

Nevertheless, I kept writing.


I just want to say thank you to all of you who have been a loyal reader and supporter. I am honored and blessed to know that you are here with me on this journey.

Blessed be,
xo Ella

Tribute


I haven’t been able to write for a very long time. In part it’s due to being thoroughly immersed with my children, two masterminds, classes, and work. I just didn’t have the band width to focus on writing, although every inch of me desired to ooze out into words what I have been feeling. Much of this past year has been about me wrapping up the past and focusing on moving forward. I am laying new foundations and creating new dreams for my life. This has been a time of healing.

After leaving my abusive marriage I was completely disconnected from myself. I really had no idea who I had become or if I was anyone at all. My ex-husband left me a shell of my former self. I did the best that I could to be a single mom to my kids as I navigated the financial turmoil of a divorce while leaving behind a six figure salary for welfare. But, it was in the midst of all of this chaos that Rebel Thriver was born. In fact, it was born shortly after I lost one of the most important people in my life.

Roger Price St. John came into my life three years after I left my marriage. It started out as a professional friendship, but very quickly became more. He was the most interesting, creative, and intelligent man that I had met in a very long time. A recovered addict (14 years) who always supported others in the program. He worked the steps, donated his time for working the hotlines on holidays, and was a sponsor. He knew that good support was key in being able to make it through to the other side of recovery. Which is why it was so incredibly heart wrenchingly hard that he died of an overdose.

He was a teacher at a local college, film maker, Billabong surf camp photographer, frequent volunteer, and he ran his own non-profit surf camp that benefited needy kids in Costa Rica. Both of us artists we shared a love of photography, surfing, Pablo Neruda, and my children. After a long Summer beach day of surfing and family, he got down on one knee and proposed to me on the top of the sand dunes. The Atlantic bore witness.

I never got to marry Roger. About seven months later, after getting very sick with bronchitis, he relapsed. His doctor prescribed him cough syrup with Codeine and that was the beginning of the end. I had no idea what was coming down the pike when I saw him taking a chug of that cough medicine straight out of the bottle. Within a month he was barely functioning or even recognizable to me for that matter. The once fit and vibrant man who could tread water forever just to get the perfect picture of someone surfing out of a wave could barely shuffle his feet to get from point A to point B now. What the hell had happened? When he showed up to my home barely coherent I wouldn’t let him in. That was the last time he saw the kids, who by this time had already started to call him “dad”. And just like that he slipped away.

I watched Roger fall deeper and deeper into his addiction. The “monster”, as he called it, had laid siege and taken over. He lost his job, ended up in jail, and a psychiatric hospital before overdosing. It had been only thirteen months since he had proposed to me and only seven months after falling face first off the wagon. It was intense and it all seemed to happen at once. I was not in the head space to take this on. I was still healing from my 11 year failed marriage with a man who was mentally unstable and violently abusive. It was more than I was equipped to handle. Roger Price St. John was gone.


Writing became the outlet for my sadness, which in turn gave birth to Rebel Thriver. I started writing this blog in hopes of connecting with someone else who might have been feeling as lost as I did. If that was even possible. I never expected the response would be so great! I quickly found out that there were many other women from around the world who were in a similar place as I was. We were all trying our best to survive as we walked through that liminal space following the death of a relationship. The space of no longer and not quite yet.

Many people never get to experience true love, but I certainly did. I loved my husband with all of my heart, and it shattered into a million tiny little pieces when I had to leave him. Even though he was severely damaged before I met him, I felt like I had failed him. Roger came into my life when I believed that I would never be able to love again. He met me where I was and held a safe space for me on my path to recovery from abuse. In the end, I felt like I had failed Roger too. I had loved two incredible men, and lost both of them.

This week marks the eighth Anniversary of Roger’s death. I cannot believe that so much time has passed. He is still very much with me, and I could give you example after example of how he stays in touch; his sense of humor intact. He walks with me on the beach everyday and that gives me great comfort. Roger gave me the greatest gift that he could, love. He showed me that my heart had the capacity to love again after it had been shattered. He led me out of the darkness, into the light, and inspired my life’s work. This incredible man showed me that my heart will never stop expanding. And so on this eighth anniversary of his death my heart breaks open a little wider and my love grows a little deeper.

This is my tribute.
This is my love song. xo Ella

Lay it Down

After I left my husband I had a hard time finding a path to healing. I didn’t know anyone who had lived through domestic violence. No one spoke about it at least. It felt shameful. It was as though I had arrived at a cross roads in my life. Do I hide behind a mask or do I choose to be my authentic self…scars and all. I chose the later and decided that I wanted to help smash the stigma that surrounds domestic violence. The shame that the survivor feels is due to societies perception of it as a whole. People understandably will feel sorry for you, but in doing so that can trigger feelings of embarrassment/shame. Here’s the thing, the survivor did absolutely nothing wrong and the shame should be placed squarely upon the shoulders of the abuser.

Abusive people are a plague on society. Period. They infect the same invasive sickness from one generation to the next. Without education and support there is no way to end this cycle. The abused becomes the abuser. I want to impact the lives of others through Rebel Thriver. I want people to be aware of the red flags. I want to be a part of the public discourse about DV as there is with the #metoo movement. We cannot be afraid to be honest. We cannot be afraid to use our voices. The shame is not yours so lay it down.

Lay it Down

Where do the feelings of shame come from anyway? Is it because you didn’t walk away sooner or because you went back time after time? Often a person will endure abuse quietly for years. I wore those shoes. Now think about how you got there in the the first place? Was it because for some insane reason you didn’t think you deserved better? That in and of itself is an entire other chapter. You are enough. You have always been enough.

What happens when you combine a person with low self worth with an abusive controlling partner? An intense psychological game begins that slowly breaks the victims sense of self down as the game is played out in increments. Once you actualize the situation your realize how hard it is going to be to get out. My husband threatened to kill my kids, my family, me. What do you do when you are literally a captive, a hostage in your own life. It’s hard to break free. I lived that life for years and when I finally got out I know that people thought, ‘how could a woman who looked like she had her shit together be living in such duality?’ When your reality is skewed you can find yourself just struggling to survive around the daily landmines. Survival becomes the game. Later, my mother told me that I deserved an Academy Award. My father told me that I earned a Ph D in domestic violence. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

Back to standing at the crossroads. I chose to not give a damn about what other people had to say. I’ve taken my life back. I declared that I am not what happened to me, and I have learned some serious lessons. I am a deeper, wiser, more empathetic, and a very soulful person as a result. This is the time to heal. If you are holding space for your own healing be open to asking for help. It is a hard path to walk alone. You have lived in scarcity and fear for far too long and you need to learn how to rewrite the script that is in your head. You need to realize that not only can you move on, but you can live a thriving life.

Rebel Thriver has been my voice piece. It has allowed me to step up in a public way to tell my story and educate people to the fact that there is no discrimination with domestic violence. It can control the life of a highly paid, college educated, executive just as easily as it can any other person. It’s hard to shine a light on the fact that the person I loved with all of my heart had chosen to treat me like an enemy. I lived a life of “normalcy” during the work week, but once I left the office it was back to the cage. Trust me, if it can happen to me it can happen to your sister, your child, your mother, your best friend, your brother, your uncle, etc. Domestic violence is intrusive not only to the victim, but also to their entire universe.

Howl

The sooner we start to smash the stigma and speak out about our experiences the sooner we will be able to educate and shift peoples perceptions of what domestic violence truly is. When the laws change to hold abusers accountable in a real way then maybe we will see change. As for now I want to use what I’ve learned to help others begin to heal and live again. Shortly after I got divorced older women would say, “You’re still young with a pretty face and you will find another man, don’t worry.” As though that was what I wanted, a another man. Some will jump from partner to partner trying to fill that void. They never stop to take a breath, thus never healing or realizing that they are enough unto themselves. A personal relationship with oneself induces healing and can bring about transformative life changes. I lost my marriage to domestic violence, but in the process I found myself. I won the game.

xo Ella

Growth Necessary

I started Rebel Thriver a few years after I fled an abusive 12 year marriage because I was  isolated and needed to know I wasn’t alone. I fled one night with the clothes on my back and two small children on my hip. I left my home, career, colleagues, car, identity, and my life behind. And just like that I found myself broke and broken with nowhere to go. I have a supportive family, but I was afraid to put them in harm’s way. I was on the run and I had lost myself in the process. What most people don’t understand is that domestic violence is the systematic breaking down of one’s self. When you step outside of that reality you are lost. I found little or no support in any outside organizations to help with the process of rebuilding myself or my life. When I could not find connection locally, I looked internationally. I knew that there were other people who would understand and would want to join into a positive and supportive conversation with me.

Enter Rebel Thriver.

Fundraiser collage

What I didn’t realize at the time was that Rebel Thriver would grow into a vibrant worldwide community. For those of you who do not know my story, I still live in fear of my ex-husband finding us which is why I cannot post pictures of myself. I am still in harm’s way, and yet I won’t let this stand in the way of the work that needs to be done. This past year was incredibly difficult on a personal level and I questioned everything that I was and wasn’t achieving in my life. I decided that it was time to commit myself to serving this community of survivors with all that I am.

Once I made that decision things started to connect in miraculous ways. As a result (Following Breadcrumbs Blog Post ), I am now part of a year-long international Business Freedom Mastermind Group run by Eric Edmeades. I am heading to Estonia in March to participate in a week-long intensive business conference that will help me to be able to achieve my ultimate goal. That is to open a retreat house that will be able to help people learn how to re-connect with themselves, and to each other, so that we can heal, grow, learn, and find support; a place that will help in all areas needed to live a healthy life. I won the ticket to Estonia (Value $4k) because my pitch for Rebel Thriver laid out why I believed that this conference would help me to make the greatest impact on this community (Sweet Lemonade Blog Post ).

Now this is the hard part for me. I have taken a leap of faith and I have already started the Mastermind, but now I have to raise the money.  For almost 7 years I have worked daily to provide insight, inspiration, education, and support for many. I have run women’s groups, workshops, coached, counseled, and even helped some women leave abusive relationships. This is all because of my love for you and the burning desire to help. I have never asked for a money, but now I need help to further my dream to be able to serve all of you better. I need the education and the connections that will help me to achieve my goal of opening a Retreat House to teach people how to reconnect, reboot their lives, and thrive.
944443_480424378706323_1885200404_n

I am raising money to cover the cost of the year long Mastermind and for my lodging and airfare to Estonia.  I want to be able to serve you better and this will take time and resources. Invest in me and so that I can serve you better.

Thank you for taking the time for reading this and thank you in advance for your generous help.

Love, Ella xo

Fundraiser Link: Rebel Thriver Fundraiser

Blog Posts Mentioned:

https://rebelthriver.blog/2018/08/28/sweet-lemonade/

https://rebelthriver.blog/2018/09/09/following-breadcrumbs/

I am RISING because I LOVE you.

I am RISING because I LOVE you.

In solidarity with all the others who have suffered or died at the hands of an abuser I recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.domestic violence

Did you know that in the USA, 3 women die every single day, and a woman is beaten every 12 seconds due to domestic Violence. Also, the a high percentage of children who live with domestic violence in their homes, grow up to do the same. The cycle of violence runs deep.
My ex-husband had been terribly abused as a child.

I broke the cycle for my children. It was the hardest thing that I ever had to do. Being a survivor has altered every molecule and minute of my life. Today helping others recover from abuse is what I am called to do. Rebel Thriver welcomes all of the survivors out there to join us. You can learn to find your voice if you haven’t already. There is a way through the pain that you may be in. Here you can get advice, be educated, supported, and loved. Knowing that someone else understands the kinda crazy that you live with in your head is priceless. It is possible to live a thriving life. You just have to believe.
xo Ella

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

13256494_1057993907616031_3195574131118398619_nWe are in the cross fires of a political situation that shouldn’t be political at all. I know there are people who will call me brainwashed and misguided. They will say that George Orwell is turning in his grave because 1984 has come to fruition. I know these people well. Some of them have my same blood. Some of them know what happened to me back in 1984.

I was taken advantage of by a guy from a prep school. He locked me in his room, laid on top of me and hurt me. He took my virginity. I cried for him to STOP! He didn’t. When he finally got up, he put his pants on and leaned against the wall of the darkened room, the candle light was flickering across his evil face as he said in a very flip way, “What do you expect? I have wanted you for over a year?”

I was staying with my best friends family at the time. I was bleeding heavily. I was terrified. However, I didn’t call my parents. I didn’t tell them when I got home. I didn’t tell anyone. I tucked that experience away inside of me for years and “forgot” about it. Funny thing about trauma…it likes to pop up every now and then in the worst of circumstances. When I turned 22 I finally told my mother. She took to her bed for 3 days and cried the entire time. My father doesn’t know to this day because I saw how my mother reacted and I just knew it would kill my father.

People have been blaming the victim forever. Seriously, it is the culture of the world. A victim can be your mother, father, sister, brother, child, friend, and yes, even you. To add insult to serious injury it is also made clear that the victim is in someway responsible for the attack. This creates a wall of isolation and shame. This wall can barricade a victim behind it’s tall chalky cold walls for years. Sometimes for life. The mind is a mysterious thing. We have learned some about what trauma does to a persons mind though. I can speak to this because I am not only a survivor of rape, but of domestic violence. In an attempt to protect you, your mind will selectively shelf memories. It’s as though it opens a door within and shoves the trauma into it, and then it slams the door. Sometimes the door opens up again. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I live with debilitating PTSD. If you were to ask me what I struggle most with day to day I would say, my memory. I have big blocks of time missing due to domestic violence. I can’t remember much of my child’s first years. This is because during this time his father was so abusive to me that in order to survive my mind shut the memories away. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I am not mad about my situation. Rather I have chosen to channel that into helping other women recover, reclaim their lives, and move on after abuse and assault. This is how I heal. I run Rebel Thriver and this has become my life’s work. One of our agreements is no politics and no religion. This is because we know that this type of trauma doesn’t discriminate. I do not want to alienate any survivor over a political opinion or a religious belief. I believe that a victim needs to be heard no matter how long it takes for them to find their voice. And when they do finally speak they should not be shamed for it.

You do not know the path another has walked. We really need to start taking a step back at how things have been so that we can make changes and learn to move humanity forward in a more positive way. I believe that education is the only way. People can learn to become more understanding, better listeners, and develop empathy. We are capable of re-framing our thinking and doing better than the generations that came before us. We need to move towards coming together to tear down the old ways that allow isolation and victimization. We need to try to make this a better place for our children.

All I can do is continue to help the people who are trying to rebuild their lives and heal after trauma. I do not take political sides. I will never make a victims story divisive. It’s hard to stay out of the firing line these days. I pray the truth comes out and that people in powerful places are no longer able to wield their power to hurt others. Perhaps I am a bit idealistic, but that’s how I am and I will never give up striving to do better. My calling in this life is to help heal the wounds of survivors. It’s not fancy work, but it is everything to me, for how can we heal the world if we don’t work on healing it’s wounds?

xo Ella

Rising

Last year sucked. In fact, it kicked my ass and I couldn’t be happier that it is over. I was in the process of helping my eldest child begin the college application process when my younger child stopped going to school due to his PTSD which manifested in anxiety and depression. Last September I had no idea what I was coming for me. Depression in a middle schooler is tough. You need to be a therapist, a mother, a teacher and try to tie that up neatly in a bow. I did the best I could, but there were days that I began to question my sanity. I was walking close to the edge.Serve you copy

In January all the college app’s were sent out and we had teachers coming to the home to give lessons to my younger son who wasn’t feeling any better. He was dealing with PTSD from the abuse we endured. Every year it would raise it’s head and its deep reaching hands would grab him. It keeps you on your toes when dealing with a little one because every year bring changes and you don’t know how it will manifest. Last year was ground zero for puberty and I was worried, but I wasn’t prepared for the reality of it all.

In February my mother had to have another back surgery. It was a standard fusion, but an hour and a half into the surgery her blood pressure dropped and they had to stop. What was supposed to be a 4 day hospital stay turned into almost a month in and out of intensive care. My grandmother is 102 years old and still lives alone. However, at 102 things can give out on you with no real warning. So at about the same time that my mother was in the hospital and that I was homeschooling, my grandmother’s legs pretty much gave out. How frustrating it is to be completely mentally all there, but not be able to care for yourself. So, because my mother was ill I picked up the slack for being my grandmother’s caretaker.

Last year was a series of unexpected events. Life can be like that. I literally had NO time for myself. I was trying to eat right, but in retrospect it was more like heaping punishment upon myself after I declared that I was going to do the Keto Diet to get healthy. I put more restrictions on my already restricted life. I guess I was just trying to have some control over my days and it came down to what I put in my mouth. It helped me get through to June where I had one son graduate, one son pass to the next grade successfully, my mother was on the mend, and I was able to get additional help for my Grandmother. I knew it would work out, but I admit that there were days, weeks, and even months where I had my doubts. Sometimes too much is just too much.

Two months ago I was scrolling through the Quests being offered by Mind Valley Academy and I came across WildFit (which I have previously blogged about). The summer was coming to an end and one child was heading off to college and the other was heading back to school (after much guidance, care, and therapy). I was feeling optimistic that this might just be my time to focus on me more than the 10 minutes a day I had for the past year. I want to be the best version of myself, so I am embarking on changing my relationship with food (which by the way has always been very healthy, albeit a bit misguided), my health, my soul, and my mind.

It’s mid September and I am in the 7th week of Wildfit. It’s been one of the most eye opening experiences of my life. I have learned so much about human nature, nutrition, science, and biological evolution. I am meditating daily and walking miles every day. I have taken a business class and I am heading into a business mastermind group next month as well as another Mind Valley Quest, Lifebook. I am all in. It’s only been 7 weeks, but that one decision has lead to a string of other opportunities for which I am so grateful. It’s amazing what a year can hold for a person. I guess I am sharing this because I don’t want to seem like the Wizard of Oz, behind the emerald curtain. I want to share my struggles because I think that is where we so often find a common ground.

For the last 2 weeks I have been suffering from a pinched nerve in my upper back which has sent nerve pain shooting down my arm. It has been hard to sleep and I can often be seen walking or sitting with my arm extended over my head because that is the only comfortable position I can find. This morning I was in the kitchen making my green smoothie and I just felt so much pain and stress. This was after a 3 mile walk, yoga, and meditation. I am always pushing myself to do better, and to accomplish my daily tasks plus tomorrow’s if possible. But today something shifted in me. I stood there hugging it out with myself and I heard my inner voice speak up and say, “Go easy on yourself. You are in the process of healing. Allow yourself some room and let up with the incessant pressure.” And with that little bit of permission, myself my back released it’s tension.

What I know is that I am determined to level up my life. It will take time, but I am allowing myself time to heal and redefine myself. Life will always have bucket loads of crap to throw at you. You just have to be present enough to know that no matter how hard life gets, that ‘this too shall pass’. There are times where life will take you by the throat and stare you down. You just have to be persistent in your belief that the tides will always turn, and in the meantime learn everything that you can from the agony of it all.

I am happy to say that I believe the tides have turned. Now watch me rise.

xo Ella