LIFESTYLE

Closing My 21st Chapter

I’ve been an alarming amount of different people since I turned 18 (how Gavin has loved all of them, I don’t know, but I love him even more for it). Some stages and decisions I’m proud of. Some I am not. But through it all, I’ve shifted and molded into who I am today, and I love her so much. And I love my life. And I love who I’m becoming and where I’m going.

I finally feel like I’m who I was meant to be all along. I’m finally happy with my belief system- even though I know who I am and what I believe is fluid and susceptible to change. I know I’m doing my best with the knowledge and experience that I have at this point in time.

I’m finally happy with my career after several changes. Can we stop expecting high schoolers who have to ask permission to do anything to suddenly be functioning adults with critical thinking skills that know what they want to do until they’re 65? That’s another convo for another day. I edited my first book (someone else’s book, not mine, I’m not there yet), which was huge for me going forward and getting new clients.

I did all of the hard work this last year. I started going to therapy. For some reason, I’m afraid to admit that. Who am I kidding, I know the reason. I’m working on breaking the stigma surrounding getting help for your mental health- even if it’s only within my own circle of reach. If I can encourage someone to get help and it stops them from passing on generational trauma, I want to.

I’ve apologized to myself for constantly expecting me to be further in life and not just letting myself be where I am. I’ve forgiven myself for the times that I didn’t see how much I have to offer. I’ve let go of the things that happened to me that had no reflection on who I was or what I deserved. I’m only responsible for me and what I can control.

I was able to text my counselor 2 weeks ago to say, “Can we cancel my appointment? I’m running out of things to say.” I know that’s a good thing because I’ve gotten everything off of my chest, and I’m free to breathe now. I don’t have to keep reliving it. 

Maybe this was TMI for a birthday post and more than anyone asked for, but I thought about sharing it in a social media caption and didn’t, so I really did try to spare you. I’m working on sharing more of the me that I’ve become in private. So even though I’ll probably have anxiety and cringe at how much I overshared and under proofread when I’m trying to sleep tonight, and maybe for months to come, I have peace knowing that I did what I felt was best for me today. That’s all we can do until our last day.

Staying Mentally And Physically Healthy During Quarantine

I’m finally sitting down to write for the first time since we’ve started social distancing.

I’ve been a little bored, but I haven’t felt very creative. I didn’t take advantage of this “break” like I wish I had.

I’ve loved seeing you guys share posts about this time being uncharted territory and not a productivity competition. I appreciate when you’re willing to say, “I feel this way too.”

Whether you’ve been feeling anxious, shaking your fists at the government, or you mask everything with humor- I get it. I think I’ve gone through the seven stages of grief in the last month.

It may seem like I’m a little late sharing this, and I would have written it sooner, but I really didn’t think this was going to go on for as long it has.

Of course, none of us know when things will truly feel normal again, so here we go with my usual tips on how to thrive (or even just survive).

Talk To A Friend Every Day

There’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely.

You can go from enjoying the freedom to do what you want at home to feeling paralyzed and helpless really quickly. Your friends are still only a phone call away, and you don’t have to go days without talking to anyone.

Also, I’m not blind to the people who are stuck at home with an abusive partner or have been struggling financially. Not everyone is able to fill their day with crafts and baking banana bread in a peaceful environment.

Whether you’re the one who needs help or they are, staying in continual contact with the outside world could literally save someone’s life. So check on the friend that you’ve been worried about. It’s probably for a reason.

Use A Telemed Service For Your Doctor’s Appointments

Telemed is one of coolest things we have access to these days. It’s normally cheaper than going to a doctor’s office, especially if you don’t have health insurance. Plus, you’re safer from contracting anything by staying away from the walk in clinics right now.

I had two appointments last month that I was given the option to schedule over FaceTime, and I actually preferred it to the normal way.

I’ll link a website that you can get prescriptions through, and another one that you can use to talk to a licensed therapist at the end of this post.

Stick To A Daily Routine

I already cut most of my hair off, which is my favorite pastime when I’m remotely bored with my life. So I’m like, “Now what?!”

Try to go on a walk, cook something healthy everyday, and keep yourself busy so you don’t end up cutting your own bangs in the bathroom.

Don’t even act like you haven’t thought about it. 😉

As always, I’m here if you need someone to talk to. Please reach out to me or someone who can help if you’re experiencing domestic violence or food insecurity during this time.

This is one of the weirdest things most of us have ever lived through, so remember to be kind to yourself and others! Stay safe!! ❤

Lemonaid Health for a variety of online doctor’s visits and medicine delivery.

BAILEY sent you a $10 credit for an online doctor visit with Lemonaid!

If you have the Lemonaid app, apply the promo code BAILEYR897958 at checkout.

Talkspace for online counseling services. (I’ve never used this company before, but they have really great ratings!)

Get $65 off with code APPLY65

Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

About Her

Stories of Freedom From Domestic Violence

Trigger warning- this page contains real life stories of women who have experienced abuse in various forms. Please read at your own discretion.

 We met when we were juniors in high school. We were so young, but we instantly just “clicked”. Throughout high school, we did long distance because he was pursuing a sports career that required him to move away at a very young age. I remember him surprising me with how much he loved Jesus and how he really was pursuing Him and me in all the right ways. 

 After I graduated high school, we ended up getting engaged 4 months later at the age of 19. Young- I know, but we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together because things were PERFECT. He was perfect. I truly felt like I was living the dream. 

 He ended up moving even farther to attend a university, and at the time, I felt like God was calling me there too. I ended up moving to be with him and to chase my dreams. Our dream. Things were great until they weren’t. 

 Although he never showed signs of addiction or abuse, his parents battled with it for most of his life. We always talked about how HE would break those generational curses and we’d live an amazing life together. 

 After suffering through an injury that temporarily ended his sports career, he became depressed. He didn’t know what to do with himself. At the time, I was supporting us with the help of his family until they filed bankruptcy. It was all on me. 

 Once his injury was healed, he ended up leaving me where we were to live on the other side of the country to try and pursue his sports career. I was left alone, but I still was hopeful that this was where God wanted me, so I stayed. 

 He ended up “missing me” so much that he came home. The man who came home wasn’t the man I fell in love with. It was almost like a switch was flipped. 

 He started drinking at least 20 beers a day, he was taking adderall, and also smoking pot. But even then, I still never expected it would go down the path that it did..

 One day I was texting my manager about work. He had always felt threatened by him for some odd reason, but there was never any reason for him to. He asked me who I was texting, so I told him and he freaked out, telling me to delete his number and to stop speaking with him. So, I did that exactly. 

Five minutes later, he comes back up to me and asks to see the messages (the ones that he had just asked me to delete). Whenever I voiced that I didn’t have them because he told me to stop speaking to the guy, he FREAKED out as if I had something to hide.

It escalated so fast and I don’t think I truly realized what was happening. It was all a blur. I remember trying to calm him down. In the midst of that, I got shoved to the ground, and I remember being punched twice on the same side of my face. I was in shock, and of course he was too drunk to realize what he had done. 

 I had work the next day, so I ended up wearing a ball cap as low as I could and packed on the concealer in hopes that no one would notice. 

 People cracked jokes at work saying “Oh, who’d you get in a fight with? Did you win?” I just giggled and said I hit my face on the stair railing. Unfortunately, they believed me. I was so ashamed. 

 My fiancé ended up visiting me at work that day, and was shocked when he saw my face. He had NO idea what he had done and was so apologetic as if it were an “accident”. I decided to let it slide because he said he’d never cross that line again. 

 I didn’t think things could get worse, but every day was worse than the one before. I was living a nightmare. He stayed intoxicated 24/7. He would steal my debit card, and drain my savings to go purchase beer at the one local gas station that would sell to minors. 

 The nights were the worst. He never let me sleep. He never let me shower. He would slap me across the face; pull my hair; kick me off of the bed; knock me down; spit in my face. He would constantly threaten me. 

 I remember one night the cops came because my neighbors heard my screams. They asked if things were okay, and I played it off. I said we were just horsing around and cutting up. They believed me. I look back and wish I would have had the bravery to tell them how badly I needed help. I had no one. I was locked up in a house, thousands of miles away from my family, with a monster.

 He ended up getting so angry one night, he punched me over and over and over until I felt like I couldn’t breathe. He smashed my face into the ground so hard that I can still remember the feeling of my nose bones cracking. I remember waking up the next day, and I didn’t even recognize myself. 

 After weeks of him telling me I was dramatic for being in pain, I went to the doctor and they told me my nose was broken. I ended up needing surgery immediately. 

 I lied to my family and friends and told them that my dog head butted me. Unfortunately, they all believed me. I was still so ashamed and didn’t want anyone to know. 

  The day of my surgery, he left me there by myself to go buy more alcohol. I woke up out of anesthesia alone and terrified. 

 After realizing that I wouldn’t be able to afford my college tuition, we found out our tuition would be cheaper if we got married. We decided to go to the courthouse that day to sign papers. We ended up getting to the courthouse at 4:02, and they closed at 4:00pm. God saved me. 

 I ended up finally agreeing to move back home. I was so scared. I was living in shame and didn’t want anyone from home to know what was happening, but I knew I couldn’t support us anymore. 

 I remember on the night of us leaving, he attempted to take my dog with him. If you know me- my dog is everything. She was all I had while I was there.

 I jumped in front of the door to block him from walking out with her. Without thinking, he grabbed my throat, shoved me up against the door, and squeezed as hard as he could. I still remember the look in his eyes. His whole body was shaking. He was squeezing so hard and I felt my breath slowing down. He finally let go and threw me to the ground. I just remember crying so hard that I couldn’t breathe. 

 We ended up getting back to the city where we grew up and I, of course, decided to still live with him. He attempted rehab a few times but he never stuck with it. On top of the 20-30 beers a day, he picked up taking Xanax, and the nightmare just continued. I tried fighting back a few times but it only made it worse. 

 The physical abuse was bad, but honestly the mental, verbal, and emotional abuse was so much worse. He told me that I was nothing and that I was stupid. He would constantly talk about other women’s bodies which left me feeling so beyond insecure. 

 I’ll never forget him being face to face with me, looking into my eyes he said, “You are worthless.’’ He proceeded to spit on me and shove me to the ground. 

 I remember locking myself in the bathroom, crying out to God every night. Begging Him to change his heart and begging for answers. I was wondering why He was allowing me to go through it all. 

 I remember taking a knife with me in the bathroom, and running it over my thighs trying to think of how I could escape this. Thoughts of taking my life entered my mind. I wanted an out. I felt like I had nothing left. I lived in constant fear. I was so terrified to leave. I was lying to everyone, but especially to myself. 

 I’m sure you’re probably thinking, “Why did you stay for so long?” Honestly, I don’t have a good answer. I felt like I owed it to him to stick by his side since we were engaged. I felt like the man I fell in love with was still somewhere inside of this monster. I was blinded. 

I’m begging you, please don’t ever think your loyalty has to lie with someone who has abused you. Please leave the first time. Please leave WAY before there is a first time.

 After putting up with everything for a year and a half, I woke up one day and gained the courage to walk away. I brought him his stuff, gave him his engagement ring back, and tried to gather myself enough to move forward. I was so broken. 

I look back and still wonder why I went through the things that I did. I am so grateful that I didn’t marry that man or have children with him. Jesus showed me so much grace.

Since going through it all, I’ve already been able to speak to a few younger girls about abuse. It’s my testimony now and I know that Jesus had a purpose for me in spite of my pain. 

Little did I know, there would be so much joy on the other side.

Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

About Her

About Her

Stories of Freedom From Domestic Violence

Trigger warning- this page contains real life stories of women who have experienced abuse in various forms. Please read at your own discretion.

We met when I moved to America. I had only been in the States for a few months. Me and my family went out to eat and he was working at the restaurant as a waiter. We connected almost automatically. He was funny and charming, and invited me to hang out with him and his friends at the college nearby. 

My initial thoughts of him were that he was fun and down to earth. A little careless, I guess you could say, about the way he dressed and what others thought at the time. We fell into a relationship pretty soon after I met him, although I was a little hesitant, mostly because I had just moved here and wasn’t sure if I wanted a relationship. 

We got married quite quickly- 2 years or so after meeting, and we were married for 4 years.

Looking back, there weren’t any definitive red flags early on in our relationship.

He was very mature for his age; he’s 2 years younger than me. He loved God, and you could see that in him. He was always trying to better himself and his relationship with God. He was kind to people, and had a very warm personality, albeit a slightly quirky one. I was originally an unbeliever and I found God through him. 

I got pregnant, and almost immediately after giving birth to our daughter, the abuse was daily.

It’s like a switch went off in his head and he started drinking excessively. To the point where he would go out after work, turn his phone off, and come home the next morning or night. He was drinking at work and lost multiple jobs over it.

He would verbally abuse me on a daily basis. He called me worthless, fat, ugly, a bad mother, and a bad wife. One time he told me he wished I would die because I didn’t bring any value to his life.

He also cheated on me with many women. When I would find out about him cheating, he would lie and tell me I was crazy and controlling.

It was a huge struggle because I began to believe everything he was telling me. I ended up not taking care of myself, my hair fell out, and I began passing out a lot- probably from stress and not eating right. I had nothing left at the end of the day. I was barely alive.  

The last straw for me was at the end of 2018 when I came across the “Love over Addiction” podcast and really implemented it to my life. I listened to it constantly and I detached from him completely. I learned that I had no control over him or his addiction, and that I didn’t cause it.

Around April 2019, he was drinking and threw his car keys in my face, pushed me to the ground, and told me once again how worthless I was. I had saved enough money and detached from him so much that I was able to say “Enough”. 

I don’t think I was ever scared of him. I felt sorry for him and for who he had become, because I remember who he was before and his heart. I believe that the man I married is still in there somewhere, he’s just very lost and me and my daughter won’t be dragged down with him.

I hope one day he addresses his alcohol issues, along with his anger, need to please people (which I think played a big role in him drinking to begin with), and other deep-rooted emotions he is running away from. I hope he comes back to God. I pray that happens for him. 

I learned from this experience that I am stronger than I ever imagined. I am not who he says I am, only who God says I am. I learned to never again give so much power to someone’s words that they control me.

There have been days where I was so drained, running on no sleep, sick and taking care of a sick toddler, depressed and at the lowest of my life, and I still made it through.

There were days where I would wake up from passing out and hitting my head on the floor, begging him to come home and help and he wouldn’t, and I STILL made it through.

I am built to last. I am a great mother. I practically raised her all by myself through the darkest time of my life, and if I can overcome that, I can overcome anything.

Since filing for divorce, I haven’t had any relationships. I have dated here and there, but nothing serious. I have been trying to concentrate on myself for once, my daughter as always, and my career. I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, but I’m a lot more guarded with it. I don’t trust easy, that’s for sure.

I have definitely become okay with feeling my emotions, and not pushing them down or running away from them. I’m learning how to sit with my feelings, and that it’s okay to feel a certain way but to not to let it control me.

My hope for the future is to not project onto another person or bring my hurt into my next relationship. 

I want women who have been/are going through the same things as me to know: you are worth so much more than you could ever imagine. Just getting out of bed in the morning is a HUGE accomplishment for someone who has experienced what you have. Be strong and don’t believe the lies. Stand up for yourself and say no…”enough!”

God loves you too much for you to be stuck in an abusive relationship. He doesn’t want that for your life. He has a purpose for you and to be abused by your husband/partner is not it. Staying in an abusive marriage is not it. Don’t let one person dictate your future.

Yes, being lonely sucks. Yes, having to work so hard to provide sucks. Yes, the future is scary, but what is even more scary is staying in the same place.

I was fearful of the same things. I was putting up with it/allowing the abuse in hopes he would change, and telling myself it’s better than being a single mom, but that is not true.

A year and a half for me felt like a lifetime. What was meant to be the best time/experience of my life was overshadowed by abuse and addiction from someone who was meant to love me unconditionally. Press into God. Forgive, and be free. 

Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

About Her

About Her

Stories of Freedom From Domestic Violence

Trigger warning- this page contains real life stories of women who have experienced abuse in various forms. Please read at your own discretion.

Earlier this week, I had the privilege to watch Taylor Swift’s documentary that just aired on Netflix. First, let me say that I have always been a Taylor Swift fan. I sometimes used to joke about how crazy of a woman she was, but watching her documentary was an eye-opener for probably many people, including myself. 

Taylor talks about her sexual assault case, and since I intend on working sex crimes in the future, I got very interested when she brought this up. I had no idea she was even involved in a sexual assault case? Why???

As she kind of hinted at, no one really thought her case was “that” serious. Taylor was sued by her assailant, and many probably assumed that she was doing all of it for money, but in fact, Taylor fought back and sued her assailant for only ONE DOLLAR.

Isn’t it sad that women get criticized for admitting they have been sexually assaulted, or abused, or mistreated? They are only admitting it for attention, or for money, they assume. Taylor showed some serious woman power in her documentary, and I loved every second of it. 

That is why I am now going to tell my story. We all go through experiences that change us, and none of us go through the exact same experiences. Some of us aren’t affected by situations that others get so deeply affected by. Since I was a little girl, everyone always expected me to go to law school one day. Turns out, I actually was made for law school. I don’t think any of us knew why I would love it so much. 

Like I said, we all go through experiences that change us. Besides passing the Louisiana Bar exam and becoming an attorney, my biggest goal is to work special victims.

I feel obligated to be a voice for those women, those children, and even those boys and men who are too afraid, or who do not have the chance to have a voice and stand up for themselves.

We all go through experiences that are life changing, and for me, although it was an awful experience, it changed me for the better. 

I was in a very toxic relationship in high school. We all have that one really bad boyfriend, and he was that really bad boyfriend for me. Unfortunately, I got pregnant for that really bad boyfriend at 17-years old, which turned out to be my biggest blessing in disguise.

For me, when I got pregnant, I think I matured almost instantly. I wanted to protect my child and give my child the best life possible. I’m not going to bore anyone with the details of how I made sure that my child would have an amazing life, but essentially, it included taking that really bad boyfriend out of the picture.

Fast-forward about 18 months after my child was born, and I get a text from that really bad boyfriend saying he has money to give me. So, I picked him up from work and brought him to where he was staying. He got in my car, as calm as any normal person, and had little conversation with me.

When we got to where he was staying, he immediately got out of my car. About 20 minutes later, after he consistently asked me to go inside of the house if I wanted the money from him, I went to the front door.

I opened the door to a dark house, and took a step back. That really bad boyfriend that I had broken up with about a month before was hiding behind the door, in the dark house, and as I ran off, he chased me, grabbed me, and threw me inside.

When I say he threw me inside, I mean that he took my small body, compared to his, and literally threw me to the ground. Details from that day are hard to recall because that is a part of my memory that I have blocked out, because that is how I managed to get through it, but at that moment, I just remember him treating me like a puppet. He made all of my moves for me. He controlled me, as if he owned me. He grabbed me by the head and threw me into a computer, and then to the floor, and then into a room.

I remember I was wearing a headband that day, and it fell off of my head in the hallway. He had calmed down for a second, and asked me to walk to his bedroom, which was in the back corner of the house, as if I had any choice.

I walked back there, and because no one was home, he did not shut the door. I remember walking into the room, and the few things he had in there were bottles, clothes, and an axe. An axe, how random, I know. But, it was in there, and that was how I assumed he was going to kill me.

In his room, he threw me against every wall, slapped me, and then forced me on the floor. He tried to tie my legs together, and got on top of me, as if he was going to rape me, and maybe he was, or maybe he wasn’t, but I kicked him, and he easily gave up.

Right outside of his door was the door to the backyard. I thought about running so many times, but I knew I had no chance. No one could hear me scream if I tried to scream, and no one would see me running before he caught me. So, I stayed. I remember not feeling anything.

It is true when they say that you don’t really feel a thing. I remember forcing myself to cry in attempt to make him feel sorry for me, but in my head, I just kept telling myself I was going to call the police; he is just psychotic; I am not scared. And to be honest, I don’t think I was scared. I do not remember feeling scared; I just remember being there, not feeling anything.

What saved my life that day was saying that our son was waiting for me to pick him up. That was the first and the last time that I have ever referred to my son as our son. It worked because, I assume he thought, why take that child’s mother away and leave him with nothing? So, he let me go. But, before he let me go, he took me out in the hallway, and he hugged me. He cried, and he hugged me.

That was the moment I felt something that I remember: disgust. I remember thinking how disgusting and pathetic of a human being he was. After he hugged me, he looked at me in the face and said exactly, “Go pick up your mess and wipe your face.”

Out of that whole time I was in that house, that moment is what I remember most. I think it is because a switch flipped in him, again, and he had just acted like he did nothing. So, he took me into the bathroom, wiped my face, and told me to leave.

I ran out of the house, and that was when I began to scream. I didn’t scream for help, either. I was screaming because that is when I felt the pain of everything that just happened. All of the bruises began to hurt; my head began to hurt.

At that moment, I told myself to just go home, and not to the police station because he was never going to see me again, or my son. So, I didn’t report it.

I went home, put makeup on, and went pick up my son from daycare. No one suspected a thing. I blocked him and took him out of my life, but before I could do that, he blew up my phone about how he was going to turn himself in before I could. 

Fast forward a few months, and he is still trying to call me. People like him go through life thinking they have done nothing wrong. People like him think they are the dominants, and women are just objects at their disposal.

I remember him telling me, “You’re lucky that’s all I did to you. My friends turn their females black and blue.” The words that would come out of his mouth haunt me more than anything he could have done to me.

Fast forward a few months, and he finally got arrested for trying to kill me, again. This time, not physically, but by verbal threats. Honestly, I’m sure he would kill me if he had the chance to, even today. But who I am today is not who I was then. I am much stronger now. 

I was never afraid of him. I hated him too much to be afraid of him. But, I was terrified of what he wanted to do to me. I think I was most scared of how he could articulate such a plan to attack me, when he did, and remain calm the whole day. I mean, he had planned to attack me; he had to have. He knew when he got in my car that he was going to try to kill me; but still, he remained calm, and even made conversation with me, as if he hadn’t already planned to try to kill me.

He wanted me dead, and everyone knew it. He harassed me even after he was arrested. He would drive by my house, sometimes at night, or would send me texts on a different number about how he was at my house, in my backyard, and he was. I lived everyday in fear.

That is the thing no one talks about…what happens after you call the police. People like him do not stop; they never stop. I would run to my car, even just leaving my house, because he knew my schedule.

I was always scared of closing my garage because he liked to sneak into my backyard, so I always told myself if I leave the garage open and he breaks in through the back of my house, I have a way to escape quicker. I didn’t feel trapped. Isn’t that crazy?! I felt safer with the garage open because I felt like I could escape him quicker if he broke in through the back of the house, but realistically, if my garage were open, he would likely break in through my front door anyways.

That is what happens when someone hurts you and wants you dead. You think of every way to survive and make it out alive. For a few months, I would call a few of my friends crying out of fear that he would kill me that day. It took a long time for me to feel safe again. 

I had to take some time to myself after what happened to me. And it was the best thing I have ever done. I didn’t just grow up, but I grew stronger mentally.

I knew that law school was always my calling, but I didn’t realize what I would do with it until I was attacked by a man that thought he was bigger and stronger than me.

I read a quote recently that said, “A victim’s first scream is for help; a victim’s second scream is for justice” (Coral Anika Theill). And I am living proof of this quote. Except, I am not seeking justice for myself. Instead, I am seeking justice for the other millions of women who are struggling to get justice; who are too afraid to speak up; who are too afraid to leave. 

Often times, women who have not experienced domestic violence try to relate, and, in my personal opinion, it just isn’t something anyone can relate to. You can feel sympathy for someone who has suffered domestic violence, and you can definitely stand up for them, but you can never know what they go through; you can never speak on their behalf; do NOT speak on their behalf. Do not try to tell them you understand why they did or did not do something because you simply cannot understand why.

For me, everything I do is for my son. We did a domestic violence activity in one of my classes, and only a handful of students had suffered or witnessed domestic violence. The other students, who hadn’t experienced that kind of trauma, did not take it seriously. That got to me because some laughed at the idea of their kids being taken away from them so they could stay at the homeless shelter so that they would not have to go back home to the abusive husband. That is typically not what happens because in reality, you would go back to the abusive husband if it meant you got to keep your kids.

I know I would personally go back if that was the only way to keep my child with me. Everyone has different stories, different life styles, different circumstances, and it is not our place to judge, or try to put ourselves in their shoes because we couldn’t know what we would do. It is our job, as men and women, to just ensure that these victims feel safe: feel safe to tell their stories, feel safe from their abusers. You don’t have to try to put yourself in a victim’s shoes to try to understand what happened. You should just want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I had a happy ending to my story, and not all victims do. My son went through a really tough phase of wanting everyone to be his dad. He sometimes witnessed what his biological father would do to me, and although I don’t think he remembers today, he definitely made sense of it then. He does not know him. My wish is that he never knows him, regardless of what anyone else thinks; I never want him to know him. I also never want my son to know what he did to me.

Just when I became certain that it would be just him and me forever, we found our happy ending. He was totally unexpected. He worked my son’s third birthday party (it was a super hero party, and he was our super hero…literally).

Two years later, and he is the best thing that could have ever happened to us. He is my son’s best friend; my son’s father figure; my son’s dad. He saved us, and gave my son the best thing I could have ever hoped he would have in life.  Most importantly, he saved me. He has the biggest heart and the sweetest soul. He made me feel safe, and he loves doing life with me. He is what I hope any girl could have in this lifetime.

Every girl deserves to feel love and security. Do not normalize being hit, or not feeling safe. There is no excuse, ever, for a woman to feel unsafe with a man she thinks she loves. 

“I want women to know that they deserve a life of respect, dignity and freedom— that it’s never too late to speak up” (Samra’s Survivor Stories). 

We all deserve to feel loved and respected. Love is not being attacked and abused, and respect is not being mistreated and degraded. We are all worth so much, and we all deserve for our worth to be appreciated by someone who truly loves us. Stand up for women, and stand up for victims, and stand against domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Setting Intentions For The New Year

As we’re envisioning the next year, it can either be overwhelming or exciting to think about how much we want to accomplish in the next 12 months.

We’re all writing out our checklists and coming up with new goals to reach.

Maybe you’re looking forward to a blank slate to recover from this year.

Understanding the reasons behind your goals can cut down on the unnecessary pressure to perform just for the sake of it.

In a world that’s pulling us in 50 different directions and always asking us to do more, choose to slow down and decide what’s going to be important to you in the upcoming year.

1. Honor The Progress You’ve Made This Year

Take a moment to be proud of all of your accomplishments – both big and small!

Recognize how much you’ve grown in different areas of your life. Figure out what helps you grow and what tends to hold you back. 

Note the habits that you’re glad you’ve created and build on them in 2020. Your habits become your life, so get rid of the ones that don’t align with who you want to be by the end of next year.

2. Shift Your Perspective On What Goals Mean To You

Try not to set goals that reflect fear, doubt, and self-loathing. Working towards a new career, moving past a break up, or meeting a goal weight can either be rooted in shame or love. 

Go into 2020 wanting to create, grow, and love as much as you can and everything else will follow. 

You’ll build the business you dream of because you’re passionate about it. 

You’ll heal from the pain you’ve accumulated up until this point because you’re too full of peace to carry it anymore. 

You’ll workout more and eat healthier because you love yourself and you want to feel good.

Your goals should be for self-improvement rather than satisfying the opinions of others.

3. Scratch The Unrealistic Resolutions And Keep The Goals Your Excited To Reach

When making resolutions, I can usually tell way ahead of time what I can and can’t commit to.

You don’t have to have monumental goals that are going to weigh on you until you give up on them in February.

Create a small list of goals that build on top of each other leading to somewhere bigger. Simply add on to your list if you complete it earlier than you thought you would have.

Set the highest of intentions, but have expectations that leave room for grace.

2019 was definitely the best year of my life, and if it wasn’t yours, I hope the next one is.

I want to thank everyone who read, liked, shared, and commented on something I wrote this year. My confidence has grown immeasurably because of your support.

You now have the option to email me anonymously through my contact page, so let me know how I can be praying for you.

I’m cheering you on!

With love, Bailey

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The Pros And Cons Of Cruising For Your Honeymoon

The Pros And Cons Of Cruising For Your Honeymoon

W​e chose a cruise for our honeymoon, and we’re still talking about how much fun we had at the comedy shows and how delicious the molten lava cake was.

W​ith the cost of travel, accommodations, meals, entertainment, and activities included, it’s no wonder so many couples are opting to do the same.

There are certainly more pros than cons when it comes to taking a cruise, but I’m sure you know by now that I’m honest to a fault and will always share the “bad” along with the good. I say “bad” because the cons are all “first world problems” and not real complaints. They’re just some facts I’d like to point out.

Pros:

1. I​t’s One Of The Cheapest Ways To Travel Internationally

T​here’s no denying that you won’t find a more convenient, cost effective way to travel overseas than cruising.

We live 3 hours away from the nearest cruise ship port, so we didn’t even have to pay for a plane ticket to get there.

W​hether you choose to add excursions to your trip or not, there’s SO much to do and you’ll never be bored.

Plus, with a recommended weight restriction of 100 pounds of luggage with no fees, you’re free to bring nearly anything you may need, with room to take home your shopping purchases.

2. You Get To Travel To More Than One Place

W​hy choose one country to visit, when you can see 3 in 7 days or less?

W​e were able to go scuba diving in the Cayman Islands, swim with dolphins in Cozumel, Mexico, and zip line through the Jamaican jungle in Montego Bay.

W​e never would have been able to experience such different cultures in that short period of time traveling any other way.

3. A​ll Of Your Meals And Entertainment Are In One Place

​Obviously, you have several other options besides a cruise for your honeymoon.

If you’re not staying at an all-inclusive resort, you’ll have to navigate the city for places to eat and things to do, which can be especially difficult in a foreign country. 

That may be something you enjoy ​if you love adventure and don’t mind working a little harder to catch a taxi and scope out the local spots.

I​f you prefer structure and an itinerary laid out before you, a cruise is the way to go. 

Y​ou’ve had enough planning and decision-making for a while, why not kick back and let someone else do the meal planning?

C​ons:

1. Y​ou Only Get A Few Hours In Each Port

My honeymoon was the first time I traveled outside of America.

I had never been anywhere that I desperately wanted to revisit, so it made no difference to me where we went.

N​ow that I’ve been to a few new places, I know that Grand Cayman is my favorite so far and I would love to go back someday for a longer trip.

I​f you don’t have one specific place you want to spend at least a couple of days in, I still recommend a cruise; but if you know exactly where you want to go, traveling directly there and staying onsite is probably the best option for you.

2. There May Not Be Much Peace And Quiet 

If you’re booking a cruise around the time of a holiday break or in the summer, it’s possible that there will be a lot of kids on board.

I actually planned my wedding date around my state’s school schedule in hopes of not being on my honeymoon with spring breakers. 

L​ittle did I know, different states have very different schedules. Half of Michigan packed up their families and traveled to New Orleans to join us.

It didn’t bother us since we were just happy to be there, but I understand if you’re wanting a kid-free vacation.

Choosing a luxury cruise line or an adult only cruise is the best way to ensure your time by the pool will be peaceful.

Overall, we had an amazing honeymoon and would definitely do it all again. There are pros and cons to every destination and how you choose to get there. Only you can decide what you value most and what you’re willing to deal with. Happy honeymooning!

Planning A Wedding That’s As Stress-Free As Possible

How can I put this gently? 

If you want a stress-free wedding experience, getting married at the court house in your favorite blue jeans is your best bet.

Even if you choose this route, know that I was on the verge of tears after spending 30 minutes trying to find a parking spot downtown that didn’t say “owned by a lawyer, violators will be towed”, while trying to obtain my marriage license from the courthouse.

Wedding week nerves may or may not have played a role in my frazzled, overly sensitive mood that day.

We just celebrated our 6 month anniversary (some may tell you that isn’t a real anniversary, but we love making up reasons to celebrate life), and all I can say is, life is so much easier post wedding.

With that being said, the months leading up to your marriage are such an exciting time in your life, and you should do your best to enjoy every second of it.

I was described as an “easy to please” bride by those closest to me. Honestly, I have no idea who that girl is, but I’m glad I was able to channel her for the sake of my relationships.

I’m going to share what worked best for me during the planning process, what I don’t recommend, and what won’t matter when you look back on your wedding day in 30 years.

Art by LA Lettering
Photo by Alanie Sayer Photography

D​on’t Worry About Losing Weight

Listen, I’m all about taking care of yourself and eating healthy; but I can’t think of a better way to be stressed out during wedding planning than to be starving and exercising till you’re dizzy in hopes of shedding a few pounds.

Some women who have an extremely healthy relationship with food and their bodies may be able to lose a little weight without harming their health in the process. If it’s going to stress you out more than you already are, DON’T worry about it.

This may sound silly and obvious, but I believe it’s worth mentioning. The person who wants to marry you, wants to marry YOU. They want you in the body you have now, in the dress size you are now.

Why would we decide that the way we were before we got engaged isn’t good enough? That we should work for months trying to get a new body for a 3-hour event?

You will not be an ounce happier on your wedding day if you lose an inch or two off your waist. You will be a gazillion times happier for the rest of your life if you decide you accept and love yourself the way you were created.

“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.”-Dr. Gail Dines

Photo by Alanie Sayer Photography

Be Open Minded When Dress Shopping

I was the girl who had a Pinterest wedding board since before I was legally old enough to even get married. I’d probably pinned hundreds of dresses, and the dress I got married in, didn’t slightly resemble one of them.

Picking a wedding dress was the easiest, most enjoyable part of planning for me because I decided to keep an open mind and not pressure myself to get a dress the first day I went shopping.

Try not to have a super strong mental picture of what you want to look like on your wedding day. It can lead to disappointment if your “dream dress” doesn’t look how you expected once you try it on.

When my dressing room attendant brought in a blush pink, tulle dress and I said “I can’t wear a pink wedding dress!”, I’m so happy I was open-minded enough to try it on and follow up with, “Of course I can wear a pink wedding dress!”.

I felt gorgeous in my dress, and I knew it would bring the man I love to tears, which was obviously my biggest wedding day goal.

Choose the dress you feel most beautiful in, don’t force yourself to recreate the image you’ve had of yourself since you were 6, and only bring your besties who aren’t going to give you their opinion unless you ask for it. (Kinda kidding, kinda not. We’ve all seen a Say Yes to the Dress episode where that one girl just can’t seem to keep her thoughts to herself.)

Photo by Alanie Sayer Photagraphy
Dress by Rebecca Ingram

Have A Moment Alone Before The Ceremony

This was one of the best decisions I made for my wedding day. I decided not to do a first look to save up the emotion of seeing each other for the first time at the altar, but I loved that with a first look, you get to have a calm before the storm moment with your groom.

Even if you opt out of having a first look, try to set some time aside to talk on the phone, or exchange letters from either side of a door (letters are also a great alternative if you want to write your own vows but not read them in front of everyone you know).

I started to feel really nervous a few hours before the ceremony. I couldn’t move around very well in my big dress in a small room, and I couldn’t relax without messing up my hair and makeup. All I could do was sit up very stiff and try not to throw up. #justgirlythings

I felt so much better once I got to hear my husband’s voice and hold his hand. I was able to remember that this wasn’t some over the top party I had to host- it was about me and him and how much we love each other.

Photo by Alanie Sayer Photography

Roll With the Punches

You will plan for months or possibly years for what is truly one day out of your entire life. I don’t say this to discourage you from going all out, but to take some of the pressure off of you.

​My wedding cake was…uh…not the easiest part of wedding planning.

​We accidentally hired a pastry chef from a reputable bakery under the table. When they were fired two weeks before my wedding, and the bakery had no trace of the order we placed or someone to make it, I was fully prepared to serve Bluebell ice cream and grocery store cake to my guest.

​Thank God the bakery stepped up to the plate and was able to bring someone in to make our cake. It was beautiful, but when we cut it, I realized it was a flavor I’ve never tasted before, and it definitely wasn’t the signature wedding cake flavor I’ve eaten 50 times before.

Guess what? No one noticed. No one cared. Because we were all having a great time, celebrating our love, and eating cake. It put into perspective that I was the only one who knew exactly how things were supposed to be.

Your guests will not notice if your decorations are a little crooked, if the cellist plays the wrong song, or if your hair doesn’t come out the way you wanted it to.

They will see you and your new husband, the couple they love, having the best day of their lives.

Try to remember in the midst of all the craziness and what seems like a life or death matter, no one will ever know if something isn’t perfect.

Like marriage, the tiny imperfections of your wedding day will be overshadowed by immeasurably more joy. You’ve got your whole lives to succeed and mess up together, and this is just the beginning, so embrace it.

Photo by Alanie Sayer Photography

Biblical Tips For Overcoming Depression And Anxiety

Biblical Tips For Overcoming Depression And Anxiety

Sometimes, God lets us face trials so that we can help others who struggle with the same issues in the future.

I want to share with you some Biblically based practices that have helped me overcome the depression, anxiety, and fear I was dealing with on a daily basis.

Recognizing that you’re having these feelings is the first step to recovery, and knowing what to do about them is the second.

1. Read Your Bible Before Checking Your Phone

W​hen I start my day by checking social media before I’ve even rolled out of bed and turned on the coffee pot, thoughts of comparison and sadness are usually there to bid me good morning.

Making the conscious decision to not touch my phone before I’ve read my Bible and talked to God always sets the tone for a great day.

G​ive yourself a fighting chance against depression and anxiety by spending the first part of your day with the author of joy and peace versus filling your mind with the opinions of anyone with a Wi-Fi connection.

“​But seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you”-Matthew 6:33

2. Start An “Attitude of Gratitude” Journal

W​rite down at least 5 things that you’re grateful for everyday. 

Eventually, you’ll name all of the obvious ones and will have to start digging deeper to come up with a list.

I like to choose one from multiple categories, such as: a physical blessing, someone I love, progress in an area of my life, a characteristic I appreciate about myself, and an attribute of God.

I​’ve noticed that when I’m so busy thanking God for all He’s done and the beautiful life He’s given me, I have less time to spend worrying about my shortcomings and what I don’t have. This practice also makes me less prone to negativity and causes me to not take the blessings I have for granted.

“D​o not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.”-Philippians 4:6

3​. Take Care Of Your Temple

I​ feel so much more joyful, accomplished, and motivated when I make time to go on a walk and prepare nutritious meals for myself. I’ve found that exercise, sunshine, and the perfect foods that God made for us have helped me tremendously when it comes to the healing of mental illness.

W​hen you show your body that you value it, your mind will respond positively.

Whether it’s taking a bubble bath, watching a wholesome movie, or listening to worship music, find what makes you feel relaxed and do more of it.

D​epression and anxiety are sicknesses, be kind to yourself and allow your temple to heal. 

“​Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”-1 Corinthians 6:19-2

4​. Have A Support System

T​here have been times in my life when my depression and anxiety were manageable and temporary. Other times, I’ve gone months without seeing my friends because I could barely leave my room.

I​f you’re as private as I am, and you would like to try to overcome feelings of depression and anxiety between you and God, I understand. But as soon as you feel like you can no longer handle it on your own​, please tell a parent, friend, pastor, or seek medical help.

F​ind someone who can empathize with and validate your feelings, while giving you wise counsel so that you can gain freedom from bondage.

The devil loses power over us when we decide to not suffer alone. 

There’s no shame in needing people to talk to, pray for us, and seek advice from.

“Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you”-Matthew 18:20

I​ pray these habits help you as much as they’ve helped me, and that you find rest in God’s presence.

B​y His stripes, we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

When One Door Closes, It’s Ok To Mourn.

God always provides us with the encouragement we need when we need it.

Over the weekend, a dream of mine was placed on the back burner in a way.

Last week, I was praying about how much I wanted a specific piece of property for my husband and I to build a house on. I prayed that God would open doors and make a way for us to get it…if that was His will. 

Up until that point, we had our eyes on the land for about 3 years. We already own a home that we have to live in for 2 years (for taxing purposes) before we can put it on the market, so the right time to pursue building our next home never came around.

I hadn’t prayed much about my dream to build right there until the week before God showed me it wasn’t His plan for us right now.

Within days of asking for God’s provision, and above all else, His will, we received news that the property had been purchased. 

But that’s the thing about praying for the “maybes” in our lives. Sometimes it gives God the opportunity to tell us “no” when we’re so hung up on hearing “yes”.

I was deeply disappointed. I went back and forth with grieving and feeling guilty for wrapping so much expectation into something so uncertain and circumstantial. 

Little did I realize, every time I thought of the house that my husband and I would have a family in, I was envisioning us being in that spot. More than me being sad over not getting a certain patch of grass, I was sad to lose the dream of having a cul-de-sac home for my kids across the street from their grandparents.

Throughout this year, I’ve been reading a devotional titled “100 days to brave” by Annie F. Downs.

Let’s say I’ve taken the scenic route through a book that could be finished in a little over 3 months. 

But in my struggle of trying to finish one book before starting another, God used a “weakness” of mine to show Himself to me.

On day 25 of the book, He taught me that it’s brave to dream. This prompted me to pray for an open door to start building a house.

Day 26 showed me to not be afraid of praying hard prayers. Looking back on this devotional, I was encouraged to ask God to open the right doors and close the wrong ones. Though I’m sure, I prayed a little more fervently for an open one.

A couple of days later, after being presented with a closed door, I got around to day 27, which by no coincidence was on closed doors. 

Annie writes, “Brave people commit their work to the Lord and trust that His plan for their lives might not look the way they planned. And that’s okay. If you’re looking at a closed door today, then there’s an open one just around the corner.”

I told myself to get over it. It’s not that big of a deal anyway. The loss of the property doesn’t affect the big picture of our life. We can still build or buy a house somewhere else. God has a plan and it’s not my job to figure it out. But grace.

On day 28, I learned that it’s OK to “mourn dreams that have died”. 

Annie F. Downs tells of her yearning for a husband before her 30s, and subconsciously grieving when this did not come to pass. Annie is comforted when her counselor tells her that “The dreams you thought would come true in a certain time frame never did. You saw a life for yourself that you will never have. You can mourn that loss.” 

And so I did. I let myself grieve for a few days…and then I moved on to the doors that are still open for me.

On day 29, we’re told to “Chase the dreams that are still alive.” 

“God loves to put wings on dreams that His kids chase, dreams that can bring Him glory.”

Having little to do with my classic southern dreams of a white house to clean and babies to kiss, while noble and beautiful on their own, I dream of being a writer and an author.

Although I go through times of feeling discouraged and inadequate in this area of my life, I crave it more than any other earthly goal.

Even when faced with closed doors and disappointments, my dreams are still alive and well, and so are yours.