What has life been like for me? What makes me a Beautiful Disaster? That is a couple of loaded questions, full of more answers than this computer has memory to keep it all. For most of my life, I never felt beautiful, worthy or anything other than an ugly disaster that no one saw anything in. I married a monster and dealt with his abuse for 6 years, until he took everything, including my vehicle and all of our money and disappeared. Leaving me with 2 kids, a 9 y/o Autistic confused boy and a heart broken 5 y/o just starting kindergarten and no way to feed them, let alone take them to get food. I spent the next year busting my ass to get an education, a job and a divorce, all while losing my home and having to live out of a hotel with my boys. But I did it, my boys never missed a meal, I got my Medical Assisting Degree, made sure I was on the Dean's List every quarter and graduated with honors. I got a job, a car and a nice couple rented to me for a couple of years. 

Then, I lost the house, because I couldn't afford to buy it and my credit was not good enough. So once again, I found myself without a home. So I packed up everything I had, put it into storage and took what I could to my dads. I lived there for about a year while I busted my as again, jumping through hoops, working 2 jobs and bought a house all on my own. My boys, painted their rooms how ever they wanted and things were good. I met a great man and things started to look perfect. But as always, I lost again. My stupidity and kind heart did me in. I believed the man I thought I would finally marry. I sold my house. But he too, turned out to be a monster. An unmedicated, narcissistic, bipolar asshole, who is very verbally and emotionally abusive. I knew better. What the hell was I thinking? But I stayed, because I was the only stable thing in HIS kids lives and I felt that if I left, things would be bad for them.
He spent 5 years breaking me down. I was at my lowest and was on the verge on losing my job because there were days I either couldn't stop crying from the horrible text messages he kept sending or had to go home to deal with horrible chaos he had created. I put my life on hold and every damn minute of my life was putting him first because I felt like I had no other choice. So many life events came and went. So many things lost and missed out on. Then I lost my mom, just 2 hours before I was going to see her and I lost a huge part of me that day. A part of my heart and my life and I was drowned in pain, regret and devastation. She had stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer and I was there to see her fight for her life, but no where near as much as I should have been because I was too busy trying to make someone who didn't deserve me or my time, a priority. I lost time that I can never get back and I have to deal with that everyday.
I was what they call "trauma bonded". I didn't understand or even know what it was until I started to open up to a Physicians Assistant that I worked with. She counseled me almost daily and things started to make a lot of sense. I started thinking a little straighter. He took aim at my son, became very mean and cruel to the point where my sons mental health took a huge dive. Then, this past December, he had me served with papers to get out. THAT was a huge turning point. The past came rushing back to me and my fear of being homeless and all that comes with it.
After a brief, few hours of nervous breakdown, his son and my son (teenagers) were at my side, along with his parents. I was assured that I would not have to get out or be homeless, as the house belonged to his parents. They lived just down the same road a bit. He was merely a tenant. He would have to deal with the consequences of his actions and I let them deal with him. I spent the rest of the evening camped out in the living room with the boys, they slept on the couches and I was never out of their sight. They feared he would come back and were unsure what he would do. That night, the trauma bond was broken, something I cannot explain, changed inside of me and I was finally free. I didn't care about him any longer. I didn't care what he thought and I sure as hell didn't care what he had to say. He stayed with his friend for the next few weeks. I took care of the home and the kids and things were great without him in the home, but he eventually came back. I wasn't allowed to tell him he couldn't.
He continued to be hateful, which I could handle now but my son, now 17, went to stay with my sister because I needed to make sure he was okay. He was my priority. I took back my life. I have lost 64 pounds, I no longer hate what I see in the mirror, I have taken 2 trips away from home & planning another one with friends I didn't know I had and I am trying to buy another home. My safe place, which is painfully stressful and frustrating, but I refuse to give up. My son, now 18, is doing well and can't wait for the day, he can tell the monster off. I am going back to school to get my RN, God willing. I will survive. It's never going to be easy, that's just not in the cards for me. I will be and am better than I ever was before. I don't know if its all the trauma, struggling for so long, my will to fight or just age, but I am definitely a different person and I will NEVER let another human being be in a position where they are able to control me or my fate. I am proud of me and the woman that I have become and so are my boys. 
My story is like so many others. I am one of many in this life who struggle daily but made it out alive. I am just one of the strong women who took their life and control back. A few extra scars but a lot wiser. That is why I identify with the Beautiful Disaster brand. I do not need anyone's permission to live my life the way I see fit. I will never let anyone come between me and my kids no matter how old they are. I will never beg for anyone's attention, love, time or affection because for once in my life, I love ME enough. I don't need validation from anyone else. 
What is my favorite item from Beautiful Disaster? Everything that makes a statement! I wear the brand with pride and I am happy to be a part of this tribe! I love the new line you have just come out with. "No Longer Asking For Permission" because you got that right!!! 
Andrea R.

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January 20, 2022