What makes you a beautiful disaster?
Well, first off, my name is Danielle Linstrom, but I go by Dani. I am 32 and what makes me a beautiful disaster is that even though I feel like I fall apart every day, I try to use my pain to help others. I have searched for a way to use my trauma to help people overcome their own. Even when, (and not to sound narcissistic) their traumas do not come close to my own. Everyday I try to be better and do more for others. And I think just the fact that I wake up every morning striving to do something with out about my trauma.
Why do you identify with the brand?
I identify with the brand Beautiful Disaster because I feel that, like me this brand represents the strive to do something for the victims and help them overcome their trauma’s. This brand makes women feel beautiful and powerful when before they may have not. I still struggle with feeling beautiful and when someone tells me I am, I cringe.
What has life been like for you?
This is where my post gets lengthy…my story…the short version…life was great until the age of ten. I had a loving family, a beautiful home. I got picked on in school but not too horribly. I got good grades and was in advanced classes. In 5th grade I was reading at a college grade level. At ten, my mom came home in a frazzled panic and threw 2 garbage bags and said only put in what you CANNOT leave behind. I grabbed some clothes and my favorite bear. I tried asking questions but got no answer that could satisfy the concern of a ten-year-old freaked out by her mothers abnormal request. We drove for what seemed like hours. Until we showed up on the doorstep of a man I didn’t recognize. He opened my door and said welcome home. I did not know what he was talking about. The yard around me was huge and beautiful but I missed my yard with the fort and trails my daddy worked so hard to build for me.
Quick backstory. Daddy was my world. And from this point on this man will be the only one I refer to as daddy. I idolized him and he took care of me. There is no one in the world above my Daddy.
It was shortly after the above-mentioned time with the yard and the things I missed that I discovered the man I idolized was NOT my real father. I was devastated but to this day it never changed or tarnished my feelings about my daddy.
Back to the door opening and the welcome home line. We go inside the house where there are other people, we are introduced as HIS new girlfriend and her daughter. I was then told to go take a shower and get ready for bed. Strange but I’m ten and don’t argue. Then HE comes in to help me wash my back and such…. didn’t need help but was told this was so we could BOND and I would come to think of him as my new dad.
HE was violent, angry, and turned my mother into a woman I could neither accept nor respect. That first bath I took there changed my life and for 5 years I tolerated the abuse.
My real father came into the picture when I was 11. He was fun, energetic, and my best friend. I dreaded leaving his place every other weekend and threw a massive fit when I had to. He always asked why but I could never bring myself to tell him. HE (the now stepfather that I have referred to as he/him pronouns only) was beating me, terrorizing me, and coming to my room at night to fondle and grind on me. I was setting booby traps around myself at night so that he would have to move things to get to me and I would hear him avoid them while I pretended to sleep. He would get erections when I was near him and frequently made me sit on his lap while he had those erections, all of which my mother said were “natural male reactions” and he could not be blamed for. (He beat her too)
Suddenly things changed between me and my Bio father, he started getting creepy too. Sleeping with me on the couch, making crass comments about my bust or butt. And eventually it turned into corrosion and molestation. He convinced me at age 11 to allow him to fondle my chest and I would get my Christmas present. (2 weeks early) I had an idea what the gift was and by far it was the nicest present I had ever hoped to receive. A large cherry oak armoire for jewelry. At the time the thought of his request seemed pretty minor compared to what I was dealing with while at home, so I agreed. Molestation only occurred one other time from the bio father to me so by far was less then the trauma going on at home with my mother and HIM.
I HATED being left alone with him. Guaranteed I would be forced into doing my chores which wouldn’t have been a big deal, except HE liked to make me do dishes. During which he would come up behind me, biting my neck and shoulder and grinding on me until he was done. I would try to escape but he would hold the sink for strength to keep me pinned. This went on for years. Later I noticed that some of his friends seemed inappropriate with me as well. And hiring me for “odd jobs” to which after the job was completed, I was forced into awkward embraces or situations. When I would complain about these guys HE would yell, scream, threaten me until I gave up. And then there was one. I was sent to help him clean his camper and he escalated quickly to forcing me down on the bed and nearly had his hand down my pants when headlights washed over the camper. One of HIS friends had showed up and saved me. Over this particular instance HE (the stepfather) was absolutely LIVID. Not at me but the guy that I was sent to clean for. HE ended up almost killing him with a crowbar. I never understood why he got so angry about that one. I didn’t realize until nearly 20 years later that I was on the verge of being sold in a PEDO ring. HE was “loaning” me out to his friends so they could get a taste or feel of what a younger girl was like, under the guise of paying me for household chores. The ONE that HE got so angry about, was not a paying customer.
I finally moved out at 15, into the father’s house who had twice previously assaulted me. But it was less then my mother and stepfathers’ home so I accepted and hoping things would improve. They did but they swung a different way. Fast forward several years of adolescent teen angst mixed with not knowing how to deal with my trauma and instead burying it. This worked, although it made my taste in guys pretty warped. My first serious boyfriend and I started dating at 15 (he was 16-17) we stayed together for over 5 years. He was super protective which I DESPERATLY needed at that time. But that protective quickly warped into possessive. He was also a sexual sadist. I had many things put inside me to satisfy his curiosity and If I argued I was beaten.
At 19 I left after being told that the trauma to my uterus would never allow me to have children. A thought I couldn’t handle. See 2 ½ years before I left my mother and HIS house they had procreated and my baby sister was my world. I took care of her and protected her from everything in that house. And when I left it was under bad terms with police and pending court dates so I missed my sister something fierce. This triggered an early reaction in my Biological clock. I wanted children so badly, and with that dream ripped from me, I left. Also, around this time, I discovered my bio dad, the one I moved in with was going to jail for years’ worth of sexual assault on my youngest stepsister. Some instances matching my own, some far far worse. For years I denied her allegations. I sided with my father and accused her of being a terrible terrible liar, even though deep down I knew that he did it because he did it to me. In my warped perception of love and caring he could not have done it to her because he loved me more. (pretty fucked up way of thinking hey) Happy note: her and I reconciled years later, and she has forgiven me for the judgements I placed on her during that time. She said “It taught me to be strong like you, and that’s not anything anyone can take away from me. If there is anyone I wanted to be like, it was you, because you were so strong.” I still cry just thinking of that conversation. I certainly did not feel strong.
What happened to turn it around?
To begin with, upon my leaving the first serious relationship, I had met someone else who was so much more and better. He promised to love me no matter my traumas and helped me with many of them. He held me when I had bouts of hysterical crying and inflicted self-injury on myself. In the beginning he was like the perfect guy. But he too started becoming abusive. Not physically but emotionally and mentally. His biggest boast about himself was that he was “a mental assassin” and he really was. He targeted on your most insecure feelings and utilized them to get what he wanted. However, it taught me a lot and we share a beautiful son together so it’s hard for me to call that whole relationship all bad. This didn’t totally turn it around, but it was a step. And that has continued into what my life is like now.
I am in a healthy, happy, committed relationship, we got engaged last spring. I live in a location that suits me and my personality and interests to a T. I am surrounded by national forests and Lake Superior and it is the most home I have felt about anything anywhere. But every day is another step. I still have night terrors, I suffer from severe anxiety, depression, Hyper vigilance, PTSD and Bi-polar disorder. My fiancé is the most loving and secure man I have ever met, and he just reminds me that every day is another step. And it is and somedays are an improvement, other days are a bit of a backslid. But its my drive forward that keeps me going.
Favorite item and why.
My favorite beautiful disaster item is the Phoenix III Sweatsuit Zip Up Hoodie. Because it matches my vision of myself. I am a phoenix rising out of the ashes that were my life. I have a large phoenix tattoo as part of my sleeve as well.