What makes you a Beautiful Disaster? *: Similarly to so many others, life has been a journey full of experiences...good and bad. However, I never expected that at the young age of 14 that I'd be losing my mother (age 45) to stage 4 melanoma and would appear to be the start of dealing with multiple issues such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and trying to find confidence overall. It wasn't until later in life, that I noticed such issues seem to be compounded upon each other after experiencing an MST (military sexual trauma) barely six months in after I'd joined the Navy and later dealing with further abuse/DV behaviors from my last ex that lasted at least 5 years.

Why do you Identify with the Beautiful Disaster Brand? *: Finding BD felt like a "godsend" if you will. I had recently stepped away from a negative experience that I had gone through with a man 20 years older than myself who had thought it was okay to put me down (among other things). I believe it had been the Phoenix IV collection that had pulled me in, which was something that I immediately connected with as I felt like a phoenix rising from the ashes after dealing with such negative experiences. In turn, I immediately felt connected to the sense of community that BD brings as well as feeling confident in the clothing that we wear. In turn, I have about 3 other BD sisters that are neighbors/friends who I have also shared BD with (we all have the slippers) and have considered my significant other as an "honorary" BD (him and I both feel like "two spirits"), so it was exciting to see HD come back.

Tell us your Beautiful Disaster story.: My mother's passing definitely affected me in more ways than I could imagine and although I was happy going through my 8th-grade graduation ceremony (at the time), I could feel the emptiness of her not being there physically as it had happened only a month or so prior to that moment. It has been interesting that I could feel her in a sense (spiritually), but always had me thinking of the moments that were missed, such as high school graduation, going to college, joining the military, getting married despite that not working out, and getting to see me go through my own experience as a "bonus" mom (aka stepmom).

Although there was pain from that, it wasn't 'til years later that I experienced what I hoped I never would...an MST during Veteran's Day weekend 2007. One of those instances that I had told myself that such a thing wouldn't happen to me, yet it did. I couldn't believe that two Army individuals had thought that this was okay when in my mind we were considered "brothers and sisters in arms", that this was supposed to be my additional "family" in a way. Sadly, things seemed to become aggravated when years later the academy in Annapolis made the news for similar instances occurring and finally coming to light.

Little did I know that the individual I was seeing when the news broke out about Annapolis, that I'd be going through my own DV experience at the same time. He presented as kind and considerate and it seemed that the age difference didn't seem to matter. It wasn't till after a year or so that the true colors came out. Anything I tried to do correctly was wrong, manipulation on multiple levels (psychological, financial, sexual), and threatening to throw one (or both) of my cats onto the busy street we lived on (25 mph, people going 70+). One of these cats had become my emotional support of sorts (and is a rescue) after having to give up my pup to even live with him who had also been considered an ESA. After the one time that things got physical, I was constantly wondering if it would happen again and continued to go to work despite a black eye and bruises/scratches on my neck. Sadly, such actions were noticed at the restaurant that we both worked at and many regulars would pull me to the side (one on one) asking if I was okay and that they didn't feel right about the way that he was treating me.

What happened for you to turn it around? : It wasn't 'til about spring of 2018 when a friend of mine, now significant other, reached out to me on FB. We'd known each other for roughly 14-15 years at the point after he'd initially reached out via MySpace (dating myself a little, I know lol). During that time, we were both sadly going through our DV experiences; however, it was what made the friendship/connection even stronger. Although there had been a few friends who had offered for me to stay with them (PA, FL, Iowa), this time was different. Looking back, it feels as if I was finally ready to get out of my situation and leave. I finally understood what it meant to have a safety plan or plan of action to get out of such a situation, which I learned a lot more about it during my time going through a clinical mental health counseling program that I hope to eventually complete. After much discussion, the plan was set in motion and I traveled roughly 3,000 miles (MD to WA) with what I could carry and a plan to get my fur babies out as well.

Name 3 things you’ve done to move closer to happiness. *:

Over the last 5+ years, I've finally felt that I can heal. For once, I finally felt comfortable to go back to therapy and speak with someone. It can be a difficult journey to find that individual that truly seems to help. After I went from active to the reserves, I found myself going from a "victim" mindset to "survivor" and would share my MST experience as a part of our yearly training on different topics that we went over every year to show that we can all go through experiences, even when we think we won't, and truly that if you see something, say something. Some of the most therapeutic aspects have been going back to "old" hobbies (e.g., reading and writing) despite poor experiences in having folks read my personal journal, enjoying nature - to include walks with our pup, and just in general having time with our 5 fur babies who have helped in so many ways.

What is your favorite Beautiful Disaster collection, past or present and why? : To this day, I still feel called to the Phoenix collection as it feels that it encompasses "rising from the ashes" despite the experiences that we go through. At the same time, I relate with many others including wolf, dream catcher, butterfly, and yin and yang...whether it's fire in our soul to spread our wings, leading the pack, shining bright even in darkness or doing no harm, yet taking no shit, I have felt each and every bit of that. Each one calls to a part of me that can feel the meaning of each one and has helped me in my overall journey of healing.


Tammy said:

Thank you for sharing! You are truly an inspiration to women in the military. Although I myself never was in, my son was and his so called brothers in arms bullied him and he was miserable and couldn’t wait to get out. It triggered something in him because he was bullied all through school. For being a red head and for being smaller than the average male.
Myself, I fought internal and external wars and you are right when you say BD clothing was a godsend. It has helped me heal and now I wear my BD armor for others to ask questions and find their armor.
Thanks again for sharing.

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May 24, 2024