The term Beautiful Disaster is an oxymoron based on our society’s views. They say you can’t possibly be both simultaneously.  I say you can and I am! I don’t always wear my scars well but I do wear them proudly. They are my daily reminders of all the victories I’ve won. I love the Beautiful Disaster clothing line because it pulls us out of hiding. It allows us to openly display our enormous inner strength outwardly and helps open a door for us to inspire others at the same time. 
My story starts when I was 16. I was the good girl with a rebellious edge. I had just begun dating a popular, athletic football player at another high school in a neighboring town. I remember that it was winter and snowy.  For weeks he pressured me for sex. I was a virgin. I’d say yes, then change my mind; feeling weak under the pressure. Finally, one day he invited me over. He was threatening to break up with me if I didn’t give in. I was crushed. I went to his house. I thought we were just going to talk. That day I stopped being a virgin but it wasn’t by choice. I didn’t tell my parents for 2 1/2 months. When I did, I was too afraid to report it to the authorities. They supported me in my decision to keep it secret. It’s something I went on to regret every day since.
After that, I was in a spiral of self destruction for about 6 months. I had just started to get back on track when I met my first husband. By this time, I was 17. He was 21.  It never should have been. What started out so good and exciting soon became violent and miserable. He abused me in every way a person can be abused. He withheld love and affection from me. For 17 long years I pined away, longing to be loved, to feel safe, to have a safe home for my 3 children from that marriage. I had resolved myself to the knowing that one of us was NOT going to make it out of that marriage alive and I was fairly certain it would be me. One Sunday morning in church, I had this beautiful and powerful vision. I saw God’s hands holding a small box. He took the lid off and out poured beautiful beams of bright light and 3 small butterflies. It was then that I knew that God would make a way for our escape. And he did in April of 2013.
Life was a whirlwind of chaos and confusion for months after that but I was finally free. Still reeling from the emotional fallout of leaving that marriage, I unexpectedly reconnected with a man I went to high school with. I had been on my own for about 6 months. I knew I wasn't ready. But I was so love starved for so much of my life and when we fell in love, he really loved me. I loved him just as much. He loved me in-spite of all the damage inside me. He looked past it to see the real me.  It seemed almost like a fairytale. I always felt like he saved me. He rescued me from the pain and helped me to put all the tiny broken pieces of my heart back together.  Life was better than ever and I was sure that forever belonged to us. We went on to get married. We had an amazing honeymoon in Jamaica. We called it our paradise. We even had two baby girls together. But the pressures of life, our emotionally damaged children from previous relationships, the emotional damage in me, had soon begun to take its toll. We started to fight more. We spent more time being angry and hurt by each other than feeling happy the way had in the beginning. The morning of June 3rd, 2018 I woke from my sleep as though I had been struck by lightening. God, again had called me to take action. I couldn’t possibly have braced myself for what happened next. I noticed after I woke up that my husband was not in bed next to me. And that was unusual. When I went to see where he may be, I heard a small noise in my 17 year old daughter’s room. I slowly opened the door to see him cowering in the corner scrambling to pull up his pants and underwear. My world as I knew it, ended that day. I later found out, though it doesn’t make much sense, my daughter was in a consensual relationship with him. They were in an actual relationship and I had no idea. He was in a relationship with us both. There are no words in the human language to illustrate how devastating it was to me, to my daughter, to my whole family.
Now 5 months have passed. I still cry nearly every day. The pain is still so intense that I can almost touch it as if it were a living breathing thing inside me. But something changed in me for the better after this happened. For years I struggled with suicidal thoughts. They became a regular part of my thinking. They co-existed with me.  3 days after this happened, when I finally slept, I woke up and could hear my heart beating in my chest, I focused on my breathing and listened to the air flowing in and out of my lungs. I was still alive! There was a reason. There IS a reason. I listened to my thoughts as I lay there that morning. And what I didn’t hear, were those tiny voices telling me to harm or kill myself. Those suicidal thoughts that plagued me for so much of my life disappeared after June 3rd. And they haven’t come back. I went through by far the worst pain I’d ever experienced and rather than it making me suicidal, it made me want to LIVE. It made me wanna survive. It made me want to climb this mountain of pain and rejoice from the top and yell to anyone listening that I really made it.
My story is long and sad. But that’s not all that it is. My story is one of fierce survival. But more than that, it’s about thriving when things looked hopeless. It’s about finding the strength to encourage and empower others to fight on, when all they wanna do is give up, even in the midst of my own pain. I share my story to inspire someone. To connect. To risk judgement and criticism to form a bridge for others between the shame of our experiences to the warm and inviting light of freedom. I don’t ever say “If I could make it, so can you”. I think that statement has become so cliche. But what I will say is, "Grab my hand, together WE will make it!" And we will come out better and stronger and even more bad ass than ever before!
Tina Matta

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November 15, 2019