Guest Post: An Open Letter to Anyone Who’s Ever Had Their Ass Kicked
This is for anyone who knows what it feels like to get your ass kicked and still insists on coming out on the other side more alive, present, whole, and human than you ever dreamed possible. You’re not alone. I get it. To say what you’ve been through “sucks” is a gross understatement and if you’re still pissed about the whole thing, that’s freaking fine. Healing takes time. So does forgiveness. So does growth. Don’t rush yourself. My name’s Heather, I’m a pro blogger, and I write exclusively about dream chasing over on Hiya Tootsie! Writing and cheering on other chicks to jump head first into their passions is my jam. I made up my mind to lead the charge when I decided to leave the personal shit show that was my previous career.
This decision was a true sorry-not-sorry awakening of heart.
To be fair, when I have my good moments of remembrance, the terrible parts were peppered with hallelujahs. But if you’ve stared into the gaping throat of hell in any capacity, you’ll know what I mean when I say it doesn’t always feel worth it. As a former missionary, I don’t think I’m allowed to say that, but I’m also not about to dishonor my story by sugarcoating the truth.
I used to work as an advocate and activist in the porn industry. When women and men were ready to get the hell out, I was part of helping them make the transition. I also worked extensively to educate the often painfully clueless public about the horrific nature of what their porn consumption contributed to.
In my career, I’ve been to 15+ porn conventions, met, befriended, and aided porn star after porn star after porn star, educated hundreds of fans, countless addicts, and more misogynists than I care to shake a stick at, went before lawmakers and health officials, encountered severe sexual trauma, suicide attempts, ER visits, mental hospitals, drug and alcohol addiction, and incessant cover ups.
I was bombarded with personal stories and high def footage of [gratuitous and horrific violence (edited for That Hummingbird Life readers)]. The constant flash of cameras capturing chaos, everyday men with giant smiles labeling it all “exciting,” couples who somehow thought violence and degradation would spice up their sex life, lifeless eyes, voices stuck around the age of 7 because that’s what sells, disease, addiction, and mental illness. I could go on. This is just the little bit I’m comfortable sharing at this point.
It fucking got to me.
And you know what? I’m not sorry for telling the truth, for choosing to use colorful language, or for still being in process. I took an entire year off to attempt to recover. I’m nearly three years out and I still deal with ramifications from the work, only now, to a much lesser degree. I had no idea how to take care of myself and though people prayed and applauded the work, I sure as shit didn’t have folks knocking down my door to ask me how I really was. Looking back, that’s what I needed. But then again, I felt like there was too much I couldn’t talk about and I didn’t actually know how I was until I got out. I had never heard words like vicarious trauma, burnout, compassion fatigue, and adrenal fatigue until long after the fact.
During my full-time healing year, I decided that the only thing I wanted to do was figure out who the hell Heather was again, revive her spirit, and give her room to swing her truth around in wild, raucous joy.
I started practicing self-care – therapy once a week, regular naturopath doctor visits, daily supplements, as much sleep as I needed, prayer, yoga stretching, bubble baths, massage, writing down my feelings, actuallyletting myself feel, practicing strict boundaries, letting go of toxic relationships, diving head first into Brené Brown’s work, and dreaming about what could be next.
All I wanted was a chance to take the girl who just wanted to help people, ended up getting the shit kicked out of her, and encourage her to march to a new beat. Only this time around, I wanted the beat to sound like “human” instead of “warrior.”
I have my degree in words. They call it Professional Writing, but really, it’s just a degree in sheer Word Nerdery. I’ve long believed that the power of life and death is in the tongue, and despite the trauma, this was the major reason my previous career was worth it to me. I learned how to connect with human hearts, story, and speak life into people. That’s all I ever wanted to do and it’s still my constant prayer. The difference now is that I am doing it in a way that honors and includes me.
Hiya Tootsie! is not just a blog. Hiya Tootsie! is a mother effing line in the sand. It represents making it out alive, figuring out how to do human well, not just hanging onto my faith but strengthening it, and carving a path to follow my dreams.
Baby, if I can do it, so can you.
I know a lot of you have been through serious shit. But the shit show does not define you. I didn’t let it define me and you don’t have to either. You have more worth and purpose prancing around inside of you than you’ll ever know what to do with. Who cares if you need to get some healing under your belt? Who the hell doesn’t? You’ve lived. This journey we’re on is about catapulting from survive to thrive and it’s about time we freaking rock it.
The new path will not always be rosy. I can personally attest that there are old landmines here and there along the way. You will get triggered and you will get through it with dignity, grace, and a deeper understanding of your holy, beautiful self. The only difference between your then and your now is that just like me, you’ll get better and better at spotting those landmines long before they have any shot in hell of blowing up your progress.
Go do what is in you to do.
Your story is what makes you who you are – the great, ugly, heartbreaking, and hilariously triumphant.
We are a sisterhood of badass broads who know that the word badass means “vulnerable” and the word vulnerable means “brave.” So be your vulnerable, brave, badass self. I got my ass kicked and I’m doing it. Show up, prove to me that I’m not alone, and tell me who you are. We’ve got lives to live and dreams to chase.
Let’s rock this shit, kittens.