Tell us a little bit about your life journey.
I grew up in a very dysfunctional and abusive home. Before I was born, my father tried to kill me because he didn’t want my mother to have me. By the time I was 5 years old, I had spent numerous amount of time in and out of child protective services, and I had been sexually abused by both men and women. The abuse I endured continued throughout my childhood and into my adolescence and eventually manifested in my adult life as boundary issues, self-esteem issues, and an overall distorted belief system about loyalty, intimate relationships, and what I deserved.
Three words that describe you most accurately.
Passionate, Tenacious, Idealis
What set you off on your journey of transformation and healing/recovery?
When I was in the first grade I became spiritually awakened after having an epiphany about life while laying in my bed – we were all going to die, there was a God, and I was being called to take responsibility for my life. I spent that night in a deep knowing with tears pouring out of my eyes, and that is when my journey began. As a child, I did my best to seek out teachers and people who could teach me the things I knew my family were incapable of. Naturally, teachers came my way but so did predators, and I spent years doing my best to filter between the two. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that I really began to dive deep into the inner work that it would require for me to heal and recover. Prior to 2017, I had spent countless hours in the offices of different therapists trying to get help with processing the trauma I had endured but it wasn’t until 2017 that I found the right person to help me heal.
What made you start sharing about yourself and your experiences with others?
I started to share my story and experiences because I was motivated to help others feel less alone and wanted to help others find their way from being a survivor to being a thriver.
Did you have a particular “aha” moment during your journey?
The most significant “aha” moment for me was when I was in the first grade as I truly believe that had that moment not happened, I am unsure what would’ve become of me.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced and overcome?
It’s extremely difficult to pick one because when someone has suffered the amount of abuse and neglect I have, there are many big challenges that present themselves along the healing and recovery journey. However, if I had to choose one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced and overcome it would be the deeply rooted message that abuse and love are one.
Is there something you struggle with on a day-to-day basis?
I deal with anxiety every night due to the sexual trauma I’ve endured, I deal with connecting with my body and not being tense and guarded in my body, and I deal with flashbacks.
What practices & tools you lean onto to get yourself up and running again?
One of the life-changing tools that I continue to practice and rely upon is mindfulness because it helps me bring my attention back to the present moment and ground myself in reality.
How do you define “healed”?
Healed means that I am no longer out of control of my emotional and mental experiences, that I am able to remember what I’ve endured and no longer feel disempowered by the experiences, but I am thriving as result of the lessons I’ve gathered and the work I’ve done. Healed means freedom!
What does the process of healing look for you?
I have found the process of healing to be an onion full of layers and to come like waves crashing against the seashore. As one layer is dealt with and freedom is obtained from it, another wave comes crashing and reveals another layer that requires my nurturing care.
Is there someone you look up to or who lifts you up when you feel down?
Recently I have allowed myself to reach out to people I feel secure with, people I have no doubt actually care about me the person, and it has been a very moving experience (in the past I wouldn’t reach out to others when I was feeling down, stuck, or broken.). So, while I cannot pick only one person, I do have several people who I feel I can be completely vulnerable with, no holding back, and they will make room for me and help lift me when I am down.
Who do you dedicate your work to?
My work is dedicated first and foremost to myself, which is a completely different answer than I would’ve given even 6 months ago. Secondly, my work is dedicated to my sisters because I want them to see that people like us can be so much more than victims! Lastly, my work is dedicated to everyone, man or woman, who has ever endured the unimaginable – we are not just survivors and we are not our scars!
Is there something you wish you can change about your life circumstances?
I’ve had a lot of time to think about whether or not I would change something about my life and my story, but each time I think about changing one thing or another, I find myself thinking that I would not be the woman I am today had I not endured all that I have endured. So, no, I don’t wish to change anything.
If you can ask a genie three wishes, what would they be?
That’s a difficult question. My first wish would be to see my grandfather and have a discussion with him (he died back in 1999 but was the one person I knew loved me growing up. He was safe and I wish I could tell him how much I appreciate him being a safe place for my sister and me). And the other two I am unsure about.
Where do you see yourself in one year?
I see myself more whole, more free, more healed, and I see myself doing more Life Coaching.
What is the one thing that never fails to put a smile on your face?
Toby, my mini schnauzer.
What is the one thing you never make a compromise with?
Now it is that I absolutely will never again compromise my self-respect, my mental health, or my standards for a healthy relationship for anything or anyone. No excuses!
What is your message to others struggling with trauma and/or mental health issues?
There are times when the darkness of our pain feels like it is smothering and seems to take every glimmer of hope away, but if we can remain committed to the process things change, we heal, and hope is restored. I know there are times when you cannot see yourself out of the black hole and it feels like you’re in quicksand, but I also know that like anything else those moments are temporary and as long as you do the work you will find yourself one day looking back in complete and utter disbelief that you ever thought you’d never be free.
Freedom is your birthright, wholeness is your birthright, and no one but yourself can take that away from you!
If you get to write a book what would you title it?
The first thing that came to mind when I read this question was, “Out of the shadows and into the light. One woman’s journey from trauma to freedom.”
Where can others find you/contact you?
I truly hope you enjoyed today’s interview and that it inspires you to continue healing, growing and sharing your story with the world.
Do you resonate with Tanya’s story? Have you faced any of the struggles she’s had? Which part touched you the most?
To me, Tanya is a true warrioress, she’s been through so much and yet she’s devoted herself to helping others heal and recover from abuse and trauma.
Reach out to Tanya in the comment section below or via her Instagram account. Help spread the healing – share this post!