Tell us a little bit about who you are…
My name is Randi. I am a native New Yorker, but I currently live in Atlanta with my husband, rambunctious 8-year-old daughter, 2 cats, and our hyper dog. Writing has always been my outlet. At 8-years-old I organized and edited a children’s newspaper (unfortunately my fellow journalists were not as enthusiastic, and Kids Weekly was shut down for press after one issue). As a teenager, I got accepted into a school in New York based on my creative writing skills, where I spent three years fostering my love of writing. I turned to the power of pen on paper to help cope with the hardships that took place in my childhood, and I am a regular contributor in the National Association for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA) and CPTSD foundation. I have also been featured in Women Rise Chicago as well as an upcoming publication in The Mighty.
I believe writing helped me become the person and mother that I am today, and I am the creator of Surviving Mom Blog (www.survivingmomblog.com). My hope is that my words provide support, validation, and comfort to others in their own healing journeys.
What is your story?
My mother was abused as a child, and in turn, my mother abused me. I vowed that the abuse would stop with me. In order to end the cycle of abuse, I had to face all of the horrors I endured so I would know what to never do to my child. I go into more details about this in my post about parenting: https://www.survivingmomblog.com/post/the-survivors-guide-to-parenting
I met my husband 13 years ago, and a few years into our marriage we decided to start a family. My husband started drinking when I was pregnant with my daughter, and he soon turned to pills. I spent the first 4 years of my daughter’s life raising her on my own. We moved to Atlanta to get a fresh start, but soon after I realized he was abusing pills again. I reached out to a therapist that specialized in addiction, and I told her I would leave him if he didn’t get help. I didn’t want my child growing up in that kind of environment.
My husband bravely made the decision to go into an outpatient program, and he has been clean and sober for the last four years. You can read more about my story of loving an addict here: https://www.survivingmomblog.com/post/surviving-a-loved-one-s-addiction
I have been a Stay-at-Home-Mom since my daughter was born. She recently was diagnosed with ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder, and this is the second year that I’ve been homeschooling her. My daughter has made huge strides, and I’m so proud to be her mother.
I feel very blessed and grateful that I’ve had this time with her, but somewhere along the line I forgot who I was besides being a wife and mother. I wanted to have something that I did which was separate from those two roles.
Very few people knew about my abuse, and it was typically glossed over because people felt uncomfortable about it. I decided that I wanted to reach out to foundations for abuse survivors and use my love of writing to try and help others. What started out as writing about abuse for monthly newsletters soon turned into my blog.
What was it like growing up with an abusive mother?
I wish I could say I had a happy childhood, but that would be the furthest thing from the truth. I grew up with a mentally unstable, abusive mom. At a very young age my role was to listen to my mother’s marital problems, as she and my dad were always arguing (sometimes physically, but most of the time it was screaming at one another). I developed a very unhealthy relationship with her. I felt it was my job to listen to her problems, support her emotionally, and take care of her. My own well-being and safety were completely contingent on my mother’s well-being. When she was upset or wanted nothing to do with me, I felt worthless.
My parents divorced when I was 24, and I grew up having the belief system that it was my job to make my mother happy. I tried to do everything possible to get her love and approval. As a result, I made myself completely available to her. I was so available that I spent two hours of my honeymoon trying to calm her down due to her recent breakup. Her feelings were always prioritized over mine, and I felt it was my job to make sure she was okay. We were the definition of codependency.
At the age of 8, I started getting thrown out of the house when my mother was mad at me. The first time this happened it was dark outside. I felt helpless, unloved, and discarded. This became my mother’s go to way of punishing me, and the amount of time outside varied from minutes to many hours. As a result, I felt unsafe most of the time, which made me view the world as a very scary place.
I always felt that what she was doing to me was wrong, but it took adulthood to grasp that what she was doing was abuse. Emotional/psychological abuse is often taboo and harder to recognize by others because the scars are internal. There needs to be more light shined on emotional/psychological abuse so that there is never a doubt that abuse comes in many forms. The lack of openness and education about this made it easier to see my mother as a wacko rather than to see her as abusive. There isn’t enough widespread knowledge about the numerous ways abuse can rear its ugly head.
What would you say to adults who were abused in childhood?
I know all too well what it is like to have your innocence ripped away from you. Whether it is done by a parent, a family member, or a neighbor, it is horrific. It is easy to try to convince yourself that what happened is somehow your fault, and to feel intense shame about it. More than anything, I want you to know that you are a victim. No matter what the circumstances, nothing excuses abuse.
Abuse comes in many forms. Whether there is external or internal damage, it is still abuse. Please don’t minimize or try to rationalize what happened to you. Don’t allow others to do that as well. Always remember that you are not alone. There are many others who learned at a very young age that monsters are real. Join a support group, read books, and/or speak to a therapist.
Remember that although you are a victim, you also are a survivor. You are stronger than you realize. You had no choice but to endure things that are unspeakable, but you have choices now. You cannot change what happened to you, but you do have the power to change your present and your future. Give yourself the love and support that you didn’t get growing up, and understand that the impact it has had on your life isn’t who you are; it’s a way of coping with what you went through. Nobody can take away who you really are.
Please speak up and tell your story. I can’t promise that everyone will listen, but that is on them. Regardless, you know the truth. It is our job to spread awareness so that perhaps someone else won’t have to go through what happened to us. Telling your story gives you power in a situation where you felt powerless.
What inspires and motivates you in life?
Becoming a mother was the hardest and best thing that ever happened to me. Seeing the innocence on my daughter’s face, hearing her laugh, and knowing that she feels loved unconditionally has brought me more joy than I knew was possible. It also is a constant painful reminder that I will never have or know that type of love from my mother.
I am inspired and motivated by my daughter every single day. She gives me the courage and strength to step out of bed and put one foot in front of the other no matter what obstacles are thrown my way.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout your journey?
I have learned that I am stronger than I realized. I saw myself as weak and needy throughout my life. I felt intense shame and disgust towards myself for being abused and for the impact it has had on me. I hated that so many things were harder for me than for others because of the hyper-vigilance and fear I experience daily. I wanted it to go away. As a result, I went to every therapist I could think of in hopes that I could get “fixed” or “cured”.
The biggest hurdle I’ve had to overcome is the realization that I am not broken and to accept all parts of myself. My journey has shown me that the symptoms I experience don’t define me. Who I am as a person is what defines me, and I try every day to be the best version of myself. By accepting myself, I have given myself the space to heal and grow.
What inspired you to start the Surviving Mom Blog?
I wanted to provide comfort and validation to others by sharing my experiences. I realized I had a story to tell, and I wanted to support as many people as possible. I continue to be a regular contributor for abuse foundations, but starting a blog has given me more flexibility and reach.
It was terrifying to start my blog and put my story out into cyberspace, but I was determined to use my horrific past to help someone’s future. I have covered numerous topics such as abuse, parenting, self-care, codependency, addiction, emotional regulation, and tips for children with ADHD and special needs.
The stories and feedback I have received have brought me to tears on multiple occasions. They are the reason I keep writing (often in the middle of the night as I homeschool and take care of my daughter full time). Nothing will erase what happened to me, but to know that I have made someone feel understood has touched my heart. Although my words have helped others, my readers have helped me just as much.
What are your future hopes and ambitions?
I have written a humorous picture book about my adventures with my “highly spirited” daughter. My hopes and ambitions are that my book gets published and that I continue to reach others through my writing.
Which of your achievements are you most proud of?
Hands down, the achievement I am most proud of is being a mom. I had no healthy role models, and all I knew was abuse. To be able to create a healthy relationship with my daughter and give her unconditional love and support is my greatest achievement.
What does being Simply Unstoppable mean to you?
I learned as a child that the world can be cold and cruel. No matter what monstrosities I have endured, there is hope and courage within me that will never be extinguished. Being simply unstoppable means that no matter how many times you are thrown down, no matter how many times you feel the world has turned its back on you, you continue to pick yourself up off the ground, dust yourself off, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I continue and will continue to believe in good, no matter how many times I am surrounded by darkness.
Have you had any obstacles with Surviving Mom Blog?
There have been several hurdles throughout the writing of Surviving Mom Blog. Many of my readers have seen my blog through Facebook, but I have recurring issues with posting there. I also can only reach a certain number of people, and it is a continuous challenge to get the word out about the different posts I have written.
How can readers best support you on your blogging journey?
The best way to support my blog is to subscribe and share the posts that you connect with the most!
How to subscribe: Go to www.survivingmomblog.com and click the “Subscribe Here” tab at the top of any blog post. Please fill out your email address and you will get notified about new posts.
There are also multiple icons throughout my post that you can use to share and spread the word!
How can readers get in contact with you to continue the conversation about Surviving Mom Blog?
There are numerous ways to get in touch with me. No matter what your story and circumstances, if you are willing to reach out to me, I am always here to listen! I owe a huge thank you to my supportive husband for creating all my social media accounts:
Facebook Group: Surviving Mom Blog: Motherhood, Relationships, Wellness, and Self-Care Support
Pinterest: Surviving Mom Blog
Tumblr: Surviving Mom Blog
A huge thanks to Simply Unstoppable and to your readers!