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Just the other day, I was being interviewed by an associate producer for a national television show. She asked me to describe the events leading up to, during, and after the shooting. One of the questions she asked, has been asked numerous times, and I felt was pretty easy to answer.
“Do you suffer from PTSD?”
I gave her an immediate and proud response, “No.”
That answer was true on Tuesday when she asked it; however, my answer would change just one day later due to a knock at the door which led to a threat by a stranger.
According to the folks at the Mayo Clinic, Post-traumatic stress disorder is classified on the DSM-V as a mental health disorder usually ignited by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic or terrifying event.
Accompanying symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, increased anxiety, hypervigilance, trouble sleeping (which may be why I am up at 1 a.m. typing this blog), digestive issues, preoccupation with thoughts and feelings related to the incident, and/or emotional numbing. These symptoms can last for months or even years.
After my ex-husband shot my daughter and me, I was afraid of literally EVERYTHING:
I could go on…
However, I overcame all these obstacles with God, counseling with my awesome therapist, Valerie, my fabulous support system, and exposure therapy. This technique puts you in the midst of people, places, and situations that ignite the PTSD episode. The idea behind it is you are “exposed” to the trauma over and over again until you no longer feel fearful when placed in those situations. So when I was afraid of fireworks, I smelled the smells and heard the loud booms of the explosives until my five senses were no longer affected and my PTSD episodes were rendered null and void.
The last thing to go was the sound of the breaking of leaves and sticks under someone’s feet. I was free! Free at last!…or so I thought.
On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, just one day after I proudly proclaimed that I did not suffer from PTSD, a gang member showed up at my front door.
I’d ordered something from Best Buy for my daughter and missed the delivery the day before. The delivery person left a note on the door telling me he/she would return the following day after one o’clock.
I decided to take a nap that afternoon after I had a morning meeting with another DV warrior over some events we were thinking about collaborating on this year.
Right around 1:00 I was awakened to the doorbell ringing. You already know how it feels to be startled awake. You are discombobulated – eyes half open, groggy, and disheveled. I looked out the window and saw a Burgundy car, so I automatically assumed it was the delivery person. (Did you know delivery people do NOT come in marked cars anymore? They don’t. Uber drivers can deliver things to your home now.)
I started running down the steps and yelled for him not to leave the porch.
“I’ve got to turn off the alarm.! Hold on! Don’t leave!” I yelled as I ran into the kitchen to disarm the alarm system.
When I unlocked and opened the door without looking through my peephole, I walked out onto the front walkway and excitedly asked, “Do you have my package?”
Upon looking at me, he had an expression on his face that suggested he was surprised I was the one who opened the door…and I quickly realized that this was NOT the delivery guy because he wore gang symbols on his head and body.
I was too far from the front door to run inside and did not want to make any moves that would make this bad situation worse.
He demanded, “I need to see the owner of this house.”
I began to think if something was about to happen to me, I needed the whole neighborhood to see; so, I slowly started walking towards my front yard. There were no cars in the driveways on our street. No one was home it seemed, except me. I explained to him that I was the owner of the house.
“No, I want the male in the house!” He started reaching inside his pocket as if he were carrying a weapon.
After a long back and forth discussion of several demands on his part for this mysterious male he had “business with” and explanations on my part that there was not a male in the house, he finally decided to threaten me with a very cryptic message.
His eyes were void of life or expression. It was as if I was looking evil in the face all over again.
This kid had the same look in his eyes as my ex-husband did on the day he shot my daughter and me.
After he issued the warning to me, he jumped back into his little Burgundy car and left.
I ran into the house, locked the door, ran upstairs to retrieve my phone, and called 911.
They came (eventually) and I gave them a full description of the young man.
Can you believe they knew who he was?
Can you believe he actually lives in my neighborhood?
Needless to say, I have discovered I have a new trigger – men reaching into their pockets, posturing as if they have a gun, and threatening me that they “know all and can see all” meaning he could easily watch my house.
My PTSD symptoms returned like an explosion. My body immediately went into fight or flight response.
I dropped to the floor and started crying.
My heart started pumping like a racehorse.
I started hyperventilating.
I started looking for exits all around the home and my weapon to protect us.
I grabbed my dog, Peanut, phone, laptop, and drove to my sister’s house.
On the way there, I called my prayer partner, Nichelle and she prayed while I was en route. I began self-talk to calm myself down.
At this point, Peanut started vomiting all over my car.
“Nichelle!” I screamed into the phone. “Peanut is vomiting all over the car. He never does that!”
She answered, “It’s because he senses YOUR anxiety.”
Can you believe your pets can experience your symptoms of PTSD too? Crazy huh?
Eventually, I calmed down after praying and talking through it. I arrived at my sister’s house and called two of my best male friends, Alexis and Shuron.
Shuron immediately asked, “Do I need to come up there?” I answered with a speedy yes!
Alexis is a former police officer and he gave me some tips on what I needed to do to ensure the sheriff did what he was supposed to do. His explanation of the process of what happened helped me to know what to anticipate. The sheriff did not do one of those very important things.
Shuron came from Washington County and installed lights all over the perimeter of my home so it would be well lit at night.
The sad thing is everyday when I leave my house and everyday when I come home, I have to pass his house. I have to see his car and today…I saw HIM standing in front of his house. I guess this is going to be my exposure therapy, but I don’t like it…not one bit.
So apparently he has been issued a “criminal trespass warning” which means if he comes to my home again, he will be arrested. And they told his mother this information as well. Strange but, he didn’t give me the impression that he listens to his mother. So this little fact does not give me comfort.
When I asked the sheriff for the case number, he told me there wasn’t a case number; it was in their “system.”
Well, I’ve heard this one before. So let’s just say you will hear a “to be continued” about my discussion I’m about to have with county officials about how they mishandle crime victims in this county…
It looks like I have two choices. I can:
Choice A: choose to live in fear because I do not feel fully protected by law enforcement in my county AND because this lovely child is my neighbor.
Choice B: choose to live by the principles I have outlined in my book, Born of Violence, to ensure that I am not a prisoner of fear. If you are dealing with PTSD symptoms, these strategies and the ones found in my book, can help you as well.
“I will take Choice B for 1000 Alex” (I had to find some corny humor in all of this mess)
I have learned that this young man is not the problem. The systems that are supposed to love, protect, and educate us all have failed him. There is an unmet need beneath every bad or dirty deed. I do not need to be afraid of him. He is not the boogey man. PTSD is the evil that is birthed by the enemy of our souls. However it will not hold me captive and it doesn’t have to hold you captive either. We can defeat the boogey man together!
Ready to get started? Want to read more about how to recover after trauma? Purchase the book today.
NOTE: Stay tuned on how I am about to really exercise my stance as a crime victims’ advocate if something is not done immediately to address how violence is handled in our homes and our community….
Psalm 118:6 The Lord is with me: I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Hebrews 13:6 Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?
Romans 8:31 What can we say about all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us
I would LOVE to meet you and hear your stories of overcoming your personal tragedies and how you triumphed over them! Come and meet me at my book signing party on Saturday, January 27, 2018. Here’s the link to register. See you then!
I was cleaning my office and ran across this picture of me when I was six years old.
In this picture, my mom is styling my hair in a pretty flip like hers. I thought my mommy was the most beautiful woman alive and I wanted to look just like her. My smile shows my approval at how close she came to “making me preeeeeetty” like her. My favorite question she would ask was, “Where is my pretty girl?” and I would respond, “Right here,” in a sing-song voice.
In addition to that question, she is probably asking me, “Little girl, what is your name?”
“What is your mama’s name?”
“What is your daddy’s name?”
“What is your address?”
These are questions she would ask me almost every day of my life up until the day she died. She felt knowing the answers to these questions would keep me safe if I ever got lost. She didn’t know that by the time this picture was taken, I was already lost.
My favorite thing to do was to wear my Snow White or Alice in Wonderland dress. Who I was that day depended on my mood. In this dress, I could be either one of those princesses. I had an active imagination because although I had a sister, she was 11 years older than me and by the time this picture was taken, my seester (Sandy-Pandy) had moved out of our family home, so I felt like an only child. My dolls, my dog (a black poodle), and my imagination kept me sane in the midst of violence in my home and sexual predators in my neighborhood.
Today while looking at this picture in my office, I stepped outside of my self and looked at the picture with a different eye and thought to myself, “Who could look at this baby and want to have sex with her?”
I wasn’t like any other little girl; I played with dolls, raced the boys on the playground, baked cakes in my Easy Bake Oven, made mud pies, loved Disney Princesses, built trains and model planes, and loved to roll down the big hill by our school until my skin itched from the grass. I was super silly and would make up goofy songs about how Looney I was (like Bugs Bunny).
But…someone still looked at me, several some ones, and wanted to violate me. “Ever since I was five years old, I felt like someone always had their hands or body on top of my body. Touching my vagina. Rubbing me. Humping me. Simulating sex with me. Boys. Girls. Men.”
For years I lived with these secrets. I would cry at times and scream at the Lord, “Why didn’t anyone save me? Why didn’t anyone protect me?!” But no one knew.
For years, I tried to push the memories of what happened deep down in a place inside of me where they wouldn’t surface until I couldn’t do it anymore. The truth had to come out and I knew that only by telling my truth would I be able to save the little girl inside of me and protect her.
You may be reading this and something I said may have triggered your own “secrets.” You must know that the abuse was not your fault and your life can be free of guilt, shame, and blame. All you have to do is save the little girl inside of You. You may ask how can I do that Kimya? Well here are a few tips:
If you do these things, and follow the other tips I give you in my book, Born of Violence, in no time you will be healed from the wounds of the past. You can save the little girl inside of you and watch God turn your tragedies into triumph!
I am in New York for an event for People magazine and Investigation Discovery Channel because I was named their Everyday Hero for November 2016.
The last two days made me reflect on the importance of self care. Although I am here on “business”, I said it was important for me to be able to build in some fun in as well. Even though I woke up at 6 every morning to do some work, I made sure I prayed every morning before beginning anything, took an extra nap each day, at tons of fruit with my meals, walked all over downtown NYC- visiting places like Chelsea Market and the High Line, drank plenty of water, and I even had a makeover done! What are you doing to ensure you take care of yourself?
As defined by me, self care is any activity we do that takes care of our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well being. So, let me help you begin or continue your journey to self care.
SELF CARE helps you effectively treat compassion fatigue which is absorbing the emotional pain of others. It also helps you deal with stress, and helps you to reset and rejuvenate. So how can you do it too?
You have you take care of your PHYSIOLOGICAL self care needs. Do you eat balanced meals, drink plenty of water, take vitamins, eat several times a day (at least every 3 hours), eat a combination of at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day, avoid skipping meals, get at least 6 to 7 hours of sleep, reduce screen time before sleeping, limit social media intake to 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening, set a night time routine, AND get in at least 30 minutes of activity a day? Don’t raise your hands all at once, LOL! Pick one of these things you are going to start right away to start to take care of your physiological needs.
You have to take care of your BEHAVIORAL and COGNITIVE self care needs. Do you ask for help, delegate tasks, pray and meditate for at least 30 minutes before you start your day, make a list of fun activities and do them, find humor in situations, set healthy boundaries, give and receive affection, schedule mini retreats such as mani-pedis, massages, or 30 minute power naps? Pick ONE of these things you are going to start right away to take care of your behavioral and cognitive self care needs.
Take your time today to create an action plan of success for your own self care. Take those two things you picked and begin to work on them little by little every day. Check in here and let me know how you are doing on your journey to wellness.
While you’re out here saving the world, it is important to do somethings to reset, recharge, and rejuvenate in order to build your RESILIENCE!
My hands are shaking as I share “my baby” with the world. After 5 long years of writing, it will soon be here!
Born of Violence is the story of how I entered a road of abuse as a child and teenager and how that road led me to the fateful morning where my life and my child’s life could have been taken…but God!
All the pain, tears, trials and tribulations birthed something greater in me and my family. The lessons in resilience we learned are featured here so you know that you too can Triumph over Tragedy!
Thank you for taking this journey with me! Pre-sales will be coming soon! Stay tuned!
Welcome to the Resilience Blog, the blog and newsroom for Kimya Motley LLC, an organization dedicated to educating the family about healthy relationships and advocacy through speaking, books, and a host of fun, hands-on, research based classes, seminars, and community events.
In this blog, I will share my life with you, help you identify and tackle issues that affect the family to include domestic and dating violence, abuse, advocacy, education and a host of other issues that build or destroy the family structure, and best practices about how to bounce back after tragedy, so you can expect other topics to pop up along the way!
I will describe tools that are relevant and practical, along with how others (including myself) have been successful using them. Here we will build a culture of celebrating family and resilience!
I will also share with you timely articles and events related to those topics. I do not consider myself an expert on any one topic, but I have experienced these events and have made a promise to not only have my family thrive after tragedy but to help others “kick the butt” of injustice and tragedy. My pain has birthed my purpose and it is my prayer that I can help you to do the same.
You are more than welcome to respond, add comments, or suggestions. I only ask that we keep our comments relevant and respectful to the other readers and conversations taking place. I assure you that you will have a safe space to learn and grow with my blog, so anyone that creates an atmosphere that is not conducive to our culture of respect, I will quickly remove any comments that are deemed offensive, disrespectful, or annoying (like chain letters, marketing, and spam – I would rather clean my toilet with my toothbrush and brush my eyebrows with it than read those things! Yikes!).
Please do not post anything private to the blog. I am MORE than happy about helping you or providing resources for your family, (it’s what I do) but send me a message so others will not see your personal business.
Thank you for visiting my little website and reading my blog. I hope this website encourages you to overcome any obstacles that come your way. There is an OVERCOMER programmed in your DNA and it is my personal goal to help you express that inner Super Hero!
Can’t wait to connect with you!