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I Found God in Myself and I Loved Her Fiercely: How I Went from Trauma to Triumph

Concrete Garden Issue No 4

Trigger Warning: Abuse, Sexual Abuse

Photo Credit: Andres Ortega

As I look at these photos, I see a Queen breaking free of the chains of trauma; not quite out of troubled waters, but emerging from them and rising like a phoenix.

- Solise Alisa White

At 14, I couldn’t see any brighter days ahead. I had to learn to survive the present. My only outlet, where my voice felt truly heard, was between the lines and margins of my journal. This is where my truth stood free, where I felt safe, hoping one day my voice would matter outside of those lines.

Journal entry from 14-year-old Solise


I sought out a therapist who not only looks like me but is also someone with similar qualities. I went through a few therapists until I found one that was best for me. I needed someone to not only listen and help me navigate my trauma, but someone who also gives me work to do beyond our sessions. I needed to feel invested in as I poured my flaws and concerns to a stranger. There is a stigma in our community keeping many from seeking out therapy and it pains me to hear it from our people because therapy has been one of my best decisions. A therapist is not there to get the tea, but to help you understand where your emotions and actions are stemming from.

Unpacking trauma is not easy at all. I learned trauma causes you pain as if you are in that moment; it can manifest in many different ways. Since therapy, I am more aware of why I am the way I am. It was challenging because I didn’t want to relive those moments and honestly, my actions that followed were scary. Sometimes, you may not know what triggers you, but when you peel back the layers, you most likely will find the root is in your childhood.

I was a child who felt unprotected, unloved, unheard and unseen. I was molested at the age of 10 or 11 years old which went on until I got my first boyfriend and stood up for myself. I witnessed a hammer hit my mother’s head by the hands of her significant other at the age of 10. I crawled out of an apartment to safety from what could have been a deadly fire at a young age and so much more. Therapy helped me unpack my feelings of not being protected by my mother when I told her and feeling unheard because nothing was done about it. I was hurt because the one person I thought would protect me, dropped the ball. As I got older, I made excuses because it was okay; similar to the way the older generation swept things like that under the rug. Then, I tried to sympathize because as an adult, I can understand it’s hard raising children at a young age; but all that to say no, it was not okay and there is no excuse valid enough for my mistreatment. Eventually, I tried to have that conversation again as an adult, and yet again I was met with disappointment. But this time I was really hurt because now I am an adult saying the same thing and yet there I was feeling like that 11 year old again.

I couldn’t understand how the tears flowed from her cheeks, but her actions didn’t match. At that point, my mom and I were tighter than your favorite jeans and I’m doing everything I can to support my mom: financially, mentally and physically. If she calls, I’m there. If she needs funds, I got her. If she needs anything under the sun, I am there; no questions asked. In my perspective, that is how it’s supposed to be but there comes a time when you have to set boundaries, even with the people you love the most. I couldn’t see it at first, but as I continued therapy, I realized I became what I wish my mother would have been for me as a child. I became her protector in all areas. I show up how I would want someone to show up for me because I know what it felt like to feel unloved, unheard and unprotected.

I say all of this to bring awareness. I am now aware of how those childhood feelings showed up in my relationships with people and my marriage. I can now address concerns without feeling bad for expressing my truth. It seemed scary at first because it breaks my heart to see someone sad based on how I feel; however, I learned I can only control my actions. Honestly, the first time I set boundaries and it was taken well, I was surprised but then, I knew it was possible; there are people who truly respect and understand boundaries. I also knew I could not turn back to what was because feeling respected feels so good and I feel appreciated.

Photo Credit: Andres Ortega

Therapy is truly helping me tremendously. I am able to identify my triggers and locate the tension in my body before I focus on relaxing it. I am learning how to effectively communicate my feelings; set boundaries and I’m accepting I can’t do everything or please everyone. I still have to take time out for myself, and I have. Unpacking trauma allowed me to continue to work on being my best self. My confidence is back as if I was in my prime in college and oh do I feel good. I feel so good I finally took action on a long-time goal of mine and started Soul Kharisma Dance Fitness. This extension of my healing has provided me space to help others heal while I continue to do the same. Working through my past in therapy has helped me fill my cup in ways I have excess to give others. I am no longer giving the best parts of me to situations or people that make me feel uncertain, unsafe and unloved. I don’t love them any less, I just know I deserve joy and a fulfilled life.

Healing has allowed me to carry myself the way that I deserve. I am a beautiful, spirited woman who loves to bring joy to other’s hearts and smiles to their faces through dance, jokes and listening. I look forward to carrying this beautiful journey in all aspects of my life. So, that picture you see of me emerging from the waters is current day and displays how I am feeling right now. That’s me, Solise Alisa White, feeling good as I walk into my purpose and more. I am destined for greatness, and I will continue to walk in my light.

If you choose to start, restart or continue your healing journey, here’s a simple reminder to myself and you:

Don’t forget to give yourself grace because you deserve it too.

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