Scars and Tiaras

Reclaiming Your Beautiful Self After a Painful Past

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Scars and Tiaras is a writing, photography, and social project by Angela Giles Klocke about reclaiming your beautiful self after a painful past of abuse and/or violence. It is meant to inspire, lift up, and hopefully move people into action toward lifting up others. {Formerly The Tiara Project} Read More!

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REAL Healing

“When you can tell your story and it doesn’t make you cry,
you know you have healed.”


I keep seeing this quote posted everywhere and I believe it offers a sense of security where one should not be. Not crying doesn’t equate to being healed. In fact, more often than not, not crying can mean we’re still bottling up our pain, shoving it down, pretending nothing bad happened.

I told my story in person for over a decade without shedding a tear.

“You don’t look like you’re very upset,” one friend said to me only days after my ex-husband died. I was sharing what happened and I wasn’t crying. She expected something different, something more dramatic. I was in shock. I wasn’t performing to her standard of what grief should look like. She walked away and I never saw her again.

Don’t let anyone tell you how you should be reacting, or that no tears means you are all healed. The goal IS healing, of course, but we want real, true healing, not quotable healing. You can’t fake it, not forever. That’s the same as shoving it down. Eventually, it all comes up.

For me, I know I’m on the road to healing because I DO cry when I share my story. Not always, and not always in the moment, but my story moves me now. I feel it. I accept it. I give myself permission to grieve where once I pretended all was fine.

Tears are OK. Emotions are OK. Someone else telling you HOW to go about your healing is NOT OK.

Letter to Myself

Dear Former Self,

You’re going to go through some pretty ugly stuff in life. From the time you’re conceived, you will not know to whom you belong (father-wise). The man you think is your father will turn out not to be, and he will hurt you physically and mentally, and you will wonder what you could have possibly done to deserve it. You are just a wee child. You don’t deserve any of it.

There will be times with your mom that you won’t understand. Why is she acting like that? How can she say that? WHY does she DO that? You will fantasize that you are adopted, even kidnapped from your real mom. Just know that while she doesn’t change, you do. You will tune it out the best way you can, escaping to the fictional world. And you will decide that you will be a different kind of mother one day.

One day comes too soon when you meet him, the boy who will become your first husband. He will woo you and treat you with all the love you are sure you do deserve. But your desperation to feel loved will cause you to ignore other things, hurtful things, and one day you will get pregnant and it will be too late to get away. You will spend years feeling scared and trapped and like a failure.

By the time you’re 22, all of this past pain will come to an end. At least, that’s how it will appear. But the truth is, it will stick with you for much longer. The physical pains may be over, but the mental and emotional hurting will go on. You will try to bury it, to push it down, but it won’t stay down. It comes back again and again until you deal with it.

But here’s the thing: You WILL deal with it. You will take it out, mull it over, flesh it out, close it, open it, shove it, kick it, hug it and hold it. You will deal with it and you will be stronger than you ever have been before. You are not the person you were. You never deserved to be hurt. You are beautiful and wonderful and amazing. You are kind and giving and you don’t ever try to hurt people the way you’ve been hurt. You have come out of that mess doing all right for yourself. Your life NOW is beautiful. And I’m sorry you had to go through all that hurt to get to today, but here you are, a strong and beautiful person.

I’m proud of you. I love you.

Your Present Self


How to lean into the pain caused by your abusive past

Lean Into the Pain by Scars and Tiaras

Night after night, I was waking up in pain. My feet kept cramping up. I’d grab whichever foot was hurting and hold it, trying to knead out the pain, but ultimately I had to wait it out, refocus my mind not to feel it, and then try to fall back to sleep. No amount of babying the pain took it away until it was ready.

I shared this with my daughter when I found myself in the grip of another cramp in the middle of the day.

“It just keeps happening,” I said, pulling my foot in and bending it to try to loosen pain’s grip.

“Push against it,” she said.

I shook my head. “No, that hurts more!”

“You have to push against it. It hurts more at first, but then the pain goes away.”

A dancer in color guard, she was accustomed to foot cramps and had learned the best and quickest way to end the pain was to push into it, not try to avoid it or wait it out in hopes of it going away.

I pushed my foot, straightening it even though everything in my head said to just keep holding it. Within seconds, my foot relaxed and the pain was gone.

“Whoa,” I said. “That is the complete opposite of what I’d have ever tried to do.”

The message was not lost on me. Over the last several years, after over a decade of trying to baby and avoid my own pain from the past, I finally leaned directly into it, feeling it, tasting it, hating it but also facing it and learning to accept it.

As it turns out, it’s much easier to deal with it all than to keep stuffing it down, pretending it doesn’t matter. Because stuffing your feelings down will only work for so long. Eventually, an explosion will happen.

How to Lean Into the Pain

  • Seek out a good counselor with experience in your type of recovery, i.e. domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault
  • Turn to a trusted friend or loved one who can handle all the nitty-gritty details of your story, especially if that person has related experience
  • Join a support group — believe it or not, groups help remind you that you are not alone, and other members can help you process that which you may not have been able to express before
  • Call in to a support hotline
  • Journal it out — it doesn’t need to be pretty
  • Write your memoirs — and it can be for your eyes only. Writing helps you make connections to feelings and actions that you may have never noticed before
  • Read other books/memoirs about abuse — these can help you see how you’re not alone and give you permission to feel what you feel
  • Dance or exercise your way through — sometimes just getting physical as you process can ease the heaviness and help release your feelings
  • Accept that your pain — no matter the level — is valid and belongs to you
  • When something painful comes up, don’t stuff it back down. Instead, allow yourself to think on it for a bit. You don’t have to have a meal of it, but perhaps just a few bites to get you started

Maybe your pain leads you to self sabotage or a lack of confidence in yourself in the area of your career. If that’s the case you can lean into your pain by seeking out a coach or mentor to work with. With my coach, I work on all my self-doubt and old ways of thinking (lies that I am stupid, worthless, and will never amount to anything, lies of desperation and fear). After counseling and finding healing in some big areas, I still battle issues with confidence, and my coach walks that road with me.

Understand, an easy list doesn’t mean the task at hand is easy. It’s not. It’s uncomfortable, and at first, it hurts even more than avoiding it. But then it gets easier. The greatest pain begins to fade, and soon your heart can start the process of mending from all the broken pieces.

You are not alone.

#WhyIStayed = Money

Despite many opinions on the matter, money really is a pretty big issue when it comes to why victims stay in domestic violence situations.

Video is approximately 5 minutes.

When your finances are controlled by someone else, when they take all your money or won’t let you make money, that is another form of abuse and control.

“So, the woman often has no money, poor credit, and a limited understanding of her financial situation. Even if she is desperate to leave an abusive partner and has the courage to move to a local domestic violence shelter, she has no money for transportation, food or clothing.”
-Money, a powerful weapon in domestic violence By Thomas J. Wilson

So, what do you think?

The journey continues…

Onward. Sometimes a goal isn’t met, but ultimately, it was never about how far I could go. It’s always been about the journey. And so, it continues. See the video for more information and thoughts. Video is 5 minutes.