A powerful story of survival and abuse

Photo and makeup by Tracy Sydor

My depression started at a young age. I was just an average, dorky child. Stringy, messy hair and crooked teeth didn’t help, but I was carefree and sensitive.Because I was sensitive friends were rare. School was a nightmare and I was constantly bullied and teased by how I looked. Apparently I didn’t look like how a friend should. Some adults took the time to get to know the real, sensitive, outgoing, bright, shiny me. The inside-me.I was content with this torment until middle school. Being an only child to young parents, my mother was 17 and my dad was 18 when I was born, really made me feel alone. Magazines and music became my friends.I tortured myself with eating disorders; self-injury and mentally mind fucked myself because I was trying to be perfect by society’s standards.High school was a temporary brake from the craziness, when I embraced my uniqueness and found a niche to be part of where my weirdness was accepted. We were the outcasts, Goths, emos, artists and nerds.My junior year I discovered partying. When academics long became my last priority, my parents agreed I was no longer allowed to live with them. I ended up bouncing around on friends’ couches and living with my high school boyfriend; but before that I stayed with street kids anywhere in town. I was on the streets for a few months before I found drugs.Meth became a love hate relationship. Being high was like nothing else in the world. Nothing could harm me. But coming down I wanted to die. Anything anyone ever did or said came running through my mind. It ruined any relationships I had until I was alone once again.When my dear mother found me on the streets at 81 pounds about to give up on life, she sent me to a foster family for a while. I got clean and somewhat focused until meth tried to sneak its way back in. This time I ran home to where it all started in Eugene, Oregon.  I wasn’t back three months when I found out I was six weeks pregnant. From a fling! My life was just starting to get straight when another pothole flattened my tires of joy.The guy was kind in the beginning, like most men in relationships are. But the day I came home with our newborn daughter I became his puppet. Physically and mentally, it was as if that’s how he got off – by hurting me. He destroyed whatever ounce of happiness I had. Gone. Bruises, shadows and silence were my life.My ex was very manipulative and good at it. He once even managed to get me arrested when I was the one who called for help. He fucked with my brain so bad I thought my parents where against me. Though they should have helped me, when I tried to leave him when our daughter was three. By default, I attracted another toxic piece of waste and almost carried his child, but I lost it at twelve weeks. It was the worst physical pain of my life.Before I got pregnant, my mental stability was shaky at best, as I was assaulted by an ex co-worker and her friend who ambushed me at work, saying they wanted to kill me. I now have permanent contusions to the left side of my head, which blocks most serotonin. I have to take pills everyday to maintain it. I hate pills.After all of this, I thought maybe being with my daughter’s father wasn’t so bad. Oh boy was I wrong and Hell began to show me its true side.  My ex murdered cats and dogs and I mean tormented them to death in a garage next to the house. My daughter and I would hold each other crying. When he saw that, he’d lock her in a room and rape and beat me for I don’t know how long. That New Year’s Eve I found out I was pregnant again but he punched me in my stomach in hopes I would miscarry. But my son was born.One day, my ex came home with blood all over him. He never told me what happened. But I think he might have hurt someone, as we had to leave the state as quickly as possible.In less then two weeks, we moved 120 acres off the grid to Missouri. What was I thinking? However, for all the toxicity and abuse in our relationship, Missouri was the only time he never hit me. We relied on each other in order to survive off the land.  But after a while I couldn’t handle it and when he got low on his drugs we headed back to Oregon. The exact moment we crossed the border, I became his punching bag once again.Finally my dad stepped in. He said he knew a woman who worked for the women’s department at Lane Community College (LCC). She told me of a program called Women in Transition.With my dad’s help I was able to attend college while still in my toxic relationship. My ex supported me to use my chemistry books so he could cook drugs. In those ten weeks of classes I learned about what a toxic relationship was. I realized that by my children witnessing what was happening to me, it taught them that it was ok and normal. I never want my kids to hit anyone or to think they did something that makes it ok for them to be hit by someone.With the help of the class and my amazing teacher, I was able to get him out of my home. They continued to support me support through my feelings of regret for leaving him.  At first I was really lonely, but that changed quickly. Old friends from all over came back into my life. I made strong, new connections with amazing people.I still struggle daily with PTSD, TBI, eating disorders and anxiety and panic issues. My disorders happen in waves but I have found ways to ease the chaos. During these episodes, I remind myself I’m safe and that I have the option to leave the environment that’s triggering the disorder.  Modeling is my strength now. It encourages me to be myself, love myself and move forward for my kids.My eating disorder has its moments, but modeling has actually helped by giving me a reflection of what others see, even though sometimes I think I’m too big to model.  My children are the biggest reason I fight my eating issues. I can’t be selfish and let them suffer. I remind myself that every time my stomach growls.Positive affirmations have become my life: I’m positive, out-going, supporting, inspiring and motivating. These things I repeat daily.  Waking up knowing I’m loved and capable of loving back are what make my days so amazing. I will never to be downgraded or feel unworthy again. I know the only person who can allow that to happen is me.I’ve come a long way in my 31 years and am extremely lucky, for all of my experiences and hospital trips.I’ve seen the darkest places a mind can see but I’ve always kept a bright light inside but no longer because I’ll shine brighter then any sun!!! Smiles and Giggles or Smiggles is my motto now in life!!! **– Catrina says The Women in Transition program was hands down a lifesaver for her. She’s still friends with half her class and calls them her angels. “I suggest this program to every women in my community it’s not just for toxic relationships. It’s all about transitions in life itself.”https://www.lanecc.edu/wp/women-transition