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Bethanie’s Story: Not just a Survivor, a Thriver

June 28, 2023

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From Struggle to Empowerment

My name is Bethanie and I’m not just a survivor, I’m a thriver.

TW: Abuse, eating disorder, addiction, unaliving

Starting from a very young age all I knew was abuse. My childhood, instead of being happiness and good memories, was fear and avoidance. I learned to make myself small so I wasn’t as much of a target. I learned that my love wasn’t good enough even for the people who were supposed to take care of me.

Growing up with the severe childhood trauma I did inevitably led me seeking validation through drugs, an eating disorder, and a string of abusive relationships where I let other people in my life decide my worth. I let them tell me what parts of myself were lovable and which parts needed to be squashed. I escaped through prescription pills and bulimia deciding that I had to change myself to be loved. That is what everyone who was supposed to love me told me, so it had to be true, right?

Wrong. I met my husband 11 years ago and he helped me beat my drug addiction and eating disorder. That’s right, 11 years sober this year! He helped me accept myself for who I am. I worked mercilessly for years healing myself and my inner child.

I turned from an addict to a survivor.

As I survived, though, I continued to slip in and out of severe depressions.
I started to feel like a walking DSM V. I continued to feel stuck in a past that defined me.

Then after a year and a half of trying to get pregnant and going through fertility treatment, I added another title to my name. Momma.

I worked to give my daughter a better childhood than I had. I healed through raising her, but lost myself in the title of mom. Yet another part of my life that got to define me instead of defining myself. So I worked again to find myself and started the next chapter of my life.

Roller Derby Skates a client brought in for her boudoir session.

Roller Derby.

I joined Druid City Derby on the recommendation of my best friend and one of my biggest supporters. I learned what my body was capable of. I learned I could do things I never thought possible. I had never accepted my body, even after beating an eating disorder. Roller derby makes me powerful. It allows me to take back my power.

Roller Derby completely changed my image of myself. A body that had “never been built for sports” was able to do physical activity. Everything anyone had told me about my body was wrong. Roller derby showed me exactly how amazing my body is. All of the incredible things it can do.

Despite all of that, I still couldn’t take back my mind. I was stuck mentally in a time before, though my body was in the present.

February 15, 2023

My first attempt this year to take my own life. The next month was a blur of putting on a beautiful front while behind the scenes I was looking for ways to not be a part of this Earth anymore. My brain had already decided everyone in my life would be better off without me and I was determined to end it all.

My support system fought for me so hard and eventually got me to agree to go to a 28 day residential inpatient facility for unaliving ideations. I spent a whole month away from my husband, my daughter, and my life as I knew it. I worked every single day to be the person everyone in my life saw.

At residential I turned from a survivor to a thriver.

For the first time in my life I focused on healing myself for myself. Not for my husband, not for my daughter, not for my family. For me. I worked to unlearn everything that had been told to me as a child and young adult. I came out of residential, not completely healed, but better than when I went in and determined to continue to heal. And I continue to work towards it every day. I wake up every morning and actively choose myself.

I don’t tell people my story for sympathy or pity. I tell people my story because others who have lived a life like mine get to see that they deserve to choose themselves. They deserve the healing that I denied for so long because I thought I was already living the life I deserved.

Boudior Session

As I walked up the stairs to the studio, I questioned every bit of sanity I had. Everything that I had accepted about my body started to feel like a flaw.

I don’t look like the amazing women in the photos they post.

I’m not as beautiful as them.

What if they regret choosing me because I’m not a stereotypical body.

As the session continued I realized that for so long I had accepted my body but never loved it. I had never thanked it for helping me survive all those years. I had never shown it the care it deserved.

Looking at the images after the session was so nerve wrecking. I felt powerful during the session but the what ifs hit. Then that first picture popped up on the screen and wow! I was floored. That was actually me. That was my body. The beautiful, amazing, and strong body of a woman who had been through the worst and is working to come out the best.

As I thanked them, they continued to remind me that it was all me, all they did was hold the camera and click.

I love the body in these pictures. I love the story it tells and the scars it holds. I love every dip, every bump, and every angle. I love the story it tells to every person who looks like me and says “I could never do that” because yes you can! Your body is powerful and your story is important.

My name is Bethanie. I am a mom,
a wife,
a roller derby skater,
a survivor,
a thriver.

My name is Bethanie and I am powerful.

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