Feather of Hope

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Dana's story: the whole truth

Posted by LusianaM on March 1, 2016 at 4:15 PM

I am a writer, so I can make this sound amazing if I wanted to. All professionally written and with poise; however, if I want to be authentic, than I have to write from the heart instead. People have asked me questions that I do not want to answer to with the notion that it is scripted. I pride Bullies Keep Out, and myself, these days on being very real and as raw as possible, which I encourage others to do. I am not able to preach it if I do not practice it myself. So, here it goes…

Many times to release, I have written anonymously for particular reasons, and also personal. At some point, we all have to speak out and tell our story for others. For inspiration. For motivation. For hope.

See, I used to tell my story from a standpoint of being a victim of my past. I never told it for the right reasons. It was more feeling sorry for myself, as if when I became an adult I could not heal. The truth is, you can’t blame those who hurt you or did you wrong forever. It is like blaming the world for your problems when you are the problem. We only hold ourselves back. We are the only ones who can create the change that is needed to move forward into the future, rather than standing still in the past or present. It is hard to hear, but it is also a fact. No matter what has happened, we must keep fighting back against those strong winds. We must get up each and every time we fall. After all, it is about how many times we get back up, not how many times we fall. I had to own my story and get through it, otherwise, you only become destructive. This happened to me many times over.

This not only has an effect on you, but those around you as well. I survived my past, but I got tired of surviving...rather I wanted to live. It wasn’t until certain people came into my life and talked some sense into me. At times it was harsh too, but it was honest, real, and the truth. I will say this, I was never good at expressing or showing my emotions or talking about feelings. They said if they did not care or love me, than what would be the point of saying anything. I did not see it that way at first.

I became passive aggressive and more angry. I did not want to believe it. I did my normal routine. I pushed people away. I got emotionally and psychologically stressed, which made what I was going through all the more hard and painful. I DID THIS! I gave people from my past control and power. I allowed them to get to me. I had a choice.

I was so blind when love, compassion, and understanding was right in front of me. Anger does blind you to the good and the positive in your life that you forget it even exists.

I dealt with everything on my own. That was my choice too. I chose to do that since I was used to certain people in my life giving me somewhat of a complex when I tried. I was more concerned with helping others and giving back to people. That was how I fought. It put a smile on their face, which in turn put one on mine. It could be the simplest gesture. It meant a great deal to that one person.

As a child, you do not comprehend adult emotions. Not even as a teenager. As an adult, you just keep people from coming in due to fear. People would try to talk to me and help me and I pushed them away or said everything was fine. I still do that to do this at times. It is difficult for me. I guess you stay frozen in that moment for so long that it becomes a bad habit. I do not want to be a burden, and I feel my job is to help others not the other way around. Truth is, I am deserving of all the help and support as you all are. I just did not know it, and I still sometimes forget.

“The close people in my life were showing me the love that I needed. It was exactly what they were supposed to do. Sometimes we are expecting that unconditional love and support to be all rainbows and unicorns. That is far from the reality of friendships or any other relationship. If people truly care about you, they might piss you off and not think twice about it. That is a good sign. If you are not able to be honest with others and yourself, then the relationship has no foundation.”

It took me years to face my past and some harsh truths. I found that it was easier to bury it and just stay numb. Many people asked me or assumed I was bullied, which is why I started BKO. That is not the entire reason why I began my journey into becoming an activist/advocate/humanitarian, or philanthropic (Some call me all of these, but it is not about titles for me, it is about action). I started it for many reasons, but my past did lay out the blueprint.

We all have done some type of bullying behavior, and I am not going to deny I was never on that other side. I was never a bully, but I did silly things that I wished I never did. I have not met one person who has admitted to being a saint in that department. However, there is a difference between being a bully and bullying behavior. I made mistakes in my younger days, and that is OK. I recognize it and make no excuses for it. To be in denial is to deprive yourself of being your authentic self.

There are many words for bullied. Domestic Violence among one of them, which we also heavily advocate for. All types of abuse are forms of bullying, and this includes abusing ourselves. This is referred to as self-bullying. Can I relate to forms of bullying? Yes, I can…more so the ones that have different names. Child abuse, addiction, rape, sexual assault…all forms of bullying. This is why we cover so many arenas of bullying. All are serious and not be taken lightly. Of course, some are much different levels.

What are we so often used to when we think of bullying? I find schools and cyber bullying to be among the two most popular when discussing the topic, but opening our eyes to what I discussed above widens the reach to people in need of help and support. Bullying and hate happen everywhere in a variety of situations, and it also happens with ALL ages. There is no discrimination based on religion, age, culture, race, gender, sex, sexual orientation. Though some are higher targets.

To be honest, I was popular throughout my life. I was an athlete, and I had tons of friends. Problem is being popular and having all the friends in the world can never replace that inner circle support system that rarely consist of all those people. Somehow the pleasures and luxuries of my life did not fix a damn thing. Money and materialistic things do not make you happy. It does not replace what is truly important in life. 

In getting back to why I do what I do, what I endured came from a places where you should feel safe and have the most trust. A place where you should find unconditional love without question. It was way beyond bullying, but I am here to tell all of you that you are not alone. I suffered from depression and anxiety and panic disorder since I was 14, if not younger. The first attack I felt like I was going crazy. In fact, I thought that I was. I cannot count the number of times I ended up in the emergency room and doctor’s office. They could have dedicated a wing to me or put my picture up on the wall.

The cause of it could easily stem from chemical imbalances of course, which is what I originally thought might be the case when I did research; however, deep down I knew where mine came from…and I never believed it was for that reason alone. It is not always about science. It can develop from trauma, adversity, and trials and tribulations. It can also occur for no reason at all. It does not mean you are not strong. In fact, it means you are strong. If you can handle having that type of disorder, you are stronger than you think. It is not easy to live with or go through. It is a daily struggle, which can cause turmoil in your life, in your job, in your relationships, and with your health.

Some choose to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. It is whatever takes the pain and feelings away that are causing your mind to spin out of control. I never used drugs as an outlet, but I did use alcohol as one for a long time. It just made things go away for a while. It is easier to forget when you aren't thinking about it every moment, but when it goes away, the past and everything with it comes right back the next day. It is a very short moment of resistance. It does not last. Keep that in mind. It is not a way to solve a damn thing. There is also the danger of codependency.

I have been through many things in my life. More than I ever thought I would only going on 37 years old. As a kid and even as a victim in my young adult years you only see black and white. So you only see your own troubles. I came to realize that was far from true and SO many people around me had a similar story or worse than mine. Hundreds…thousands. I would watch the news or hear stories and think that instead, I should be grateful. Why did I ever think that way at first? I was a kid. I was young. I did not believe I was the only one to endure traumatic events. I am not sure what I thought, but I know it was that feeling sorry for yourself feeling, which closes you off from knowing that you are not alone in the world when things happen.

Well, when you are going through so much pain and angst you do not see the world around you. You see in a straight line rather than looking right or left before crossing the street. You are secluded in a dark place. The words are indescribable of stories I would come across. At that point, and after being very sick twice in my life where I thought, well, if this is it, then so be it. I was eerily calm about the possible thought of death, especially since it was a fear of mine most of my life.

Not to mention, I had goals and dreams that I failed to reach and just blamed it on my past. Everything was a blame game on someone or something. I always had an excuse. That was the problem. Instead of getting up and just doing what I wanted to do, I retracted and stayed in a safe place depressed and hurting myself, in more ways than one, with my list of reasons why I could not do everything I had planned. How did my life go from star athlete with all these plans to getting sick, marriage, and then divorce? All this by the age of 26. I was pissed. That is not how I saw my life playing out at all in my head.

Everything that BKO advocates for, I have been through in some form. I believe we all have a story to share that can help. Even if it is just one person's life you change or even your own. I do not want people to feel sorry for me. It was f*cked up the things that happened to me, yes; however, after going through so many years of turmoil, my eyes finally began to open. I was grateful for it. People thought I was crazy, once again. Do not get me wrong. I still struggled and had my moments. I was still dealing with anger and healing and all the emotions in between.

You see I was never good with affection or even really knew what REAL love was if it wasn’t for my ex-husband, certain women in my life, and others I made incredible connections with. I slowly became a big hugger and began to let people in. The walls around my heart were still up, but they were breaking down. As an Italian kissing and hugging is my thang, but it is still hard. I do sometimes still feel odd. I have this persona as a tough Italian New York badass. I also use a lot of humor. I believe you have break up the seriousness to relax and balance it out. Who doesn’t like to laugh? In any story or interview I have done about serious topics, I do incorporate a few laughs and jokes in there. You have to.

On my path to healing, I used every outlet and technique at my fingertips. Meditation and yoga became a fixture in my life, and also talking. I finally started talking about my feelings and emotions and showing them. There is only so long you can fake it until you make it, which I do not believe in doing anymore. After awhile you forget what it feels like to have a real smile on your face, or a real laugh, or feel real happiness. I think that is something to consider in that whole faking it until you make it. I do not want to fake so long that you forget how to be authentic. That is what it is all about. Being our authentic selves. Letting it all hang out…not literally of course.

People have asked me why I am grateful for all the trauma, pain, and anger. Well, I figure you can go one of two ways when you are around people like that in your life and when bad things happen. I could go the wrong way or the right way. Simple. I chose the right way. I chose the opposite of where I was probably headed for a short time. I was grateful for it making me the person that I am. It made me want to be completely opposite of the people that hurt me physically, emotionally, psychologically, & sexually. It made me a strong woman with an even bigger heart. That wall around my heart I talked about, took years to break down, and even now I tend to put it up at times. You might forgive, but you do not forget.

I think I pretended to not be sensitive, rather defensive, for so long, that I forgot what it felt to truly feel. Nobody ever saw me cry unless I was drowning in sorrows having drinks with friends. This was VERY rare for me, and only few people ever saw that. I was the life of the party, and I was always who everybody came to for advice and help. The smile on my face for so long was rehearsed. For several years, with exception of some who witnessed things, nobody knew anything. To them, my life was gold. Nobody realized I wished I had a different life in specific areas mind you…not all. Nobody knew how bad I wanted to escape, but it did sneak out once in a while. There is only so much you can hold in for so long before you explode.

I am here now to tell you. I knew I was destined to do more than what my dreams entailed. Always being a lover and not a fighter, one who had a big heart, loved deeply and never knew it, wanted so desperately to have what I saw around me (which was not fame and fortune, it was love, happiness, family, and so on). I used to want the other things, and I still want some of those same dreams as I had as a child growing up. I just want them in a different way. I am not who I once was. It all changed my life the way I believe it was meant to be.

I think we go through things sometimes as tests and to have the free will to choose the harder path at times to get to the journey we are supposed to be on. I know that now. It took me years, but it is better late than never. Each bad thing that happens to us stays with us and becomes a part of us...like a jigsaw puzzle. Each moment, each instance, it defines who we are and become. You just have to make sure you do not let it define you in the way that those who hurt you get the last laugh.

In short, but not really, I could have written more, NEVER GIVE UP! My grandmother instilled that in me. In fact it is tattooed on me in memoriam of her since she passed away. I was lucky to have them as long as I did. It was just long enough for me to learn life lessons. I still learn them each day. They are always by my side, like angels on my shoulder. They were opposites in life, but the same where it counted. I learned much from them. Almost like having two halves of. It keeps me going when I feel weak or exhausted or like giving up.

I will tell you what is a gift and blessing to yourself and those around you is to forgive. IT will bring you the peace you seek. Believe it or not, forgive yourself as well. You might ask why, but there is no answer to it really. Just do it. Stop blaming yourself for what you were not able to control. Stop worrying about things that have not happened yet. I tried to control much of what was inevitable.

Have hope, believe in your dreams, and magic. Magic comes in many forms, such as love and happiness. Smile, laugh, live, and most of all dance. These are the things that saved me. I try to make people around me laugh and smile all the time. Keep your heart full of love. Do not let anybody tell you that you are not capable of something. Make a plan, set a goal, and strive for it. You will get there. In some way, the way it is meant to be, you will get what you need in your life. The universe will provide you that. Be positive, think positive, and remember what you put out is what you get back. Do not let anything negative consume you. It will take over. Trust me…

This I will stress over and over, give back, get involved, find support system, do social good as much as you can. Having this as part of your life changes you. I would encourage anybody to get involved in causes and charities, but it is so important to healing. You have no idea what it has done for me. Those who I help, have helped me…and they do not even know it.

We all share a story, it might just be in different chapters of our own writings. You are the author of your story. You can always start a new chapter if one does not go as planned. With good days, there will also be bad days. Do not expect life to be perfect or the people in it.

Most of all…Be kind and gentle to yourself and others and love big! Be proud of who you are and stand up for what you believe in. Have faith that everything happens for a reason. Nobody can make you happy or do the work for you. YOU can and will succeed. Believe in that. Do not allow yourself to tell your story as a victim, rather to give hope, inspiration, and motivation to others. That is the best gift you can provide to someone who is struggling, no matter what it might be.

It took me a long time to learn to love and accept myself the way others in my life did. You have to be happy and love within before you can get it right with anybody else.

I might have the mental and physical scars, but when I look in the mirror at myself, I smile.

No matter what anybody does or does not tell you, you are loved, you are wanted, and you are accepted by someone (does not matter how many)…and that matters.

Dana Jacoviello

Dana Jacoviello is a writer/celeb interviewer/podcast host, activist, advocate, freelances in entertainment/social media & correspondence/PR/Media/Events, Psychology major, student affiliate of APA and NYSPA, Founder of Bullies Keep Out, co-host of a web-series and host of La Bella Vita, participated in a 30 Day Challenge as an expert in healing and recovery in personal growth/emotional well-being. Dana also works with cyber-bullying and is a motivational mentor/coach, with a strong interest in networking, healing, recovery, yoga & meditation.

Please join Dana on her latest anti- bullying campaign/project www.bullieskeepout.com Learn more about Dana by visiting... Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BulliesKeepOut.com https://www.facebook.com/DJacoviello Twitter: @DanaJacoviello @BulliesKeepOut Website: http://www.letstalkaboutitfromnyc.com/ Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/popculturedwithSD

Categories: Family, Anxiety/Depression

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