November 27, 2018

Abandonment: Revealing

This week, Anne Lauren concludes her series on abandonment by exploring the importance of "recovery time outs" and what it's like to find purpose in the midst of healing.


It’s 8AM and I’m sitting on a dock in Maine overlooking the water all by myself, family still sleeping in the house just on top of the hill, while I drink coffee and process my gratitude for life. I was invited here by a friend. His family has had these homes for generations. My presence here is my contribution, nothing else is expected of me. No catch; just kind, supportive people sharing their abundance with me, helping me to understand my own value. This place represents a time of arrival. I did it- my metaphorical jet ski landed me here after somehow finding the resources I needed and the direction of travel. Running is no longer necessary, the cycle of abandonment over, the bottle of the barrel found, now what?

One year ago I quit my corporate job to pursue a life aligned with my passions and supportive of my health. I had a month and half to find a new job. Thanks to my developed family, I have extended this journey to one year. In this year, I have made less money than I have since getting my first job and experienced more than I could have imagined. I lived in a house on the beach for three months, I was invited to go to El Salvador with a friend for free, I was asked to be a live-in-nanny for the summer in Washington DC, and I had the opportunity to visit Portland, New York, and Boston to see if I wanted to live there- I don’t. I stayed in Maine and North Carolina for free to visit friends.

In this year of surprising abundance, I have also had the opportunity to recover from recovery. I needed time for my identity to shift from a survivor to a thriver, I needed time for my brain to break the cycle of stress of the last 32 years, I needed time for my body to rest from the constant running, abandonment processing, and barrel searching, I needed time to learn to love myself and honor my story even if it wasn’t what I wanted. And now, I am find confidence in who I am and in what I want to move forward.

I want to be an incest recovery writer and speaker. I want to support other people who have been through what I’ve been through, help them to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and provide the resources to follow it. I want to help create better policy, resources, and social support around incest survival and mental health. But it took me the entirety of this year to embrace this work.

After #MeToo went viral nearly one year ago, I was enraged to learn that so many beloved women in my circle had also been victims. As their repressed stories surfaced, so did my desire to support them. I decided that I wanted to share my story publicly on a broader platform. I reached out to other survivors who were writing about their experiences and discussed my fear of retaliation from my abusers. They advised me to own my power and to tell my truth. So, I did. I started a blog called Blue&Lavender which shares the wisdom gained from my wounds of childhood incest and illness and how I recovered from both. I began writing articles for other publishers to build my platform. Eventually, people started to reach out to me for more opportunities to share my story and I am doing so.

After about six months of consistent writing, I started to doubt this passion as my future path. My entire 32 years of life up to this point had been devoted to surviving and recovering from abuse, why am I now choosing to devote these next years to this work? I let myself take the work at my own pace, slowed down my writing, and allowed myself to be nourished. I was invited to attend the SheRecovers conference in LA, an all female community devoted to the support of women recovering from anything - abuse, addiction, eating disorders, codependency, etc.

At this conference I met all kinds of women. Without ego or competition, they shared their stories just to help out the next woman in the room. I attended a gala and thought- this is what recovery looks like now- my years of horror, loneliness, puking, and purging of memories were over, recovery now would be about support, admiration and helping the next survivor become a thriver. No one is abandoned here, no one is expected to do this work alone. I also noticed at this conference the hesitation that some still had around talking about sexual abuse. This reservation only fueled my fire: I’m ready to talk about it and am going to. So here I am talking about it, writing about how I recovered from incest and the abandonment associated with it.

My first blog post started on a dock running away from the abuse and abandonment of my past, and on a dock I sit now celebrating my arrival to a place of safety and fulfillment. Legs over the wood, feet touching the cool water, a cup of Joe nourishing me, a family waiting for me, and this work awakening within. I can’t do it alone and I know that I don’t have to.

Please, reach out and join me in ending the epidemic of sexual violence and beginning healing in our communities. We can do this together.    

Anne Lauren is a word weaver, a woman warrior, and a wisdom wayfinder. She authors the blog, Blue&Lavender, which speaks of her experience recovering from incest and illness and seeks to educate and inspire others to do so. She runs her own coaching program, speaks publicly about her experience, and publishes writings to spread her hope for healing. Check out her blog at She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium @BlueandLavender and on Instagram @Blue_and_Lavender.

November 20, 2018

Abandonment: Recovering

This week, Anne Lauren continues her series on abandonment and shares what her path to recovering was like, especially her search for the "bottom of the healing barrel"


It was my second business trip to New York that year and I was just starting to feel it: the joy, the freedom, and the energy won from years of difficult recovery work. My plan this particular day was to visit the World Trade Center Memorial.

I approached the waterfalls in awe. Two square holes left in the ground from where the two demolished buildings used to stand. Many feet wide and even more feet deep. Names of victims of the terrorist attack etched around the perimeters, I ran my hand over them. I then made my way into the museum. Original banisters stood tall and proud inside this symbolic mausoleum, the names of victims and their life stories shown within a room of TV screens. A simple touch of each screen yielded the life of every individual who passed, their deepest loves, who they belonged to, etc.

I exited the museum, passed by the waterfalls once again, then headed into the new tower. I waited in line for what seemed to be forever as more TV screens lining the walls spoke of personal accounts of those who had the opportunity to work on building the new project and what it meant to them. I entered the elevator and the expansion and changes of New York City appeared before my eyes through more screens that lined the elevator walls: the closer I got to the top, the more the images before me mirrored the New York that I was visiting that day.

The elevator rang at my arrival, the doors opened, and I stepped out to see the most spectacular view. New York, New Jersey, the Statue of Liberty, the Hudson River, the Empire state building could all be seen from the height that I stood. I sat down and cried. What beauty had been born from such brutality.

I often heard myself telling friends that I was waiting to find the bottom of the recovery barrel. For nearly 10 years I had been clearing, cleaning, and clinging to a barrel full of traumatic memories, unprocessed abandonment, and the hope to carry on. But where indeed was the bottom of the barrel? Did it even exist? Can incest and illness be recovered from or do the physical and psychological consequences just become chronic diseases that need to be managed? Can I ever let go of being abandoned by my father, my mother, my brothers, my government? I didn’t know the answers to these questions, so I continued to exhaust myself while running away from abuse and desperately searching for the bottom of that barrel.

Recovering from abandonment caused by sexual violence feels impossible. I still did it. I’m not going to pretend that there’s a magical, easy way to succeed. I’m not going to write a list of steps to follow so others can also succeed in doing so. It’s too simple. Instead, I’m just going to talk about how I did it, write about how I did it, live all the lessons that I learned in doing it and hopefully my story will be used to encourage others trying to recover to keep trying.

When my body shut down when I was 22, I knew that I had hit rock bottom. I couldn’t take care of myself and no one I knew could take care of me without the consequence of enduring more abuse. I knew that I wouldn’t survive long in the state that I was in, so I sought medical assistance. The problem was I didn’t know about the trauma yet. I had repressed the memories of sexual abuse. The abandonment issues were still normal to me. I didn’t know any better. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, but without understanding the root cause, it was difficult for doctors to come up solutions. So I tried the general ones: I went on mental medication, I wrote down 5 things I was grateful for everyday, and I saw my first therapist.

My first lesson from my first therapist was that sometimes it’s hard to find the right one. It was always nice talking to her, but she seemed to talk more than I did during our sessions. She told me stories of her life, when I was trying to recover my own stories. I didn’t seem to be finding it helpful. Then I met a new therapist who suited me for a time. She taught me about basic boundaries. I felt responsible for solving my family’s problems, but with her learned that they needed to take care of themselves and I could distance myself.  

Eventually I went to graduate school miles away from home and met my next counselor. She taught me to be strong; to stop engaging my family all together. There was no room in my life for what they offered me. She gave me the freedom to cut them out. So I did. It wasn’t supposed to be permanent. It was just going to be for a little while. I needed a some space to process that I had been a victim of sexual violence, but my space was never honored.

I received daily phone calls from parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends of parents reminding me of my responsibilities to take care of the family. I let their calls go to voicemail with no intent of returning them. I was sent gifts and money to bribe me to come home. I donated it all. Finally, my mother showed up uninvited to my graduation. Here, I had had enough. I changed my phone number, blocked them from my emails, and never let them know where I was living ever again. The planned temporary space became permanent.

In this new safe space I could finally heal. But I was still at the top of the barrel, completely exhausted, with so much work ahead of me. I was in 60k worth of debt, had just received a degree from a church I no longer wanted to work for, had no money in my bank account and needed to replenish. So I got the best job I could and started building.

New healing modalities became more available to me as my income increased. At the advice of a few mentors, I began EMDR and acupuncture. My brain needed to be rewired, the abused child raised again, and my body needed release from years of toxic energy. Each day I woke up, got dressed, finished my responsibilities at work, returned home, and laid on my furniture-less floor processing memories, letting my body rest, and trying to make sense of years of unprocessed trauma. Some days the fatigue was so bad I could barely get out of bed, some days the triggers were so traumatic that I would spend most of the workday on the bathroom floor crying, some days the retrieved memories were so horrible that I would literally throw up while revisiting the horror of what I went through at such a young age. Everyday my body purged more and more as I ran away from the abusive environment and tried desperately to build a better life. I could hardly eat, I couldn’t sleep, and as much as a 20 minute walk exhausted me. I was so tired and had so much work to do.

My job kept me stable but didn’t suit me. After two years, the stability gave me the confidence to try something new. I wanted to be an artist, so I applied and started as an interior designer at furniture store. I succeeded quickly and my confidence grew. I began to focus more on what I enjoyed and engaged simple things like eating lunch in the sunshine or choosing to live near the ocean. Life became more lovely, but I still felt isolated and lonely.

My body was getting stronger, and I wanted to start exercising again. I learned of a co-ed water polo team that practiced near my apartment and was introduced to a new and incredibly supportive community. There I was allowed to be angry, I was honored for being a strong, vocal woman, I was admired for my natural abilities. I had a lot of emotional energy and let it out in the pool without complaint from my mostly male teammates. They were sensitive and sweet- played competitive but never hard enough to hurt me: an entire community of men supporting my healing and commitment to never causing me harm.

This team was also full of women who became my best friends. Women who honored my progress, supported my journey, and saw the best in me when I didn’t see it in myself. New family was being created on that pool deck as we squatted and swam and shot balls into goals. They restored normalcy to my life: invited me to holiday dinners, family events, and even took me on vacation. They helped me to understand what family life should have been like, what love without strings attached felt like, and how freedom to be myself while learning in a safe environment gave me the possibility to grow. They broke the chains of abandonment tied by my own family and gave me hope for the future.

Eventually, recovery led me to the top of the World Trade Center where the beautiful and the broken could not be extricated, where trauma and triumph were strongly bound together, where past and present met in a state of absolute wonder. The barrel may not have a bottom but it didn’t seem to matter there. I was above it all now, standing at 1300 ft, safe from abuse and abandonment and looking out at a future of possibility.

Where would I go from here?

Anne Lauren is a word weaver, a woman warrior, and a wisdom wayfinder. She authors the blog, Blue&Lavender, which speaks of her experience recovering from incest and illness and seeks to educate and inspire others to do so. She runs her own coaching program, speaks publicly about her experience, and publishes writings to spread her hope for healing. Check out her blog at She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium @BlueandLavender and on Instagram @Blue_and_Lavender.

November 13, 2018

Abandonment: Remembering

This week, Anne Lauren shares how growing up in a home with a narcissist father who sexually abused her and detached mother fostered feelings of abandonment.


It was dark outside. I was trying to move into the fast lane on a busy Southern CA freeway. My friend sat in the passenger seat as we headed to water polo practice. My blinker clicked, clicked, and clicked as I waited for the large car to pass by. Suddenly, I looked ahead and the car in front of me was at a dead stop. I slammed on my breaks, crossed my arm over my friend’s chest, and rammed the back of the car. His car hit the car in front of him accordianing his sedan. The cops arrived on the scene and stopped traffic so that we could all pull over onto the side of the highway. Everyone exited their vehicles uninjured.

Soon after my father arrived in a fury. His little Porsche Boxter whipped to the side of the road. He approached me madly, yelled at me for hitting the car in front of me on accident, and then abandoned me. He left me there: a 16 year old girl, on the side of the road with my friend, a police officer, and two men both whom I had hit in the middle of the night. My friend’s mother picked us up and drove me home. As soon as I arrived my dad sat me down and started yelling at me: apparently he could be sued and lose everything. My mother sat idly by observing all that occurred.

Being the daughter of a narcissistic father and a codependent mother made for a challenging development. Everything was about him; any attempt to seek independence was squashed by her. Additionally, I was born with a digestive disease and also had epileptic seizures until I was 5. My health was sensitive throughout my life and by the time I was 22, my body shut down. It wasn’t until I was 24 that the memories resurfaced: the frequent instances of sexual abuse by my father, my grandfather, and my uncle.

My first memory was at 2, I can’t really recall when the abuse stopped. I used the same coping mechanisms as many childhood trauma survivors do: repression, forgetfulness,  dissociation- I ran away from myself, abandoned my memory. I held their secrets, their shame, their need for release inside my body and slowly it poisoned me. My silence was my main source of survival- if I told, I would be killed. I was the great protector, of myself, of my family. I was a child.

When the memories resurfaced I asked my mother for space so I could simply process the new information swirling inside my head. Her codependency was more important than my need, so space was not granted. Sadly, what began as a temporary need became a permanent reality, I haven’t seen or spoken to her since. She knows what happened. She chose to stay with him. Again, I was abandoned.

It is far too common for incest survivors to be betrayed by their own families. The narcissistic abuser holds so much control over the lives of the family members, that the stories of the victim don’t matter. I’m not convinced anyone in my family actually believes what happened to me. I am in relationship with a few of them under the condition that they respect my boundaries: don’t share my contact information or my location with my parents. I am in a state of constant hiding.

I can’t pursue justice. Statute of limitation laws rob me of my right to criminalize my abusers. Apparently, it took too long for the memories to resurface and even longer for me to have the courage to take them to the police for justice to be pursued. When I finally did, I was rudely reminded of the statue of the limitations. I demanded to speak to an officer and after a long period of waiting gave my testimony. When I followed up, there were no notes about what had been done about my case. I was told to trust that the officers had done their job. But why would I believe that? No authority figure had ever done their job.

I ran away, abandoned myself to survive the abandonment of his paternal responsibility to protect my body and being, her maternal responsibility to teach me to use my voice and own my power, my family’s responsibility to stand by me when injustice arose, the state’s responsibility to enact justice. I abandoned myself because I had been abandoned so many other times. He left me on the side of the road, she sat idly by, no one defended me.

What else was I to do but run like hell?

Anne Lauren is a word weaver, a woman warrior, and a wisdom wayfinder. She authors the blog, Blue&Lavender, which speaks of her experience recovering from incest and illness and seeks to educate and inspire others to do so. She runs her own coaching program, speaks publicly about her experience, and publishes writings to spread her hope for healing. Check out her blog at She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium @BlueandLavender and on Instagram @Blue_and_Lavender.

November 6, 2018

Abandonment: Running

This month, it is my joy to introduce you to Anne Lauren - writer, healer, and badass. I had the joy of writing for Anne's blog recently, and was so excited when she agreed to share about her journey and her thoughts on a major topic for survivors: abandonment.


I left her at the dock, abandoned her there. My hand held the throttle as tight as it could, moving as fast as the jet ski could go, I whipped through the water away from her, never turning back. Focused and furious, I sped away and away and away. Suddenly my focus broke, I looked down at my gas gauge and realized that I was in need. I had no idea where I’d find it or how I’d pay for it. I looked up and noticed how beautiful my surroundings were: the bay, the homes, the water, the lights. I was alone. How did I get here? Where am I going? Will I find the resources to get me there? These questions spun in my mind until I woke up.

At 18 years old, I started running. I’m not talking about putting on sneakers, loose shorts, and a breathable tee and sprinting down the street trying to keep up with all the other active folks in San Francisco. I’m talking about running away.

I’ve been running away from things from the moment that running became a possibility. As soon as I left home for college, I ran like the wind. I ran through two degree programs, a number of clubs and organizations, relationships and friends. I ran away from family, from the church of my childhood, from all that I held dear. I ran into two career paths, finding success only to let them both go. I ran to and through medical treatments, healing modalities, attempting to free and to fix myself. I ran into my 30’s exhausted, burnt out, and keeled over.

I didn’t know, of course, that I was running while I was doing it. I thought I was just searching - urgently, desperately - for people, places, and a career path that would alleviate the pain within me.

As soon as I left the house at 18, my brain and body began shutting down. I shook, I had night terrors, I isolated myself because I didn’t feel safe, I couldn’t digest food properly, my anxiety and depression raised to unmanageable levels. I was exhausted. I had no idea what was wrong, but something definitely was so.

At the time I was devoted to social justice. I volunteered with those in economic and spiritual need in the states and abroad- I worked in hospitals, prisons, immigration and food shelters, and schools to help alleviate the pain of others. As I was learning how to actively listen to their plight, how to help them to understand their worth regardless of social or economic circumstances, and advocate for the improvement of practice and policy to alleviate their suffering, I was also learning how to help myself. How to hold and to nourish and to nurture the deep cries within me. I was curious to find their source, but struggled.

My life from the outside seemed nearly perfect: white and wealthy, I had lots of privileges: food on my table, a roof over my head, healthy relationships, and a well rounded education. In college, I had everything I could have ever wanted: my teachers admired my curious intellect, I was deeply involved with a number of organizations on campus, I had great friends, the world was opening before me. And yet, the better my life became the worse I felt. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t comprehend why my internal plight and external circumstances didn’t align.

At 22, the suffering built up and I found myself lying paralyzed on the floor. I couldn’t move. So I broke through the stigma of therapy and mental medications and started to get help. This is when I began to notice my pattern of running. I sought out counselors and spiritual advisers to help me to understand why I couldn’t stop. Why I was continuing to flee, why my feet beneath me couldn’t cease moving no matter my level of fatigue.

At 32, I had the dream about abandoning the woman on the dock and the jet ski and it represented my place in life all too well. I had been running away for so long, concentrating so hard on just getting out, that in a moment I realized:

Where was I running to, what would I need to get there, and how would I actually do it?

Anne Lauren is a word weaver, a woman warrior, and a wisdom wayfinder. She authors the blog, Blue&Lavender, which speaks of her experience recovering from incest and illness and seeks to educate and inspire others to do so. She runs her own coaching program, speaks publicly about her experience, and publishes writings to spread her hope for healing. Check out her blog at She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium @BlueandLavender and on Instagram @Blue_and_Lavender.

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