Survivor to Thriver
According to a study by the Department of Justice, an average of 1 out of 5 girls are victims of sexual abuse and 1 out of 20 are boys.
Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.
And every 8 minutes, that victim is a child.
And that’s just what is reported.
Imagine what goes unreported…
I am one of those unreported cases.
This is my story.
I was born in the Philippines and moved to Los Angeles, CA when I was 5 years old. I only have amazing and loving memories from my first few years living in Camiguin. After that, I was a child that forced to grow up too fast and too soon.
For most of my life, I lived a double life.
Coming from a strict, traditional, Catholic Filipino household, family was everything and you never did anything to disrespect and shame the family, no matter what. I had to learn to look perfect and that nothing was ever wrong. I was on the Honor Roll, Class President and very involved with my church. I was in our Youth Ministry, sang in choir and was a Lector during Sunday Mass. On the outside, it seemed that I was an obedient and dutiful girl.
The other part of me was the complete opposite of my innocent, straight A student self. By the time I was 14, I was binge drinking, smoking and doing drugs.
Drugs and alcohol became my best friends, my trusted confidants. It was the only time that I could numb the pain. In those moments, I was able to escape my reality. The reality was that I hated my life. I was depressed and suicidal. I hated being at home.
My mother was always working, cold and distant. My father was the opposite. In fact, he was a little too close. My father started molesting me when I was 10, sometimes with my mom sleeping in the next room and the sexual abuse didn’t stop until I was about 17.
I lived this double life and became really good at it. I went to a great college, had a successful career and become a Marketing Director by the age of 27 for one of the biggest Asian grocery and retail chains. Then every chance I could escape reality, I would lose myself in party binges that lasted for days.
Then at 28, my double life caught up with me. I overdosed and died.
I had an out-of-body, near-death experience that WOKE ME UP!
I was given a 2nd chance at life. I wasn’t going to throw it away.
Shortly after that experience, I bought a 1-way ticket and moved to Miami. Being so far away from the source of my pain and shame, I was finally able to breathe and heal.
I started reading more books from authors like Wayne Dyer and Eckhart Tolle. I got back into my yoga practice and I gave meditation a real try. 1 minute, turned into 5, then 10 and 15 minutes. Then I became a Certified Meditation Teacher.
I started making radical changes to my mindset and my lifestyle. I began to focus inward for the answer instead of seeking outwards sources to fill my void. I started focusing on healing myself through radical self-love and self-care practices. I surrounded myself with like-minded people who wanted to live a conscious and healthy lifestyle.
An amazing thing starts happening when you really allow yourself to sit in silence and connect with God and your Highest Self. When you start listening to your soul, you start to hear the truth, even things buried deep inside that you don’t want to hear.
It was in during my time alone in meditation that I started to heal. I started healing my Inner Child and started becoming my own best friend instead of my worst enemy. It was through my meditation practice that I was given the inspiration and strength to write my story.
Through prayer and meditation, I mustered up the courage to share my story with my close friends. Instead of getting rejected and shamed, my friends gave me so much love, compassion and support. For the first time in my life, someone was holding me as I poured my heart and soul out. They saw the real me. I was finally able to be truly authentic and vulnerable.
My friends held space for me and gave me the courage to confront my abuser and tell the truth to my family. I ended up posting my story publicly on my blog and social media. I had immediate family members get angry and shame me for exposing the truth. They told me that I brought shame, disrespect and unwanted attention to our family.
Through the continued process of sharing my story, working on myself and healing, I’ve gained the strength to help others find their voice. I started working with other women who have endured trauma and abuse. I help empower others to rediscover their own abilities to heal themselves through meditation and holistic health and wellness.
Through all the craziness, the struggle, the pain, the suffering, the death of my old life… I found myself, my voice, my truth and my purpose for coming back to this body. I am no longer just a Survivor, I am a Thriver.
I know that my story is just one of thousands, if not millions of other survivors out there. If I was able to transform my life, anyone has that same power to as well. It all starts with a choice to want to change and to choose yourself and your own happiness. It is choosing to start loving yourself, forgiving yourself and be open to healing. It is taking small steps, each and every day that bring you closer to your inner truth and alignment with your soul. It is knowing and accepting that only you can radically transform and create the life the you desire. You are your own Hero and Savior.
Marian Bacol-Uba is a transformation coach, holistic health & wellness expert and a certified pranayama and meditation teacher. She empowers people to transform trauma into triumphs, heal themselves from within and create a thriving life in mind, body and soul with clarity and confidence.
In addition to one-on-one coaching and online group programs, Marian speaks and advocates for sexual abuse awareness and entrepreneurship for women of color, especially Asian-Americans. She has appeared on numerous TV shows, online publications and podcasts such as Elephant Journal, Bustle, CBS Los Angeles, Channel LA-18, The Filipino Channel/ABS-CBN, The Tao of Self-Confidence Podcast, CEO Blog Nation, Miami Under 40 and more.