This is what started the journey of being public with my story. After my out-of-body experience, I knew what the topic of my thesis was going to be, and I knew I was going to do a study on myself. Even though this was not what I had planned for my life, I knew it was time to pave a path of healing for myself, and for other survivors of sexual trauma.
If you would’ve told me in January of 2020 that in just one year, this would lead to me starting a business, my focus as an Art Therapist would be with sexual abuse, I would be partnering with trauma informed companies, I would be starting groups and hosting workshops educating others on healthy sexuality, AND I would have a blog and podcast where I openly share the process of my healing… I would not have believed you.
I did not know what this would lead to, I just knew this was something I had to do.
I did not realize how big of a moment this was until my cohort had to practice our speeches the day before we all defended our thesis in front of the entire Art Therapy program. While looking at my 30 cohort members, I realized that most of them didn’t even know about my trauma. Then I thought, “Holy shit, I’m about to give this speech in front of 100-150 people tomorrow.”
I was extremely nervous. I had never participated in anything involving public speaking before. I didn’t know what was going to be on the other side of this experience. I didn’t know how the audience was going to react. But after I gave my speech, it felt like warm water was running throughout my body. I felt the aftermath of listening to a higher calling and understood that I just lived out an aligned decision.
When everyone was finished giving their speeches, we all stood by our table for three hours continuing to defend our thesis to anyone that came up to talk to us. I constantly had people at my table the entire time! The level of interest I received was unbelievable.
I had cohort members coming up to hug me. They told me that they think what I am doing was awesome and how I am making a difference. A couple of my friends said that they were crying while watching me give my speech. I had a handful of students that I knew, but they didn’t know my story, come to say how brave I was. One student said, “You’re such a badass, Kelsey! You have some balls. You were so ballsy today.” Then a couple professors commented on how graceful I was when speaking. I was in awe of all of this positive feedback.
I had a friend film my speech, and I put the recording of it on my podcast, Creating Light with Kelsey, on episode 23.
Almost everyone that came to my table did not strike up a conversation regarding the logistics of my upcoming study. They were wanting to talk about the message I delivered, what my healing process has been like, they wondered how I could even share this in front of over a hundred people (most of them being strangers to me), and they were asking about Chanel Miller.
I had 15 women approach my table and say, “Me too.” I listened to them and what they shared about their stories. We talked about how society has designed a broken system with sexuality and sexual assault. I had two women tell me that I inspired them to do a study about their rapes. One of them didn’t know it was allowed because they had never seen it done before. She mentioned how people talk about domestic violence and sex trafficking, but the healing process after rape isn’t talked about. She wanted to be a part of this change too.
I was witnessing, right before my eyes, the ripple effect of me showing up to live my truth.
It was pure magic. Like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t realize how big of a moment this was going to be until I was in it. Standing at my table, I felt so good! I felt liberated and aligned. My message touched people significantly because they came up to my table to actually talk. Not just glace at my stuff, then keep walking by. The fact that women felt comfortable telling me they had also been raped justified everything I had been doing.
I understood deeply that I had been healing to get to this point. Then from here I would be able to continue to spread this message, and the wisdom of healing. I felt at peace being vulnerable, to then talk about whatever the people wanted to talk about. I didn’t feel nervous or awkward while standing at my table, even though this was all new to me!
I was able to easily have conversations with whoever approached me. At the end of it all, I definitely felt exhausted, but I also felt lighter. It clicked that this was going to be my mission as an Art Therapist, as a human. I am eternally grateful to have listened to this higher calling, and be on this path of healing.
(I made these stones with inspirational messages that people could take home with them!)
When we see the light in ourselves, we create light in others.