I just finished watching the movie “Captain Fantastic” on my plane ride to Mumbai and it’s what inspired me to write this post. I know I’ll make another post about this movie and how incredible it is. Go see it if you haven’t. It has lots of powerful messages.
Warning: this isn’t going to be one of those funny kid stories; this blog might actually break your heart. It’s the story of what has led me to my trip to India.
I believe we live in a terrifying world. When I was a child I was sexually abused by my babysitter. I was so young I can’t remember it all and I blacked most of it out. While other little girls were playing with dolls and getting their hair braided, my sister and I were being forced into sexual acts with our babysitter’s little brother. Our babysitter was angry at men and this was how she reasoned to get back at all of them for hurting her. She used us to take out her pain by making us do sexual acts with her little brother. She used us to show her little brother how women should be treated –objects to be used. It’s fucked up…believe me I know and it’s the reason that sexed entered my life at such a young age.
To make matters worse, my parents got divorced and later we found out that it was because my father was unfaithful to my mother. Don’t get me wrong, I love my father so much and so would you if you get to know him now. He’s a beautiful human being and I’m so blessed to have a father like him, but the truth is he did this to my mother because he was going through deep pain that he didn’t understand and this was his way of coping with it at the time. He had to go through some deep healing in order to find himself as we all do.
When my parents got divorced, it shattered my world. I couldn’t comprehend how the two people who created me no longer wanted to be together. It shook up my existence and made me angry that the creative energy that created me was falling apart. I couldn’t grasp how this could be true and I was the child that always secretly hoped they would get back together. It never happened, but I did have a powerful conversation with my father later on in life why they separated and why they were on separate paths.
Shortly after the divorce, my mom remarried out of fear because she was fresh off the boat and didn’t know how she could provide for her children. Little did she know, the man she married was full of pain and hurt because his own father abused him. He took the pain and internalized it and then beat my mom into the wee hours of the night. I still remember being fearful for my mom as we listened to the screams, smacks, yells, throws, and hits late into the night from the basement of our Pennsylvania home. My mom was a fighter and we would hear her get back up time and again to fight for her life.
This was my childhood before I had even turned the age of 7 and it showed me that the world is a terrifying place to live in. Not just for human beings in general, but especially those who are minorities of color. I could never understand why everything was white when I was growing up –white dolls, white movie stars, white action figures, white picket fence, white plates, white EVERYTHING. It always made me feel less than I was and never enough. I can’t tell you how many times I wished I was white just so I could fit in.
I honestly didn’t know how to cope with all the trauma that I had experienced at such a young age. So instead, I created fake worlds to live in because reality was just too painful to live in. I was constantly off in my own world pretending that nothing was happening. Pretending that my world was magical and wonderful instead of dark and terrible.
The first time I had sex was when I was 12/13 years old. Prior to that I didn’t think boys liked me because my skin color and because this little girl once told me I looked like a boy. I reasoned that the only reason I looked like a boy instead of a girl was because I was brown. This wasn’t the first or the last time I would get picked on for my body. I was made fun of for having bow-legged legs, dumbo ears, brown skin, buck teeth, being short, and for having a mustache (which caused me to wax, pluck, laser or shave my lip as an adult because I had fears of looking like a boy and I didn’t want someone to judge me for having lip hair even though everyone has lip hair). It’s kind of stupid all the things people choose to make fun of and all of it birthed years and years of body shaming for myself. I hated myself and I hated the world we lived in.
Being that my family life was so broken I turned to boys and later men to bring me solace in this life. They were the love I felt that I never received. Sex wasn’t just sex to me–it was love. Being in a relationship and having sex all made me feel loved. It made me feel accepted, that I was enough, and that maybe just maybe this world wasn’t so terrible. It’s what we’re all looking for when we seek out any form of relationship–we’re all just seeking love and seeking to feel like we’re enough. But the truth is so many of us don’t understand our worth and constantly live in a state of not enough. This mindset causes us to hurt each other rather than show each other love. It sucks but it’s something we have all done at one time or another in our life, I just experienced it a lot way before ever becoming an adult.
So at an early age I got into sex, drugs and alcohol. It all made the world seem like a better place by numbing my soul and temporarily making all the pain disappear. I ended up getting into multiple abusive relationships. The worse was when one of my ex-boyfriends threw a knife at my head and it landed in the wall right next to my face. The next morning he tried to suffocate me for wanting to leave him.
After high school my life spiraled downward even more. Men kept using me and taking advantage of my naive heart and it made me bitter and resentful. I ended up dating multiple men at the same time and I treated them like I was treated–cold, calculated, unattached objects we used to make ourselves feel better. I used them just like I was used and I told myself somehow this was better. This is what people do to each other in a world that is dark and terrible.
I ended up getting into an arranged marriage with a muslim man because I didn’t believe in love anymore. He told me he would take care of me if I married him. He and his family knew how I was struggling financially and he wanted me for his wife. Being that I was dead to my emotions, I decided being provided for was better than just existing so why the hell not? I remember telling myself as a little girl that I would never marry someone for security just to have someone to provide for me like my mother had done after my parents got divorced. I remember being angry with my mom for doing that to us and for doing that to herself. I thought she should never marry someone unless she was in love, but now I understood why she had done it. Because love wasn’t real. It didn’t exist so why care about who you marry when it doesn’t matter, might as well marry for security if love didn’t matter. And that’s exactly what I did.
One month into the marriage I ended up having a radical new years experience. A divine intervention led me to accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior. It was my first spiritual awakening that led me to look at the Spirit realm instead of just the physical world. Because of our differences in religions, my husband being Muslim and I being Christian, and because I really didn’t love him we eventually got divorced against my family and his family’s wishes. Later in life, I would walk away from the belief system of Christianity because of judgments and feeling betrayed, but for now it was what saved me from a loveless marriage.
This is actually where my life finally started to turn around for the better. I stopped hanging out with toxic friends and I started hanging out with Christians. I ended up joining an internship program with a church for 9 months and I basically dedicated my life to God. Why? Because I knew what life was like before and I knew nothing else mattered.
I ended up meeting this wonderful Christian man and we eventually got married. Little did I know, I had a lot of pain stored away and it all came out like a banshee from hell–painful and alarming. He also had some demons he didn’t know he had and it was really rough at times. There were so many times I talked to him about divorce, but he was too afraid of breaking his commitment of marriage that he had made before God. He was also fearful for his reputation as a divorced Christian so he refused to divorce me. I felt trapped and obligated to keep my promise to God and to this man that I didn’t feel like I was supposed to marry.
The truth was we weren’t whole people coming into the marriage. We were both broken and we constantly hurt each other with our words and actions. It was a never ending story of us both feeling like we weren’t enough or that the other person wasn’t enough. It was a vicious cycle and it’s one we kept playing over and over and over. Creating anger, animosity, resentment and endless amounts of pain.
I finally got a dream job at a mega church working as a production arts assistant to the Executive Producer. I loved the job because I got to use my creative abilities along with my spiritual belief system. At the time it was everything I could have asked for. I had a great boss, loved the people I worked with, and I loved that we were helping to make the world a better place. We were transforming the world from being a terrible place to a beautiful place full of love and forgiveness. The only problem was the staff spiritual life was a little lacking. We were telling everyone to get deeper with God from the pulpit yet as a staff you could literally feel the darkness that lingered in everyone as a whole. I went around asking people what was up and everyone had so many complaints about the new pastor and his vision. They missed their previous main pastor, but he had gotten sick and couldn’t help everyone anymore. He had to make his own life a priority, but this left the staff feeling less than. It was just another story of not enough.
I took it upon myself to help reawaken the Spirit within the church staff. I made a sermon for the staff members on what a church looked like that was full of the Spirit of God, I created women’s groups, and I went around trying to make everyone smile. Even though I was doing all of this my home life was still suffering.
My husband and I were still having problems at home. We kept fighting and treating each other like we weren’t enough. I started to get help for myself with counseling, women abused groups, and by practicing the truths in the Bible. I finally got to a place where I loved myself and where I loved my husband and looked past all of his faults. This opened up my heart tremendously and I started to love everyone and fully understand that everything works for the good of the glory of God. A lot of synchronistic moments happened and it led to my 2nd awakening.
I started to hear an inner voice (Christians call it the Holy Spirit) that would guide me to help people in need, help me to stop arguing with my husband, and that would teach me deep truths and insights. I could hear things about people I didn’t even know and I would help them to deal with their darkness. It was a powerful ability and I started to share stories with family, friends, and coworkers. Word got around that I was the person that could hear God. So everyone started sending me everywhere and to everyone who needed God. I soon started to realize that everyone could actually hear God on their own, but they were all in denial and wanted confirmation from someone who could clairvoyantly hear the voice of God. I tried to tell people that the answers were in themselves if they just tuned into the Spirit, but I also felt compelled to help everyone as much as possible. I started to get prideful that I could hear God and no one else could and it made me feel like I was needed and useful. This eventually led to the break down of my entire belief system and the collapse of my marriage, yes there’s more to that story but I believe it had a lot to do with my pride and my victimhood that I still hadn’t healed.
I did a lot of radical things in the Spirit realm that scared a lot of people especially since the church I worked at was coming from a very conservative background. I was casting out demons, speaking in tongues, and angels and demons spoke through me. The demons mostly screamed and wailed not to leave the people I was casting them out of and quite honestly these stories scared the shit out of people. I was labeled a witch and mentally ill because of the things I was doing in the Spirit realm. Looking back, I realize a lot of that was way over dramatized because the truth is we can transmute our own darkness into light. We don’t need to cast out demons – its just something I believe the church did to cope with their own darkness. People don’t like accepting their darkness and so we all try to reject it and cast it out by labeling it a demon. Sometimes the church calls it satan and instead of owning up to our own shit we give it a name and try to cast it out, but really it’s all beautiful if we learn why it’s there. Darkness doesn’t have to be something we’re afraid of; it teaches us. If we didn’t know darkness we would never know light. I was actually attacked by demons on several occasions and it scared me too and even though I know that light is so much more powerful than darkness I do not want to dive into that kind of spiritual activity ever again. There’s so much more to this story and one day I’ll tell it, but just know this experience made me fall away from Christianity.
This experience led to my husband and I realizing that not only did we have different beliefs about God, but we also had conflicting lifestyles. We realized we were more like roommates and we were no longer in love with each other. I had to shut off my social media all through my separation and my divorce because people were telling us that the ‘Christian’ thing to do is work through it. It’s funny to me that people think they can tell you how to live your life even though they don’t know the whole story.
During my separation I went through a massive depression because I thought God would punish me for breaking my commitment of marriage and because my whole world was crashing down. I had found my identity in a religion, in a career, and in being a wife and all of it came crumbling a part all at once right before my very eyes. It fucked me up royally and I had lots of suicidal thoughts. I couldn’t get out of bed because I felt so heavy in my body and my spirit. I hated myself, I was lonely and very very depressed.
That’s when I decided to move to Austin and start over. I needed to believe in myself again and I wanted to believe that it was possible to go on living after everything I had been through. I wanted to know that it was possible to start life over. I had spent the last 10 years of my life being what everyone else wanted me to be and I wanted to find out who I was without the influence of a belief system or the influence of a man. I wanted to find my own spiritual path that was not bound by the chains of religion. I wanted to discover who Virginia Trinidad Bradford really was and I found that and more in Austin. Austin helped me find myself again and helped me to be okay with how weird I was. You may not know this Austin, but y’all saved me.
The first thing I did was party my ass off at all the gay clubs because my ex-husband and a lot of Christians were homophobes and I wasn’t, but I couldn’t go to gay bars or have gay friends because that was hanging out with sinners. Well FUCK THAT. I was a sinner because I got divorced and I wanted to hang out sinners because we all had something in common–we embraced our darkness and didn’t run from it. We lived in it unashamed and partied hard and drank our asses off. It was fucking awesome and so damn liberating.
I realized again that so many of us were in pain, but we were having fun dancing and partying it all away. It felt good, but it also left me feeling empty at the end of the night. I started to use guys and they used me for sexual comfort. I got into relationships with controlling manipulative guys and realized its DEFINITELY something I didn’t want or deserve. So I decided that my life was more important than men and romantic relationships. Men were just a distraction that pulled me away from discovering myself and I was too busy creating shit to deal with their pain so I decided to use men sexually. I was going through a period of experimenting with my sexuality because I thought my sexual organs were broken because they didn’t really work when I was married. I told men that’s all I was looking for and some accepted it, but many of them wanted more. I couldn’t give them some of them what they wanted and I know I hurt them, but I was determined to concentrate on myself. I regret the way I treated certain people, but I needed to put myself first. I had to because I was all that I had.
When I met Mike, I was finally in a place where I was actively searching to find “the one.” I got tired of using people, being used, and being in broken relationships with people who were still in a lot of pain. I wanted more and I didn’t want to use people for sex any longer. It was an empty path full of pain and it wasn’t who I wanted to be.
Mike and I fell in love at enchanted rock while we were on mushrooms on a camping trip. We had a powerful connection and one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and I’m sure being on psychedelics helped, but beyond that we could really see each other. We saw into each other’s soul and found love in a place we never knew it existed. After the trip, we were inseparable for weeks. I moved in quite literally the day we got back from enchanted rock.
Mike had just had a crazy beautiful spiritual awakening and I was finally ready to get back on the spiritual path. He was the first man that helped me to see that it wasn’t scary to go deeper and dive into myself. Of course a bunch of my shit came up but I wasn’t alone in this. Mike had some dark demons within himself that he had to work out too. We weren’t whole people; we were both broken, but we were both trying to be better. We committed to doing the work together and it wasn’t easy. We had some crazy fights and I had many nights where my tears poured out of my soul. I took on Mike’s pain because I loved him more than anything or anyone I had ever loved. I knew it was all worth it because he was doing what so many others refused to do in previous relationships—he was doing the work.
Mike really started to transform and it is such a blessing to see the man you love transform into the man you know he can be. It makes me tear up just thinking about how beautiful it is. It makes me cry because it’s what I had always imagined a relationship to be like. It’s what I had always dreamed of but never thought existed.
Mike was moving at light speed on his path of enlightenment because it was the first spiritual awakening he had ever had and he was excited about the light that was waking up in his soul. I remembered what that was like—I had already had 2 different awakenings in my life and this time I wasn’t as excited. I was straight up fucking scared.
Mike made me believe it was possible to do the work and I didn’t have to be afraid, but at the time I couldn’t explain why I was so fearful. My whole body and insides were freaking the fuck out and I couldn’t move forward. Anything that reminded me of Christianity made me run the other direction. Any new revelation that made me feel my spirit made me cringe because I was now so skeptical to believe anyone or anything blindly. There were so many times that Mike got frustrated with me because I wouldn’t take action and do what was so obvious that could help me through my pain. But I just couldn’t move forward. I was so broken and so scared that it wasn’t real and that it wouldn’t last and that it wasn’t true.
What I could do was read and learn and digest. I kept doing that over and over. Read. Learn. Digest. But I didn’t move forward. I felt like we were in an intense jedi spiritual training for the soul, but I was having a hard time actually applying anything we learned because I was full of so much fear. This caused Mike and I to have fights—sometimes it was him, sometimes it was me and sometimes it was both of us. Every time it broke my heart because I loved Mike so damn much and I really didn’t want to fight him, but I couldn’t stop myself from vomiting all my fears and pain. I tried so hard, but it all just kept coming out of me regardless if I didn’t want to say it or not.
It was my thoughts, my fears, me. Yes he had stuff to work on too, but I couldn’t deny the work I needed to do myself. That’s when I started looking for Ashrams all around the world because I knew Mike couldn’t help me. He tried, but the truth is no one can truly help you but you yourself. I knew this and I had to take the steps to help myself.
I realized that I was using Mike as an excuse not to deal with my shit. As long as he was loving me, everything seemed fine. I didn’t feel like I needed to do the work because I had someone that loved me and that’s all that mattered to me. I found safety in his love and his embrace, but it was never enough because we would eventually fight. All hell would break loose—frustration, anger, victim, control, fear and judgment. My demons kept creeping back to haunt me and so were his. We were pushing each other away and I could see the same things that happened with my ex-husband happening all over again and it scared the shit out of me. I didn’t want to create so much hurt that there was no coming back.
When you meet your soulmate you will do anything possible to keep them in your life. The only thing you can do is work on yourself. Anything else will just push them away. I couldn’t lose Mike. I wouldn’t. I was tired of the vicious cycles repeating in my life and I knew I had to do something to change. I had to face my fucking demons and find a way to love them. Mike and I both know that we’re soulmates and we’re both committed to doing the work so we can be whole separately so that we can be whole together. You can’t be whole unless you do the work alone. The path of your soul will never be realized without taking the time alone to love yourself fully.
This trip has actually been a long time coming. I think I’ve been dreaming about this journey into aloneness my entire life. I’ve felt it in my soul calling me in so many different parts of my life, but I ignored the call. I wanted to go on this trip when I got separated from my ex-husband, but I was too afraid to go. Even before I met Mike I knew my soul was calling me to go on this journey, but I kept putting it off making all kinds of excuses. You should never make excuses when it comes to matters of your heart and soul. I’ve learned that our hearts try to lead us but we’re usually too afraid to do what we know is best for us. I’m finally ready and in a place where I’m no longer afraid. I’m ready to dive in and go deep.
I don’t know what’s waiting for me here in India, but I do know that I’m ready to find me and not the fake me that everyone else wants me to be. Not the me who I think I should be for everyone else, but the real authentic me. The me that’s always been there. The me that’s bursting with creativity and light. The me that’s full of love and hope. The me that sees the world as a beautiful place regardless of what others do and say. The me without fear and judgment. The me in perfect peace. The whole me—the Real Virginia Trinidad Bradford.
That’s why India—because ME.