Sitting In the Fire of Your Own Feelings


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I have had a very hard time learning to let go. Hanging onto the hand of the girl I used to be.

A girl that was abused, addicted, and scared. Carrying so much shame as a survivor of human trafficking between the ages of 16 -18, I believed that I would be judged on the life I used to live if anyone found out about it. Feeling like I had a secret and that no one would understand and that they wouldn’t want to even try. 

There was a time when I lived off of the avails of crime.

I used every drug under the sun to try to forget the pain of multiple sexual assaults as a young girl, to forget the failures and the love that I didn’t have. Letting others lead me around because I didn’t trust myself, I never believed that I could be ok alone. I lived in survival mode and the only way I could get by was to believe that what I was doing was ok.

Living in the suburbs as a high functioning addict, I was playing house with a major drug dealer.

This man was extremely abusive, especially verbally, though physically sometimes too. We spent 6 years together. The first time he punched me in the stomach I should have left; I was only 18, he was 21. I didn’t know that I deserved better and I believed he would change but he didn’t. Making excuses for him every single time, not understanding that this abuse was not normal.

I can’t count the number of times I hid behind the bathroom door terrified he would find a way in or possibly rip it right off of the wall. I wish I could tell you that I finally found the courage to leave him. He left me and I hated him, but I was still crushed. My tender 23-year-old ego couldn’t stand the rejection. I begged him to come back but he had already moved on with another woman.

Maybe this woman was one of my guardian angels, come to sweep him off his feet and out of my life.

Looking back, I remember how devastated I was and now I see this as one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was never going to fly under that oppression. It feels like a lifetime ago now, but I’ve still been attached to the feelings of low self-worth from it all. 

I tried to hide the pain and suffering from all those years.

Burying them deep down inside of me, figuring it was a safe place to hide them. Hiding secrets makes you sick. That’s exactly what happened. Mental illness developed as I was trying to live my new sober straight-line life and I couldn’t function. I would break down into tears multiple times per day and had anxiety 24/7. Eventually I had to go on medication to help control the panic attacks and deep depression. This was also one of the best things that ever happened to me. The medication gave me the opportunity to function and get through one of the hardest times in my life. I really wanted to start moving forward but I always feared my past life would catch up with me. One way or another, I knew these skeletons were going to tumble out of my closet, I just didn’t think it would be voluntarily.

Thankfully, I came to realize you need to sit in the fire of your own feelings in order to heal your heart’s wounds.

Slowing down to allow these feelings to surface is crucial to emotional growth. I sat in so much pain during this healing process.  Spending a year and a half feeling all of the horrors that have ever happened to me was needed in order to crack my heart wide open. It made me believe that a heart must break in order to be whole. 

The woman I am today carried herself out of a street life and into the life of her dreams.

I believe I have hung onto my past up until now because it’s been a transition that was completed together; the old me into the new. We held each other’s hands to have enough strength to rise up. Through meditation, group therapy, and manifestation I have cultivated healthy relationships, and I’m thriving.

Now that I stand tall and confident in the person that I am, I can let her slip away. I can believe that I’m truly worthy of the life I have today because I have worked so hard for it. It is time to let go. 

Now my passion is sharing my story so that I can help others clear the shame and guilt from themselves. These feelings are too heavy too bare. I believe that if I can accept myself after so many years of self- loathing, then hopefully sharing my story lends courage to others to do the same.

Deirdre Maloney

Deirdre Maloney

Deirdre is a writer, philanthropist, and self proclaimed shame shifter. After experiencing a mental health breakdown during her fourth, unexpected pregnancy, Deirdre knew she needed to deal with her past before it dealt with her. The thoughts of never being good enough haunted her, as feelings of shame were always lingering. Acceptance for a past life of rape, underage prostitution, drug use, and crime was essential in her Rise Up. Deirdre overcame her limiting beliefs through various methods and shares her journey to help lift others. Deirdre is married with four children and resides in Ontario. She is the author of Unfold Me, a self-help book guiding women to own their story and regularly posts on her blog, The Unfolding Project. Deirdre is the Founder and Team Captain of HighGate Racing, Canada’s largest all female competitive cycling team. Co-founder of a local women’s support group, Deirdre immerses herself in helping women find their voice.

8 Responses

  1. I have chills reading this! It may not have felt like it at the time, but I’m sure it took incredible strength to face those feelings and move past them into the life you have now.

  2. What an amazing story. So many of us are in denial of human trafficking. You definitely are an inspiration to anyone living with it or some of us being made aware of it. I imagine it is as scary to leave as it is being in that situation. You should be so proud of yourself for how far you have come and I wish you nothing but happiness in your days ahead….

  3. Trust and let go!

    Know you have already impacted so many.
    Know you have made a difference.
    Know your light is leading the way.
    Know your story has already created the magic of the right connections that have lead you to your purpose.

    Trust… and now, let go! ✨

  4. Thank you for opening your heart and being vulnerable by sharing your story. It lets people know they arent alone and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  5. Beautiful and powerful transformation. I hope it reaches infinite beings, and inspires the hearts of those who have also walked a similar path.

  6. What an incredible story. Inspiring beyond words and likely life changing for so many who need hope. ♥️

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