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Daring to love after trauma is an act of bravery.
The question of how to open your heart again after you have been hurt in unthinkable ways, is a question that weighs heavily on people’s minds all across the world. Healing is a personal journey that takes place on our own specific time frames, but fate also has a way of intervening. Until then, until we meet the right person though, sometimes you just have got to say, “move from my aura fam.”
Jungle Flower, who coined the phrase “move from my aura fam,” survived a psychologically abusive relationship and turned her trauma into communal healing and beauty. Jungle Flower is a warrior poet, motivational speaker, photographer, interviewer, humanitarian, and founder of Reclaim Your Voice. Created in 2012, Reclaim Your Voice is a grassroots organization that provides safe spaces for people to share stories of abuse and sexual violence.
Jungle Flower found her calling. Her dedicated healing nature has helped countless individuals with their own healing processes.
Jungle Flower tells Goalcast of her healing work, “I enjoy my other endeavors, but nothing fulfils me like this. I feel like I’m on path when I do this work. I feel like it’s my highest self doing this work. So, I decided that part of the reason why I went out there to tell my story was because I wanted to step into my calling as a voice for healing.”
If you check out Jungle Flower’s Instagram, it will become clear fairly quickly why the work she does is so fulfilling. Since returning from her 9-month trip to Asia in 2019 writing her memoirs of experiencing and healing from abuse, Jungle Flower has resumed her volunteer work at RYV and hosts free workshops and events in the community. She also makes a living off of speaking to schools and organizations about her story and facilitates workshops as well.
She survived psychological abuse
Abuse comes in many forms. Psychological abuse, however, is notoriously difficult for many to identify. Jungle Flower explains, “psychological abuse is a form of abuse that is actually very very often downplayed because it usually doesn’t leave any physical wounds.”
She states the reality that, “whereas, because psychological abuse doesn’t involve that physical damage, it is so often overlooked or minimized. But it is also, for people who are familiar with abuse and are familiar with this kind of work, they consider it one of the most dangerous forms of abuse because it is so difficult to detect and because of the lasting psychological wounds that it leaves.”
Reflecting on that time, Jungle Flower says:
So for me, in my experience what psychological abuse looked like was, being screamed at, and therefore starting to avoid doing certain things to avoid being screamed at.
The healer describes the abuse saying, “and so essentially one of the tactics of psychological abuse is to control one’s victim through fear. And so that’s what the perpetrator was able to do in my situation, controlling me through fear. Through the screams, through threatening me, through getting me to out of fear, to cut all of the men out of my life, which meant cutting out support and cutting out protection.”
Jungle Flower says of her perpetrator, “he would humiliate me in public, he would scream at me in public…” When no one would intervene, Jungle Flower recalls at that point, feeling “helplessness,” “trapped,” “like no one cared,” and like there was no way to get help. She continues saying, “He would compare me to other women, and he would just do things like that to help break my sense of self-worth which would work to make me feel like I deserved the treatment that he was giving me.”
Leaving him was no easy task
On attempting to leave him, Jungle Flower says, “He was trying to go from living the street life to being legitimate and in that transition, he was claiming it was very stressful, and how could I just leave him when he was just trying to better his life? So, I felt guilt around that.”
When things got really bad, Jungle Flower would try to leave, but he would make doing so very difficult. He would take something essential of hers, such as a laptop, house keys, or cell phone. He was cunning, taking an item she had to return for, and whenever she returned, he would convince her to stay.
Jungle Flower says it worked because he was manipulative and operated without a conscience. She chillingly says, “so things that maybe you and I would never do to people, he would easily do to people. But, because my own mindset is that I wouldn’t do certain things, I didn’t think that he also was capable of doing certain things. And, he definitely used that to his advantage.”
The RYV founder also recalls that her perpetrator would stalk her by relentlessly calling, texting, and emailing her to the point where she felt “that there was no way out” and that her only way “to have a chance of moving forward was to go through him.”
It’s hard for others to understand
Many people ask the infamous and almost equally offensive question of ‘why did she stay?’ Jungle Flower addresses that FAQ when she states that, “when he would fight for me and really want me to come back, I would be like ‘oh he really does love me, he does care’ and that actually was what I was looking for always and so that is what would always convince me to stay. Essentially, it was thinking that he cared about me.”
Over time, Jungle Flower has amassed a rolodex of knowledge when it comes to trauma and healing. One such concept that she discusses is trauma bonding. According to Jungle Flower:
Basically, all situations can bond us to people, all experiences we go through together. Going through extreme or difficult situations tends to bond people in a particular way.
She continues, “And, even though we bond under unhealthy, or toxic, or dangerous situations, it can create a very very strong bond and that’s what can make it so difficult for people to leave someone who is not being kind to them, that is using them, that is torturing them even, it’s because of that trauma bond.”
Jungle Flower explains that even though we know that they are hurting us, being apart from them is also painful. However, she says “that painfulness of separation, that will go away in time.”
She proved love after abuse is possible
If you’ve followed Jungle Flower’s journey, you’d know that there’s someone she has graciously shared with her following, Redwood. Redwood and Jungle Flower’s relationship began when an intuitive person she knew thought the now couple should meet.
Jungle Flower says of their first meeting, “It was really interesting. So, I met him, I did have a list, and I do have high standards and I just was amazed that off the bat, how many of the things on my list he was hitting. And one of the things was that I wanted to meet my future partner through someone I knew and trusted.” She wanted “to date somebody who someone could vouch for” and that’s exactly what she did.
On a girls’ night, Jungle Flower’s intuitive friend said that she kept on thinking to invite her brother-in-law to meet her. When Jungle Flower wasn’t sure, her friend insisted that she look at his Instagram.
As soon as I saw his face, it impacted me. I keep saying, it’s like a negative way to say it, but it feels like I was hit by a truck. I was impacted so hard, and as a photographer, I’ve been around a lot of good-looking men, it takes a lot to phase me, but something about him, just got to me.
Redwood knew that he wanted to pursue Jungle Flower and he went for it.
“He knew he wanted to do it, he wanted to go for it, he wanted to get to know me, he wanted to connect with me, he shot his shot, he asked me out, and after we spent our first date together, he asked me out again, and I love that. I’m such a quality time person.”
Communication is central to their relationship
When Jungle Flower speaks of Redwood it is clear that there is love, respect and open communication in place in the foundation of their dynamic. Jungle Flower says, “He’s communicative, he tells me…I don’t ask, he volunteers so much information. How he spends his day, how he spends his time, who he’s with… I notice the people he has around him, his chosen friends, he’s around really good people.”
“He encouraged me,” Jungle Flower says of Redwood when it came to opening up about her experiences. “I told him, I was very honest about what I experienced, because I’m not ashamed of what I experienced. So, my triggers, I would tell him, what it is that I was dealing with and what it was that I was healing from.”
Jungle Flower reveals:
So, one of the things was betrayal trauma and learning to trust after being cheated on so much by the person who abused me, that left me with serious trust issues.
She recounts an example that illustrates her and Redwood’s compatibility and his understanding. The warrior poet says, “And so, you know, he was like, ‘you can come to me with any concerns, any questions, I have nothing to hide’ and he told me that so many times, and he showed and proved.” Jungle Flower says that it still took around 6 months for her triggers to subside, to calm down, and for her to feel safe. She attributes the progress to Redwood’s patience.
The right person will push you to grow
Jungle Flower waited for a man with Redwood’s qualities for 6 years. She says, “I longed for this, for this type of intimacy, for this type of good partner, and now that I have it, I’m so willing to do the work to maintain the relationship, to grow the relationship, to work through my own trauma and triggers.”
On what she would say to those who are looking to love again after trauma, “I want people to know that they’re going to have to, one, be willing to do the work, because it will likely bring up some things. It will likely trigger you and show you where you still need to heal. To take their time, and again to try not to rush into things out of loneliness…”
Jungle Flower recommends, “also getting to know the person as a friend.” She believes that it is friendship that is essential for a strong foundation. Communication is key in Jungle Flower’s eyes as well. She says of her and Redwood, “him and I are both equally willing to work on ourselves and to communicate.”
The healer also recommends therapy, saying not to make “your partner your therapist,” even if they are one by occupation. She believes outside support can help you navigate the ups and downs of a relationship when you love again after a painful past.
Setting boundaries is not easy, but always worth it
When you have had someone cross your boundaries so severely in the past, often you can develop issues setting boundaries in the present as a consequence of the perpetrator’s violating behaviors. One day during stream of consciousness writing, the boundary setting words “move from my aura fam” came to Jungle Flower. Now the slogan is worn by her followers on t-shirts, long sleeves and hoodies from her Pride of The Ancestors shop online.
Jungle Flower explains the phrase, saying, “Move from my aura fam is just a way to kind of support people learning to set and enforce boundaries. Some people who wear the shirt have already mastered the skill (laughs), but for those who still have challenges in doing so, it allows them to, you know, kind of take a step in that direction with a bit of humor and also while remaining in their element as a spiritual being.”
Everyone has a past, and we choose to put that past in its rightful place when we are ready to show up and do the work. Jungle Flower did the self-work (actively and literally), she knew what she wanted in a partner, so that when he showed up, she was ready to make the commitment to enter a new relationship. Equally as important, Redwood was ready to do the work as well.
With the past behind her, and what’s to come looking as bright as ever, be on the lookout for a meditation album and a poetry album from Jungle Flower in the future. Remember to always strive for what you want in life and know your worth. And, when a situation is not in line with your dreams and how you know you deserve to be treated, then sometimes you just have set some boundaries and say, “move from my aura fam.”