Monday, July 23, 2012

Guest Post: Sulay A. Thompson

Hello fellow WTFers! I apologize for my lengthy absence; I'm getting ready to start on my Masters thesis and I'm working a job and an internship this summer, so things have been somewhat hectic! That being said, I am so proud to introduce an amazing, beautiful woman, someone who I am PROUD to call a friend and fellow godmother. Her name is Sulay A. Thompson, and her story is one that is going to be hard to read, but necessary. It's a story that you need to show to your best girlfriend, to your mother, to your grandmother. It's a story that you need to show to your brother when he starts making misogynist abuse jokes, to your father when he laughs at that image of the bruised woman in that Facebook post, to your uncle who thinks that punching his wife in the shoulder is "just a joke" and that she needs to learn to have a sense of humor. It's a story that you need to show to everyone you love.

[TW for abuse (emotional, verbal, physical), severe violence]

A Warrior, A Survivor, A WOMAN 
Strength and Transformation
It is evident that power in itself is one of the strongest, most life-altering and moving forces that influences the world around us as we currently know it.  Power, as an altering and influential force, takes on many different forms and shapes in our society. While many of us are very familiar with different forms of power and those who possess it, such as politicians, superiors in our workplace, higher authority, and even our unique beliefs of  a Higher Power and the grasp that they have on us, very few are aware of the single most important form of power. Nowadays, those who possess power have such a hold on us, that many times we forget that each and every one of us, as individuals, as men and as women, possesses an innate power that, when acknowledged, has the ability to completely transform our reality as we perceive it. In other words, reflection on our inner selves reminds us that, as individuals, we possess power over ourselves. We all have the inner power to choose who we want to become as individuals, how we want to be treated by others, and exactly what we want to do with our lives. In other words, we often forget that we are not helpless victims of society and of our wrongdoings and mistakes, that in fact we are the creators of our lives and the authors of our stories.
In fact, in Spanish language, power is written as PODER. The definition of PODER means to be able to take action. Taking this into consideration, the following story is my personal anecdote about how through failure and struggle, I was able to tap into my inner power and use that force within me to change my reality, to realize and understand that even in the worst situations possible, I (as each and every one of us does) have the inner strength to change a nightmare into a heaven. We as individuals must understand that the power within us is limitless and that once we learn how to tap into it, it will give us the strength, the determination, and the resilience to both take charge and transform.
Before I share my story with you, I would like to take a moment to reach out to all women, regardless of age, physical appearance, sexual orientation, religion, race, marital status, etc. It is disappointing to live in a society which, even in the year 2012, still does not fully acknowledge and treat women as the magnificent, outstanding human beings we are. However, I would like to remind each and every one of you that we ARE NOT HELPLESS. We are POWERFUL beyond measure and by using that power within us, we have an absolute right to transform our lives and to say ENOUGH to negativity and harmful situations and people around us. May my story always remind you that you are a QUEEN, that you deserve the best of everything and the best of everyone. Nothing is final and negative circumstances can and will end at your volition by using your power, your strength, and your determination as your most potent weapons in rebelling against anything and anyone that harms you. Say ENOUGH! Say it to yourself, say it with intent, and remind yourself that you CAN—you WILL—and realize that the end of negativity signifies a new beginning, a new reality, and a whole new life. It IS POSSIBLE, and it is ENTIRELY UP TO YOU. It’s within you, you have the power, and no one or nothing can ever take that away from you.
My story dates back to about the year 2007. Remembering my circumstances back then, it seemed as if my life was picture perfect and I had absolutely everything I could ever ask for. Actually, I was one of the happiest, most fulfilled twenty year old young girls around. In the professional aspect, I was a junior in St. John’s University majoring in Biology and Pre-medicine. My ultimate dream, since I was four years old, was to become a physician. I knew that I had to excel in school in order to achieve my goal, and I did just that. Dedicating almost all my time to my studies, I studied endlessly and excelled exceptionally and beyond my wildest dreams. I was on the Dean’s List during each and every one of my semesters in College and never attained a GPA lower than 3.80 out of a possible 4.0. I was extremely focused and even though the hours and endless classes and labs were at times challenging, I kept giving it my all. Concerning my family and friends, I considered myself blessed. Raised by my disabled mother and elderly grandmother, I was always showered with the most unconditional love I have ever known, and was supported every step of the way. In fact, I honestly do not think I would have ever achieved anything, or even be alive right now, if I didn’t have my two inspirations and heroes by my side. In the friendship aspect, I was also very lucky. I met two of the most amazing girls I have ever known, nicknamed Gigi and Nica, when I first entered St. John’s University in the year 2004. We remained very loyal and very supportive of each other, and almost ten years later, in the year 2012, I am honored to still have them by my side. I also had plenty of old friends from High School, Junior High School, and whom I grew up with, who I had the pleasure of talking with, going out with, and who always made me smile and laugh.
With a great education, an amazing family, and fun and loving friends, it seemed as if I had it all. At that point, nothing could stop me, and my future was brighter than ever. The only aspect of my life missing was the romantic one. However, all of that changed, and all of my reality changed, when during that same year, I met the person who forever marked me as a person, and as a woman: my ex-husband. The day I met him, little did I know that this man would turn out to be both the worst, yet most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. However, when I say the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, it is not in reference to the fond memories that I formed with him in the five years that we were together. It is in reference to the beautiful, most astounding transformation that I have ever undergone AFTER I left him, that led me to the here, the now, that led me to become the WARRIOR, THE SURVIVOR, THE WOMAN THAT I AM SO PROUD OF TODAY,  SULAY A. THOMPSON.
I met my ex-husband through a friend with whom I attended college. I actually remember meeting him as if it happened yesterday. One weekend, Gigi, my friend, and I decided to go out to eat. My friend decided to bring along his cousin, whom we will nickname Mr. J. That night out went wonderfully well, and Mr. J and I had a true connection. We exchanged numbers, and from there, our romantic relationship began. The beginning of it was no different than the usual. We spoke endlessly on the phone, we went on various dates, and there were butterflies and fireworks everywhere. As our romantic relationship continued, everything seemed normal. I slowly began to fall in love, for the first time in my life, and he started to become a bigger and more important part of my life. So important, that I even introduced him to my family and friends only months after dating; he was all I would ever talk about. Even so, my priorities remained intact, and my education still remained as the most important thing in my life. I continued to excel, while I effortlessly handled my education, my family, and my significant other. Everything was pretty normal and under control for me, and I continued being a very happy and fulfilled girl. The year 2008 rolled by and in May, I graduated St. John’s University with a Bachelor’s in Biology and Pre-med. Not only that, but I received many outstanding achievement awards and honors and graduated Magna Cum Laude. I was more ready than ever to face the world, to conquer it, and to make my dream of becoming Dr. Thompson a reality. This was a whole new beginning for me, and I was more excited than ever. At this point, when I was most ready, was when it all changed for me. It was when Mr. J, decided to turn my sweetest dream into the most horrifying nightmare that any woman can endure.
As I stated before, slowly but surely, Mr. J started to become one of the most important people in my life. Having just relocated from Dominican Republic to the United States only a few years ago, he was greatly struggling, and since I had fallen in love with him, I wanted to do everything possible to help him. Little did I know that Mr. J was playing one of the best roles of his life, one for which I believe he deserves an award as the most credible of actors. Little did I know that Mr. J was pretending to be the perfect mate, because eventually his VISA would expire and we would need to marry a U.S. citizen to stay in the country.  And little did I know that Mr. J would change from being my Prince Charming to becoming the most horrible monster imaginable, one who would abuse me emotionally, mentally, and physically so much that the bright, shining star that I was, and the glowing light which I had within me, would dim so drastically, that I almost completely, but not entirely, was left in total darkness.
Mr. J was struggling very much as a recent immigrant, and since our relationship was very strong and, up until that point, positive, I decided to take a major step in our relationship. Since at that point he was almost homeless, had major financial problems, and was alone in this country, I asked him to move into a vacant space at my home. My mother and grandmother had seen how happy I was, and how great he had been to me, and accepted this move as long as we slept in different rooms. Consequently, after his move I put a great deal of energy into welcoming him into my family. In Mr. J’s twisted mind, he had accomplished a major step towards his goal of obtaining his green card. So, since he had his foot in the door, his true colors started to show. The darkness within him began to surface little by little.
After he moved in, I started noticing small changes in him. The attentive, charming, loving mate that he was started to slowly dwindle. The bright girl, who had her priorities straight and who had goals and dreams, slowly started to change as well. Soon, I found myself not caring about anything or anyone but Mr. J. Without even realizing it, he and his well-being became my absolute and sole goal and that part of me, that energetic, goal-oriented girl was slowly dying within me. The abuse did not start immediately, but signs soon started to surface; first he began ignoring me, becoming distant and cold, and very often, extremely moody and rude. At first I was perplexed at this sudden change. I asked myself, what is happening? Why is it that the more love that I give him, the more he changes for the worst? I could not find answers within me, and neither could I get them from him. And so I continued showering him with love and affection, foolishly thinking that it was exactly what he needed. Conversely, as I continued with my failed efforts, circumstances began to change very fast and very drastically, until one day I woke up and I did not recognize the man I had fallen in love with and more sadly, I did not recognize the girl into whom I had become.
When I state that things began to go downhill quickly, it is not an understatement. Within a few months, the bright girl who had medical school as her goal was completely gone. Also within a few months, that loving, charming man turned into a rude, distant, and disrespectful person towards the girl who had given it all up to try and help him. The abuse began towards the last few months in 2008 and largely escalated in the year 2009. First it began emotionally. I gave him love, I tried to be close to him both emotionally and physically, and he would push me away in all forms possible. I would try to be sweet and caring, and he would disregard every aspect of it, including calling me names and completely destroying my self-esteem any way he could think of. He would literally tell me that I could not accomplish anything, and made me feel worthless. Slowly but surely, he alienated me from the closest people to me by telling me that I needed him, that everyone around me wanted to harm me and wanted to separate us. The reality was that everyone around me started seeing bad signs, and tried to help me understand. However, at this point I was almost completely blinded.
The abuse went on to become both mental and emotional and before long I was living a hell right here on Earth. Mentally, he completely manipulated me in any way possible. He always made me believe that something was wrong with me, that I was at fault, and that I was a complete, miserable failure. He eventually manipulated me so much that he even told me that I did not deserve to be loved, that I was worthless, and that my mother and grandmother did not want me to be happy. I started deteriorating at very rapid pace. The motivated girl that I used to be started believing every lie that he fed me. I had plans of entering medical school in 2008, but eventually I tossed it to the side, and my lifelong dream soon meant nothing to me because I truly believed that I was not capable of doing it. It got much worse when the abuse started becoming physical, so physical that I almost lost my life in his hands, not once, but twice, and that is not even including the multiple times in which he shoved me, pushed me, grabbed me by my neck, arms, legs, and slammed me against the floor or any other object that would inflict pain.
The physical abuse began when in the middle of arguing, I would try and reason with him so that he would not storm out and avoid the conflict like he always did. Instead of assuring me he would be back and that we would reach a compromise, this man, almost 300 lbs. and 6’ tall, would take me, a petite woman of 120 lbs. and 5’3” tall, grab me by any body part, and literally slam me against anything, whether it was a table, the sofa, the door, our car, or anything he could find until I was bruised and in terrible pain. He would actually take my small arms, my small hands, and twist and turn them so much until they were at the brink of breaking until I was in agonizing pain and had to plead and beg him for mercy. One of the many times in which we argued, he cracked my head open. I clearly remember the incident as if it happened yesterday; we were in the basement where we parked our car. We argued, and he took me by the neck and slammed my head against one of the metal poles in the middle of the basement. Up until this day, I remember the severe pain that I felt, and I also recall him getting me into the car, driving off with me and stating that he was going to crash and kill the both of us. Luckily, I convinced him to let me go in the middle of an unknown street, and in pain, in tears, I walked home, went into my bathroom, cleaned my head, and was so terrified that I could not speak to anyone or ask anyone for help. This was the first attempt against my life, and then came the first time he tortured me, and then he tried killing me AGAIN.
Experiencing torture from the man for whom I had given it ALL to make happy marked one of the most horrifying events of my life. At this point, I had helped and supported him so much, that he was able to afford to rent a room in the building next to mine. Even out of my household, the arguments between us never ended and everything bothered him and made him angry and he often exploded. His fuse got shorter and shorter every time. During the argument that led to the torture, he was violently screaming at me because I had not ironed his clothes the way he wanted me to. I got highly upset and wanted to come back home. Since I had to do everything how and when he wanted to, he often got angry when I did the contrary to what he stated. At that point, I walked out of his room, and he grabbed me. I screamed and tried to get away, but his strength greatly overpowered me. He grabbed me by my neck and put me him his room, closing the door behind him. As I struggled to get away, he pinned me against the floor until I could not move even a hair. I screamed and screamed, and he eventually found a rag and stuck it in my mouth so no one would hear. I tried wrestling, kicking, doing anything possible but my efforts were in vain. Eventually, he took clothes of his that were lying around and tied both my arms and my legs until I couldn’t wrestle, kick or scream anymore. There I was, in the middle of his room, on the floor, lying helplessly and crying what seemed to me tears of blood. I thought to myself that it would be over soon, that in a few minutes he would let me go. I was wrong. He actually kept me tied down for the entire day without feeding me, and without letting me go. I stayed an entire day at his mercy, and there was no one around to help me. He went about his day, fixing his clothes, playing video games while I was lying there completely tied up. The torture got even worse when my mother, worried that she had not heard from me during the entire day, called him. He answered the phone and pretended everything was fine, and even put the phone to my ear so I could hear my mom’s voice, but since he had put a rag in my mouth, I could not ask for help. When the call ended, I thought I was going to die at his hands. I cried endlessly, but at that point, tears meant absolutely nothing. I could not understand how I could endure so much pain and suffering. A part of me felt like giving up, but there was something in me that kept telling me to keep fighting, that it was not over yet. Eventually, after about 12 hours, he let me go. At that point I was so numb from so much suffering that all I did was leave, come running to my house, and lay in my bed without saying a word to anyone. All I thought was, I survived and I prayed to God to help me find a way to end this suffering and pain.
The second attempt against my life happened shortly after the torture. He came to visit me at my house and, as always, we argued. At this point, everyone in my life suspected the abuse, but I vehemently denied it because he would tell me that he would kill me if anyone found out. My mother and my grandmother knew something was very wrong. I always came home afraid, speechless, and full of bruises. They would plead and ask me to end my relationship with him, and instead of listening to them, I got angry at them. Becoming angry was my way of expressing my pain and my suffering without truly revealing what was occurring. In a way, it became my defense mechanism. Therefore, my mother and grandmother just knew something was wrong, and at one point, they truly thought I was losing my mind. Whenever he was in front of them, he acted as the perfect man. He portrayed an image of a calm, well organized man who was always in control of his emotions and actions, while behind closed doors he was the most horrible monster imaginable. Since this was his image, and since they did not know about the abuse, all my mother and grandmother saw was a very loving man, yet I was always angry, emotional, and very withdrawn with them. They had no clue that the problem, in fact, was HIM and not me: they had no clue. The second attempt against my life happened the night he came to visit; as he went into the hallway, we were still arguing. At one point, he got so angry that he actually grabbed me, put me upside down, and threatened to let me fall down an entire flight of stairs headfirst. I was so afraid that all I could do was cry and scream. Luckily, a neighbor heard me, came out, and just as he opened the door, Mr. J put me down, ran down the stairs and left.
As if that wasn’t enough, he also broke my middle finger right at the joint, leaving it permanently crooked for life. At this point in the relationship, we were already engaged to be married. You might be thinking, ‘Sulay, if the abuse was so bad, why on Earth did you marry him?’ The truth is that I was not Sulay Thompson anymore. I was a manipulated, battered, abused, and broken down puppet of Mr. J. At this point in my life, all I knew was pain, and neither my thoughts nor my actions were rational anymore. Also, the abuse did not escalate so horrifically until we were officially engaged, and then married. As expected, the marriage was not approved of by the majority of the people in my life, even though I hid the abuse. Everyone knew something was terribly wrong. However, in my abused and manipulated mind, I felt that by marrying him I was helping him, and that he would eventually change and become a great man once he knew he was not going to be deported. My mind was completely distorted at this point due to all this abuse, and I was not capable of being rational. He was smart about what he did; he waited to be married, to have his green card, until he showed his true colors. I did marry him after he broke my finger due to the fact that he truly made me believe that it was MY FAULT: yes, MY FAULT. This incident happened in the middle of another argument. It was a cold winter day, and again, as always, he blamed me for something. He proceeded to put his long pants on and as I grabbed the pants by one of the belt hooks to stop him from leaving, he pulled it from me so hard, that my ring finger broke. The pain was unbearable and after going to the hospital it was confirmed that I had a fracture. After 3 months of physical therapy, my finger gained functionality, even though it remains crooked. Most people would expect Mr. J to have had felt bad about this. They’re wrong. All he said was that it was my fault for taking his pants and that I deserved it. Even though a part of me thought that his explanation made no sense, I was easily manipulated by him. Of course, I lied to everyone and told them that the door slammed on my finger. I even gave this explanation to the doctor himself, who questioned me over and over.
As I finished typing those last words, a thought crossed my mind. I cannot believe that I endured so much. To tell you the truth, after years of enduring this, I eventually did break down.  This monster abused and broke me down so terribly, that Sulay Thompson eventually became a simple nobody. As the abuse progressed and got worse, my response to all of it was to hide as much as possible. I wanted to hide from him, so he would not kill me, and also from my mother and grandmother so that they would notice it less. By the year 2010, the bright straight-A student who had a brilliant future, turned into a broken down girl who would not work, would not go to school, and would instead hide in her room every single day of her life. I refused to admit the abuse to even my mother and my grandmother, and I was so broken down that I would literally never get out of bed to even shower or change clothes.
The Warrior
My loved ones grew more and more concerned about me. They would notice the bruises, the scars, and yet all I would do is stay silent and cry. I started to have very intense panic attacks and my crying was endless. At this point, everyone thought that it was over for me. That there was no coming back from this and that Sulay Thompson, that brilliant, energetic girl, was gone forever. However, they were wrong, very wrong. Everything changed, the minute that I stood up from that bed, and decided ENOUGH. To tell you the truth, I do not know where I got the strength or the illumination to do this. Up until this date, I truly believe that my mother and grandmother’s prayers were answered by God. It happened so drastically, and so suddenly, that in my mind it truly has to be a miracle. In the midst of endless crying, and of panic attacks, I woke up one day and I said “Mom, I need you, I need help and I need it now.” This was when Sulay, the warrior was born, and when enough truly was ENOUGH. My mother, the one person on Earth who has NEVER given up on me, did not hesitate to provide me with the help that I needed. The first step that I took was to ask my mother to take me to a psychologist. At this point, my mother knew that something drastic was about to happen, that something in me lit up, that I realized that no matter how small it was, there was still an ounce of power within me to change my reality, to stop the abuse, the tears, the panic attacks, to be FREE from that hell and create a new reality.  I can truly state that I was enlightened. The warrior in me slowly took hold
Upon seeing the psychologist, I struggled explaining to him the abuse. It was so much, and I was so afraid that I truly did not know how to ask for help; all I knew was that I desperately needed it. My first step was to get away from Mr. J and the abuse. Therefore, since I had lost over 20 lbs. and was in very bad physical condition, I pleaded with the psychologist to put me in a hospital. He did not understand why, but at this point I had planned out my recovery plan and I finally had started to think rationally and knew exactly what I wanted to do. In my head, I thought that if I could get away from him and from everyone and everything, it would give me time to think about how I would end this hell and live free from the abuse and suffering. Even though the psychologist did not understand, he agreed to admit me to the hospital since I was in very bad physical and emotional condition.
Being admitted to the hospital was my first step toward the miracle that I truly made happen in my life. Upon arriving there, I got immediate medical attention and I asked for a psychologist to see and talk to me every day. While there, things changed dramatically for me. I was put on anti-anxiety medication and was also treated for being malnourished. There, in a hospital very far away from home, for the first time in many years, I felt safe. I knew that I had all the help that I needed, and for the first time in years, I confided in the team of professionals available to me and talked about the abuse. Once they were aware of the intensity of the abuse I had been subjected to, they arranged an entire team to help me get out of it. I was at the hospital for an entire two weeks, surrounded by the most caring, loving professionals I have ever met, and there I talked, talked, and talked, and even opened up to my mother about it. For the first time I could freely and openly state my feelings and I felt like I had reached heaven. For the first time ever, I was NOT afraid, and I learned that I was NOT alone. Of course, it was a very slow process, because at the beginning I did not even recognize that the relationship was abusive and kept blaming myself. However, slowly but surely I came out of that tortured, manipulated state of mind, and I started to re-gain some of what was left of that bright girl. After two weeks of intensive help, I decided to come back home. This time, Sulay the fighter was born. I was determined more than ever in my life to cut the abuse, to gain back what I had lost, and to have a new beginning. It was OVER for him, and it was just starting for me. It was time to fight, and fight hard: this was my opportunity.
The Survivor
The professionals at the hospital made me realize that I had power within me. Power to change my circumstances, power to live my life free from abuse and torture, and power to claim back all that I had lost at this monster’s hands. I did just that. The first day home I asked my mother to help me finance a divorce. At this point, I did not care that by divorcing him, he probably would be deported, and I even hoped that he would be. My mother, my hero, my savior, again did not hesitate and provided me with the financial support I needed to get a divorce. I had decided that this monster was out of my life once and for all. I proceeded to start the paperwork on the divorce without consulting him, because according to me, he had no option and no say in anything I did or wanted. It was MY TIME to claim my power and life back, to do as I wanted, and above all it was MY TIME to end my suffering and seeking healing and happiness. Therefore, I also proceeded in taking all his possessions out of my house, I closed the joint back account that we had, and I also cut his cell phone line because it was under my name. I went into my Facebook and Gmail accounts and deleted and blocked him, as well as everyone associated with him. At this point, that determined girl was back and back with force. I did not consult him in any of the steps I was taking because for the first time, I was not afraid; I was fighting for myself and my happiness and no one could or would stop me. During this process, I continued seeking psychological help, and it was crucial in helping me stay strong and focused.
You are probably wondering if he didn’t try to brainwash me and stop me during all of this. Of course he did, many times. So much that I even had to call the police twice on him due to the fact that he kept threatening me. However, instead of going to my bed and crying out of fear, I stood strong and did not waver. Honestly, this was one of the most challenging parts of my recovery process. It was challenging due to the fact that I continually had to keep moving forward without taking any backward steps. I had to ACT, act FAST, and act NOW. And ACT I did. I can proudly state that in February 2011 I officially divorced Mr. J and he was officially removed from every single aspect of my life in every way imaginable. In fact, due to the fact that he had to stay married to a U.S. citizen to keep his green card, he is currently at risk of being deported, and honestly, I couldn’t care less about what happens to him at this point. I clearly remember the last time I saw him or had any contact with him. I had gone to his apartment so that he could sign the divorce papers. He tried to convince me otherwise, and I did not waver. Eventually, he walked me to the lobby of the building, gave me the papers and stood there, hoping I would change my mind. I left the building, with my signed divorce papers, turn my head, saw him standing through the glass doors, stared straight into his eyes with a look that said “It’s over,” and then turned my head the other direction and NEVER, EVER looked back. That incident marked the death of Mr. J for me. There and then, I buried him, his memories, and his abuse. GAME OVER MR. J.  
A Woman
The miracle that happened after I took charge of my life, of my emotions, of my actions, and claimed the power within me, has been the most beautiful transformation of my life. In fact I often compare this transformation to the growth process of a butterfly. I went from being an ugly caterpillar, to spreading my eyes wide open and soaring above that hell into the beautiful and sunny skies of heaven. Even though what happened to me was tragic, I would not change a bit of it. Why? Because every tear, every bruise, every scar, is proof of what tried to destroy me and DIDN’T. I AM STILL HERE TODAY. WHY? Because enduring all that pain and suffering has transformed me from that brilliant girl, to that manipulated, tortured  broken down person, to this determined, motivated, compassionate, and HAPPY woman that I can truthfully and honestly state I am today. Today, I am Sulay Thompson the WOMAN.
After my divorce was finalized, the year 2011 marked a period of intense healing and transformation for me. During this year I worked closed with all those professionals and loving family members and friends who supported me endlessly on my path towards recovery and healing. As the months went by, I slowly started to take charge of my life. The first aspect was MY FAMILY. My amazing mother and grandmother, who endured so much pain seeing me so broken down, but who smiled so brightly seeing me stand a little bit taller as each day passed. My mother and my grandmother have always done everything possible to make me feel loved and special. Therefore, I decided that it was time to show them how much I loved them and how, without them, I would not be standing today. So, I became the head of my household. That spoiled only child who never had to lift a finger at home became the pillar of strength for my family. After years of being looked after, I learned how to clean my house and cook, I learned how to do laundry for all of us, and I also learned how to run all possible errands and perform all the chores that needed attention. For the first time ever, I began to take care of them, instead of them taking care of me. I realized that I was a grown woman, and that the days in which I was treated like a spoiled little girl were completely gone. In fact, I became so efficient at home that my mother and grandmother did not have to worry about one single thing at home. I was in charge of their doctors’ appointments and even handled the bills and finances close to perfection.
As time went on, my inner strength grew and grew and I finally learned not to mourn the loss of who I was, but to embrace the new WOMAN I was becoming. I finally learned that even though that brilliant girl was gone, a new woman full of experience, determination, resilience, and compassion was slowly emerging. I do need to acknowledge a very important person in my life who helped me navigate through the emotional and mental waves of my healing and recovery: my therapist, Danielle. Her constant encouragement, made me believe in myself more and more each day, and made me realize, that it was only the beginning. In fact, my strength grew so much that when my grandmother got diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2011, I was her biggest emotional and mental support. Even though I was still recovering and healing myself, my grandmother needed me, and when I was needed, I was there. Every day I reminded her that she would be beat the cancer, and that we would do it together. I stayed sleeping with her in the hospital endless days, and took care of her in every way possible. I always had a smile on my face and encouraged her every step of the way. Together, we did it. Currently, my grandmother is cancer free, and here we stand, my mother, my grandmother, and I as three warriors, as three survivors, and as three powerful women.
My life continued to change more in more in all positive aspects. Slowly I started to believe more and more in myself, and I started, for the first time in a long time, BEING HAPPY. I was not afraid anymore, and I faced the world proudly and with a great deal of enthusiasm. I also made it very clear in my mind that it was very important for me to take care of myself. So did. I started to enjoy life once more. I started to do things that I once enjoyed and also started discovering new ones. I took pride in my appearance and began to finally love my physical appearance again. I finally went shopping, and enjoyed it and truthfully believed I looked great in what I bought. I also started to socialize once more, to recover those old friends whom I had lost and to make many new ones, with whom I started to make many great and new memories. Surprisingly, with time, I also began to date and allowed myself to feel something special for someone again. Once more, my life was full of positivity, and hope. Smiley Sulay, as I was known for so many years, finally was smiling again. I had, and I currently have, so much to be proud of, and so much to smile about. I smile because I conquered, I smile because I persevered, and I smile because I am positive that great things are waiting in my bright future. I am a WOMAN now. A woman of value, a woman of immense inner strength, and a woman of power, power within MYSELF to conquer, to endure, and to transform.
I can proudly state that at this current date, I am completely healed and recovered from all the abuse. As said before, he died to me and with him died all the negativity that I experienced. Of course, the memories and scars will remain with me forever. However, instead of being full of pain and emotion, these memories and scars are tools I use daily to remind myself that I am strong, that I am resilient, and that I can and will survive any adversity that comes my way. As I type my story, I realize that I have transformed my life and myself. I realize that the woman who has typed this story is very different from the girl who endured all of that. I am very proud of myself for giving myself a new chance at life, and for not giving up during my darkest hours. I am now a woman full of life experience, full of enthusiasm and energy, and I am a woman who is not afraid, who sees the world brightly and affectionately, a woman who is a warrior, who is a survivor, and who is an example that starting over is possible, that it is never too late.
Currently, in the year 2012, Sulay Thompson the woman keeps growing every day. I am a woman who is blessed to have two of the most amazing women by her side, my mother and grandmother, who is blessed to have amazing and positive friends in her life, and who truly smiles from within. All that negativity has truly become a whisper in my past, a past which I will never forget, but a past that influenced this beautiful transformation and for which I am forever grateful. Each and every day, I wake up, and I feel blessed to have endured, survived, and transformed. And each and every day is a new beginning for me, as today I strive to become a better woman than I was yesterday. As far as my lifelong dream to become a physician, I am currently pursuing it and have just finished my paperwork for my application to start school next semester. My dream within me never died, and never will.
May my story serve as a reminder for you; a reminder that it is NEVER over, that you have it within you to conquer every obstacle possible, a reminder that life offers second chances and that it is up to us make the most out of them. Wake up every day with intent, with passion, and determination, knowing that it is a brand new beginning. Whatever it might be that you are striving for, don’t stop short of the miracle. Apparently miracles do happen, and I am one of them.


  1. Ilyssa, I want to thank you very much for allowing me to share my story with others. You are such a strong, positive woman and I am so honored and blessed to have you in my life, as one of my dearest, closest friends! I am looking forward to forming many memories with you! I love you so much

    1. Sulay, you are very very welcome! We strong, positive women have to stick together and support one another, and I'm so glad and so lucky to have you as one of my nearest and dearest friends! I love you too! :D <3