I’m Cyrene, your guide for this journey of self-discovery and healing. I’m a photographer, activist, and crazy cat mom with a house full of rescue babies, both furry and scaley! I live in the Midwest (but just until I get around to moving somewhere tropical).
There are a lot of good days around here. Usually my dogs are doing something they shouldn’t that makes me laugh. My cats are all fucking cute as hell (because all cats are, that’s just science). My little lizard loves giving me the stink eye (which I don’t think she realizes is freakin’ adorable). And my sweetheart of a snake is the best little hugger. If I’m not cuddling my babies at home, I love dropping everything to take off for a hike or go on a little adventure somewhere new. I get out of the house, meet new people, volunteer my time to worthy causes, and love the hell out of my life.
If you told me ten, hell even five years ago that I would feel genuine happiness most days, I would have thought you were lying.
My PTSD (and all the “fun” that comes along with it) was debilitating. I was nothing but miserable. I didn’t know what it was like to have a truly good day. A good day to me was a day when I didn’t want to kill myself. And that was rare.
I’d found various outlets for coping over the years. Photography was a huge part of my life growing up. I used it to escape and process feelings I wasn’t old enough to understand, and shouldn’t have been forced to experience as a kid. As an adult, I continued to use it as an outlet, pursuing projects exploring representations of femininity, female strength (of all species), and the results of sexual violence. Unfortunately, I also used drinking as a coping mechanism. And bottling up my feelings. And distancing myself from developing truly healthy relationships with others.
About eight years ago, I really started to take my recovery seriously. I’d been in and out of therapy for years with various levels of success. But I decided to give therapy another shot and found myself a wonderful partner-in-healing. She really helped me begin to understand why I was struggling. That was the point of no return and my essential first step.
I hadn’t really been allowed to acknowledge the causes of my feelings. Growing up in an abusive environment is what had left me with often debilitating depression, suicidal feelings, and PTSD. But damn did my family like making it out as if I was the crazy person and pretending I’d had a wonderful upbringing. It really fucked with my head. My therapist helped me sort all that out. And I was able to get over the worst of it. But I was still struggling and I still wasn’t happy. I’d plateaued.
Then my kitty, Baby, got sick and I knew I needed to find a way to get better and fast. She was one of the few wonderful things about my life and made life seem worth sticking around for. She was such a stabilizing force for me and I wasn’t sure there would be a me without her. But I had other little kittens who depended on me, so I knew I needed to try to stick around.
In May of 2014, my beloved kitty of fourteen years died of kidney failure. Losing her was the hardest thing I have ever been through. Five years later and I am far from over it and doubt completely moving on will ever be a possibility. It was an event that forced me to reevaluate so many things in my life.
I started giving up people who were toxic. I started exploring out of the box ways of recovering. I started thinking more like her. She was a badass. She once went after my Rottweiler and pit-bull who were playing too rough with each other because she was worried they’d hurt me when I was standing nearby. Baby was feral. She never wasn’t feral. I never needed her to give up her wild side. In fact, that was what I needed in my life. Losing her made me realize I needed to be more like her if I was going to get over this.
And ya know what? It fucking worked. But damn did it take a long time. I didn’t have the tools to make this happen as quickly as I needed. It was a struggle. I had to teach myself how to be feral, but ya know, in a good way that worked for me.
But, years later…here I am. Half a lifetime in and out of various therapists’ offices, a Master’s degree in Biology, a good deal of mindset training under my belt, and finally feeling like my damn self. I realized that I’d learned a lot about loving the fuck out of my inner badass and I wanted to share that with others.
So I’ve created Broken to Balanced: Naturally Nurture Your Inner Badass. What started as a newsletter and blog and is now an awesome intensive eight week group program to help other women in the same situation I was in. I made the program I needed when therapy had run its course and I still needed a boost.
Keep in mind, if you’re currently in crisis, don’t wait to seek out help. Find a therapist you can work with and give it a shot. There may come a point when therapy doesn’t cut it. But if you’re really struggling and have never gone, I strongly encourage you to try it out.