Fatima Morken knows something about the pain of scars. A resilient songwriter and model, she has endured a divorce, and seen the effects of addiction in the home up close. The Houston, TX native sat down to talk about how her strong Christian faith helped her persevere, and share her ambition to help women improve their lives.
At age 23, Morken thought she was living her version of the American Dream. She was married to a man she loved. They already owned their dream home, and could afford to take overseas trips annually. Although blessed financially, Morken’s marriage abruptly ended in a divorce.
In the wake of the divorce, Morken set out to find her voice again. She spent time in therapy, prayer, and leaned on Scripture daily.
“The divorce was shocking and excruciatingly painful," says Morken. "I am now free and healed — the happiest and most fulfilled I have ever been. I bask in the fact that God will never break his promises to me. His immeasurable love and forgiveness rebuilt me, and empowers me every day.”
Morken also understands the helplessness associated with watching a family member struggle with alcoholism, and gambling. It nearly destroyed her home. It’s common for a family dealing with addiction to experience codependency, and even low self-esteem. The Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization refers to this family dysfunction as “sick thinking” which needs to be repaired daily. Morken turned to her faith again. In time, she learned it wasn’t her fault. In difficult times, her love of music has been a refuge. Her own painful experiences have helped the songwriter connect with deeper human emotions in her lyrics. She draws artistic inspiration from stories of strength, triumph, love and pain — much like her own story. Her musical influences include Celine Dion and French pop artist Lara Fabian. In her late 20s, after a dissatisfying career in education, she received an opportunity to train with Actors Models and Talent for Christ, a faith-based talent development ministry. AMTC has launched the careers of artists such as Megan Fox, Miley Cyrus and country music star Chris Young. The SHINE Conference — an invitation-only event in Orlando, Fla. — gave Morken the chance to perform in front of industry executives, and a platform to launch her career.
“I make sure everyone I meet feels important, valued, unique, special, but above all LOVED. I want to make a huge difference with my music by telling it like it is — writing lyrics totally based in personal experiences and beauty.”
The artist is also modeling as a way to tell her story, and help women find their own strength.
As the USA model for two French clothing lines, La Cotonniére and Dakidaya, Morken’s job depends greatly on her appearance. In the age of makeup, professional editing and social media, it can be easy to view models as flawless. It’s her goal to help change this perception of beauty by showing authenticity. She chooses projects with minimal makeup, and is open with fans on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The model is proud of her imperfections, including a scar on her left leg.
“It is sometimes assumed models have no physical defects," says Morken. "We are not perfect! The scar is my trademark and I am very proud of it! I don’t let my imperfections keep me from achieving my goals.”On top of everything else, Morken is also a polyglot, fluent in English, Spanish and Italian; intermediate in French and Portuguese and learning German. In spite of her natural language skills, she still faces ignorance when it comes to her intelligence. “I let people discover their own stereotypes [about models] are incorrect,” she says of the negative comments she sometimes receives on set.
When asked about her opportunity to make a difference as an artist, Morken’s eyes lit up with excitement. In addition to volunteering through her church, she gives her time and talents to aspiring models with style advice. It’s an opportunity to help women feel beautiful. She hopes her story will encourage women in all walks of life to overcome, even if life seems bleak at the moment.
“I just want people to see that one doesn’t have to be perfect for things to work out," Morken remarks.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."