Do you ever feel like you're living day to day and not really making a difference? Like you're just settling and kind of going with the flow? Between both my personal and professional life, that's how I was feeling and I knew I needed to do something about it.
I worked in IT Sales as an Account Executive for five years. I was doing something that was a 'good' living, but it just wasn't something I was passionate about. It wasn't something I got up every morning excited about. And it wasn't something that was helping me make a difference in this world. I felt like I was settling. I wanted more. While I was trying to figure out what to do professionally, I was also dealing with a lot personally.... a divorce.
My marriage was short-lived. Before we were even married, we got into the same old routine. If we went out somewhere, it would be to one of two places every time. We would sit there and watch sports or sit on our phones. No real engagement or desire of spending actual quality time together. If we were home, it was the same way. Sometimes he would even be down in his 'Man Cave' watching sports, while I was upstairs watching The Bachelor. I started talking to my friends about this and they acted like it was normal. Like it's normal just to have no desire to continue learning more about one another, to challenge each other, and to experience new things together. We went so far down this path that it was too late and it ultimately was the reason our marriage ended.
No one plans for a divorce, and it was something I swore I would never go through. But it happened, and I was left trying to figure out what to do with my life. I ended up fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving across the country, I got into a new relationship, and I had a new perspective on life... and love. I was in a long distance relationship for the first time in my life. I thought I would absolutely hate it, but to my surprise, it was just what I needed.
A lot of people take their time together for granted, but in a long distance relationship, time is everything. It gave us a chance to make the most of every single moment we were together. We never got too comfortable. We always wanted to learn more, and we were always willing to make the extra effort to try new things.
I started talking to my boyfriend about starting a business. I always dreamed of doing my own thing; I just needed the right idea. I watched Shark Tank religiously and made a list of possible business ideas. They included things like a food truck (even though I'm not a cook) and a cleaning service (even though I'm not the best cleaner). A list of things that weren't very realistic. It was the day that I read Mark Cuban's book, 'How to Win at the Sport of Business' that a light bulb went off. I needed to find something that I was passionate about. As I thought back on my life, between the struggles and lessons from my past, my new relationship, and the desire of doing something that could help others, Bonding Bees was born
Still, it was just an idea. And actually going through with it was a lot scarier than it sounded. I was working for a start-up company in California where I simply couldn't afford to quit and start my own thing. I talked to family and friends about it, and I prayed a lot. Is this just a silly idea that I should forget about? It probably won't work. Maybe I should wait longer. I was full of excuses and reasons not to start it.
And then just a couple weeks after thinking up the idea, my company was struggling and out of nowhere, they had to let us go. I was suddenly jobless and freaking out, but in the midst of that, it's like my prayers were answered. No more excuses. I had to go for it. My parents thought I was crazy. People told me to get another job and do this as a hobby. But I didn't dream of having a hobby. I dreamt of being an entrepreneur. A CEO of a business. So that's what I did. And now it's actually happening - five months later, it's a real business that's growing fast and I am doing it.
Everyone says their life is crazy busy. We all wish we had more time in the day. How many times would you plan to go do something new and fun for date night, and then by the time evening rolled around, it was, “Ok, what do you wanna do?" “I don't care, what do you wanna do?" And then just settle for your usual spot or maybe even stay in and watch more Netflix. Not that anything is wrong with Netflix. I love it! But with Bonding Bees, we give couples something new and unique to look forward to together every month.
My goal is to help couples keep their relationships a priority. Give them an opportunity to put away their phones and reconnect right from their living room. We also give parents an opportunity to have fun together without the need to find and pay for a babysitter.
Our mission is Gather, Give, Grow: Gather for one night a month, leaving your phones, tv, and stress to the side. Now is the time to focus on each other and spend real quality time bonding. Give to each other by investing your time in date nights and keeping your relationship a priority. PLUS, every date you enjoy helps us sponsor children in need and give a portion of our proceeds to different charities. Part of Bonding Bees goal was to give back and help those in need, and we will continue to do more as we scale. Grow through our customized date nights. They're designed to help you learn more, and even challenge each other while rekindling the spark and growing your love.
Each month the date box will have a unique theme with activities to go along with it. The activities could include crafts, games, recipes, relationship building exercises, desserts, and more. Occasionally, boxes will even include a personalized gift and/or item for the home! The goal is to make every box a lot of fun, a chance to reconnect, and the opportunity to do something new together. Previous date boxes include a Paris theme where couples learned their love languages, painted on canvasses together, and had fondue; a Camping Indoors theme that included building forts, making s'more cones, and some fun country dance lessons; and most recently a Fall In Love theme that includes a game to see how well they know one another, a fun twist on Minute to Win It games, and everything needed to make their own ice cream!
Having couples reach out and tell me how a date box has helped them rekindle the spark, or that it's the most fun they've had in a long time - that makes my day and is exactly why I started this company. After being inspired by so many stories, moving forward we are going to start featuring couples of the month - their story, their relationship tips, their favorite date nights, and their charity of choice that we will donate to. We hope to make this more of a community where we can all inspire each other to love more, to give more, and to live life to the fullest.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.