When you have a story that is deep, dark, painful, and full of wounds... it feels impossible to share.
The shame and the re-living of details can pull you down into a spiral, freezing your voice in that moment in time.
This is the healing and transformative work of storytelling.
Learning to use that story for something that is good, healing, hopeful and inspiring takes you miles from that dark place you once existed.
This is the story of Melinda Kunst.
When she first entered the Lightbeamers world, she was beginning to figure out how to use her story to help others. Specifically, she wanted to improve her video skills for social media.
In the span of time she's been in our Community, and a member of our Visibility Accelerator, her confidence has grown exponentially. She went from a message that was a little all over the map to becoming laser focused on her work helping others have Hope When There Was None.
Melinda's story started in that deep, dark, painful place... but as you'll see she no longer lives there. And she uses her story to help others can find a way out.
APRIL: Let's start with a little introduction. Tell everyone a bit more about you & share a piece of your journey.
MELINDA: My life began when I was 39 years old. I know you are probably scratching your head! In all seriousness, I was born in the 70's but for me I don't feel as though I truly started living my life until I left an abusive relationship for the 3rd and final time on February 25th, 2009. Life before that date seemed like a roller coaster of dark times with a sprinkle of beauty and wonder. Those bits of goodness were my 3 wonderful children. They were the apple of my eye and kept me going when I felt like all was lost due to the tumultuous marriage I had with their dad. I was not only fighting for my life with my husband but also within myself. At my darkest point, depression and suicidal thoughts were keeping me hostage in my mind while my husband physically kept close tabs on me.
The turning point came when I realized I couldn't live this way anymore. It didn't feel right and I longed to have what other couples and families had. Laughter, game nights, and closeness that my family seemed to lack. No matter how hard or how much I tried to please my husband it was never enough. After careful planning the kids and I were able to break free! During the first few days and weeks time seemed to stand still but a wee flame began to ignite. With the help of family and friends, I started to heal in body, mind and spirit.
I took baby steps on my healing path. When something was just too much or triggering, I would give myself the gift of grace to hit the pause button and take a break. I started blogging and sharing my story of dealing with my husband and even about the topsy turvy time of the legal system during my divorce.
I shared open conversations with those close to me, on social media, and complete strangers! I just wanted things to be normal or at least to figure out what that was for me. I heard heartfelt stories from others about what they experienced and many others were asking for advice. This stopped me in my tracks! How can I give advice when I feel like my life was spinning out of control?
I asked that question to God. My faith had been so important to me not just at this time but since I can remember. There were many moments where I was brought to my knees, begging for help, guidance, and wisdom of what to do with my marriage and life. When I went to the Lord to ask Him about this issue you know what He did? He sent divine appointments! In the middle of the grocery store there would be someone that experienced abuse or knew of someone close that had! These were complete strangers to me. They would even comment that they had no idea why they were sharing this with me.
He placed it on my heart to continue sharing, listening to others' story, and to help those that were feeling broken, hopeless, and alone. I'll admit to whining about this! I didn't feel qualified! The mission the Lord placed on my heart was further cemented within my spirit when I saw this quote by Mark Batterson "God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called."
I felt at peace and put my ego aside and began to look forward to sharing, listening, and holding space for others that needed someone. I was able to find confidence, love for myself, and planning for my future without fear.
I also began to take the kids on trips and to do things we were never allowed to do before. I felt freedom to learn about myself and what I wanted out of life. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I wasn't looking over my shoulder all of the time. I allowed myself to be silly, to be brave, to just be me unashamed and unapologetically. I even opened my heart again to love and remarried; we have a 10 year old son together!
This newfound bravery led me to write and publish my story at the urging of my family. From there I felt that I needed to start a Facebook page about self-love, and learning to heal from abuse. This later evolved into creating a private Facebook group to also help women struggling from emotional traumas whether from a divorce, miscarriage, sexual assaults, toxic parents, and more. I share interviews from Survivors, Counselors, Therapists, Coaches, and more. Recently I started a podcast with the mission to continue spreading hope, educating others about abuse, and empowering others to know they aren't alone.
APRIL: How has 'storytelling' influenced you and/or your business?
MELINDA: Since I started sharing on video my confidence has blossomed! I've been able to share my message of hope to many corners of the world. It has been a humbling experience. This led to start coaching others and being a guest on podcasts, blogs, local newspapers and last year the cover of a magazine! If you would have told me 13 years ago that first I would be alive and well but that I would be sharing my story in such a bold way I wouldn't have believed you!
APRIL: What does being a LIGHTbeamer mean to you?
MELINDA: Being a LIGHTbeamer has been a blessing for me! The friendships I have forged, the connections from every corner of the world, the support and community that has been brought together by April's dream is AMAZING!
APRIL: What have you learned or discovered the most about storytelling and your story?
MELINDA: I've learned it's okay to share the vulnerable parts of my story without feeling shame. There have been many instances when sharing my story when I have a breakthrough "Live" on camera or afterwards I will feel emotions I thought were healed bubble up. I've also learned there are many more stories within me!
APRIL: What's been the hardest part about learning how to share your story?
MELINDA: The hardest part is that there is no delete or pause button when doing "Live's"! There are many times when I wonder, "Did I just really say that?!" OOPPSS! In all seriousness, learning to find the courage to share without regrets and that it's okay to cry if I need to.
APRIL: What is one piece of advice you'd give to another woman about using her voice and sharing her story?
MELINDA: If you have been on the fence about sharing, take small steps by sharing your story in a typed post. Then take a bolder step by going "Live" in the Lightbeamers Community or create your own private group where you are the only member. Practice and when you are ready go for it! Someone out there needs to know they are not on this path alone. I was so nervous and still feel anxious when I am trying something new! Honestly, since I started going "Live" it has become addicting. I've shared other bits of my life that has allowed more of an intimate view of my life free from abuse.
APRIL: What do you love most about your work?
MELINDA: This has been a blessing! It's not work to me!
APRIL: What are you busy creating now?
MELINDA: I am finishing up my first academy! I hosted a "Self-love Challenge" where I dug into the fundamentals of self-love. It's deeper than saying some affirmations and doing mirror work.
APRIL: How do you relax after a busy week?
MELINDA: I am in my happy place! Being home with my family is relaxing! Well, okay I do occasionally treat myself and Mr. Awesome (My new Husband) to a cuppa coffee at one of our favorite coffee shops and I have been gifting myself a massage every so often.
APRIL: What kind of things do you like doing outside of work?
MELINDA: I love all things glittery! Crafting, spending time with my latest obsession- Hula Hooping! I share my love of gardening and homesteading with the public. We unofficially opened a farm stay this year! We share where food comes from, medicinal flowers and plants, and how important insects are to our planet. I'm an entrepreneur at heart and also sell vintage stuff and collectibles on eBay, and create blank Journals and Sketchbooks on Amazon.
APRIL: How have you benefited the most by being a member of our VIP Membership, The Visibility Accelerator?
MELINDA: I enjoy being a member of the Visibility Accelerator! The trainings, the content, the courses, and being able to have a community that is on this journey as well is wonderful! I have been able to learn more to grow and share! It's an amazing Community.
APRIL: What sort of special achievements or accolades are you most proud of?
MELINDA: I'm always learning! From being a CASA volunteer, to being Trauma Informed Advocacy, and I'm now in the middle of the Give Her Wings course.
APRIL: What are the best channels for others to follow you?
Melinda is a member of our VIP Community, The Visibility Accelerator -- where we help women get their stories and voices heard through monthly coaching calls, ongoing visibility trainings, and weekly story prompts that help them never run out of ways to tell their story.
If you'd like to join our amazing community and grow your business or platform, click here: www.lightbeamers.com/visibility-accelerator