Vulnerable, courageous, and deeply personal, Unbraided: Transform Your Pain Into Power and Purpose, will help you to identify the areas of your life that are being affected by abuse and provide a path for you to experience breakthrough and healing.
Karla Monterrosa experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuses early in her life. She was able to take those negative experiences and use them as fuel to propel her forward for a time, accomplishing personal, educational, and professional successes. Eventually, within the stresses and pressures of marriage and motherhood, her scars became utterly exposed. She realized that her past was beginning to harm her family in the present, and it was then she chose to take courageous steps to heal from abuse—to become the woman, wife, and mother they deserve.
If you’re ready to experience healing from abuse, Unbraided will help you get healthy emotionally and spiritually so you can cultivate the self-confidence and courage needed to follow through to freedom. Learn how to deal with the long-term effects of abuse—fear, shame, lack of trust, and anger—in order to build strong relationships, enjoy intimacy, and experience joy.
Using thought-provoking journaling exercises, biblical principles, and her one-of-a-kind 7 Steps Toward Healing framework, Karla will gently guide you through a journey of self-reflection and healing—while making it feel like an intimate conversation with a trusted friend over coffee. Are you ready to step forward into the life you desire with renewed energy, unshakeable confidence, and purpose?
My experience with pain is not something I enjoy sharing. For many years, I pretended it didn’t exist. It was hidden, buried deep inside; but it managed to show itself in various other ways. Anxiety, inability to form strong bonds with others, being an introvert, taking things “too personal” — these things (and others!) have held me back from truly living life.
In between the pain, parts of my true self have shown and I have been blessed with a husband who supports, nurtures, and encourages me. My boys have given me the chance to change the cycle of trauma in my extended family. Then have taught me pure love, strength, and patience.
Karla Monterrosa’s book is one that I think we all can learn from. We’ve all experienced a trauma in our lives and can find healing if we’re willing to let go and let God have the control back. He gives us the tools to transform that pain into more than “just our past”, into more than our scars. It can truly become the force behind our power.
There were moments I found myself in tears at Karla’s experiences; but I also felt healing and peace from her words. She encourages readers to break free from the past, to move forward, and become the best women we can for not only our families and loved ones — but primarily for US!
I received a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions are my own.
Read an Excerpt:
I want to begin by congratulating you for your courage to open this book. The topic of childhood sexual abuse is a difficult and uncomfortable one, especially if you have experienced it yourself. As you know, those memories stay with us, sometimes only partially, but remain difficult to revisit. It is important, however, for us to courageously reflect, analyze, and feel through those memories in order to experience healing. When left unaddressed, those traumatic experiences influence our view of ourselves, how we respond to life’s challenges, and how we either relate to or distance ourselves from each other. There isn’t a single thing in our lives that isn’t perceived through the sense of the victimization we experienced.
If you were sexually abused as a child, or experienced other forms of abuse in your childhood or adult life, there are areas in your life that are being affected right now by your trauma and you may not yet know it. Once you are aware, you can begin to take steps to change this. Once you are aware of the power those emotional and spiritual wounds have over you, you can begin to do something about them.
Perhaps you find yourself well-aware, tired, and hurting but don’t know how to get free from your past. Or perhaps you have pushed your pain so far under the rug that you are comfortable with it and don’t really want to bring it out and think about it again. You may be thinking, Do I really want to read this book and have to deal with this? I know it can feel heavy, but as with anything that involves work and struggle, the reward at the other side is so worth it.
I want you to know that I understand. I was there once, and only through self-reflection did I begin to connect the dots between my painful past and the struggles I was experiencing in the present. I was sexually abused by people I knew and trusted between the ages of five and ten years old. The abuse I suffered early in my life turned my childhood into a set of dark memories that haunted me for most of my life. The experience left me feeling ashamed, angry, and unsafe.
When I grew up, for a time I was able to use the pain I felt as fuel. I achieved personal, educational, and professional successes thanks to that drive. I stood strong as an educated and professional woman. I was married and a mother to two beautiful little girls. I spent nearly twenty years working in government and helping to improve the lives of women and their families. Our household income exceeded six figures, and we owned a home in a quiet suburb in Los Angeles.
Based on these achievements, I thought I had overcome the trauma I had experienced early in my life. I worked hard to break the cycle of abuse I was born into, and I thought I had won. I had built a life and a home that looked nothing like the one I was born into. I could see the darkness of my childhood experiences as a distant past, and yet freedom and healing eluded me. I didn’t yet know it, but I was actually only halfway through the dark tunnel of my past—not on the other side as I had thought.
I had suppressed memories and ignored feelings, and fought to do the opposite of what I had seen in my childhood for nearly three decades. I had buried the feelings deep inside where I thought they could not hurt me anymore.
In reality, I struggled with fear, anxiety, and an inability to trust people. For a long time, I didn’t know these feelings were rooted in the abuse I experienced during my childhood. Meanwhile, they were influencing my life in insidious ways and affecting my relationships, my marriage and experience as a mother, and even my career. Eventually, I arrived at a season when I could no longer ignore my pain.
My efforts to silence the memories proved to be unsuccessful within the stresses and pressures of marriage and motherhood. It was then that my scars became utterly exposed. I came into the harsh realization that I had not healed when the memories relentlessly interrupted my time with my children.
The day my daughter was born and I changed her first dirty diaper, I realized the abuse I suffered had wounded me profoundly and motherhood was going to be hard. Diaper changes and bath-time reminded me of how vulnerable children are. I struggled with this for years with both of my daughters.
For sanitary reasons, those moments were unavoidable, and yet they made me feel dirty and ashamed, as though I were violating them when I cleaned and cared for them. I knew that was not what I should be thinking or feeling in those moments with my children, but I had no idea how to stop the thoughts from intruding in my life. It was a constant internal battle.
I struggled with memories, shame, fear, and a feeling of hyper- protection of my children. The unresolved pain I was still carrying inside started coming out as aggression. I was defensive and abrasive toward my husband and struggled to discipline my children with grace and patience. I could not control the circumstances that triggered my memories or my automatic responses to them. In moments of frustration, shame and anger dominated our interactions.
At the same time, I was giving everything at work, and it was never enough for those I reported to. I was exhausted. By the time I would arrive home at the end of my day, I would have nothing left to give but a bad temper, which affected our entire family dynamic. Eventually, I made a career move that brought my work closer to home in an attempt to have more time with my family. Unfortunately, the work environment there was such that I had to work extra-long hours to keep up the pace, which ultimately resulted in more stress and even less time and patience for my family. I wound up dissatisfied again. I had had enough but didn’t know what I should do next. It was then that I humbly reached out to God for direction.
It started with the decision to take a break from my career. I knew in my heart for a long time that I was not walking in my purpose and needed the space to figure out what direction to take. Not knowing how we would sustain the lifestyle we had grown accustomed to, my husband and I made the bold decision to trust God fully for our financial provision, and I quit my job. The career that no longer satisfied me was in the rearview mirror, and I was ready to pursue new things. I decided to take some time to reflect and figure out what my next career move was going to be.
It was within that space and that step of faith that God began to move and reveal himself. I started depending on Him for help and guidance. He started walking me through a process of healing.
I also recognized that my past was harming my family, and that was the greatest motivation for me to seek out true healing. I realized I would have to resolve my childhood wounds if I was going to successfully break the cycle of abuse and live a truly healthy life with my own family. That realization added to the desire in me. I wanted more than anything to finally be free from that trauma. And I had no idea how to go about it.
All I knew was I wanted more than anything to get to know God for who He truly is, to be present physically and emotionally for my family, and to align my work with my purpose.
Little did I know, God was about to show me the reality and depth of the damage I still held onto and how desperately I needed Him. Once He began to connect the dots for me, I realized the darkness I experienced during childhood had grown tentacles and was clinging to every area of my being, silently suffocating all of the best things in my life.
Childhood abuse has deep and long-lasting effects that manifest themselves in subtle and devastating ways in our lives. Unless we know it, they remain a part of us, wreaking havoc. I had seen the signs and had my suspicions, but without the clarity of the Holy Spirit, I couldn’t see it for what it indeed was.
One of the first things I did differently once I left my job was begin each day with God. I would drop my children off at school and come home to brew a pot of coffee and open my Bible. Through prayer, studying the Bible, and the unconditional love of the people around me, God began to walk me toward healing.
After a short break to focus on my girls and volunteer at their school, I began considering my next steps and decided to hire professional support to do so. I wanted to make the most of my time away from the workforce, and working with a coach provided me with guidance, reassurance, and an environment of discovery.
It didn’t take long for me to decide I would pursue my life-long dream of becoming a published author. I always knew I would share my story with the world one day. God revealed this to me long ago. I don’t recall exactly when I first sensed or received that direction, but I have been thinking about this book for years.
What do I mean when I say I “received direction” from God? How do I know if a thought is my own or inspired by the one true God? For me, it can come as a subtle nudge to say or do something, or an all-out clear instruction to change course.
You may have already had an experience in your life where you knew God was trying to tell you something. You may know it as your subconscious, a gut feeling, intuition, or an “Aha! moment.” Sometimes you listen to it. Other times you ignore it and then think, “I should have listened to my intuition.” As Christians, we believe those “Aha! moments” are, in fact, the voice of God or the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is a gift from God that allows us to see and think in new ways. God’s voice comes to me in whispers I know are not my own. I know these thoughts are not mine because they address things I have been thinking about without having clear direction on my own of what to do. I recognize His voice because He quiets my fears, answers my questions, and brings peace where there was doubt.
The Bible tells us that when we draw near to God, He comes near to us (James 4:8). The more we seek His voice, the more clearly we are able to discern it. As we deepen our walk with God, we grow in wisdom and are able to see more clearly the things that make us feel separated from God and those that bring us closer to Him. The voice of God had been quietly urging me to write my story and share it with the world.
About the Author
Karla Monterrosa, M.P.A. is an author, keynote speaker, and women’s empowerment coach who has dedicated her life to improving the lives of women and families. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Planning and a Master of Public Administration in Public Sector Management and Leadership from California State University, Northridge.
Karla began her career in the City of Los Angeles, where she quickly became aware of the scale of challenges that large, diverse communities face. She learned how to address needs by best utilizing what was already available and, during her tenure, helped to provide women, youth, and families with programming that increased financial literacy, education, and economic opportunities. Karla’s ability to pinpoint trauma and develop strategic solutions would serve as the launching pad to her own coaching program, Unbraided Life.
A survivor of abuse herself, Karla is passionate about leveraging her skills to help others overcome their past. She specializes in guiding women to discover their God-given purpose through honest self-reflection, application of biblical principles, and her one-of-a-kind 7 Steps Toward Healing framework.
Karla is a certified Mending the Soul support group facilitator, but it’s her almost two decades of experience in community and economic development that make her programming practical, unique, and transformational.
To book Karla to speak: [email protected]
A sample of keynote topics she offers:
- 7 Steps Toward Healing
- Marriage, Motherhood, and Memories
- Breaking the Cycle of Abuse
- The Path to Purpose