Behind the Smile

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

”They say trauma, the mind may forget but the body never forgets. It's trapped in you and it can come out whenever.” - Nicky Hilton

How incredibly true. 

This week I watched the much-anticipated documentary, This Is Paris on YouTube. It follows Paris Hilton into her life today, as well as stories from her past. Obviously, I was intrigued and knew what it was going to be about. I may be an optimist, but in my opinion, there’s no way she fabricated her life story. Yes, after reading the comments there were many hurtful and ignorant messages along those lines. Sadly, many of us can relate to abuse in some way, even if our experiences differ. In reality, everyone has experienced trauma on some level. 

We should all be patient listeners and always be sensitive regarding certain topics. 

How can we judge someone's hurt?

How can we judge someone's life? 

As difficult as it can be to fathom, we are all human. We certainly are not alone. 

Honestly, on and off I cried while watching. It was hard. It was triggering. I wasn’t just sad for her, but sad for others who endured unnecessary pain and suffering. I will always advocate for victims, and especially for children. It is never right or accepted in my eyes. There’s nothing a child can do that they deserve pain to that degree, emotionally or physically. There are other forms of communication and even punishment when necessary.

Some may need rehabilitation, psychiatric care, and some deeply need open and therapeutic discussions with loved ones. In some situations, children should be under another family member's care.

Every situation is different, just like every person is intricately unique. 

I understand setting boundaries when a child or teen acts out. Perhaps sending them away is what’s best, based on the severity and depending on a researched location. I truly don’t know. However, many accusations have been made over the years regarding certain “boarding schools” where teenagers and young children are drugged, abused in every way, and treated like serial killers locked up. 

If anything, this is a teachable eye-opening moment for us all. 

There should be more awareness across the board. For these “schools” and even the long-term effects of abuse in general. This includes the cycle of generational abuse. One person's definition of abuse may be incredibly different.  It often stems from darkness, aggression, illness, and trickles down to patterns as learned behaviors form. That’s the issue. There needs to be a clear line drawn for everyone involved. Everyone can benefit from professional help. Things can change.

Personally, I don’t think abuse is talked about enough. Children should feel free to come forward as well. They have a right to their feelings despite their age, and shouldn’t be trapped by threats. 

Some people consider abuse by seeing bruises. I know that was true for me. If the action didn’t result in a bruise, it must be okay. Often people have the ”I can handle anything” mentality. A hit, shove, slap, push, punch, throwing objects out of anger, hair pulling, and verbal threats may feel all mild and “normal” in their eyes. None of those things are healthy. Unlike physical pain, emotional trauma lingers on forever, even if at the moment it feels doable or even deserved.

An insult here, a cuss word there, loud screams on and off...

Even if we feel helpless, we always have a voice to speak out.

I’ve witnessed accusations from parents accusing their teens of doing something “wrong” when in reality their intentions and actions were pure. There needs to be more trust. Yes, teens make bad choices sometimes. However, when one of the few innocent ones are being truthful, there needs to be solid trust without interrogation. 

We should choose our words and actions very carefully.

Words stick in our memory stronger than any super glue.

For everyone involved there should be healthy, open communication. Period. Without judgment and fear. For every age and stage in life.

Emotional pain cuts deeper than physical. In fact, I feel as though it’s intertwined into one beast. It’s all the same. The panic, destruction, and emptiness are real on both ends. 

During the documentary, a lot of feelings came to light regarding my inner self. I realized I couldn’t fully be myself, in my eyes. I didn’t even know who I was. I felt stunted. I was always incredibly fearful of every little thing. That was my norm. I also shed tears for the person I am now, recognizing hurt while moving forward. 

I often envisioned myself in an imaginary world as well. A place where I could fast forward time, find my true love, and live in a castle. (Too many Disney movies, guys!) 

It definitely reminded me of Paris creating her fantasy world. A barbie-like princess persona. A place where she could escape. A place where she could be anyone she wanted. To regain control, and to hide in a sense. The urge to feel comfortable in her skin, even if she wasn’t being completely herself. 

That realization alone shook me hard, as tears rolled down my warm damp face.

I got it. 

I can only imagine how stagnated her healing process must have been, especially being in the public eye, and the relief she must feel now. Let's face it, as a Hilton, she has a lot to live up to. Her bravery can and will make an impact. For survivors and anyone that has been through abuse, manipulation, and control.

Our version of normal suddenly becomes not so normal once we hit a certain age.

Everything can hit all at once, in random spurts, and often in dreams.

I’ve never felt “normal” even in friendships and past relationships. With the rest of the world, I was simply a silent mess trying to regain control and sense to why things happened. 

If I hid, I could avoid the collision even if my veins were pounding with adrenaline. I got so used to the cortisol and adrenaline, I craved the rush. After a good yelling match, or after a 3-4 hour crying session, I felt a chemical release and felt relief. I felt loved and worthy again.

”It was all worth it” even if it was just a band-aid at the time to cover the dysfunction. 

Being emotionally healthy should be the top priority as individuals and within a family, as best we can. We all make mistakes, but there are help and tools for those in need. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine why the abuser says and does certain things. There are so many layers and components. 

For those struggling, or who have struggled:

-It is not your fault

-There’s always time to talk

-Make it a priority

-Open up

-Seek help and support

-Eliminate the shame

-It is never too late to heal

-We are never alone

-We are not broken

-Have faith 

We are not wounded. 

We are warriors.


Kimberly Ann 


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