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Challenging My Own Demons

Malissa Veroni is the founding CEO and lead therapist at Keep’N It Real Solutions. For the past 15 years Malissa has been a foot soldier in the field of social work; teaching, and serving students and clients alike. She is a published author, mentor, and mental health therapist who focuses on combining theory, practical approach and individual quality holistic care to help clients heal and grow from a variety of concerns.

 
Executive Contributor Malissa Veroni

Imagine this – lights, camera, action! News reports, celebrities, and countless viewers from around the globe, whether live or after the event, all tuning in to witness a showdown designed to entertain and raise awareness. One person is accustomed to the spotlight, while the other only dreams about it but truly fears it. Everyone's eyes are on you. You're used to facing challenges alone, but now everyone can see you fully exposed – do you run? Step up to the plate? Freeze? Dissociate? Pretend to be someone else? Or perhaps a combination of all?


Malissa Veroni and her friend.

Recently, I decided to think outside the box and step into the fighting cage. Little do people know I have secretly been in my own internal fighting cage. I allowed the advice of countless mindset coaches to push me to do something that scares me in order to grow. What they didn't know is that I face such challenges every day. I live with C-PTSD, as do many of the wonderful clients who survive the narcissistic abuse that I serve.


I faced my match – not the amazing MMA Champion Clifford Starks, but the fear of being seen, live, by a global audience. Ironically, I used to be a performer and am a forever beauty queen, but that would require a different version of myself. Although I was talented, I never let my full potential shine through because it felt too risky. Some might call this cocky – and that's okay – but for me, it was about not outshining a family member. For those growing up with a narcissistic parent, being unseen is often the safest place. Clients have told me about finding comfort in hiding, physically shutting down to avoid attention, and some being truly surprised as a child when a car stopped for them because they genuinely believed they were invisible. I get this all too well! So when we step out-whether it be to cross the street, get that degree or promotion we want, stand up for ourselves or even face off with a MMA champ in a fighting cage, we lose it our safety net!


If you missed the battle between MMA Champ-turned-mindset coach Clifford and myself, you missed out – but I didn't. Challenging my own fear of being seen was a rare, intimate, and profound experience. In all honesty, it was not my best session, nor did it live up to my own fantasy in my head. But I did it! I also challenged my perfectionist ways, another invisible and oh so visible scar a lot of narcissistic abuse survivors live with. Undoubtedly, students and colleagues may have differing opinions about any mistakes I made. However, being in the fighting cage, giving myself fully, and truly being present is both a skill and a gift, which I am truly grateful for.


Clifford and I joined forces to raise awareness among men (and women) that it's okay to seek therapy, and that it actually takes strength to do so. As a strong black American man, Clifford redefined and challenged many stereotypes about strength and masculinity. His focus on what it means to be a father to his sons, his relationship with his own fathers (both biological and adoptive), and the need to balance everything while maintaining self-care in a world that is always pushing for more is nothing short of bravery, and it is celebrated.


On my side, my hope is that by showing that not all therapists fit the stereotype of being soft-spoken (which is perfectly okay, as many people need that too), I, with my tattoos, occasional swearing, and laughter, represent an authentic self that challenges stereotypes as well. On a personal note, I challenged my demons being seen when I am not “perfect.”


While the match ended in a tie, we hope to have made an impactful journey for brave individuals to seek the help they deserve. You are not alone and deserve to feel better! Remember, you're never too old, young, dark, light, brave, weak, or tough to seek therapy. You deserve healing. There are many good, talented, and qualified professionals who can help you. It's all about finding the right fit. Clifford and I may not be the right fit for everyone, and that's okay. Not everyone is the right fit for me or my team either. We all deserve growth, love, and healing. I see you!


 

Malissa Veroni, Founding CEO & Lead Therapist

Malissa Veroni is the founding CEO and lead therapist at Keep’N It Real Solutions. For the past 15 years Malissa has been a foot soldier in the field of social work; teaching, and serving students and clients alike. She is a published author, mentor, and mental health therapist who focuses on combining theory, practical approach and individual quality holistic care to help clients heal and grow from a variety of concerns. Malissa is known as a specialist in the field of Narcissistic Abuse, Intimate Partner Violence, the LGBTQ2s Community, and in Sex Therapy. She is also a Designated Capacity Assessor and a mentor to several social workers worldwide.

 

Photo credit:


  • Producer Joshua James Boyle of HeavyFeathers Productions, LLC Special


Thank you to:


  • MMA Champion Clifford Starks

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