As Strong As I Pretend to Be

Karli learned firsthand that you don’t know how strong you are until it’s your only option. The eldest of two sisters, Karli always felt a need to lead by example. She did this by putting on her game face and “being strong” even when she was hurting inside. Growing up she watched her mother succumb to this very pressure. She learned that being strong is a choice, but it can be very emotionally and physically draining.

There are three defining moments in Karli’s life when she rose to the occasion and realized that she was as strong as she pretended to be; her mother’s tragic death in 2005, her attempted kidnapping in March 2006, and her second attack in May 2006, where she sustained third degree full-thickness burns to 30% of her body.

Karli recognizes that survival requires mental strength, but some of her greatest breakthroughs have happened when she let her guard down and just lived in the pain . . . when she broke down and let herself be vulnerable . . . when she let go of her desire to look “perfect” to save face. Her light truly comes from her darkest experiences.


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