By Anabel Marquez | Photos by Angela Amaya
In a time when social media channels are bustling with self-care advice from wellness enthusiasts, motivational quotes from life coaches and personal anecdotes about finding strength from women across the country— the story of Aalia Lanius stands out.
Lanius is a cancer survivor. She’s a victim of sexual abuse. She has overcome eating disorders and survived physically abusive relationships that led to self-esteem issues and suicide attempts. She has experienced homelessness, heartbreak and divorce. She has struggled with resentment towards her own mother and feelings of loneliness.
But Lanius has also led a multi-million dollar retail company. She has defeated cancer twice. She has become a strong mother of four children, opened up about her life journey and is now living what she considers her happily ever after.
If that sounds like enough material to write a novel— Lanius has already done so.
Her first book, an autobiographical fiction titled “Tough Love” was published in early 2018 and is based on her own life story.
“I knew after my battle with cancer that I wanted to write a book,” says Lanius. “Once I went through my divorce and recognized the power of my own story, I decided to base my first fiction novel on me. I learned…you don’t always have to look beyond your own life to find inspiration.”
Currently, Lanius is working on her second book, “Jugend” which touches on many of the social and political issues currently facing society. Her work-in-progress tells a story with two separate timeframes, one in 1937 before the start of World War II and the second, in 2017.
“The message is that it is possible to embrace and care for someone ‘different’ than you, especially when you realize that we aren’t so different after all,” says Lanius. “My hope is to bring people together.”
Jugend will have its worldwide release on April 1, 2019.
On surviving abuse
Writing about painful life experiences may often give authors the opportunity to release some of their own personal traumas.
For Lanius, it did just that. Writing allowed her to reflect on her childhood and identify why she was so vulnerable growing up.
“What made me vulnerable to sexual abuse was being told as a child that I was to be ‘seen and not heard,’” she explains. “This caused me to struggle with finding my voice and ability to stand up for myself when things occurred, and it happened well into my teenage years.”
Further, she says that her vulnerability to physical and emotional abuse in her first marriage stemmed from a desire to stay married even though it wasn’t a safe environment. She wanted to have the family that she had “missed out on as a child,” citing her parents’ divorce and the instability that followed.
“I saw my mother go through many relationships and marriages and I was left in situations that led to abuse,” says Lanius. “In my adult life, as a mother, I craved the stability for my kids that I lacked as a child.”
The Cancer Ordeal
Lanius often shares beautiful photos of herself on social media, encouraging her followers to think positively and believe they can overcome any life challenge. The woman who grew up in Napa with deep insecurities, also encourages her followers to live their best, most meaningful lives and not just for the sake of promoting the ever-so-popular positive vibes.
Ten years ago, at 32-years-old, Lanius was bedridden after having been diagnosed with both cervical and esophageal cancer. At that time, she had three young children and her cancer diagnoses had turned her world upside down. Doctors were recommending that she undergo a hysterectomy as part of her treatment but she refused. She focused on staying positive and teaching her kids to be self-sufficient during her treatment.
“I learned to put down the expectation of perfection and go with just being the best mom I could be…My health battles and fear of dying caused me to raise (my kids to be) more independent and resourceful.”
She also found a community that offered support and encouragement as she battled the disease.
“For me, the cancer community became my saving grace. I have some of the most deep and meaningful relationships that I have ever had in my life,” she confides. “There’s an unspoken understanding that unites us and people who understand my challenges.”
Lanius is currently cancer-free.
With a second chance to live and a newfound strength, she started pursuing an unsugarcoated life, meaning, a life where honesty, truth and transparency reign.
“As a woman, I finally found my voice and I no longer hold on to shame or blame that isn’t mine,” says Lanius.
She fell in love and married her husband Joseph who helped publish her book and with whom she had a baby girl, in 2017.
She’s also been booked as a motivational speaker for cancer survivors and women’s events.
“My message is to hold yourself worthy, independent of anyone else’s opinion or actions,” she suggests. “If you can find the strength to help others with your voice and story, then share it, because it’s only when we share it, that we begin to know how truly powerful it is.”
Connect with Aalia Lanius!
Purchase Tough Love Here
Mommy In Los Angeles® Magazine had the pleasure of meeting Aalia in Downtown Los Angeles where she shared her story, her author journey and even everyday concerns and challenges with raising school-age children. We commend her for turning multiple life-shattering experiences into lessons of strength and perseverance for other women. #LAMomsRock Every Mom Has a Story. All Rights Reserved