A few years ago, I conquered my metaphorical mountain. It was hard. The pain was emotionally, physically, and spiritually excruciating at times. Because survival was my imperative; my beacon, I didn’t give much thought to how I would feel once I processed my repressed memories. Intuitively, I knew that in order to live, I had to discover and accept the congruent timeline of a dark and deeply buried past, and then learn how to manage the triggers that sometimes rendered me feeling helpless and hopeless.
At times, I wondered, when my story is told and I am standing in my truth…What will happen next? How will I feel? How would I incorporate living with the effects of my trauma, and the resulting PTSD? Would I go from a person with “no past” to a person who was just a mental illness?
I knew I wanted to live my life with my eyes wide open, to let go of the person I was not! I had a desire to own my story, my truth; to work through the torture and come out with a thick gnarly scar that proved to my inner child, my soul, my mind that I made it through.
I learned to reach out and ask for help. I learned to be vulnerable, and attach. I learned that my life will probably be learning and relearning coming back to the present when the ice-cold skeleton hands begin to creep up my spine and rock my sense of safety. It was all about healing, surviving, and distress tolerance tools.
I’m deeply proud of the courage it took me to conquer my mountain. I white-knuckled it to the top and back down. But didn’t learn the soft skills I needed to comfort and love my inner child, my soul, and my mind. I found that I was in the place of, After the Story-Now What?
In the initial phase of my healing journey, I was working on letting go of who I wasn’t, but it did not help me discover who I am? I was in the throes of survival and didn’t have the capacity at the time to leave room for hopes, dreams, maybe’s, affirmations, peace, and contentment at the deep soul level.
Today, I was reminded of a wonderful talk by Arthur Brooks at the Aspen Ideas Festival, titled: Strategies for happiness in life. I remember feeling so inspired by the points he made in his talk. In summary, Don’t rage against change, teach others what you know, take away the parts of you that aren’t really you, and surround yourself with love.”
After the Story, while standing in my truth I can incorporate the wise suggestions of those who I look to for support, I can trust the difference I can make in the world around me, with the hope it has a ripple effect. I can live a content life, knowing that strong feelings and emotions about my past will come and that they will also go. I can surround myself with a like-minded and loving family and friends. Most importantly for me (presently) is that I can continue to learn and practice compassion and enjoy my insatiable curiosity about life, people, and how we’re all connected.
I don’t have to turn away from the mirror ~ I don’t have to run away from the mirror that is held up to me by others.
Before I shared my story and lived in my truth, I courageously survived. After sharing my story, I courageously live, and dream, and hope, and affirm that the statement, “I am ____,” is fluid with growth, change, and resilience.