Tuesday, October 20, 2015

More Strength

We've all seen the afterschool specials, read the articles, and heard the interviews. Someone experiences a traumatic event, tries to ignore it, makes bad decisions, tells a trusted friend, finally acknowledges the impact of the trauma, tells the world, and then the music starts, the clouds part, the sun shines, and life is great again. This storyline has inspired us and started necessary conversation, but it's also incomplete. What happens following that breakthrough day? What happens with life after?

Years ago I consumed as many of those types of stories as I could. I needed proof that life could be beautiful after trauma. Those stories got me to my liberating, I'm-telling-everybody moment, yet there was a gaping hole. No one talked about life after—after the big reveal, after the inspirational song ended, after members of their support system went back to being occupied with their own lives, after they could name the trauma and those who caused it without crumbling, after those who said they would always be there started to look for an out clause or expiration date, and after they got tired of having to be so damn strong all of the time.

Healing is a lifelong process and I had to learn that the length of that process wasn't my fault. It wasn't because I wasn't praying hard enough or trying hard enough. It wasn't because I didn't have enough faith. It wasn't because I hadn't forgiven. It wasn't because I hadn't talked about it enough. It wasn't because I wasn't enough.

I had strength, but as life happened, I needed more. I needed more strength when I got close to new people. I needed more strength as conversations turned to why I wasn't spending the holidays with my family. I needed more strength when my nieces and nephew turned five, the age my traumatic journey started. I needed more strength when I started counseling. I needed more strength when people I loved judged me for taking care of myself. I needed more strength each time I got a new doctor and had to divulge that I'd been raped. I needed more strength when those who abused me sent Facebook friend requests. I needed more strength when my dad, one of my biggest supporters, died. I needed more strength simply because life required me to be stronger.

You have worked to reach where you are today, but life is going to demand that you become even stronger. That isn't a reflection of a deficiency in your efforts, your toughness, nor who you are. As you grow older, life simply requires more. Continue fighting for peace of mind. Continue making healthy choices. Continue walking in and building your strength. As life requires more, you will not only become stronger, you'll become more—more self-aware, more grateful, more fulfilled, more peaceful, more loving, more honest, and more unapologetic about living out your purpose.

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