I can remember, as a kid, hearing older folks say “Life is like a bed of roses.” This statement has never felt truer to me than now. Honestly, these days, I am able to smell and see the beauty of the flowers. But for me personally, it’s mixed with the prickling of the thorny stem. I was thinking very deeply about life yesterday and I realized that at this point, most of my life was lived as a survivor. In the last 6 years, I’ve been learning the gloriously painful lesson of thriving. I’ve been learning how to really enjoy the one life that I’ve been given.
I actually have a very large appreciation for life. As a child, I had a very unsafe and violent upbringing. Many times, I wasn’t sure that I would survive the night. I didn’t live in the projects. I didn’t live in places that were perceived as dangerous. I lived in what could be thought of as a nice warm house with a nice warm bed. But almost everyday, I had to fight for my life. I had to watch every word, every gesture, every everything for fear of being brutalized. It’s funny how the people that see you often, don’t even know you or your story. Many people had no idea that these things were happening regularly; that we were regularly running out of our house scantily clothed at late and early hours just to save our lives from the monster living in our home. But, I survived.
Survival is one thing I know how to do very well. Too well. It’s a very familiar friend. But, over the years, I’ve come to realize that although I’ve fought so hard to save my life, I lose it by not living it. This is partially why I started this blog. I wanted a place to share my heart, the things that I love, the things I’m learning, and the adventures of an ex-survivalist.
I was talking to a young girl at school in the recent past. She was vulgar, inappropriate, and did many things for attention. Yet, she was the first person to greet me when I walked in the door. For a few days, I watched her. I watched her say things to get a rise out of people. I saw her perform less than what she’s capable of because deep down, she was convinced that this was all she could be. The moment that broke my heart was when I heard her say “I’m bad. I’m just bad. I’ve always been bad,” as she shrugged and grabbed her cigarette. She said this in response to another girl talking about the experiences she had in high school. With tears in my eyes, I told her, “I don’t believe you.” She said, “Don’t believe what…?” I said, “I don’t believe that you’re a bad person. I think something in your life has convinced you that you’re a bad person. You might have even done some unsavory things in your past, but we all have things in our past that we’ve done.” She began to tell me about her childhood and how difficult it was. She had a very tough time at home and at school. When you grow up in a tumultuous situation, it can be difficult to realize the brighter truths.
When you’re younger, many things seem like the end of the world. Life can be extremely difficult for some. You might’ve been in a situation similar to or worse than mine. But the truth is, if you’re able to make it beyond 18, you’ve walked into an amazing opportunity. When you turn 18, everything you choose to do with your life is your choice. My turning point was when I decided that although I was abused for all my life, I wasn’t going to take over and continue the abuse to myself and to others. It hasn’t been easy going through this transformative experience, but it has been worth it.
I’ve decided to embark on a journey of living. I’m choosing to be vulnerable. I’m choosing to dive into the things I love and to share life in all of its challenges and triumphs. I’ve decided to be loving, beautiful, and present. I’ve chosen to do, become, and treasure what I love whether trivial or deep. Although the rugged moments still happen, I’m going to continue to choose these things. I will never give up. I will never give up on myself. I will never give up on my goals and dreams. I will never give up on the people I love. I will never give up faith and hope.
Someone in this extra large tiny world loves you more than you know and treasures you beyond what you could imagine. You are worth trying for. Don’t give up.