I hate the word survivor.
It makes me feel like I am constantly in survival mode and that is not how I want to live my life. It makes me feel like I chose the battle that I had to fight. It makes me feel as if I am always going to have this badge, like something you would get on your Girl Scout sash.
Now that is a word that I gravitate to. It makes me feel powerful. It makes me feel strong. It makes me feel like the wounds that I carry have meaning. It makes me feel like I hold the power within to change the world.
Honestly, though, I never felt like a warrior. There were days when it felt like it took everything in me to just survive the day. Survive the moments and make it to the next one. That is the real journey of a survivor, of a warrior. To fight the battles day in and day out because there is no other way out of them.
DAILY BATTLES AS A SURVIVOR
I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by women who are powerful. Women who have gone through things that have broken them but yet somehow they are still here, fighting the fight so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
That is strength. That is a warrior.
One of those women in my life is Jody. I mean, you know Jody if you have read my blog but if you haven’t, here is who she is in her own words from her blog post, Raw and Infected.
TRIGGER WARNING ATTACHED TO HER POST BUT IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!
I talk to Jody on a daily basis. She understands me. She understands the darkness that creeps in and takes over. She understands the triggers that pop up. She understands what it is like to be a survivor. To be a warrior. Last night as we were talking about this blog post, I told her I just didn’t know what to write about. I was stuck on how to talk about being a survivor. And that is when I admitted to her that I HATE being called a survivor.
It makes me feel weak. It makes me feel like I battled something that is deserving of a medal. None of that is true.
I remember laying in my bed after my sexual assault, wishing that the pain would just end. It wasn’t the physical pain at this point. It was the emotional turmoil that I had been thrown in. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t understand how one person could take EVERYTHING away from me. I didn’t know how to live anymore.
There had to be an easier way to live than how I was doing that. I mean, living isn’t even what I was doing. I was surviving. Barely surviving. I became this shell of a woman. I didn’t want to be seen or noticed. I didn’t want to feel anything yet all of my senses made EVERY emotion feel big and scary and painful.
Most days I would lay on my bed and stare at the ceiling. Getting dressed ONLY to leave my house to put money on my credit cards because I didn’t know how else to deal with life. I thought that if I bought those shoes or that meal (that I would barely touch), it would fill in the gaps that I had felt. Something had to make me feel better. BUT nothing ever did.
My small wins became those moments of survival.
Having a shower.
Getting out of bed.
Eating a meal.
Talking to someone on the phone.
Getting a job.
Making it through hour by hour still alive.
Hiding my tears until my kids were sleeping.
Hearing my husband say, I love you.
Crying myself to sleep.
Hitting publish on that first blog post.
Being interviewed about my story.
Starting my business.
It is within these small battles that I began to build up my strength. Build up my power even when I felt like I was at my weakest. These battles kept me going, kept me moving forward, kept me alive.
I never saw these as wins. I saw them as my failures. I saw them as my undoings. I saw them as my weaknesses. Ways for me to reclaim victim status and stay stuck. Never realizing that every one of these moments meant that I was becoming a warrior. That I was growing through the pain. That I didn’t need to look at the bigger picture anymore. I needed to focus on the small moments and the small wins because those were what was helping me to cope. They were giving me hope even though the hope was so small, I didn’t even recognize it.
A LIFETIME OF SMALL WINS FOR WARRIORS
I have this dream that NO ONE will ever feel as broken as I did, as useless as I did, as empty as I did.
I have this dream that all of these small battles that I have won throughout the years will impact those who, like me, didn’t have a choice but to fight a battle that they were thrown into.
I have this dream that one day, my pain, my growth, my story is going to change the world.
The cycle for me was VICTIM to SURVIVOR to WARRIOR. How did I get there? Well…
I wish that I could tell you that there was a linear way to go between all three. There isn’t. There is ONLY your unique way.
I want to say that being a victim was the easiest part. BUT IT WASN’T. Being a victim meant every day allowing him to revictimize me. It meant that I gave him permission to have a hold on me. It meant that I never began healing or never loved myself. Those were the hard days. Allowing myself to hold onto the pain and the anger and the heartbreak of what he took away were the hardest days of my life.
If this is where you are now, I want you to know that in order to get out of the most painful days, you need to accept it. You need to be willing to look into the darkness and to release it of its power. Just like fear, being a victim doesn’t like when you look it in its face. It wants to remain hidden. It wants to keep its hold on you and the ONLY way it can do that, is by remaining silent.
Silence is allowing the pain and the fear to have all of the power. Giving yourself a voice is the first move to make when going from victim to survivor. It is scary. Scratch that, IT IS TERRIFYING.
It means that you are giving a voice to your pain, a voice to your story, a voice to the darkness that has taken over who you are. The victim inside of you is screaming out. She wants the acknowledgement. She wants you to say…
I see you.
I feel you.
I hear you.
Going from survivor to warrior was more subtle for me. I didn’t realize that is what was happening. I just knew that I needed to heal and relearn who I was. That meant sharing my story. That meant admitting that I needed help. That meant allowing someone else to love me even when I didn’t love myself.
I went back and forth from victim to survivor back to victim again for many years. That is part of the process. Relearning who we are as a survivor and trying to find meaning to what happened.
MOMENTS ARE MERE VICTORIES
Today I celebrate my middle child turning 10 years old. 10! I went from fighting for my survival in 2004 to being a mom of three. I never imagined in the days of laying on my bed that I would EVER get the chance to be a mom.
I didn’t dream of being a mom. I started university with a dream of changing the world in a boardroom. Of being the most POWERFUL woman in the room. Of capturing the attention of men and women who would listen to me and want to be me. Of standing at the head of a table and be the CEO of something.
It is funny how my idea of POWERFUL has changed throughout the years. How my idea of capturing the attention of men and women means sharing my story of pain and redemption. How I am even more powerful now than I would have been if I was standing at the head of a table.
Power in my story.
Power in my past.
Power in my purpose.
It has all come to me because I decided that I no longer could be silent. That silence was slowly killing me from the inside out. Silence meant that he won. That ALL of them win. That is what they need and I am NO LONGER going to allow that to happen.
Are you ready to embrace your voice? To learn how to use it to heal yourself and others in the process? Are you ready to step into your power and go from survivor to warrior? Let me help you do that by becoming a Fearless Leader for the Blog to Heal program.