In response to reading my story, one woman asked what got me through. She wanted to know what it was that helped me retain a belief in humanity and hope for the future, how I built up resilience and how I cope now with ongoing effects of the abuse.
This is to you, friend. (**tipping my hat your way)
What got me through?
Really all I can say is simple faith. I’m no holy person or preacher and I know it’s cliche, but it’s also the truth.
Where was that faith born?
Hmm. A little hard to pinpoint. I think at some point a person simply cannot be devastated any longer. It isn’t acceptable. It isn’t possible. There’s just no capacity left for it. I believe it’s that point in which we reach a choice to either numb and die, a living burial, or choose to believe in something greater than ourselves.
Choosing faith to me was choosing to believe in a Greater Wisdom, an all-encompassing Goodness. Believing in God as ALL-GOOD, ALL-KNOWING, ALL-HEALING and ALL-LOVING.
Choosing faith was choosing to believe that there’s meaning and purpose behind things, behind events, circumstances, experiences… and a really really fantastic reason for it all. For certain a more beautiful ending to the story, that the story hasn’t ended YET. And that at this particular point in time I simply cannot see the greater picture. But I’ll see it eventually. I’ll see it soon. The skies will clear and I’ll understand why I have to go through what I’m going through.
That choice to me is and has been a choice between life and death. I can hate what’s going on, I can grieve, mourn, kick and scream and spit on every moment of it. But if I believe there’s more to it, if I believe there’s goodness hidden away somewhere, then I can search it out and find it. I can find peace, I can find resolution, I can find forgiveness, I can find a way to move on. I can find joy and love and beauty and wonder. I can experience the good by deciding it’s there. And only WHEN I decide it’s there can it ever truly be discovered. I must believe, and thus I shall receive.
What gave me hope for the future?
It’s paradoxical, but I believe it’s having been so close to death, to wanting to die and go home to the warm arms of Heaven for so long, having nothing left, and just refusing to believe that was it. I could see no point, life was hell, yet instead of accepting that point, I demanded that there be more.
When there’s nothing left to lose, when you hit bottom like that- over and over and over- you have a choice; disappear into the void forever and wallow in your own brokenness, or stop caring so much about the rules and go nuts with it. Once the rules don’t matter, there’s suddenly self-enablement and choice to change the narrative. You can choose to live and decide it’s gonna be awesome.
This is what happened for me. Slowly and haltingly, but more and more over time as I refused to give up on the idea that there’s more to life than what I’ve experienced so far.
Why did I refuse to let go of this concept? This skipping on the rules and living better? What gave this hope and belief that prevented me from giving up?
I couldn’t. I couldn’t give up. I was seeing too many people choosing to get stuck and wallow, to break and die while pretending that that was a life, and I personally couldn’t end up that way. It was pretty apparent they were depressed as hell and in eternal forever-pain. The answer to that choice was clear. Which isn’t to say it was easy. But looking with a sharp mind, it was always blaringly obvious.
At those points in time, and many that were to come, I didn’t believe life meant much of anything at all, or that it was worth being here, BUT I decided if I’d made the journey down, I couldn’t go out without leaving behind my mark, my legacy, a change to the people or the world, SOMETHING to say I was here. Something to have made the trip worthwhile.
When you have nothing to lose, all you have left is to shoot for an epic life and never settle for less. The moment you stop caring so much is the moment you can begin living. That’s where LIFE begins.
***For all my friends and their friends who have overdosed, died of alcohol or drug-related poisoning, passed on by their own hand, all trying to quench the overwhelming glaring white hot rods of pain that befriended them over the course of their short lives, may their souls rest in eternal peace. And for all my friends out there seriously contemplating suicide, playing or dealing with suicidal ideation, YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN IN LIFE AND THERE IS HOPE FOR A BETTER PRESENT AND FUTURE. THE PAIN DOESN’T HAVE TO LAST FOREVER. THERE’S A WAY OUT AND A WAY TO LIVE FREE OF IT.
What helped me continue to believe in humanity?
In the beginning I believed because I had to. Later I believed because I began to understand about the veil of this world and the masks of mankind. I began to look beyond. Beyond the pain and actions and reactions. Behind hurtfulness, wounds, and woundedness. To understand how hurt people hurt people. To understand how many or most of us are still hurting children dealing with our own shit to some degree or another.
This way of thinking and seeing helped me become more understanding and compassionate, and enabled me to hand trash right back when others have tried to dump, with “I feel for you, but no thank you.”
Additionally, I’d have to say experiencing and watching my own growth and healing has given tremendous insight and faith in the possibility of change and in the human population overall.
How do I cope today with ongoing effects of the abuse and trauma?
Seriously- by continuing to build faith. By believing in the good things coming. By sitting with emotions and trying to feel them fully as they come up and process through and breathe. By practicing breathing. By practicing healthy habits to keep myself feeling secure and stable and grounded.
By being honest with myself and others. By speaking my truth. By practicing compassion and gentleness, understanding, and lots and lots of love. By building a support system and remembering to reach out.
By getting enough sleep and three meals a day. By caring for my basic needs in order to keep helping myself feel able and capable of facing what comes up. By practicing gratitude. By speaking with God. By looking to my guides. By doing my work; hard work filled with sweat, blood, and tears. By practicing meditation. By remembering to use prayer.
Oh- and therapy. Lots and lots of good therapy.
Regarding memories and flashbacks- things that often strike terror in my heart, a friend of mine once told me the wisest words:
He said “Rus, if you’ve survived it once, you can survive it again.”
Meaning to say that I’ve already gone through it. Looking down and seeing all my fingers and toes wiggling back at me, I can see I came out in one piece. Going back into the living memories- my survival record is already a sure thing and I can go in confident with the knowledge that I already know the outcome and I can rest assured that I’ll make it back to the present moment alive and well.
What practices can you take home today to help you build faith in Goodness, in yourself, in humanity, in better days? What helps YOU get through tough times and difficult moments? Comment below and let us know your own tips and tricks of the trade. Share the love, share the wisdom, share the knowledge.