Warning: naughty language ahead!
I like to say that I didn’t become a bad-ass bitch because I had an easy life.
By most standards, my life was pretty shitty. I was born into a family that couldn’t love me. My father’s mental illness, my mother’s inability to protect and nurture me, childhood sexual abuse, and so many other painful things contributed to me living my life in the role of a victim for far too long.
Looking back, I see that I could have turned into a bitter, angry, weak, monster of a person—and no one could really blame me. I could have used my shitty past to create an equally shitty present for myself—and truly, I did that for many years. But, at some point, I decided to change.
I decided that I wasn’t going to use the terrible things from my past as an excuse to not have a happy, healthy, fulfilling future. That is when I realized that I wasn’t a damn victim. I was a survivor.
I am a survivor—and I’m not the only one.
We are survivors.
We are the ones who suffered needlessly at the hands of another. Many of us blamed ourselves. We believed that we were somehow selected to be abused because we deserved it. We walked through our lives feeling broken, damaged, and worthless. Many times, we continued to abuse ourselves long after our abusers had stopped—finding endless opportunities for self-harm and ways to keep proving to ourselves that we didn’t deserve the good stuff in life.
We are the ones who waited and wished for the day that Daddy would scoop us up and hold us against his chest. Or the day that Mother would tell us that she loved us, and mean it. We stayed awake at night wondering what we did to deserve the bad things that happened to us. Maybe we even had fantasies of our real parents showing up one day to rescue us from the hell we were living in. They would come and kiss the boo-boos, and make all the wrong things right, and somehow, life would be good.
We are the ones who carried our secrets, and the shame that came with them. We kept our darkness hidden. We kept our wounds bandaged tightly—because letting them bleed would make people around us uncomfortable. We put our brave faces on for the world every day, and found a way to force a smile so no one would know that we were dying. We learned to ignore our pain, to explain it away, to bury it deep inside ourselves where it ravished us day after day.
We are the ones who settled. We allowed people to treat us poorly, because that’s what we expected of them. We believed that we deserved that sort of treatment. We lived small in a world, because we didn’t want to be seen. We avoided success, love, wealth, and any kind of fulfillment, because we didn’t feel worthy of it. We told ourselves to just be grateful for the scraps life had given us, and not ask to sit at the table and enjoy the bounty this world had to offer.
We are the ones who felt pain so deep it threatened to swallow us whole. We hurt inside for days that turned into years—not realizing that our old wounds were coming back in new packages, trying to find new ways to break us open so we could be healed.
We are the ones who were filled with rage deep in our bellies. Some of us turned that into self-loathing, and found new ways to hate and harm ourselves as the days went by. Some of us turned that into disdain for the outside world—projecting our hurt and anger onto others. Some of us did both of those things.
Then, one day, we woke up.
We made a choice to use that rage in our bellies to burn down our prison walls.
We began to peel back the dressings from our wounds. We let them bleed—releasing the years of pain and poison inside them. We let them breathe, gave them space to be what they were without trying to conceal or explain them away any longer. We found a friend in the world who didn’t run away screaming when we showed them our scars—and we began to see the beauty in them.
We allowed our darkness to become illuminated, and our fear began to dissipate. We learned to honor all of the things people told us we shouldn’t feel. We embraced our brokenness and sorrow. We let ourselves get pissed off. After years of shoving our anger away, we allowed ourselves to feel it without shame.
We earned that anger, we had a right to it—it was a part of us.
We climbed the mountain of our own self-hatred, and all the shit we had piled on ourselves to keep reinforcing the idea that we were not good enough, and never would be. We stood on the summit and looked out into the world and saw that we had done the thing we thought we couldn’t do. We achieved something we once believed was unattainable: Moksha—emotional freedom. The battle inside us was fought and won, and to the victors go the spoils. All of the joy, prosperity, and love that we once denied ourselves was ours. We were finally free to choose it, and know without doubt that we were worthy of it.
We gave ourselves permission to move forward in life with new ideas about ourselves. We began to see our fortitude, our valor, our character. We found a way to forgive the people who had harmed us—not in a way that excuses their behavior. But in a way that allowed us to cut the strings we had tied to those experiences, so we could move through our lives unencumbered by them.
We chose to forgive ourselves for all of our perceived flaws and mistakes. Eventually, we began to see our own perfection. We began to love ourselves, and make new choices for our lives that reflect a deep reverence for the perfectly radiant sacred beings we are.
Then, we could look back on the shittiest parts of our lives, and see that somewhere amidst the awful was a little gift. We began to see that we are a sum of all the experiences of our lives, and couldn’t be the kick-ass humans we are today without some suffering. Our scars made us who we are—they show us that we were stronger than all the things that tried to take us down. No matter how big our demons were, we were bigger. We survived, and now, we thrive.
Today, we stand together—healthy, whole, and healed.
We walked through the fires of our lives, and emerged from them galvanized in wisdom and strength. We are fearless in the face of adversity, because we’ve already been to hell and back, and have the goddamned souvenir t-shirts to prove it.
We know that our strength lies in our ability to be who we are in the world honestly. Our only real power lies in our authenticity—and we no longer allow shame, fear, or pain to keep us from living the lives we deserve. We chase down the best this world has to offer, and know deep gratitude for every wonderful experience, relationship, and triumph.
Our battle cry has turned to a sweet song of victory. A song we shall sing until the end of time. A song of freedom, joy, and the peace that comes from knowing that we are utterly unstoppable. We are survivors: mightily self-assured, and fiercely devoted to our greatness. Nothing, and no one can ever take our power away again.
Author: Renee Dubeau
Image: via FramptonComesAlive on Imgur
Editors: Catherine Monkman; Sarah Kolkka