I am a survivor, a warrior rising from the dust of the ashes. But it was not always that way and more often than not I forget just how far I’ve come. I need to be reminded and sometimes there isn’t anyone there to reaffirm my strength and point out the miles I’ve covered on my quest to prove that hope exists and that my life is important—both in that process and for the not-so-simple fact that I have breath in my lungs and a unique, courageous, tender heartbeat.
The shame of being too much and yet never enough as I, a late-bloomer, stand out. Please don’t notice that I’m different… Please don’t diminish my dreams or tell me I’ve missed my mark. My time is not out. My love and dreams are not worthless, and though my voice shakes and my heart trembles, I refuse to forget how far I’ve come.
I was born two weeks too early, a surprise amid unfulfilled dreams and plans. The hole in my heart surgically repaired at four years old, replacing innocence and “brokenness” with a scar in one of the most intimate places possible. Experiencing poverty and a dysfunctional childhood, I saw too much. “Morbidly obese” in middle school, I was too heavy to fit in. An overachiever that didn’t quite make the mark and dissociating from the pain brought on by social interactions. Living with juvenile arthritis and chronic inflammation of the knee, I was too slow.
Unsafe in all the right places, people died, and I attended funerals of children. I felt too much. Narcotic addicted parents. The breath of a mother stolen in her sleep metastasized the numbness inside of me. I felt too little, both in quantity and the size itself.
Dropping out of college to get married and start my own family, I was too young and naïve. Robbed. Homeless. A college dropout, thrice more. Depressed with debilitating anxiety, manipulated, owned, and yet rejected. Surgery to live beyond my twenties. An acquired traumatic brain injury with multiple secondary concussions severed my broken identity into a million little fragments. Now, I wasn’t enough.
Carried by tenacity and grace, I found hope. In the most unlikely place of all—within myself.
And while I might look back, it is only to remind myself of how precious today is, how far I’ve come, to keep going. The most exciting part of my journey is when I take another step towards growth and authenticity.
I defy the odds of existence and yet I need more. I am more than a number, not an adjective in my life stories, and my worth is unfathomable. I am not even the scars that vividly expose my vulnerability to the world. I am not who or what other people say that I am, and I search daily to find my personal truth over their voices that are etched into my unconsciousness.
I’ve seen my spirit wage wars of hopelessness against miracle after miracle. Still, I am in awe and wonder of the blessings and second chances I’ve been given. My unique and valuable imprint in the universe is not just a story.
But what about the times that I don’t move forward, that I long for easier days where the ignorance numbed the awareness? Worse yet, how do I give myself compassionate love on the days where my own stagnant odor appalls me? How do I keep grace alive without running out of energy for the next day, the next challenge, the next mountain? What if I forget who I am and where I am going? How do I embody the very hope that has kept me alive and helped to inspire and give a voice to the paradox of my suffering?
Even when the storm or winds weather my sails, I know I am here for a reason. I have big dreams and a big heart. I can get lost in the journey or feel like I am exactly back where I started. But I am courageous and vulnerable, and I do matter. Every day of my life does.
It’s OK to need reminders of your strength.
It is OK to be you. In fact, you are wanted and needed, your messy love and your strong tears. There is enough grace, and hope whispers reminders to us daily—to keep going, don’t stop, live.
So live—but never forget how far you’ve come just by waking up today. And when you are ready, celebrate the you that was put on this earth to do exactly that: live [your story].
You are strong enough to heal from the heavy you carry. We encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at email@example.com.