“Happiness is a form of courage.”
survivor of abuse thriver, I have often tried to get in touch with “the happy person inside” me who was untouched by trauma. It started with the My Avenging Angel Workshops when we had various exercises to draw this happy person out. We did writing prompts and compiled letters to ourselves in the frame of that happier, unscarred person. At the time, it felt so strange to write to myself in such a loving and accepting manner. It was hard to love myself. It was hard to stand myself. I knew I was capable of being happier, more centered, and generally, more functional- I just didn’t know how to get there.
When I pictured my happy inner self, I would envision the photo above. I was so fearless as a child. I was vibrant. My mother always told me she needed to hold me back growing up because I was ready to take on the world. I lost that girl somewhere…
What I found instead was PTSD: anxiety, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, low self-esteem, and above all a NEGATIVE OUTLOOK on life. I hated feeling so negative, but it followed me everywhere. It stalked me. It was on my back. It kept me up at night. Every time I thought I eluded it, I’d find it creeping up somewhere. I couldn’t escape it. I didn’t know how to stop it. It was a terrible feedback loop. The more negative I felt, the more I hated myself for it, which only made me feel more negative about the whole situation. I was stuck in a cycle of beating myself up- overly concerned with how other people were perceiving and judging me. I was withdrawn. I didn’t want to spread my negativity, so I shut people out. I was trapped.
In retrospect, I think my negativity served a purpose. It was my armor. It kept people at arm’s length where they couldn’t hurt me. Being betrayed by people in my life who I had loved deeply and trusted had completely reframed my perception of the world. If they could hurt me, imagine what other people might do. I couldn’t handle any more hurt. I couldn’t handle anything, period. However, it way over-lasted it’s usefulness. It kept me from myself. I was surviving- just going through the motions of existing, exhausted at the thought of another day.
Today I realized a remarkable thing. I am no longer working toward getting in touch with the happy person inside. I AM that happy person. What a REVELATION to finally have arrived at the point I’ve been struggling to ge to for so long, and it took me until today to finally realize it. I don’t know how or when it happened, but I am here. I have made it through the muck and finally emerged on the other side as a smarter, stronger, and more self aware person. I have taken control of my life back. I feel so light, so refreshed, so OPTIMISTIC. I have so many great things going for me — volunteering with CT-ALIVE, the Archangels, my blog (thank you everyone for the kind words and positive feedback), my running, fundraising… I could go on and on.
I have no room for negativity in my life anymore. It’s not in my nature. I only have space for positive thoughts, so the negativity and I are breaking up for good. I am ending our two year relationship and not looking back. I’m not entertaining anymore negative thoughts. I’m not letting it crawl into bed with me anymore when I’m feeling tired and vulnerable. I’m not giving in to the temptation to blame my trouble on others.
The one person in life I have power to change is myself, and that is exactly what I am doing. I am reevaluating and renewing the relationships in my life with a more positive outlook. As a final act of closure, I left cards for my coworkers to thank them for all their support on my journey and to apologize for being distant and not myself for so long. I wanted to make a commitment to them and myself to work on more positive relationships with them- the kind that involve actually opening up and showing myself. Plus, I really wanted to acknowledge all the support I had received from each of them. I feel like now that it is all in writing- it’s official. I have let go of any negativity still lingering in the past and stepped forward into a brighter future. Who knows where this road will take me, but one thing is for sure- there are good things in store!
I spent so long not knowing what to do with all that negativity. I couldn’t find a way to stuff it down or shove it out of my life. Today I finally found the solution- I faced it head on and threw it out the window. 🙂
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