At some point in their life everyone will go through an emotional ordeal or physical trial. For many, recovery is difficult but achievable with appropriate support. In time there is nothing left other than a harmless memory or experience.
On the other hand, the damage of a life changing event or situation can create a victim mentality that unless challenged will keep you trapped in the past. The longer you remain attached to the pain the harder it is to break free. Your emotional state, whatever it is – anger, bitterness, jealousy, grief becomes your normality. Eventually it can become your refuge, because familiarity is safe.
Yet you don’t have to live as a victim. The transition to survivor and living your life as the person you were meant to be is possible. But you do need to have the willingness to heal. And you need courage.
Courage to take responsibility for your life again. Courage to take the risk of letting go. Courage to explore your inner-self.
Most of all you need courage to face the fear. The fear that if you mess with the wound that somehow it will be made worse and it will never heal. Or that your worst fears about yourself will be confirmed and you will never be whole again.
You may believe that you haven’t the strength or the bravery to overcome a situation that has overwhelmed you for so long. You do.
After years of suffering depression and being gripped by alcoholism, I had a complete physical and psychological break-down. Admission to a psychiatric ward heralded for me ultimate despair. At the time, I felt like the tears would never stop falling and my nightmare existence would continue for the rest of my life.
Yet a nurse came up to me and made the most extraordinary comment – “I’ll be excited to see where you are in five years time.” She knew of my past and how I had attempted suicide, but there she was talking of the future. Her reply when I pointed out how ridiculous that sounded was a big smile and a matter of fact, “After everything you’ve been through, you’re still here.” She then listed some of the things she saw in me. Courage wasn’t one of them, but resourcefulness and determination were.
“Listen to what you know instead of what you fear.” ~ Richard Bach
I realised that courage wasn’t an action, but an attitude. It meant accepting my circumstances and asking for help. It was overcoming my weaknesses. It was having a willingness to change and be changed.
The courage to heal came when I embraced all these things, so that little by little I could come to terms with the pain of my past. It no longer held me hostage. Recovery and sobriety helped me to appreciate what life had taught me. And the very things I used to fear became the source of my strength.
I wish I could’ve have told the nurse how right she was. Five years on from that incident my life had turned around completely. I was sober, sane and happily married with two beautiful daughters. Her words had been a gift. The gift of courage.
If you are struggling to find your inner strength I would like to extend this gift to you also. Take what you know and use it as your stepping stone to change. Watch it transform into the courage to heal and set yourself free.
Top image thanks to the wonderful Lindy Gaskill http://www.etsy.com/listing/115192157/5×7-she-wanted-the-rainbow-so-she-put-up