Looking back on all the trauma that I had experienced, I came to realize that, as a child, I had always been a warrior. I had always had an inner strength that got me through my ordeals.
Many survivors have committed suicide because of their trauma. Many have become swallowed whole by alcohol and drugs, unable to find their way back to some semblance of a healthy life. Perhaps this is because they did not know that they had a warrior within them.
As a child, I never considered myself to be a victim. I just thought This is my life and I must deal with it. No matter what was done to me, no matter how much innocence was stolen, I never gave up hope. I never knew what to expect, whether I would get a hug or a belt lashing from my parents. I never knew if my brother Kevin would play checkers with me or punch me or rape me. But I never lost hope that things might change, that things would get better. I woke up every morning thinking Maybe today will be a good day.
Somewhere along the way, I had lost my connection with my inner warrior. Not that she wasn’t there, I just forgot how to tap into her. I had allowed the traumatic events in my life to dampen my Spirit. By the time I was in my late twenties, my Light had begun to dim. More and more, I had sought solace in alcohol. I self-medicated, numbed the pain that I didn’t want to feel. I did this for nearly two decades. My life had become a slow downward spiral into an ever-deepening despair.
The most devastating result of my drinking was the loss of my spirituality. I had gotten to the point where I didn’t believe in anything. I had lost faith in myself. I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I’d look in the mirror and stare blankly at a stranger. I had finally reached my bottom when all I wanted to do was to die. I didn’t want to kill myself, I just cried myself to sleep every night, begging that I would not wake up the next morning.
My pain had led me down the path of alcoholism, but I was graced with the ability to become sober at the age of forty-four, and I maintain my sobriety to this day. I was able to reignite my spirituality and reconnect with my divine nature. I am deeply grateful for these gifts.
Although I had come a long way in my healing with therapy, it wasn’t until I had gotten sober that I was able to reconnect with my inner warrior. Coming to terms with the fact that I was an alcoholic wasn’t easy. Even though I had gone from drinking a bottle of wine a week to a five litre box of wine every two days (plus a six pack or two of beer), I had remained in denial about my alcoholism for a long time. I kept comparing myself to other alcoholics’ lives. I had never lost a job or a relationship due to alcohol, and even though I had driven in blackouts, I had never gotten a DUI. I had never lost my driver’s license or been in jail. I was taught that these events were all waiting for me, had I chosen to continue drinking. I am very fortunate to have gotten sober before any of these things happened.
Once I had stopped drinking with the help of a support group, and as I worked through a twelve-step program, I began to reclaim my power. I was able to see myself as a survivor and not as a victim. I started working through my trauma issues from a place of inner strength. As I got stronger, I began to believe in myself again. I began to feel more capable of handling situations. I was able to learn coping skills for when I got triggered. I had found the courage which I believed to be lost.
Now sober, therapy took on a whole new level of healing. The more I worked on my trauma issues with my therapist, the stronger and more confident I became. I forgave my perpetrators; not for their benefit, but for mine. I became able to perceive all events in my life as challenges that help me to grow spiritually. I learned, and continue to learn, about how my past influences my behavior in the present, and the way my mind and emotions work. I learned to advocate for myself. I learned to challenge myself, and expand my comfort zone.
I believe that every survivor has a warrior within them. It’s just a matter of tuning in and realizing that she or he is there. Once this happens, survivors can connect to the endless stream of power and strength available to them. Every survivor has a wealth of inner resources just waiting to be utilized. It is my hope that every survivor discovers their inner warrior, and the power to reclaim their lives.
Photo by Jacob Avanzato on Unsplash