Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I try to remind myself of the things I know to be true: That I am human, and that every human, including myself, is deserving of love, peace, and joy.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve chosen to pursue love, peace, and joy. For me, this pursuit has meant no longer allowing fear, anxiety, or abuse — whether from my own heart or from my own family — to play a role in my daily living.
For me, choosing love, peace, and joy has meant doing hard work. It’s been the labor of opening old wounds, healing old wounds, and creating a strong, whole person in their place.
The labor of trying, failing, and trying again. The labor of being uncomfortable. Of questioning everything. Of going back to the drawing board and beginning again. The willingness to see where deeply-ingrained beliefs led me astray and choosing something new. Choosing uncharted territory — seeing life as a fresh, flowing river of freedom, rather than a murky, stagnant pond of grief and despair.
For me, being a strong, whole person means being able to experience true peace of mind and finally being equipped to help other people. Putting my oxygen mask on before helping someone else to put their oxygen mask on.
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What I know is: A strong, whole person surrounds herself with people who are mutually respectful, caring, and kind-hearted. To be clear, respectful, caring, and kind-hearted people can still point out faults — they simply do so with care, with a desire to help someone grow rather than by belittling. They do so with mature conversation rather than by mocking. They do so with love rather than hostility. And these people are my chosen family.
What I know is: I embrace and live in forgiveness. I forgive abuse; I don’t allow abuse to continue. I forgive blame; I don’t allow blame to continue. I forgive shame; I don’t allow shame to continue.
What I know is: The cycle of abuse in our family runs deep. It’s generational. It’s heavy. It’s dark. It’s the Goliath to my David. And it absolutely ends with me.
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Where I choose conversation, you choose mocking and name-calling. Where I choose personal growth, you choose personal attacks. Where I choose to learn, you choose to blame. Our paths are different paths, and my choice is to healthfully and lovingly avoid where they may cross. Whatever your war is or will be, there will be my peace.
Again and again, for as long as I live, I will choose peace over chaos. Kindness over abuse. Giving over taking away. Light over darkness. The thrill of uncharted territory over repeating a dangerous and empty cycle.
From the deep, dark valley your words and actions created, I have survived. I’ll press on. I’ll dream big. I’ll try and fail. I’ll stretch myself. I’ll be wrong. I’ll give freely. I’ll inspire. And I’ll change the world, not because of the valley, but because I clawed up, climbed out, and created my own personal mountaintop.
When I’m finished, I’ll know the life I lived was rooted in love, peace, and joy. It wasn’t glamorous. It wasn’t perfect. It was simply a story of survival, perseverance, and glorious freedom. It was good. And because I led with love, I was good.
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I wish you every happiness in the world, and for you to experience the love, peace, and joy that is absolutely waiting for you on the other side.