Our past shape us. Those bitter memories, the triumphant moments, those days when we can taste the essence of our soul. There are many moments in time when we can feel the shape of who we are—the contours of our jagged edges and all the soft moldings of the spirt that we contain and suppress daily—and in these precious moments we are made more powerful than the winds of the earth.
We are shaped by the good and bad. But the bad seems to brand our spirit because there is truth in the old adage, “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” I am defined by those things that have scarred my soul. I am crafted by the monsters that still haunt me. I am still the frightened little girl who wants out of her bedroom closet but her pain is the entertainment of others—so she sheds her tears silently and waits until they are bored or the monster comes for her. I am still the girl that feared and dreaded going to grandmothers’ house—even the closet would have been better than that bleak black house.
I still see these versions of myself in the mirror. Their eyes a reflection of my own and their sorrowful depths are devastating and haunting.
“A phoenix rises from the ashes. No one ever knows or cares about the ashes only the beautiful creature.” Someone I care very much about said this to me today. And as beautiful as it was I couldn’t help but feel the sting of these words. The life of the phoenix is one of beautiful abuse and melancholy. Each time it is reborn it is stronger than before, its’ previous adversities making it more beautiful each time it rises.
I don’t wish to be presumptuous or assert that I am somehow special because I’ve survived some of my own personal tragedies. I’ve made it to the other side of my own personal hell. No. What I mean to say and what I yearn to tell you is that we are all of us survivors. We are all champions because we made it here today. We made it when everything in our world was against us.
In my ashes are the ravaging of my innocence. The death of my spirit. Broken hearts and bitter disappointments. Homelessness and deep desperation that gnawed at my soul. I’ve survived mental wounds and emotional infections. And you have too—all of these and much more that whisper that we should not trust, that we should run, that there is no good in humankind or even in us.
Our pasts are not just ashes to be discarded. We are all still that frightened child learning to cope and fight alone. We are all broken, cracked, and splintered; but fear not. We are soon to burn and soon to emerge more beautiful and powerful than before.
Tell me your story. You truth is in your ashes. Your beauty in who you are and what you’ve left behind.