It is the only way I’ve found to maintain faith that our suffering is not in vain.
Each and every one of us is blessed with a gift. However, our gift is often wrapped in the inconveniences of pain and suffering, tucked under a forest of wounds and emotional baggage. It’s taken my life time to fully understand this concept and accept it with an open heart. Let me explain…
Growing up, my parents believed that owning a house was the foundation of having a home. They were hardly ever there for me and little did they realize that their arms were all I needed. I was often a fearful and anxious child because of the traumas I didn’t know how to express. I was taken care of by one babysitter after another. Within the care of some of these women, I experienced sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse. At school I was often ridiculed and humiliated for being different. At home I was often shamed for never meeting the standards that were expected of me. Within the streamline of these moments my parents experienced a series of medical emergencies, leading to multiple hospital stays and emergency surgery procedures. I also grew up in “the hood” during a time where stepping outside the gates of your own home was a threat to your life because of the gang violence that dominated the neighborhood. As I grew older, I dated boys who weren’t the best for me. Leading to being sexually and emotionally abused again, aside from being cheated on multiple times. But my ultimate downfall was when my father was diagnosed with stage four cancer. I was at the verge of graduating from college. I then faced rejection from all but one graduate school that I had applied to. My relationship with my partner dangled by a thin thread. And my mother had just had a shoulder rotator-cuff surgery that left her unemployed for months. Only to be followed by the COVID-19 pandemic after a full year of chronic uncertainty and distress.
All of these traumas came with their consequences; chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, panic, and even multiple eating disorders. Although I often felt debilitated by my mental health, I’ve come to see how it has actually been the biggest blessing in my life. The constant internal turmoil pushed me beyond my limits to find out who I am away from the trauma and fear.
I’m currently earning my master’s of science in Psychology to become a licensed clinical psychologist. I’ve come to notice that while my peers who grew up with a different kind of privilege understand the symptoms of these disorders through the core of their knowledge, I understand them through the scars of my being. My passion is rooted in all the parts of me that I used to despise because I know what’s like fighting for your life while crying on the bathroom floor as your breathing strains. I understand the guilt that comes after eating uncontrollably and trying to “melt” it all away the following morning. To feel the pain and aches of your beating heart while the world seems to be collapsing all around you. And even though it scares me to my core to become a clinical psychologist because I’ll be exposing myself to constant triggers, it’s often what we fear the most that will pull us to our greatest breakthrough.
For so long I used to try to run away from my problems. I looked for answers in people, places, and things. I tried to fill the void and silent loneliness that crept at night. I often felt incomplete and enraged by the victimization I felt. Only to come to realize that all I ever needed was deep inside, under the debris of untouched emotions and unprocessed baggage.
My past is mine to unfold. My future is mine to create. My present moment is mine to fully live. In actively making choices that bring me closer to my purpose, the more I understand that life happens for us and not to us. And though it’s difficult to remember this whenever my issues seem to be pulsing through my veins, it is the only way I’ve found to maintain faith that our suffering is not in vain.
May your fears become the pavement to your ultimate self. May all the bits and pieces that you always believed to be broken become the strongest parts of your soul. Because adversity is the backbone to resilience.