Over the years I have reached a place of owning my history. I no longer deny that I was abused or sold for sex. This hasn’t been easy. I’ve never really liked sharing my story with people. I had worked through a lot of the shame. And it wasn’t that I felt guilty anymore. I knew that nothing that had happened was my fault. I just didn’t want pity. I didn’t want people to hear my story and feel sorry for me. There was always a fear that people would judge me – determine what I was like without even knowing me – simply because of what was done to me. As a result, I never really talked about my life.
Less than a handful of people (outside of the abusers) knew what had happened to me. I just didn’t tell.
While I didn’t want pity from outsiders, I also continuously struggled with seeing my life as some tragic Lifetime® movie. Poor me. I had been through so much. A victim of so much harm. A family that was abusive. A plethora of emotions and behaviors that were a result of that abuse. And loss. More loss than I knew what to do with.
The reality of memories and loss
Throughout my life I had watched many people and animals leave this earthly existence at the hands of abuse. Some of them were my people. And my pets. Souls that I truly loved. At the time of their departure, it was not safe for me to explore my emotions. Shame. Guilt. Fear. Betrayal. And deep, deep sadness. All of these emotions swirling around and stuck inside of me. The souls that I loved had moved on, but the feelings were trapped within my psyche. An overwhelming feeling of loss. Just another part of this horrible life that had been given to me.
And there were the memories. So. Many. Memories.
Memories of how I was abused. Memories of being sold. Memories of torturous experiences that would make anyone shudder. Memories of watching people I cared about be hurt in ways that most people would never be able to comprehend. Memories of being lied to. Memories of being betrayed. Memories of having no love. Memories of losing the minimal love I knew. All creeping up to remind me of how life had been so unkind to me. Let’s be honest, even Lifetime® couldn’t make a movie about my life. It was too bad.
When you feel that your existence is too bad to even be spoken, it becomes very hard to heal. I was doing so much to work through the memories and the physical reminders of the abuse. My yoga practice was releasing the trauma that was stored in my body. I was telling Shanon my story. Speaking my truth. Things were drastically improving, but I was still fearful of judgement if I shared my story. I didn’t want anyone to really know what I had lived through. I didn’t want pity. I didn’t want to share what this life had done to me.
Moving from healing to understanding
At this point my yoga practice was well formed and had become my constant companion. I had been meditating for close to an hour a day for nearly 2 years. I was becoming very comfortable spending time in silence and searching for answers. I actually enjoyed it. In this quiet space my trauma was being processed. I was forgiving people who had hurt me. I was releasing feelings of guilt from my actions that had hurt others. I would come out of meditation feeling lighter and much clearer.
I was beginning to understand that everything that had happened in my life had happened for a reason. That all of our experiences are opportunities for greater understanding and growth. I just hadn’t figured out why I had to go through such a torturous existence to learn these lessons. Couldn’t there have been an easier way?
I made a conscious decision that I would ask in meditation why I had chosen a life that was so unkind to me. Maybe if I understood it better this process would be easier. I didn’t realize that this question would transform my entire existence.
The realization that changed how I related to my own story
I was attending a yoga retreat entitled “From Fear to Love.” The practices were intense. We were digging deep into the psyche to discover where we had allowed fear to rule our thoughts, words, and actions. And how, instead, to let love to be the guiding force.
Sitting on a yoga mat in a country far away from my own, my whole experience in this lifetime evolved.
With my legs folded beneath me, my eyes closed, my breath barely detectable, the sounds of the crashing waves in the ocean floating farther and farther away, I posed the question:
“Why did I choose a life that was so unkind to me?”
The answer came quickly and was very direct.
“Your life is not happening to you, it’s happening for you.”
“Everything in this life is for you. All of the hurt. All of the abuse. All of the betrayal. All of the struggles. These are all for you.”
I remember the tears gently washing my sun-warmed cheeks. This simple change of a preposition created a complete shift in my experience of this life. In an instant, the horrible things that I had known as my life became a beautiful gift. My soul had chosen a life of abuse and trauma. A life in which I would be broken so that I could have the experience of putting myself back together. And eventually show others how to do the same.
It’s a hard pill for most people to swallow. How can abuse be a gift? How can I say that rape and torture are gifts? How can I look back on a lifetime of being treated like an object by almost everyone around me and say that it was a blessing?
By recognizing that I am not a victim. I never was.
The simple change of prepositions from “to” to “for” allowed me to step out of the role of victim. I was not at the mercy of external circumstances. I was not at the mercy of other people. And when you step out of the role of victim, you step into a role of power. I could now look back on my life and see how each and every event was crafted for me to experience something, to learn something, and ultimately, to lead to my evolution. Not one of the people who abused me did it to me, they did it for me. And that recognition is what led me to the place where I could let go of them and their actions. Where understanding could occur. And where true healing could continue to unfold.
The gift of compassion
When the word “to” became “for,” I developed a much deeper understanding of loss. I began to see that the departure of my loved ones had nothing to do with my character or worth. Their departures were a gift. To them and to me. A gift to them because they were no longer subjected to abuse. A gift to me because……well, if you have never witnessed someone you love be hurt…. be grateful. While it felt like I lost love in these moments, the truth is, you can’t lose love. Love is never-ending. It continues beyond the boundaries of life. Yes, you may lose the daily interactions – the hugs, the words – but the energy of love lingers on forever. These losses were also a gift in that they helped me recognize gratitude for all souls. While some of these loved ones only had a short stay in my life, others were around for a while. I am so grateful for the chance to have known each of them. I am grateful that they came into my life.
And perhaps the greatest gift was what I learned about compassion. I realized that so much of my apprehension behind not wanting to be judged by others was because I was judging myself. I had a monologue of criticisms for myself that was constantly running. When I recognized that everything was done for me, I developed a tremendous compassion for myself and my journey. I no longer felt the need to hide my story because there was nothing to pity. I was gifted a life full of mountains and valleys and I had successfully traveled through all terrains. I also developed compassion for the abusers. Seeing their roles in my life as a gift allowed me to have compassion for the hurt and suffering that they must have endured.
With this new knowledge came the wonderful ability to learn from every “bad” thing in my life. Past and present. I was now able to look at life with a new sense of wisdom. I no longer dread the negative events in life. Things still go wrong. I still get upset. I still have anger and sadness. But I now know that this life is my soul’s gift. Every event brings me experience. Something to learn. Something to share. I trust myself more. I know that I am creating the perfect experience for me. Without my history I wouldn’t be who I am today. And I am love. I created the perfect life for me.
Can you begin to look at your life differently? We are not victims. We are creating our lives. All the events and experiences of our lives are there for us to learn something, to understand something, to experience something. Can you find it?
Can you begin to see that your life isn’t happening to you, it’s happening for you. Dive in. Look at the negative and the scary. Look at the sad and angry. For inside these emotions and experiences are a wealth of lessons and information that you created just for you.
Have you ever wished you could break the chains of fear and step fully into love? Shanon and Kim share their journey of healing from trauma, abuse, and programming through acceptance and love. Do you want to step out of fear? Subscribe and follow their journey.