People have long linked dates to a special occasion, or historical event—a first date, wedding anniversary, birth of a child, or July 4th. On the other side of the equation are dates often signifying loss or a traumatic event—the death of a loved one, a divorce, Memorial Day, or domestic violence.
For me, August 15, 2005, represents a significant date—the day I left my husband. “If you ever leave me, I will take our daughter and you will never have her again, and you will spend every moment and every dime you ever have for the rest of your life, trying to escape from me,” I was told. Today marks the 11-year anniversary of this—the words still don’t ring hollow, but each year I reflect on how far I’ve come, and those who’ve helped me go the distance.
Like many others who’ve walked a similar path, the days, months, years between a significant event like this and present day, represent fortitude, introspection, renewed hope, healing, strength, and faith. Faith in oneself, faith in humanity, faith in love, and faith in God, or one’s higher power. Often times one of the biggest challenges is to not let the circumstance define who you are, but instead, rise above it.
In Rising Strong, Brené Brown writes, “The irony is that we disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness—even our wholeheartedness—actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the falls.” What a great quote to describe trauma, recovery, and rising above! Owning our stories—being vulnerable to our stories—even our traumas—helps us to understand, heal, and move forward even stronger.
Living this everyday takes practice—lots of it. Nobody is perfect at it—and that’s okay—that’s part of the vulnerability, too. Daring to move forward after a trauma, a bad marriage, or a loss, takes great courage. Daring to allow ourselves to have ‘bad days’ also takes courage. But, these experiences are part of what makes us who we are, so why deny them? They are, in essence, a gift, as Brené Brown writes in The Gifts of Imperfection.
Allowing ourselves to be whole and vulnerable, provides a path to allow us to flourish, if we choose. What a gift we can give others and our children, so that they too, can rise above, and thrive.