I recently made a new acquaintance who told me some of his life story.
Kirk* was in a very dark place from his divorce. His wife had repeatedly and openly been unfaithful, and through two years of trying to save the marriage, he and two young children were drug over and over through the mud. It came to a point where enough was enough and the relationship ended. During that roughest time towards the end of the marriage, he said he had disconnected his empathy to survive, turned off his heart so it wouldn’t hurt so badly. A company psychologist administering a personality test actually told Kirk that he had never before seen an empathy score so low.
Kirk likened his experience to how navy seals in training are brought to the brink of drowning, exhaustion, body failure, dying, lungs about to burst, so that they know in the future what that feels like and they will know that they can and will survive. It brings a sure calm to future scary situations that would make average people panic.
He is now happily remarried, is a great father and business owner, and carries with him a knowledge of his resiliency, strength, and calm.
In my own personal darkest hours of my life, curled up receiving blows, I felt I died a little inside, became less and less me. As a survival mechanism, I, like Kirk, turned off my heart to be less crushed by flailing insults and physical abuses. I survived, I got out, I have been healing, I have been trying to unbelieve things that had been drilled into me about myself, I have nervously but courageously turned on my sensitive heart and empathy again, I have been rebuilding my life, I have been learning how to fly free. I HAVE CHOSEN then and I continue to CHOOSE EVERYDAY that I will focus on my resiliency, my limitless strength and beauty inside, my continual self-re-discovery. I carefully choose who to allow in my life. Do I have hard days, sure, but I try not to stay curled up and I try to shine out who I really am. I have a pretty damn good life. I have survived and I thrive. I know now that I CAN and WILL survive anything. Bring it on, life, bring it on!
As we are healing from traumatic seasons in our lives, we can choose to view and focus on our strength. Let that carry us to a new level of self-confidence in our ability to survive and thrive, that anything scary that could possibly happen in our future is not going to finish us off or cause us to crumble into ruin. We’ve made it through hell and back. We can proudly wear the badge “Shit Creek Survivor.” We are tough. We’ve earned that incredible person that we each are right now.
“On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%, and that’s pretty good.”
*name changed for anonymity
**Image created from artwork by Noah Storm Crow