I found this today while cleaning the Airstream in preparation for our departure tomorrow. I received it in December as a gift from To Write Love On Her Arms for being chosen as one of their featured writers. I remember when I got the email asking for copyright permission. I was beyond honored and in tears, that one of my quotes would make the calendar. Even more an honor, was that the quotes were selected based on the year’s most popular blog posts. I made the top 12. And as if it could not get any better, 4 of the 12 quotes were by the Founder, and the other 7 were by actors, TWLOHA interns, and poets. I was the only seemingly “normal” person on the list. My quote was featured for the month of November. As I looked at it, I noticed that November 18 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. Something struck me as I realized the significance of this… November 18 could have been a day my family grieves and acknowledges every year. Yet, instead, here I am. Alive. With my words featured for that month, signifying my alive-ness instead of my gone-ness.
I then turned to the month of April. A card popped out of the top of the calendar, with a sticker that says, “Your Story is Important”. I took the sticker and put it on my birthday: April 15. I need to be reminded that “my story is important”, just as often as I seek to remind others of the same. Because, you see, there may be some things you don’t know about me…
You may not know that I’ve lived in the deep and the dark. You may not know that I have a childhood wrought with devastation from sexual and emotional abuse by the one man God gave the responsibility to protect and care for me. You may not know that the scars go back since I was 5 years old (or younger). You may not know that when I was 10 years old I wrote my first will. You may not know that I have tried to take my life, more than once. Not for attention, not for fake. But for real. And that every time, when I failed, I felt more like a failure… Because not only did I fail at living, but I managed to fail at dying as well.
You may not know that I have come a long, long way in recovering from my past, and becoming the mom, wife, and woman I am today. A person of many mistakes and imperfections, of bad hair days and dirty clothes; but nevertheless a person of great strength, courage, and resolve. You may not know that most days, I am pretty good. And then other days, pretty bad. Like the days I wake up depressed, or have meltdowns with fountains of tears. You may not know that holidays and my birthday are some of the hardest times of the year for me. They remind me of what I don’t have – a father who can be in my life because he loves me instead of hurts me. You may not know that I was not supposed to see this day. Yet here I am. Alive. Surviving. Getting through. Almost a normal human being, with normal life problems; except for the scars on my wrist that remind me my life can never actually be completely normal… and that’s okay.
You may not know that when I wrote the post that ended up being quoted for the month of November in TWLOHA’s 2016 calendar, I had no idea that my life would be what it is today. “I am worthy of a life well lived, and so are you.” When I wrote that, we weren’t traveling full-time in an Airstream, working for ourselves, and creating amazing memories on a regular basis with our kids. But looking back, I see how already I was shifting to the lifestyle I have today.
I know pain and suffering. More than some, and not near as much as others. We have a choice though: to live our life in desperation, or do what we need to do for ourselves; for our own well-being. To refuse to quit the climb out of that hopeless abyss, in order to live a life well-lived.
We can’t control our past. We can’t erase history. Life isn’t fair, and horrible things happen every single day. But no matter who you are, what you’ve been through, what you’ve experienced or what you’ve done — you are worthy of a life well-lived. A life of hope, happiness, laughter, joy, and relationships that (instead of tearing you down) build you up and love you just as you are: brokenness, beauty, and all.