A Road Called Survivor

road called survivor

When you grow up in a life surrounded by poverty, drugs, violence, and more than anything, emotional pain, you learn to become one of two things: You will either become a statistic caught up in the welfare or prison system, or you become a survivor. I chose the latter. My biological father spent most of my childhood years in prison. He escaped prison in September of 1995, and no one knows where he is to this day. I spent years as a child and a teenager battling my anger and hurt because he wasn’t there.

Among that, I spent years battling my broken home life. I saw my mother be beaten, I lived in cockroaches and filth because that’s where you live when you’re poor. I will never forget the night when I was 13, in which I watched my Mom get taken to the hospital by ambulance because she had taken too many pills. There is nothing more devastating to a 13 year old than being locked out of their own house, while their mother barricades herself in, hiding from her own pain.

I could fill your mind with sob stories all night, but this is no sob story. This is a story of survival and coming to a point in one’s life, where you take the road no one thought you could ever take. I took that road even when no one had any faith in me. I took that road even when I had a baby at 17, dropped out of high school, and married into my own abusive relationship, reliving my childhood once again. I took that road even when I was told that I would never amount to anything. I took that road, and there are thousands more out there, just like me, who are capable of taking the same road called survivor.

As I went through my childhood and became an adult, I started off on the wrong foot in life. But it didn’t take before I realized what I had done. It didn’t take long before I not only learned from the mistakes of those around me, but from my own as well. I learned what depression really was. I realized that I had battled it myself for years, and it had become so much a part of who I was that I didn’t even know that it was depression. I even learned how to fight and overcome depression, which was the first step in walking the road called survivor, because without first overcoming that, I didn’t have the will to do anything else with my life. I compiled a list a few years ago for myself of the do’s and don’ts for depression, as follows:
1) Pray. Do not pray for revenge on those who have hurt you or for them to see the error of their ways, because you might be disappointed when they do not listen to God’s voice. Instead, pray for the strength and will to forgive. Without forgiveness, your heart will never be happy. Also, pray for peace amidst life’s storms. God never promised you life wouldn’t be hard, but he did promise to never put anything on you that you couldn’t handle.

2) Get out of bed, everyday. Do not for a second think you can lay in bed and sleep your problems away. You will have to eventually wake up, and when you do life is going to throw a snowball at you, because you have put off your problems, and they have piled up one after another. Get out of bed and take a shower. Do not skip your shower.

3) Keep your house clean. There is nothing more depressing than a dirty house. It can be so depressing to a depressed person, that they just might decide to go back to bed and sleep some more instead.

4) Tuck away your old ratty clothes. Save for those happy days, when you can lounge around your home and just relax. They are happy clothes. The last thing you want to do when you’re depressed is look the way you feel. Every time you look into the mirror, you will only be reminded of how awful you feel when you wear those clothes.

5) Get out your best dressed. After you shower put on nice, but comfortable clothes that make you feel you look good when you look into the mirror. Fix your hair and brush your teeth. Whether or not you have anywhere to go, just do it.

6) Occupy your time. Idle time leaves nothing but time to dwell on negative thoughts. Do some spring cleaning or leave the house and surround yourself around those who will lift you up. Stay away from negative people. Misery loves company.

7) Go to work with a smile, even when you don’t want to. Stay away from backbiters and trouble starters, and be careful who you talk with about your problems. There are people who will make your depression worse; learn the character of those around you. Maintain a positive attitude even if you have to force yourself.

8) Compliment other people. The best medicine for a hurting heart is to make another heart smile. Send a card in the mail to someone just to let them know you are thinking of them. Help out someone who needs your help. Do all you can to make the lives of others a brighter place, and your own dark clouds will soon disappear. Laughter is contagious, and that smile you were forcing will just come naturally.

9) Rearrange the furniture in your house. Place it the way you like it, and change your environment. The environment in which we dwell is a good reminder of the life we live, or don’t want to live. Change your environment, even if just to move the furniture around. Make changes in your home.

10) Remember to face whatever is bothering you. Talk to someone you can trust, deal with your issues, but don’t dwell on them. There is a balance, so find it. Remind yourself everyday, for as long as it takes, that the dark clouds do go away. It will remind you not to give up.
I learned this list through trial and error, and once I learned to live it, I learned to move on with the rest of my life. I gained a confidence in myself that had been taken away from me. I was then able to step out and get a job. I realized that I wasn’t loved in the abusive marriage I was in, because love doesn’t express itself through hate. Abusive relationships are nothing but a false sense of security.

The abuser is weak and insecure; therefore, he must make up for what he lacks by making the victim even more weak and insecure than he. He tells the victim that she is worthless in so many words, and with time and repetition she believes him. She becomes insecure and feels a sense of worthlessness. This gives the abuser the security that he lacks due to his own insecurities. It is a false security on the abuser because it is forced through fear. The victim is given a false security because she was made to feel incapable of doing anything on her own. She was made to feel insecure and afraid of the world, and her only security is in the hands of her abuser. (I say he and she with no regards to the sex, because the role of an abuser and of a victim can be played by both sexes.) Faulty and false foundations never stand firmly, and they will always eventually fall.

Once I stepped out of the life I had always known, I was able to see that life from outside of the box. I was able to realize that life didn’t have to be lived that way and that I could change the path statistics and the family past destined me to follow. They say history repeats itself, but I believe that not history or genetics, but rather genetic demons can follow a soul from generation to generation. I believe in a spiritual world both good and evil. I believe that demons will torment a family for as many generations as they are allowed. I believe one is capable of shaking those demons from their life through a higher power.

I wrote a poem to my mother titled, “Hand-me-down Wings”, and in it I expressed how I humbly, yet finally lay down the wings that had been passed down in my family. I wrote how they had become too heavy with pain and sorrow, and that it was time for me to get my own, brand- new wings. It was a poem of tearing away from the genetic demons that had tormented my family. Along with that higher power, one is capable of overcoming any adversities through determination and the power of will. The mind is powerful alone, and when one can learn how it works and to manipulate it into thinking in different ways than it was taught, they are able to achieve anything from life that they desire.

When I shook off the chains of tyranny I had always been bound by in my life, I was able to be finally be free. I was able to find myself and who I could become. I was able to believe in myself. I married again, and he was my first love at that. We had a baby together at 17, but went our separate ways for a few years and managed to grow up while we were away. I joined the Air National Guard. I left four kids and a husband behind to go to boot camp and came back a better person than I was yesterday. I learned to socialize and gained a circle of friends who have lifted me up when I became weak. I gained a friend who taught me to live by one quote, “I’m not who I need to be yet, but I’m not who I was.” It was the story of my life in one sentence. I gained a husband who encouraged me to get whatever I wanted out of life, rather than take all of the life out of me. I gained a new outlook on life, wisdom, and the ability to have compassion on others.

I needed to learn pain for myself before I could understand what pain felt like to others. In order to walk the road called survivor I had to pack accordingly for the journey. I have to make pit stops along the way and grab other survivors who have gotten lost. How could I help them without the proper knowledge? How could I help them without knowing what it is they feel? I have no regrets and take nothing for granted. I have been without and I have lived. I have learned that there is a world of people out there who need directions to this road I walk on. I write and they read. I talk and they listen. I listen and they talk. I understand. They cry, and I cry because I know the pain they feel.

This road called survivor is not just made for me, but for anyone who thinks they have what it takes to walk it. It takes confidence, will power, suffering, sacrifice, sweat, and determination. Without suffering there is no glory, because all is in vain if not appreciated for its sacrifice. Without sacrifice, nothing has been gained because nothing was ever lost.


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