As I am sitting here writing this blog, I realize that the reason it has taken me so long to finish this topic is because I do not really have the final answer to this question of finding yourself again after enduring trauma. I have been in this journey for a long time and to be honest, some days I still really believe that I have no idea who I truly am. I do realize, however, that if I had not survived the things that have tried to destroy me, I would have absolutely no idea about who I am or who I am meant to be. The person I was before and during the traumas, was only a shadow, a fragment, of the person that I was meant to become. For that reason, I think one of the hardest things about going through this life is that you really never know who you are until face the worst things that life throws at you. We all grow up with hopes and dreams, thoughts about who we are, how our lives should run, and who we want to eventually become. Many people are fortunate enough to finish this life without having to reevaluate any of these thoughts or beliefs. However, for the majority of people, tragedy and incomprehensible heartbreak intrude into our existence and we are then forced with a decision about who we really are. When the unspeakable occurs, when the darkness covers our eyes, we are forced to move forward and reevaluate our lives or eventually fall to the inevitably destructive fate of untreated pain. Trauma forces us into action, it forces us to choose to live our lives as they were truly meant to be, or to give up and succumb to the darkness.
At least that’s how it was for me. I had grand ideas, hopes, dreams, and everything else that a person is supposed to have…I was also miserable in my life. I had these passions, but no direction and no real belief that I was ever going to be able to accomplish the things that haunted my soul. The strange thing is that it was not until I experienced one of the worst times in my life, that I began to realize that there were other things that I was good at, other things I wanted to pursue. I began to rethink the aspects of myself that had governed me to that point and begin to let in the hope that I could accomplish something more than what I was. Ironically, the result of surviving and enduring was not a complete change in my hopes and dreams, but a realization that there were many different ways of living them out. The pain and trauma that I have experienced has morphed and reshaped the passions in my soul so that I was able to understand and finally accept my true calling and how I was going to live that out from that point forward. I feel that if I had not suffered the things that sought to destroy me, I never would have been able to truly uncover what God is calling me to do. I would not have been able to see past my singular focus and seek a life and purposed outside of the box I had nicely folded my dreams into.
One of the important things I have learned over this process of rediscovering who I am and what I am truly called to do in life, is that no matter how insightful you are, you will grow and change everyday and will probably discover many other things you like and do not like about yourself. Because my view of the world and other people has been so shaped and occasionally warped by the pain I have endured, I became stagnant in my identity and my pursuit of my true purpose. Really, I had given up on ever achieving those things that burned deep in my heart and had replaced those desires with something that would be “good enough.” But the truth is that everyday life experiences, more trauma, more pain, more exposure to the things in this world that are evil and heartbreaking, reshape that identity daily. I know who I am at the core, and I believe that I have finally begun to understand my true purpose and identity in this life, but each day someone or something shows me another part of that identity that I can choose to incorporate into what is already present, something that I can learn from. I think this is one of the blessings of enduring pain, suffering, and trials that push us far beyond our capacity. These experiences allow us to be malleable, to adapt to different situations and people that are placed in our lives. Experiencing horror and the process of healing from those unimaginable things, rather than keeping us stuck in dysfunction, actually lead us to a more enlightened version of ourselves. The healing process opens up the door to infinite possibilities in discovering everything you can be, and gives you the push you need to live life more intentionally than you were previous to your trauma.
I would have much preferred to go through this life with no personal idea of the horrific tragedies and evils that other people can and will perpetrate against you and those you love, but that was not the path my life took. For reasons that may never be clear to me this side of Heaven, I was tasked with enduring unspeakable pain regularly. Beginning to let go of the resentment that my life “should” have been different allows me to embrace the new skills and strengths that resulted from surviving. I am being molded into who I am supposed to be on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. I can choose to view the things that happened to me as something to be feared, resented, and defeating, or I can look for the growth, the positive changes, and the new opportunities that come my way. Because finding yourself is painful. Becoming who you were meant to be is not possible without discomfort, confusion, pain, and trials. I am not thankful for what I have endured, but I am thankful that God has taken what the enemy meant for destruction and turned it into something, turned me into someone, who has a purpose and who can channel the trauma into a passion that will bring hope and healing to others. That was my original idea, hope, and passion…it just turned out differently than I had planned.