Chin Up.4 min read

In Stories by Stories1 Comment

What I know for sure is that even in the darkest of places, there’s room to shine a light. I know this because I’ve been a human who has looked for the light to guide me out of my darkness, and I’ve been the human that has helped light the path for others.

As a little girl, my world was far from perfect. I was sexually molested by someone close to my family for years starting at the age of 4. I bared witness to domestic violence on a daily basis and I dreaded the sound of the end of the day school bell which ushered me “home” – a place I wanted nothing to do with. I’d often leave school, my heart beat pounding out of my chest, and wonder, “Is this the day he kills her?” While other kids were learning their times tables, I was sharpening my survival skills and doing what I could to stay alive. Through constant moving, my outlook on connecting with people diminished over the years. I went to 13 schools in 4 states and countless cities before I graduated high school. I was lost, I was shuffled around, I felt unwanted. As I entered my teen years, I struggled to see the point in it all…

In 2011, life deal me a double whammy that almost took me out. One of my aunts, a woman who had stepped in to help raise me from time to time and rescued me from the sexual abuse, was diagnosed with brain cancer. I’ll never forget the scene I walked into in the hospital in MO when I heard the news. She was frail and curled up on the hospital bed with her two little ones. She had gauze wrapped around her head and big black circles drawn on spots I assume they were targeting for treatment. A front tooth was chipped from when she had passed out not long before and hit her head on the floor. Within a few weeks, I got the call that she had left us. Almost exactly a month later, while I was still learning how to deal with the pain and grief of the loss of one of the few adults I admired as a kid, I got one of the worst calls of my life…

My father, who lived in Costa Rica, had taken his own life. Over the next 5 years, I’d take countless trips to Costa Rica to work through the aftermath. On the surface, I was collected—I had to be. Going through a 5-year probate process in a third world country, all in a foreign language is no walk in the park. Throw in the intense feelings of guilt and grief that I harbored, and I was a walking emotional time bomb. On any given day, it wasn’t clear if I’d present myself to the world as the strong survivor or the total mess. I lived in a fog of sadness and wasn’t quite sure I’d every find my way out, but I did, despite it all.

As an adult, I’ve coped with my childhood trauma in the best ways I could. With little family support, I found out just how important it is to create a community around yourself that inspires you and believes in you—even if those humans aren’t your blood.. To this day, there are countless humans who helped me along the way that I owe my life to. They’re the humans that helped me look in the mirror and see someone worthy. They’re the humans that held my hand when I felt like life wasn’t worth living and begged me to stay. They were the humans that saved me. I struggle hard to keep my head above water on my difficult days, but I am here. Somehow, I managed to escape my past and build a life that I can 100% look around at and be proud of.

Today, I live a life (mostly) filled with happiness and (sometimes) filled with anxiety. I’ve learned to see humans as perfectly imperfect. I’m learning to love myself, despite my storied past and my shortcomings. I work to live in a mindset that allows me to see the abundance of love, opportunities, and happiness that are all around me. We all only get one shot at living this life, and I’ll be damned if I let those seconds slip by without meaning…

So for those of you who feel like it’s not worth it, I can promise you it is. Chin up. Take it one step, one second at a time, and work to become the whole human I know you can be. <3