I was given the most amazing honor to publish this letter from a woman who has moved beyond violence and is learning to live again. She identified herself as a survivor, but after more careful examination I would elevate her to a “thriver” as her words show just how strong her constitution is and, in my humble opinion, she is on her way to greatness. To thrive means to grow vigorously and healthily and to be successful. This compelling letter touched me and is truly representative of those who no longer want to identify with being victims. At the end of her message I will add a commentary to assist others who desire to move beyond their past.
Survivor – one who lives through affliction?
Survivor – one who survives in spite of adversity
To survive is to – remain alive or in existence. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; and to persevere; to live and persist; to cope with trauma and remain alive in existence; to continue to function and withstand.
I, Andrea, am a survivor. I have the ability to withstand the abuse.
I withstood your abuse. I withstood your abuse even after fleeing from you physically.
I conquered (to gain mastery over or win by overcoming obstacles or opposition, to overcome by mental or moral power) my fear – YOU. I prevailed over your abuse.
I reached the top of the mountain and overcame the rough rocky journey. I prevailed through all the cuts, bruises, falling down, and sexual, physical and mental pain.
I prevailed over years of abuse and continued abuse through the courts, your words and actions.
I have strength (the quality or state of being strong – capacity for exertion or endurance).
I have a strong attribute – the ability to withstand. I have the capacity to endure much. I resisted attack – beat down after beat down – I resisted the death!! I resisted the death of my soul and spirit. I resisted the death of myself – only to live again but now with much more faith and love and beauty and strength.
I have great physical strength – I have great physical power to endure beat down after beat down – kick after kick, slap after slap, bruise after bruise, batter after batter – I am still standing – all physically in one piece I had the physical power to endure all that and more and not strike back.
I am tenacious – I have showed the power to resist and endure stress, pain and mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, sexual and physical abuse.
I have a strong determination of spirit to make a better life for my kids than living in fear and walking on egg shells, being controlled by guilt and fear. Being told I never did anything right; to have or feel any kind of love was conditional on whether I was doing things HIS way and HIS way only. I have the strong determination of spirit for my kids to be happy and healthy. To be loved unconditionally and to feel secure in whom they are and what they do. To feel secure enough to speak their mind and have their own feelings and not live each minute because of guilt or fear. I have the strong determination of spirit to stop the cycle of domestic violence and addiction. I have set a higher standard of self-worth for my children and to strive for and know the best.
I am resilient to all the attacks and beat downs you may aim at me and have aimed at me. I am a strong, resilient, intelligent, capable, loving, lovable, outgoing, fearless-of-you woman. I can and have endured many nightmares, many blows to my head, heart and spirit! But look at me – I am still standing strong and even stronger than before. My kids are beautiful, my life is beautiful and the joy radiates from their hearts because I, Andrea, AM A SURVIVOR. This is what I have given myself and my kids: the tenacity to endure when the mountain gets too steep and keep on climbing because after all the hard work, sweat, heartache and tears – I have overcome, I have reached to top of the mountain and the air is clean, the sun is shining ever so beautiful and I am FREE – I AM FREE. My heart is open and I can breath – I can feel and I can smile – I am FREE I am FREE. I have endured! I have with stood and I have overcome….I am a strong survivor.
Andrea, your words strongly resonated with me and I’m sure they will with others who have traveled on similar paths. The picture you paint demonstrates the journey you have taken. As I felt your words, I could visualize the peak of the mountain and could see you taking another trail down on the other side. Taking this new route makes it possible for you to recognize new unfamiliar beauty that has not been seen before. Each scenic view is exciting and fresh but most importantly the breathtaking views have no reminders of your past. Thrivers truly have moved forward when they stop letting abusers rent space in their heads. Thrivers really have left the relationship—not just physically but emotionally as well. They no longer replay the horrific snippets of their history but rather they chose to move forward and strong. Thrivers hit the delete button and only allow positive thoughts to consume them. They have stopped asking why they were abused because there is no why. Andrea, you have survived and I believe you are also thriving on many days. An old Chinese proverb suggests that a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. You are well on your way. Thank you for your strength and inspiration!