Am I a survivor? What does that mean?

by Joy Delle
(Granville, Ohio)

I have lived with depression for most of my life. I have experienced chaos and trauma as a child, which led me to struggle as a young adult. It wasn't until I hit 30 that I began questioning why I was still alive after all the bad stuff had happened.

I must be a survivor. But what does that mean? To be a survivor. I still felt all the pain. How is that surviving? I decided there must be a reason I am still here. So, I finally had a dream. I was going to go to college and become a social worker so that I could maybe help some teen or child deal with their chaos and trauma.

Here I am, now 47 years old. I started college at the age of 35. Sadly, it took 5 years for me to make that leap and do something. Now, I am proud to say I am not the same person I was at 30 or 35 years of age. I have self esteem. I love myself and I accept myself. This is something I had struggled with all my life.

I am a pretty awesome therapist, it turns out. I still have alot to learn, but I connect with children and adults and sometimes we all walk away from the therapeutic relationship having learned something about myself, just as my clients learn about themselves.

I thank God that I was able to find a dream and run with it. I am proud to be a 47 year old woman who can stand tall and I understand what being a survivor is all about.

I used to spend so much time fighting with the voice in my head about all my inadequacies. Now I rarely go to that negative, self defeating thought pattern.

I am a woman and I am proud to be a woman who is standing on her own 2 feet. I used to look down at the ground when I walked, but no more. I used to think the world would be a better place without me because I could do no right. No More. I used to be a prisoner in my own mind, reliving the stressful and painful moments in my life. No more. I used to eat all that comfort food to make me feel better, but I would gain weight and then reaffirm to myself what a failure I was.

Let go of the pain in the past and look to the future. What is your potential? I wanted to know. Now I am living my potential, beacuse, you guessed it, I am a survivor and I am doing my part to give back to the world in the only way I know.

Self actualization can be experienced. You just have to have a dream and start crawling toward it. Eventually you will go from crawling to sprinting and laughing your way to a better you.

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By Laura Frisbie, M.Ed.