I almost lost it yesterday. The tears had welled up. My throat was tight. My breathing had shortened and my body tensed.
The narrator recounted the years of violence and abuse, the pain of poverty and putting up with pain and suffering in order to pay the bills and feed the family. He was the oldest, like me, and assumed the burden of both growing up and deciding who he would be and who could never let himself be, but too, he assumed the burden of protector and advocate. This is a noble response to struggle but it can be overwhelming.
He was just a few years older than I am. And here we both were, somewhere near midlife, taking a moment to assess if we have become who we need to be and how we can continue our healing so we can do our part to make this world a better place for those experiencing their own pain.
As he spoke, I saw his story unfold in my mind. My own story played out in a parallel space. His horrors were not mine, but they were connected. And our present desire to keep learning from our past to become who we truly are at our core … that struggle is inexplicably connected.
I couldn’t speak for some time. As one gasping breath escaped with the first few tears, I was finally able to acknowledge “I’m struggling.”
I realize today the strength in being able to announce my pain–and my work at processing and overcoming that pain. Again, his struggles were not mine. This inspirational man experienced things I can only imagine. And I think he would say the same thing about my story.
The point is that we all have immeasurable strength. And that strength can see us through just about anything. We need only acknowledge it.
So, in the middle of this sunny day, late summer, 2016, as my diseased body flowed through its movements and my mind raced through its thoughts I took a moment to acknowledge that I’m struggling. So this is the time to draw on my strength.
I have been challenged. I have been hurt. I still hurt, in fact. But I am so strong. I have overcome so much. I have overcome by taking the time to place one foot in front of another and finding one reason to smile after another.
If I can now flow through vinyasas and hold challenging asanas in yoga that previously eluded me–and do this with the stiffness and fear my MS brings, then what can’t I do?
If I can overcome abuse and still love life, of course I can love myself. If I can raise an amazing young man with love and passion in his heart, of course I can set cycles of positivity in motion. If I can earn graduate degrees and shape policy, of course I can influence my community for the better.
I have what it takes to make my world a better place. In fact, I can scarcely believe what I’ve already accomplished and overcome.
I am a beautiful work in progress. I am in training for something great–and I have the strength to get there.