*originally published in The Urban Howl ~ Reclaiming My Undeniable, Irreplaceable, Gorgeous Self-Worth
by Laura Phoenix Power
I have survived and lived beyond many traumas. I was a survivor. Eventually I wanted more, I wanted a wholehearted life. It was then that I found my way back to the worth I was born with and reclaimed it.
I am more than my survival, it alone does not define me. What I am is a woman who has never stopped moving forward. I believe more in the beauty of humanity than the horrors of those who operate with malice. Some of my life’s darkest days happened before I was eight years old. Because I was so young, these traumas implanted deeply into my self definition and cast me into the role of victim for many years.
Subsequently, I lived in fear, shame and angst. I made life decisions and chose lovers from a deeply wounded space within my heart. Each relationship eventually ended as I grew beyond the scope of its maturity. The healthy, hope filled facets of my soul would enter each relationship with an open heart. And like any abused kid, I was hopeful that this time, this time it would be different. But it was the less healthy, damaged facets of my soul that vetted my suitors.
(Snapshot of my dating life — an open heart with murky, cracked, distorted filters.)
If I created a flow chart of my lovers past, it would reveal the evolutionary path of my trauma and the subsequent evisceration of my innocence and childhood. From teenaged years throughout my adulthood, I recreated every abusive event within my relationships, sometimes more than once if I was unable to integrate the lesson. My healing work was sporadic, at times moving with depth and purpose and other times half-hearted in effort.
For many years, I hid these truths in their entirety from myself and everyone in my life. It was simply too painful to admit because admission required reliving the experiences. The last thing I wanted to feel again, was the terror and disgust from these disempowering experiences.
I have been beaten by fists, dragged by my hair and kicked. I have been threatened, raped, drugged and given away. I have been abused by words and by silence. And each time, I have wanted to die.
But guess what.
I did not die.
There has always been something within me that was bigger than the trauma, an unrelenting attraction to health.
I recognized health in other people and other families around me. I always found healthy friends who came from healthy families, many of whom took me in, fed me, nurtured me and made sure I went to school. They treated me as one of their own kids and I will forever be indebted to their generosity and compassion.
Still, there was a part of me that was too broken to attract healthy partners. This was rooted in the damage from the ongoing sexual abuse I endured from my step-father. There were few nights where I slept in peace and felt safe. And many mornings I woke up hating myself – hating my physical beauty, hating the sound of my voice which betrayed me in silence during the abuse, hating my heart for being fearful. Everything that was being done to me, I believed was my fault.
This is what pedophiles do to a child’s mind. It is the ultimate gas lighting.
The shame and pain of it all crushed my soul and the healing was difficult. As an adult, I’d begin to heal enough to settle the emotional storm within and then I'd stop the work. This was usually about the time I’d begin a new love relationship and a couple more years would evaporate without any healing. This was my partner paradigm for decades.
Because I was never fully whole, I never attracted a partner that was fully whole. And eventually I would leave the relationship to find what was missing.
In the core of my heart, I always knew there was something I needed to find, something that would require the heavy lifting work of healing beyond my previous limitations. I knew it would take shifting my approach from merely settling the emotional turbulence. I knew it was time to walk into the epicenter of the storm.
To navigate the convergence of recognizing my full worth and my shame driven tendencies to deny disturbing truths, I found help from an intuitive coach and healer. I was fortunate to find this person for my healing work and the outcome has changed my life in ways I’d never thought possible. When I met her, I was at the familiar place I’d been to many times before. I was braced for the pain and looking for the quick exit for when I needed to retreat. The difference was that this time I was the mother of two beautiful daughters.
There was no room for me to back out, raising them required a whole woman. I understood that I couldn’t fully protect my own kids until I healed the kid within myself. I believe this to be the most powerful way to end the cycle of abuse that is typically passed down from one generation to the next. I saw in my kids what I’d been searching for my entire adult life. The “thing” that was missing which I could never identify — self-worth. I knew I could not teach them how to recognize, value and protect their own worth until I’d recognized and reclaimed my worth.
My own worth. The worth that was stripped away by the violent and heartless actions of others. The worth that awaited my return to claim and own it. The worth I worked hard to uncover and integrate. The worth I now proudly possess.
I’m grateful for my soul’s unrelenting movement towards health and growth. Now, I no longer use precious energy wishing that my life had been less lonely, terrifying or unpredictable. I’ve long outgrown self comparison to other women as the default gauge of my own worth. Seeing other families, who show up and share their lives in multigenerational bonds no longer triggers a painful longing within my soul.
Because now, I am whole. All that was taken before fully realized at such a young age has been claimed and restored to its rightful owner.
Now, I am exactly the person I was born to be, giving voice to my truth and wholeheartedly manifesting my life's purpose.
Giving a voice to my truth has empowered me to become a healthy woman and a wise mother. To reveal the light I created out of the beastly darkness has released me from its emotional stranglehold. I am no longer the keeper of anyone’s nasty secrets. Secrets perpetuate shame and diminish the capacity for self-worth.
Sadly, statistics are that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the time they are eighteen. The vast majority go unreported and these kids grow into wounded adults who never understand why they are hurting. I hope the words I’m sharing will offer encouragement to anyone reading who may be carrying the pain of childhood sexual abuse. Healing is possible and you are worthy of all good health and love.
Expressing my truth beyond the scope of close friends brings such peace to my heart. This hard earned peace and reclaimed worth fills me with a mighty purpose far beyond myself and my personal history.
In knowing my worth I have uncovered my purpose. I am a warrior of wholehearted words and truths.
This is my story which I freely share to encourage those who may need support to trust their voice and to honor their own story. I want help others extract the thorns of shame, express their truths so that they too, may step fully into themselves and know their undeniable, irreplaceable, gorgeous worth.
Two years ago, I physically returned to the place where I was abused and stood upon the beach where my childhood innocence was erased. The sound of the ocean took me back to my nights of terror. It was the sound of the waves lovingly held my soul while the worst was being done to my body. It was the ocean that saved me.
On the day of my return I swam out, went under water and raged. I allowed years of toxic, repressed anger to be fully acknowledged and properly expressed. I collected all the pieces of my exhausted inner child who escaped to the water, held her and thanked her for never fully believing she was only worth the way she was treated by others. And in doing so, I released her from her survival mode and took control of our future. It was a powerful part of my healing and restoration.
I reclaimed what was mine all along — my undeniable, irreplaceable, gorgeous worth.
This is beyond survival, beyond hiding, beyond temporary fixes — this is wholehearted, empowered, self-loving, joyous living.
Now, my soul is satisfied.