My story begins not at the start of my fight, but somewhere close to the climax and most intense battles. You see, I grew up believing a lie about my childhood. In fact, I believed my own lie in order to protect myself from the pain of reality. I had no idea how that one lie would threaten to undue me in my adult life at the time I created it, and maybe if I had I would have never believed.
The lie I believed was that my life was normal, my parents were okay, and that I was okay. Truth is, my childhood was anything but okay. I was abused and neglected in different ways by both parents. My childhood and innocence were stolen from me as if they never belonged to me in the first place. And out of fear, pain and turmoil, I protected myself by rewriting the story as it went.
It wasn't until I became a wife and then a mother myself that I began to realize the catastrophic effect of believing this lie. But, the truth came looking for me and wouldn't let me be. I didn't want to accept the truth, the truth that the very people who were supposed to provide unconditional love, acceptance and safety - were the very ones who hurt me and wounded me, but if I didn't stand and face it, I knew I would never become the woman I was created to be.
I chose to stand. I chose to stand up for myself against the abuse. I chose to accept the truth. I chose to open myself up to grieving the loss of my childhood and coming to terms with the full reality of the abuse I suffered. For the first time I saw my biological parents as they really were. I stopped protecting the people who hurt me.
I had to fight. I looked at where my life would go if I didn't. I was already struggling with repressed memories and emotional numbness, how on Earth would I be able to be "all there" for my daughter if I didn't stop running from the pain? On the darkest days of my battle I would literally feel and relive the overwhelming terror of my childhood surfacing. Panic attacks, nightmares, profound sadness and fits of rage and anger followed.
I kept fighting. As I progressed through the stages of grief, I began to heal. I began to see myself and my behaviors through a filter of what was a "triggered" response, versus an actual legitimate response to situations and circumstances in my life. I felt true emotions again. I softened. Real change began to occur and a free woman, a strong woman, a victorious woman began to emerge.
I still fight. My battle is not over, but it is already won. I can face the future knowing that my daughter will know a mom who provides the unconditional love, acceptance and protection she deserves and needs. My daughter will have a mom who is emotionally there for her - who responds rather than reacts to life. My husband will know a wife who does not hold him accountable for the pain caused by her father. He will have a wife who can choose to trust completely despite the many justifiable reasons she could choose to trust no man ever.
I am fierce because I stood up to the past that tried to destroy my future. I am fierce because I am more than a survivor of childhood abuse and neglect, I am an overcomer.
Have a story of a time you were Fierce? Want to help Clever Girls Collective support women and girls to be Fierce? Find out more about the Fierce Fund and the Traveling Blue Wig Project.