It’s sometimes difficult to really know yourself. Who we think we are and who we actually are can be quite different. But when we finally figure it out, the truth can be refreshing. I had this experience recently as I thought back through a very difficult time in my life.
At one time, I considered myself weak. I thought I needed the help and reassurance of others to succeed in life. Whenever I would cry, struggle or fall apart, I was convinced it was proof of my inadequacy. My ultimate test was when I suffered my first miscarriage in 1999. I was devastated. In the months that followed, I cried a lot and experienced severe panic attacks, anxiety and depression. I was a complete mess. I was convinced I was not strong enough to get through such a difficult time in my life. I had fallen deep into a dark pit, and I was sure that the only way out was for someone to rescue me. A few tried to help me, but failed. They had no idea what I needed or how to reach me. Others turned their backs and abandoned me during the time I needed them the most. So there I was. All alone. Stuck in this terrible place. No one reached in the pit and pulled me up. It seemed I was destined to remain stuck there forever.
What happened next was incredible. Slowly, step-by-step, I pulled myself out. Even in the depths of pain and despair, I intuitively knew what I needed to heal, and I pursued it with a relentless passion. I fought hard. I did the work—attending therapy, writing in a journal, mourning my loss, and crying my heart out when I needed to. I gave myself permission to grieve and to feel whatever I needed to feel. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. All on my own. Months later, I triumphantly emerged from that dark, desolate place. Is this the picture of a weak, helpless person? I think not.
What I failed to realize during that time is that I wasn’t weak, I was human. I experienced a heartbreaking loss, and I was reacting to that loss. It only made sense that I fell apart for a while. Life can throw us some pretty unexpected curveballs sometimes, but we always have a choice. We can try to dodge them, we can let them hit us or we can catch them and run with whatever comes our way.
Like most of you, I’ve experienced my share of challenges. I’ve been abused. I suffered countless losses and traumas. I’ve been lied to, hurt and betrayed by those I loved and trusted the most. During certain times in my life, my whole world fell apart and I doubted I would ever recover. But I did. I’m still here. Miraculously, after every hardship, I’ve managed to come through stronger and more confident than ever. I will never view myself as weak again. And neither should you.
Deep inside each one of us is a power and strength we don’t even realize we have. Embrace it. Believe in yourself and your own capabilities. You are much stronger than you know.
Want to read more about overcoming challenges? Check out my award-winning memoir, From Pain to Parenthood: A Journey Through Miscarriage to Adoption.