In the heart of darkness there are memories locked away. Memories that create excruciating  pain that I don’t want to remember, but are still there. They seep into my mind at random moments, knocking the breath from my lungs, leaving a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. When they emerge I am plunged into the depth of them. I wait for others to see my defeat, but they don’t. Thats when I realize even if they did they can not save me from myself.  I alone can.

Things happen in our lives that are painful and uncontrollable. They ensnare us in a web of the darkest part of our minds for what feels like days, months, even years. They come and go,  building on to past events each time, adding to the latest state of depression. Each time we wonder why bad things happen to us. Dwelling within our suffering gives the illusion of hopelessness. It is a dangerous place to be. This is a view I have decided never to allow myself. Instead I’ve concluded the view that my greatest trials are and will be my biggest miracles.

At 14 I was sexually assaulted. This act created a whirlwind of emotional and mental damage during a crucial developmental stage in my life. Ashamed and embarrassed I shut my family out while I struggled to comprehend our intertwined actions. I felt like I was a bad person because I had done something against my beliefs even if I had not wanted to. Years later I deduced that others actions hold no bounds over me and my own mistakes are acceptable. It is what I do after these acts that makes me. I am the miracle of my present and future not my past.

In the depth of my military service and two combat deployments I learned to have much empathy and compassion for other people. I watched and experienced the changes the military makes to individuals and communities, good and bad. It was there that I learned you won’t change the culture you’re in, the culture will change you. With this knowledge I realized the culture I want to be apart of is one that helps builds and motivates people. It is a miracle to know I can choose to be apart of the culture that builds instead of destroys.

At 23 my spouse and best friend committed suicide. I always struggle to write much more than that statement. I don’t want to feel the pain that comes with acknowledging half my soul, half my heart were ripped from my body. His death created a reality that suicide is very real and a viable option. Someone might ask how I can possibly see something so painful as a gift from God, but the answer is simple- I learned the value of life the day he died and began living mine. Life is short, chose to love, live, and laugh over and over again.

I have often been told I am strong, an inspiration. I do not agree.  Others say they couldn’t move on if they were sexually assaulted. Others say they couldn’t join the military and deploy. Others say they couldn’t survive if their spouse, their best friend, died. Most say they couldn’t do a lot of things. They are wrong.

I truly believe Winston Churchill was correct when he stated, “we are the masters of our own fate.” Choose your own fate. if you are feeling lonely, seek others; depressed, serve others;  unmotivated, exercise; unattractive, smile;  defeated, rise. Change your circumstance don’t wait for someone else to change it for you because they cant. Take the darkness that fills your heart and choose to find the glimmer of light. Then hold strong to that light until it amplifies into the sun and you can bask in its warmth and love. Your future is a miracle and you are strong enough to master it. 

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