24 (Overcoming Trauma Conclusion)

During my hiatus from blogging it was my 24th birthday. The significance in that is, I did not realize how much turning 24 would influence my perspective during that period of healing. One of the gifts I received for my 24th birthday was Steven Universe the Movie (it came out on the same day). In the movie Steven and the crystal gems faced off against Spinel; a disgruntled and abandoned gem owned by pink diamond. In the final fight scene Steven sings the following:

I can make a promise I can make a plan
I can make a difference I can take a stand
I can make an effort if I only understand
That I can make a change.

Its that verse that I want to frame this blog entry and reflection of my month away around: How I made a change.

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The day of my 24th birthday felt like nothing I ever experienced before. I was so overwhelmed with an unexplainable joy to the point where for the first half of the day I was in constant tears. All I kept thinking to myself was that I made it. Made it out of a rough summer, made through various trials throughout the last 23 years of my life, made new friendships and found new community; I made it. For whatever it’s worth the light at the end of the tunnel was not in some far-off distance, or just something I caught a glimmer of. For the first time this year I was standing in the light. I was appreciative to be alive, and thankful for my growth throughout my years and my ability to overcome challenge after challenge.

It was not until fully processing those emotions that I was able to deal with the issue at hand and the reason I took a month off in the first place. I was broken and needed to be fixed. It did not matter how thankful I was in a moment, I needed to get to a place where that would last a lifetime. See it was not just being financially destitute, the car accident, or losing my grad assistant position that I was traumatized from. Prior to that, it was being in a 36 hour comma after having a bad acid trip, prior to that, it was losing a student government presidential election race in undergrad after a hard-fought campaign, where the odds were against me; And prior to that it was a turbulent and emotionally unstable junior year where, after seeing a therapist, I was formerly diagnosed with depression.     

I was in church the Sunday before my birthday and God spoke to me during worship and said that He was going to remind me of who I really am. So here I am processing all of these things at once and the first answer I receive to all of my questions is the acknowledgement of my existence. That was the catalyst to my month of healing; then came the gratefulness for my life, and me being able to forgive myself for how I mistreated myself.

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I began to only engage in positive self-talk, and be receptive and accepting of other people’s praise toward me (humbly). Ultimately, I started taking control of my reality in a practical everyday way. Before I knew it, I started doing things and picking up interests I did not even realize I enjoyed. I began to get more comfortable in my skin and around others.

I started to change.

I was on the internet a few days ago and I discovered an old Ask.fm account. Ask.fm was/is a site that allows for people to ask each other questions anonymously. I was looking through the questions asked of me and the answers I gave, of which at the time I was no older than 15 or 16; And I was astonished. As I was reading my answers to the anonymous questions it dawned on me that everything that I said about myself back then stood to be true now. In “Overcoming Trauma“, in regards to old Facebook posts I made, I said:

““where did that Kenneth go?”. Yes, I was younger and rough around the edges, but that was me in raw form. And while those are only posts, I can remember who I was back then. I was confident, tenacious, bold, courageous, and everything in between.”

Turns out young Kenneth knew who he was before older Kenneth allowed himself to forget. Unfortunately, life circumstances can rob us of our joy and of our identity if we let it. No family member ever told me that, no preacher ever spoke on that, and no teacher ever taught me that. For the past three years I was wandering in a desert but there were foot prints not only in front of me showing me where to go, but also next to me walking with me along the way.

We are who we are no matter what life throws at us, and it’s in that realization that I was able to make a change. I recently learned that one of the attributes of life is dealing with new and constant challenges. It’s in that spirit that I want to conclude this two-part entry. At the end of Steven Universe the Movie, in the final song, one of Steven’s verses is:  

I’ll be ready every day for as long as I can say that I can make a change.

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