By McKenna Leavens
On Oct. 12 of 2016 I lost my best friend, my number one fan and the first love of my life; my dad. I didn’t just lose my dad that day, I lost the ability to be vulnerable with others.
Trauma comes in all different shapes and sizes, no one can invalidate what you have experienced.
It also leaves a mark on our souls – we get stuck in our past and try to live in the present.
When I lost my dad, I was in a serious relationship, now don’t get me wrong this relationship wasn’t perfect but we were happy and doing really good.
After he passed, I turned into someone unrecognizable. I was cold, bitter and the least empathetic person in the world.
I was so stuck in my trauma that I couldn’t see past how it was affecting my relationship and more importantly what it was doing to my character.
A couple of months later this relationship ended, and now not only did I lose my dad and my ability to be vulnerable but I lost someone who I loved very much.
I was so angry at the world I refused to take any responsibility, I REFUSED to let myself feel anything remotely painful.
I found a reason to be mad at everyone and anyone but in reality, I was mad at my dad for leaving so suddenly and the worst part was that I couldn’t even let him know how mad I was.
Here we are three years later and I have grown into a bright, positive and compassionate person. I still struggle with the ability to be vulnerable but that’s something I continue to work on every day.
Talking to new people and going on dates can be really difficult and I never know when the “right” time to open up is.
I always thought I could wait for Mr. right to come into my life and break down my barriers but I’m the only one who can tear them down.
Now, this is just a snippet of my story and I’m sure you all have your own.
I’m here to tell you that it gets better, your trauma does NOT define you. You are NOT your story, you are NOT a victim, you ARE a survivor.
The ability to be vulnerable with others is a gift, it allows you to have connections with people and build relationships. Without our vulnerability, we can never truly be who we are.
Pushing away the pain is not equivalent to being strong.
Being strong is allowing yourself to know that what you feel is only temporary and it will soon get better.
I always thought that being strong meant no tears but simply holding in my emotions, when it’s actually the opposite.
Cry when it hurts, yell and scream when you’re angry and smile and laugh when it hurts a little less.
The point is, listen to your emotions and act them out. When you feel it it’s when you start to heal.
If you are currently going through something take a step back and reflect on how you are treating the people in your life.
Reflect on how you are treating yourself and recognize that you may need to change your approach.
It’s okay to be wrong, but it’s not okay to hide behind your trauma.
You are so much more than all the hurt and all the pain.
You are SO much more than your trauma.