This is not easy for me to write.
This is for anyone who has felt pushed down or pushed around, and is searching for a reason. This is for anyone who is struggling for a purpose, who feels downtrodden, listless or out of control. This is for the people who want to do something greater than themselves, but feel caught in a whirlwind of ideas and ideals, not sure which to fight for or how.
I am here to tell you that you are the purpose; you are the reason; you are the thing greater than yourself. It is you that is worth fighting for.
You may wonder who I am and how I have the knowledge or right to claim any of this. I have been through years of bullying, psychological abuse and, worst of all, rape. I have lived through the beginning stages of cervical cancer because I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions. I held them in until they became sickness. I have had many dark moments staring into the void, hoping that someone would stare back at me and tell me things were okay.
I have been so busy trying to do what is right, trying to be strong, trying to please everyone else, but not knowing how to please myself. I always thought that people would like me better if they saw my smile and not my tears. I always thought I would like myself better if I could just make other people smile. I wanted to help others based on all that I had overcome in my own life—but I couldn’t even own my own story.
I survived years of suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide. I struggled with self-hate, self-love and all of the moments in between. I fought all of these battles and more, and I have won!
How have I finally gotten the courage to speak up and out? As I type this now, my fingers are shaking with every key I touch—because speaking up is so foreign to me, because standing up for others has always been easier than standing up and being myself.
So, why am I writing this now? With the increase of bullying in our society, with all of the people I have known and not known who have committed suicide, I feel I must say my part. I want to say to anyone out there struggling with self-love, “You are not alone.” Anyone dealing with rape or any other trauma, “You are not alone.”
I can say with much gratitude that it has been over 10 years since I have had these suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide. I have begun to see myself more clearly and love myself for all that I am, and all that I have lived through. I do not, however, forget those days. They are still so close to my heart, and the mere thought of any child or adult struggling with these things now breaks it. You are not alone.
I am a survivor, and despite the darkest moments in my life I have managed to rise up and offer forgiveness and assistance. I have even asked for forgiveness myself, because, God knows, I am not perfect.
But when does all of my hard work and dedication to healing and forgiveness come to fruition? When do I become the Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay or Deepak Chopra of the world? How do I make that move from being the victim to the victor, and how do I really, really heal so that I can help and heal others?
I realize now, in a moment of clarity, that it is me who I need to recognize, that being myself and honoring who I am—all of who I am and who I have been—is so important not only for me, but for anyone out there who can relate to what I have been through. No matter who I want to help and what I want to do, I have to first fight for myself, because if I don’t get real with myself, who in the world can I honestly help?
I have taken on that battle—probably the hardest battle of all—and I am coming out on the other side. I know that I am worth fighting for. So are you, no matter where on the scale you are—from having suicidal thoughts to feeling restless and hopeless. Even if you just need a good kick in the butt to keep going through the hum drum days.
If you are looking for a purpose and a destiny, you are that purpose. You are that destiny.
If you cannot look at your life with honesty and awe for all that you have accomplished and all that you are, you are doing the world, and yourself, a disservice.
It’s time we all stop trying to be perfect and realize that we are perfect. It’s time we stop being so damn hard on ourselves, so we can stop being so damn hard on others. It’s time we realize we have so much to live for, that it’s not just about the outer journey; it’s about the inner one, as well. It’s not about how much you can get from others, it’s how much you can give to yourself from the wealth of gifts and experience you have been given.
I am not sure who will hear this, or who it will help. There are so many things in life that we cannot control, but the battle within the self is one we can all win. I know what it’s like to be stepped on, beaten on and beaten down. But hang in there, because the gift you can give to the world by living through and honoring your experience is so much greater than you know.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Thank you to my family that has struggled through with me and helped me through so much, with love and without judgment. Thank you to my friends who have listened to me time and time again. Last of all, thank you to Filip, who has seen me through the ups, the downs and the round and rounds, waiting patiently for me to see what we all should see, that I am the thing worth fighting for.
Thank you with love, light and blessings for a bright 2013 and forward.
Born in Ontario, Canada, in 1980, Ashley Cooper (ashleycooper.me) is a yoga instructor, artist and the Co-Founder of Peace Love and Photography and “The World’s Largest Art Project For Charity” (peaceloveandphotography.tv). She has been featured in over 50 newspaper articles worldwide for the ABCharity project she is doing together with her partner, Filip Cederholm.
Her dedication and commitment to art and need to help others throughout her life has been unwavering. Heavily influenced by her extensive travel, volunteer work and experience with other cultures, her art and writing is an extension and blend of different experiences and teachings.
Like elephant Health & Wellness on Facebook
Assistant Ed: Thandiwe Ogbonna
Ed: Kate Bartolotta