“I’m a survivor
I’m not gon’ give up
I’m not gon’ stop
I’m gon’ work harder
I’m a survivor
I’m gonna make it
I will survive
Keep on survivin'” ~ Destiny’s Child
That used to be one of my jams; words to light a spark in my soul.
I’ve always vibed with “survivor,” even as a child. But I recently decided it was time to give up my survivor story.
We all have stories we tell about our lives that eventually define who we are, if we let them. These stories are an intricate web of beliefs, fears, thoughts and words, invisibly woven together. They put meaning to our experiences and give voice to how we see the world and ourselves.
Many of our stories are negative, and begin along the lines of: I am, I’ll never, I can’t, I won’t, I’ll always be, I’m just not, and so on.
There are no new stories. Being unlucky, abandoned, betrayed or rejected by those we love. Being held back in some way by our parents, or partners, or circumstances. Stories galore, steeped in fragile messages of deep unworthiness.
It makes perfect sense to give up these kinds of stories. After all, what we focus on, we expand and create. If we’re telling ourselves stories of painful love, for example, rest assured we’ll keep finding it.
So, you might be wondering why I’d want to drop what appears to be a positive and empowering story. After all, being a survivor screams strong, resilient and inspirational. And, indeed, it’s a story that’s helped me overcome some pretty heavy stuff.
I love my life, but it hasn’t always been easy.
My childhood was a total train wreck. On the outside, things appeared pretty normal, but behind closed doors there was no hiding from the dysfunction that obliterated the fabric of our family life.
My father was a deeply disconnected and unconscious man who was eventually imprisoned for his repeated crimes against my innocent soul. My mother, equally disconnected, chose to stand by her husband and venomously testified against me. A high court jury’s unanimous verdict, years of prison visits and a family so deeply fractured it simply couldn’t be fixed, and yet she remained unable to admit his guilt.
Many might agree that I incarnated into a pretty rough deal. But my childhood, for all its years of trauma and darkness, birthed a magnificent survivor story. A story that’s given me immeasurable strength and courage to push forward and “live happy,” regardless.
It’s a story that’s taken me round the world, sometimes with nothing more than hope in my back pocket. And it’s the backbone of my thriving business, helping others transform their lives and realize their own capacity for healing, over-coming, and “living happy.”
So why would I want to give up such a powerful story? After all, isn’t “survivor” who I am?
The problem with stories, even positive ones, is that there comes a time when they stop working for us, and start working against us.
My strong survivor story worked a treat when I had to survive. But our stories become so ingrained within us that our subconscious continues to manifest the conditions in our lives for our stories to keep playing out, long after the need for the story has passed.
As a strong survivor, my subconscious continued to manifest things for me to survive.
There was always a constant twist, hurdle or burning hoop to jump through. Yet another last-minute disaster, ledge to talk myself down from or cliff edge to leap off into the unknown.
There was always something more to overcome. And I tired of it.
Surviving is exhausting. Though I’d always win, I became battle-weary and began to long for something more; something next level.
That something was ease and grace.
So, like all good fighters, I retired my story. I whipped out my invisible sharpie and, once again, penned a new narrative. One that fits this next season of my life, and works for me to support who I’ve become.
I’ve demonstrated my survival skills. The courageous girl who had so many mountains to climb, dragons to slay and monsters to brave, had nothing more to prove.
And so, for us both, I let my story go.
Of course, life’s challenges will still come, but they’re less urgent now. My subconscious no longer needs to protect the belief of who I thought I was, and is kept busy manifesting my new story.
The story that I move through life with ease and grace. That I’m held, loved and supported by the invisible arms of a divinely-guided universe.
No longer a survivor, I’m thriving in ways I’d imagined, but never before experienced.
It served me well. It had a good run, but the story is over. And so is the struggle.
Perhaps it’s time that you too gave up the story that no longer fits you?
Author: Dawn Lee
Image: Tove Paqualin/ Flickr
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren