February 21, 2017

Why I Gave Up being a Survivor.

“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

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Dawn Lee Mar 15, 2017 8:16am

Hi Paula I just saw your comment and I'm thrilled my piece resonated with you. And how beautiful of you to share some of your incredible story, thank you. I studied (and wrote my 4 year thesis on) nr death experiences, it was fascinating, as you'd expect, so to read about your experience and the profound effect it's had on you is wonderful! To find strength through spirit is the way, there's nothing else! Keep thriving sister and I love that you give your survivor a special place in your heart (she's earned it) and can call on her if and when she's needed. So powerful! Dxx

Paula Timm Feb 23, 2017 2:58pm

Wow. Rare is it for me to find someone with a similar story and conscience outcome. I can second your story to a T. I used to say I grew up with strum and drama, others would say that I was so strong, a Wonder Woman and many other triggering labels. The trauma played out relentlessly into my adulthood. I attempted to turn my roll of power through it girl off. But the drama continued and manifested as an auto immune disease. Eventually I needed surgery and of course it didn't go smoothly. However I did awake from my near death experience knowing that I had to live with creativity and joy. The ensuing years were filled with healing using art, writing and eventually PTSD therapy. My STRONG power through spirit got me through it, but more than ever, I am now learning to thrive, and only call on my survivor when we need her. There's likely no other way that I could have arrived at this awareness. I know I sought the answers early in life however there was much to learn. I can now look back and say it all died a good death on that operating table that day as it no longer served me. Xox

Yas Watson Feb 22, 2017 3:34pm

Tired of my survival story too.. this helped me understand why. Thank you x

Kim Newing Feb 22, 2017 7:12am

What a powerful and incredibly beautiful piece of writing. Thank God for people like you Dawn, who hold the key to help others transform their pain into strength. Your work is a gift to this world. Thank you <3

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Dawn Lee

Dawn Lee is a transformational coach, emotional alchemist, spiritual development teacher, and writer, who lives happily under the sunny skies of beautiful Brisbane. Originally from Scotland she’s a journeyer both internally and in the external world and has lived and worked in London, Japan and now Australia. She’s also a super solo-mama to a gentle and adventurous little soul mate who is her greatest love and teacher. Dawn is a passionate warrior for love, soulful inclusion and vibing higher. She runs a transformational coaching business, The Cognitive Soul, which helps others heal and transform from the inside out, reconciling mind and soul to live happy, regardless.