I sat at the kitchen table of one of my oldest, dearest, best friend’s house while her and her wife were soundly sleeping upstairs. It’s 4:45 in the morning in New England. I made my coffee, packed my single bag to the brim filled with hand-me-downs (or “hammy downs” as some like to say), and soon would be heading to the airport to fly home to Denver for the world’s best reunion ever: Luna & Timmy.
But I would be failing myself if I did not take some time to reflect on how monumental the week had truly been for me visiting my friends and family. I had an incredible amount of internal dialogues while I was there that I’m sure I could have very easily shared out loud with the people I love, but I believe they were simply meant for me.
These conversations were actually about my victories.
I was back in a town that held some rather traumatic memories.
Traumatic sounds dramatic, I know. I said the same thing to my therapist, but she only refuted that what I had experienced in that time of my life are all traumas in their own way. Whether I want to believe it or not is another story. And maybe that is part of me downplaying the issue at hand. Actually, no. That absolutely IS me downplaying the situation.
Regardless, I was in a place that brought me back there. Flashbacks of a time when I was sick, weak, and in pain. A time and place where I felt like I was the root cause for my life falling apart. That I was responsible for all of the good in my life that no longer existed.
Then, as we were driving to pick up dinner, I looked around at the people in the car that surrounded me.
The people that were hurt along the way through this journey I’ve been on, the ones who even though they had their own struggles, willingly opened up their arms and said, “Come on in, roll the windows down, and turn the radio up so we can sing songs together again.” These were, these are my people no matter what happens.
My friend said something to me while we were sitting in their backyard I honestly didn’t think would hit home as hard as it did:
“I wish I could tell my younger self that I have a choice. The door is always open. I can decide to stay or go. But at the end of the day, I’ve always had and always will have a choice.”
I was able to take a breath and see that no matter what, I could make the choice to stay or go. I could make the choice to let a place, a person, a thought, or a memory in my life be dictated by a past event, or I could choose to rewrite it and make it my own story of victory, courage, and strength.
I could make the choice.
Please know that I am not saying that I have found some easy solution to “cure trauma” because we all know that isn’t a real thing. It’s about management, time, and hard work. It’s about rewiring and retelling the story. It’s about facing demons and understanding what they truly are. It’s about hard effing work.
And in that moment driving near the bridge that reminded me of so much I didn’t want to remember…
I had a choice.
So much so, that I decided to write a thank you letter to my demons, and thanks to She Rose Revolution, I was able to publicly share that letter for others to read. You can find that story by clicking here.
One other victory I acknowledged with myself was that I now always make the conscious effort to speak up for my needs.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been trying to actively speak up for myself for a long time now and I’ve slowly gotten better at it.
But it’s different seeing it in action like I noticed this last week. I don’t think I’ve truly acknowledged the difference in myself between younger Lauren and current Lauren.
Younger Lauren was too afraid to speak up. She hated confrontation (and still not so secretly does), but current Lauren has no shame in speaking up for what she needs in the moment. She isn’t afraid to say “No” when something doesn’t feel right or sit well with her. She doesn’t believe that people are trying to pull the wool over her eyes, by playing the world’s longest game of “I’ll be nice to you, but only because I secretly hate you and am planning to sabotage you.” And even if they were, current Lauren doesn’t really care because it won’t impact her present moment anyways. She knows the only person’s opinion that matters is her own.
If I were to have told that to myself a year ago, I would have probably lit current Lauren’s hair on fire and told her to f*ck off with her insane self for speaking such hobldygosh (a new word I have just made up). I would have thought it to be impossible to get to the place where I am today. I would have thought that there was no way in hell I could be better off or that I could have actually made it through alive, literally.
But I’m here, and I’m happier than ever. I’m making my health, both mental and physical, my top priority. Because I know see a future for myself I never thought possible. I want that future, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.