Undaunted Pride

"So I just had to ask. Why do you wear your past like it's some kind of badge of honor? I mean, everyone has a past. And frankly, I don't think yours is one to be that proud of anyway." --Instagram DM

I don't usually get a lot of public interaction. This blog doesn't regularly get loads of comments, and neither does my social media. Half the time, if I ask a question no one answers. Honestly, if it weren't the various analytics and insights proving that people are seeing my content - and coming back consistently to read my writing ... I might quit entirely. I mean, I love writing, but the point of writing publicly is to share it, to be seen and heard, to hopefully use my story to motivate and inspire others dealing with similar experiences.

It's the certain knowledge that some people find what I'm doing to be empowering that gives me the will to keep doing it. It's the screenshots of messages people have sent me, the affirmation of people encouraged to endure because I share how I've done it, the unbelievable blessing of people who actually thank me for sharing my story because it makes them feel less alone in theirs. Sometimes I have little bursts of people who send me private messages or emails; mostly, they're in support, like the one I got recently when my aunt died. Other times they're rude - comments about my body or my children or their perception of my motives or the value of my story.

Regardless, Every person has a story, and it took a long time for me to realize how valuable mine could be. When I was a little girl tossed repeatedly from one abusive situation to another, I felt small and alone and unloved. When I was bullied and badgered and beaten by people who should have nurtured and loved and supported me, I felt diminished and devalued. When I was ignored and overridden constantly by people who asked me what I wanted my life to look like but never truly stepped in to help me, I felt powerless. Abusive relationships left me feeling worthless, meaningless. Replaceable. Parenting two children with complicated chronic health issues made me feel guilty, and judgement from others coated me in shame.

I have been chronically victimized. I have experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, and even economic abuse. I have had my story used against me. And I've been victim-blamed. I've been accused of wanting what happened, of causing what happened, of "asking for it." I've been blamed because I left, and I've been blamed because I stayed. I've been accused of making it up, even when there is irrefutable proof. I've been dismissed because the brutality of my story makes others uncomfortable.

I am disabled by chronic physical and mental health issues - but I am nothing short of a survivor. I have been beaten, but I kept moving despite fear. I have lost everything I loved and valued and treasured, but I kept trying despite failure. I have been held back, held down, but I kept pushing despite barriers.

I kept learning, kept growing, kept picking myself up.

I wear my story like a badge of honor because it is one. I didn't quit when I wanted to. I didn't give up. I didn't throw in the towel or accept defeat. I survived. I gave - and still give, and will continue to give - everything I had. I did - and will always do - the best I can, regardless of how that may or may not compare to what someone else has to offer.

I know everyone has a past. But this is mine, and there is strength in looking back on it. When I struggle today, I remind myself of what I survived in years past. When I am weak today, I draw from the strength my life has instilled in me. When I am ready to give up, I hold myself to the standard of a woman who has survived - because that standard requires me to continue surviving. I use surviving yesterday as proof that I can survive today, too.

And I share my story as if it's something to be proud of because it is. Not giving up is an accomplishment I'm proud of, because there have been so many times I wanted almost desperately to give up. Developing healthy coping mechanisms is an accomplishment because there are so many other routes my life could have taken. I am a statistic ... but it could have been worse.

I spend every day searching for ways to step up in the world, not because I want much for myself because I want a better start for my daughters. Not because I want to be elevated, but because if I am elevated, I can reach down to uplift and empower others. Not because I want to hear myself speak, but because in speaking, I hope to help others find their own voices.

My story is a source of pride because I'm still living it. I am Undaunted. And I will continue to wear it with pride - because I've earned it.

If you liked this post, related to it in some way, or know someone who needs to see it, make sure you drop a comment below - I would love your feedback as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish! Be sure you check out my quarterly giveaway page, too - there are several free and easy ways to enter - and members of the Undaunted Army are always eligible for extra entries!

And speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among the ranks of those who have fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too, and those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. But there is strength in numbers, as as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Enlist as an Undaunted Army Private for free, or invest in the growing impact of the Army with an Undaunted Army Officer Commission for as little as $1 a month. And now, you can wear your Undauntedness with pride by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army itself are solely built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.