The entire nation is abuzz with talks about gun rights and regulations and I’m not particularly interested in this debate. But one bit of news got my attention and it was about Gabby Giffords speaking up about the need for gun control. Her whole life was turned upside down by one gun shot by a deranged man. Her condition was critical but she survived only to live a half-life. One side of her body is paralyzed forcing her to quit her job in the Congress. She finds it hard to articulate but has decided to advocate gun regulations. And here is the beauty of it. She doesn’t have to say a word – her very presence in a gathering is thunderous. She has turned the worst experience in her life to her purpose. She probably never understood any of it until now.
I can’t quite compare myself to Gabby but I did have a close brush with death. I never quite understood why I had to go through depression at such a young age. Why me? And then years later I knew why. A person came into my life who was going through the exact same thing that I went through. I could be there for that person like nobody could ever be there for me. You see it takes a person who has experienced it first hand to be able to really empathize in the true sense of the word. Depression is not about being weak. It’s not something you can just snap out of by thinking happy thoughts. Nor is it a life sentence. And no way are you a failure. You can come out of it and go on to live a wonderful life. I knew that because I had been there and I had come out of it.
I had to figure it all out for myself and God knows I wished for someone who could understand what it was like. So it was liberating to help someone in the same limbo. I don’t think any of my ‘advice’ helped. But I’m sure the fact that I got through it was hope enough for my friend. For here I was, happily married, the mother of two kids and no one would have guessed that I almost died at the age of 21!
So are you hiding your scars? Ashamed of them? I know I was. I never spoke of my depression to anyone. It was my dark, ugly secret. I didn’t talk about it until I heard about my friend. It took me back to the place I was in my life many years ago. A great surge of empathy propelled me to share my struggles. I never realized that in doing so I was giving myself the greatest gift. In owning that part of me that I had denied for so long, I was whole again. My creativity which lay bottled up with all the pain and the shame came gushing out. Long story short, here I am writing this blog!
Embrace your scars and own every one of them. In doing so you are empowered and rise above being a mere victim. For the Universe makes no mistakes. In the dark and the ugly is the seed for greater purpose. And by the way, they are not scars but medals of honor. You survived those struggles and are here to tell your story so others may find hope through you.
Gabby Giffords was asked, “Isn’t it ironic that a strong spokesperson like you is struggling with her speech?” A very harsh question if you ask me and I really thought she would break. But she smiled with one half of her face and said, “ It stinks!” But I’m sure she is aware that her mere presence is enough for gun advocates to sit up and listen to the few words she has to say.
You and I are not Gabby Giffords and our struggles will probably never make it to the National News. But in a small way we do impact all the people we come in contact with. If you survived a testing phase in your life, you can offer support to people who are going through a similar crisis in their life. Turn the worst thing that happened to you to the greatest blessing ever for you and for others.