Author: A Dear Survivor
April 12, 2022
This, I Believe
Over 10 years ago, NPR had a radio show called “This, I Believe.” This segment focused on written essays from listeners who were stating their stance on something they believed in. It was incredibly inspiring, but it also encouraged listeners to broaden their point of view to hear and understand someone else’s opinion. Below, I’ve written my own “This, I Believe” statement about something that can often be considered controversial:
Is Happiness a Choice?
Having been a circle of protection to survivors of sexual and physical abuse, human trafficking, and other traumas, I believe happiness is a choice. Persevering against the odds stacked against them, these survivors have risen from the ashes because they chose to invest in their own happiness. One recurring observation I often hear when a survivor publicly shares their story is: “I would’ve never known they were a survivor because they’re just so full of joy!” Every morning, these individuals wake up and are haunted by their horrific pasts. They are faced with the decision of whether they are going to choose to linger in the darkness of their trauma or whether they’re going to choose the warmth of happiness – and by no means is that decision an easy one.
It is incredibly easy for anyone who has endured trauma to any extent to linger in those dark corner shadows where they won’t ever have to face what’s keeping them there. But the choice to be happy? That choice is one of the most difficult ones they have to make on their healing journey. When a person chooses to expose all those dark and scary places, they prove that they’re no longer afraid of what awaits when they open the drapes. It’s like when spring finally comes after a long winter, and they can finally open the windows, let in the fresh air, take a deep, cleansing breath, and allow themselves to begin sweeping up the settled dust and cobwebs.
I personally went through my own healing journey from the years of trauma I endured that resulted in multiple mental health concerns. After one final breakdown, where depression and anxiety left me on the ground, a shattered mess of hopelessness, questioning if I was strong enough to keep going, I realized that I needed to play an active role in my recovery to find true healing. It was no longer enough for me to solely rely on my weekly therapy sessions and my prescription medication. With the help of my therapist, I found it was most beneficial to start every morning making the conscious choice to choose happiness and appreciate the little things around me. I opened my eyes and found joy in the turkeys and deer as they walked through the backyard, in the sunrise over the golden cross that stands glowing high above the Cathedral on my drive to work, and in the sunsets as the burnt orange rays of warmth came streaking through my bedroom window in the summertime. Maybe that’s more of a testament to my personal growth, but similar practices are mirrored in the courageous and strong individuals I’ve had the honor of knowing and loving. Surely, if a survivor of something as horrific as human trafficking, torture, assault, etc., can open their eyes and choose their own happiness every morning, anyone can. This, I believe.