I believe my inner strength will allow me to overcome any obstacle thrown in my path. But I didn’t believe that until six months ago. Before that time, I’d always felt it was my family, friends and a happy childhood spent in Mr. Roger’s neighborhood that allowed me to overcome challenges. It was only after I was the victim of violent crime that I had to face life head on and find a way to cope with my reality.
After reporting the crime, I was poked, prodded and questioned to death. It seemed everyone and their mother had to hear my story, replete with detail. It was an experience I wanted to forget, to stuff away somewhere and hide. Yet instead of giving in to my irrational shame, I shared my story and agreed to press charges. I didn’t want to look back and say “I should have done something.” This set me on a difficult path. I was terrified because my old standbys, my family and friends, could not help me in this emotional battle. Even the wisdom of Fred Rogers left me with the sorrowful reality that I had to be brave and forge ahead alone.
It was like a game of “Chicken”, my banged up, faltering vehicle racing toward the ominous train of Despair. I could have easily pulled off the tracks and given up, let my ambitions go, let the weight of my hardships crush my spirit. Instead, I chose option B. I refused to give in, to recant my story and succumb to the encroaching darkness. It was me versus Despair and I was no chicken.
Every day, I would put on a brave, solemn face and resume the grueling work of being a responsible citizen, playing the role of the undefeated victim. At night, I would lay alone in my bed and weep, curled into a little ball of suffering. I could tell nothing was going to be done.
The world was cold and harsh. Yet in my darkest hour, I felt a little knot in my abdomen. It pulsed and throbbed and began to grow. It whispered “no”, growing louder and louder “No” until it was shouting. “NO!” I immediately sat up.“No! ” I would not be helpless. I knew who I was and I knew what I could do. I’d found something inside me meant for hard times. It was the core of my being, the very thing Fred Rogers had called the “you” in his song “It’s You I Like”. It was this little knot of strength that was my salvation. Now, when faced with challenges, I don’t falter. I stand up to my situation and refuse to yield. I’m no longer a quasi-adult, a dissatisfied college student. I am a soldier. I’m alive and recovering today because of my little knot of strength. This I believe.
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