Dear Survivor: You Are Whole

I know it's not easy healing in the aftermath of abuse.

I know you didn't sign up for the way things turned out.

I know you feel like pieces of you are either broken, or missing - or both.

There is something I want you - and need you - to understand:

You are whole.

Magnificently and entirely one.

You are not fragmented, even if your feelings are.

You see, feelings are different than identity.

You may feel broken because pieces of your free will have been stomped on; you may feel fragmented because the person you thought was going to love you turned out to be the biggest source of pain in your life - and those feelings are natural to experience.

They are reminders that the hormones and chemicals are working properly in your brain, because you are responding to abuse and trauma emotionally in a way that you were wired to do so.

But the things that were done to you did not take away from who you are.

The pains you suffered are not capable of diminishing your identity; if anything, the pains you suffered pruned your character in a manner where your truest identity will shine even brighter than before.

This is the most beautiful mystery in life; how pain, something that hurts so deeply, something that we think is capable of crippling us, is actually the catalyst to the depths of growth and wisdom that we would otherwise never know.

It's true that wisdom is not bliss; it is a responsibility, and it is a characteristic of love that must be refined within us as we strive towards our healing.

Dear survivor, you are meant for great and purposeful things; this is but a stepping stone, a rung beneath your feet on the ladder of success and understanding. This is your season of awareness; a season that will usher you into greater joy than you've ever known because you will, every day, be reminded of just how free you are. How whole you are. How whole you have always been, and in realizing this, you will begin to learn about the unbecoming...the unbecoming of who you really aren't so that your most authentic self can thrive.

*Fun Mental Health Fact*:

Your thoughts create proteins and take up literal space in your brain that can be seen with a PET scan (Positron Emission Tomography).

Healthy thoughts look like white, gummy trees.

Toxic thoughts look like black, withered trees.

The black, withered trees are "broken" neurons in your brain that will not allow electricity to properly pass through.

This creates memory loss, irritation, the inability to focus, and much more!

The white, gummy trees are "whole" neurons in your brain that allow electricity to pass through properly, which also allows the hormone-making part of your brain to function properly, which keeps our entire bodies healthy!

Even science shows us that the way we *think* about ourselves impacts our mental and physical health, and that our thoughts have literal power to either enhance our heath or introduce toxins to our health.

Science also shows that those toxic, black, withered trees in your brain can be HEALED through something called "neuroplasticity".

Stay tuned for next month's encouragement: Dear Survivor: The Unbecoming - where you will see how unlearning those toxic behaviors brings about healing - not only to your identity and your beliefs about yourself, but also physically, to your brain and hormones!

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