Daniel Wellington watch and camel jumper

Reflecting back on my life isn’t an easy thing to do.

It has been an uphill journey through and through, full of challenges and brokenness and pain. I’ve been through a lot. And it has been the fight of my life to keep from being hardened and bitter after it all.

The thing is, if you’re like me and you’ve been physically, sexually and mentally abused; if you’ve been hurt over and over again by men or people you thought you could trust; if you’ve been bullied, betrayed or bruised; if you’ve an absent and broken family, then you have every right to take your pain and numb it with alcohol or drugs or sex. You are justified to be bitter and angry about it (and I think that those feelings can be healthy responses to mistreatment.) If this is how you respond to your pain, I don’t think that anyone who hasn’t walked in your shoes can tell you that it’s wrong. I’ve been there and I know – when you are depressed and hurt, you do all you can to fill that empty void in your heart.

What I have realized after years of learning and growing and falling and rising is that the best thing to do in response to your pain is to not let it make you angry about life, but to to let it soften and create empathy within you. When life expects you to be bitter, be kind instead. Running to self-destructive habits is the easy thing to do. But choosing to rise above it all and be a loving, warm and life-giving person is the extraordinary, remarkable, unexpected thing to do and not a path that many follow.

I want to be the latter. And I will always keep trying and fighting until the very end of my life to be that kind of person. Even when it’s hard. Even when it goes unnoticed. Even if that is all my life has amounted to. I refuse to allow hate or bitterness or anger to win over me. For those of you who feel my struggle, be encouraged as you read a much-loved quote of mine from Christopher Pointdexter:

I have spent time in cathedrals, worshiped in churches, bruised my knees at altars. I have carried God in my pocket like a little pill that makes one feel warm, energetic, joyous. I have gotten drunk with homeless men, smoked pot with strangers, kissed the devil on the stomach. I have searched for meaning and purpose in many ways, howling at truth with bloody fangs, but nothing comes close to simply being kind. Just being purely fucking generous. I know my purpose here on this frightened planet is to make people feel loved, and when I become too proud and tired for that, give my bones to the vultures. I would rather be a corpse than be hateful.

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Image via Kenzas