Something pretty amazing happening today. Nothing particularly eventful but pretty amazing for me.
Today, I laughed the hardest that I have laughed in the past few weeks. My facial cheeks hurt. My stomach felt pained. I was laughing uncontrollably.
So why did my fits of laughter mean so much to me? Because just under a fortnight ago, I was lying in bed crying and I truly wanted to end my life.
I’ve written a lot about my painful history before. Instead of going over those memories again, I would like to highlight how grateful I am for the people in my life.
It’s been an incredibly painful year and I have really come to discover who my true friends are. I have realised how many kind and caring people there are who really love me and are here for me.
Today, I saw 2 of those amazing people. And throughout our whole interaction this afternoon (our 6 hour long catch up), I was actually having an anxiety attack. Unexpected changes to my day led to me taking deep breaths in the toilet just to calm down. Yes, it felt horrible, but it’s a lifelong condition due to living with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of child sexual abuse.
But despite hurting on the inside, my friends had me smiling and laughing to the point that my stomach hurt.
Their time, their love, their presence reminded me that I am so much more than my anxiety. So much more than the child abuse that I kept a secret for 20 years. That I am so much more than my suicidal thoughts.
Given the traumatic nature of my experience, there will never ever be a time where I’m ever “over it”. As someone who is studying Youth Work and has worked with at-risk young people, most of whom were abused as young children, I know this to be true. Child abuse impacts a person for the rest of their life and changes how they feel about themselves and how they think. There is no such thing as 100% recovery but there is hope in healing and in moving forward.
So, given the long-lasting effects of this form of trauma, these ups and downs will always occur. Suicidal thoughts might come and go. I might have to call Lifeline again one day. I might have to re-evaluate whether I need to return to counselling, if these thoughts persist.
But, on the upside, what I do know is – I have the best support network possible. I have a husband who is always my shoulder to cry on and to cuddle. Also, when I need reminding that I’m not a piece of shit who deserved to be sexually abused by my close relative. I have my in-laws who love me as as their own daughter and are so proud of how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am. I have my bestie – the beautiful woman and mother whom I met only 6 months ago and have been inseparable from. I have my close group of friends who are always checking up on me, wanting to catch up, reminding me how proud they are of how far I have come in my journey of healing.
Today was a memorable one because I was reminded of how valuable life really is and how every smile, every laugh, every moment of happiness – is LIVING.
I almost didn’t see my friends today. I’d been feeling too low and to some extent, I’d been keeping myself busy to distract myself from the traumatic memories that keep on returning.
But I am so so glad that I remembered that there truly is no time like the present. No other time to catch up with the people you care most about. No other time to live the life you want to live. No other time to stop, take a break, and ask yourself, “What’s really more important?”
I don’t want the news of a life-threatening illness, the unexpected death of a loved one, or some other tragic wake-up call to remind me that life is short and needs to be lived.
Yes, I do have a course to finish studying, a house mortgage to pay, a family to look after; the typical responsibilities that many adults and many parents have. But I have my health. I have my support network. I have so much love in my life. And as far as I know, I still have the rest of my life ahead of me.
So, I’m going to be conscious to continue working on the future, but ensure I don’t forget about the present too.
This was my first post of 2017 – here’s to continuing to brighten up our future with smiles, laughter and love – because really, there can be no other way to live life!
Thuy Le (formerly known as Thuy Yau) is a freelance writer and Youth Work graduate living in Perth, Australia. She loves to share her own personal experiences about overcoming adversity, as she believes that human beings are more capable than they realise. She writes to make a positive difference in the world and to inspire others to learn from themselves and their own experiences. Her writing has been discussed on radio, won writing contests, appeared on The Huffington Post UK and major Australian sites such as news.com.au, SMH, Kidspot and Essential Kids. She is currently writing her first book.