The #1 Life Hack I Wish I Had Known Sooner!
There was once a 12-year-old little girl who carried a dark secret inside. Shy, quiet, lonely… she didn’t have many friends, and she was afraid to talk to the ones she had. She was afraid someone might find out what daddy was doing when he tucked her in at night. He told her not to tell anyone because they wouldn’t understand.
In truth, I still don’t understand. It progressed as I got older. By the time I was 17 he was regularly having sex with me and would bargain with me for sexual favors in return for something like an outing with my friends. He started sharing me with other men.
Life was almost not worth living. I left home at 19 with nothing. No job, car, or even a high school diploma. I had a few pillow cases stuffed with clothes, memories that hurt so bad I wanted to forget them forever, and a heavy burden of shame. I don’t share my story so anyone will feel sorry for me. I share my story so everyone can look at my life and say, “If she can overcome, so can I.”
As Maya Angelou said, “I can be changed by what happens to me…” And, no doubt I was changed. There is a part of me that wants to mourn for that girl I could have been growing up. There is part of me that wants to point fingers and blame my dad for taking his 12 year old daughter upstairs when they were home alone and dressing her up in her mother’s lingerie. There is a part of me that wishes I had not grown up thinking the definition of parental love included sexual attraction.
“…But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
That’s the difference between a victim and a victor. Yes, we are changed by what happens to us in life. But, we decide how.
You see, there is a big difference between “I didn’t die” and “I learned to live again.” The difference is the decision to see adversity as a growth experience and an opportunity to become stronger instead of a storm that crushes us. Changed by what happened to me, I spent several years in the mindset of “I didn’t die” but four years ago I made the choice to refuse to be reduced by it, and “I learned to live again.”
That, my friends, is true freedom. It’s the number one “life hack” for overcoming adversity. When you realize that the past (or present) can only hurt you if you let it, you can choose to not let it hurt you. And then, you find peace, happiness, joy, and abundance are within your reach. Unfortunately, some people spend a lifetime searching for what they already have the ability to possess.
Choosing to let go and embrace joy in life, regardless of what we are going through, or have gone through, is a choice each of us can make, but we must make it for ourselves. There aren’t any shortcuts, secrets, or instant cures. It’s simply getting up one day at a time and choosing to be grateful. I get up every day and decide to be better because of my past, instead of bitter about it.
So can you.
It’s not what happens to you. It’s who you become because of it.
Watch a 3 minute clip of me speaking on my story here: http://bit.ly/RiasStory3min
Mark Twain said, “The two greatest days in your life are the day you are born and the day you discover why.” On August 14, 2013, I found my “why” and shared my story publicly for the first time. Learn more about my story at: RiaStory.com
Now a full time motivational leadership speaker and author of 9 books, I co-founded Top Story Leadership with my husband Mack Story. Learn more about Mack and his unique Blue-Collar Leadership resources at BlueCollarLeadership.com