Physically, sexually, and mentally abused, I was raised in two different inner city ghettos where fear was a very alive, everyday occurrence. I learned no coping skills, life skills, or any other skills, period. What I did learn was to keep secrets, which developed into an overwhelming sense of shame. I learned that as far as responsibility went, when it was time to take any, cut and run and don’t take responsibility for anything. It was so bad that I was sure we belonged to the “Who’s Who Among American Dysfunctional Families”! The most harmful thing I learned and the biggest hindrance to my early recovery was that there was the right pill out there for everything! I took the hard paths, roads and choices waiting for my “cure.” Nothing, however, seemed to improve the quality of my life.
One day, while sitting at the kitchen table, it finally sunk in that, in order to recover, I needed to work on my skewed belief system. I am responsible and the miracle pill doesn’t exist. I went about to that end by working with a psychiatrist and therapist for my emotional health. I attended a class focused on coping skills and effectiveness. It was so important to me to have all of these skills be second nature, that I took this class five times, spread out over several years, improving with each class. In the meantime, always striving to improve myself, I went back to college, I did volunteer work, I expanded my spiritual network and I became re-acquainted with my heritage. And I persevered.
Have you ever heard the saying that you “find your salvation in the strangest places”? I found the final ingredient to buoy me on my way to mental health recovery at, of all places, the local homeless shelter. They helped me realize my strength and consciously practiced a new outlook on life. The most amazing thing that I never thought I would have a firm grasp on was: a positive attitude! I had been more the gallows humor type, instead of the sunshine and butterfly society.
Once I started practicing being more positive and accepting, I noticed dramatic changes. The skills I had worked so long to master did become second nature. My positive attitude is always opening doors to new opportunities and my chance for growth is only limited by my imagination. No matter how many roadblocks or obstacles life throws at me, I know that positive perseverance can change any situation into one that promotes growth.
A positive outlook, along with a healthy dose of acceptance, can ease and overcome any problem. Stay positive, my friends.