Overcoming Your Past

“If you have been brutally broken, but still have the courage to be gentle to others, then you deserve a love deeper than the ocean itself.” -Nikita Gill

I found myself sitting in my office and daydreaming the other day. I sometimes get some time to myself to sit and think, and I usually think about, you guessed it, psychology stuff! But, more importantly, I think about stories, people’s stories, and how they became the individuals they were. Trauma recovery, in particular, is incredibly fascinating to me, because it’s so unlikely, at least in my mind, and I’m often in awe of some people’s will to live and to rise above the actions of their tormentors. I didn’t want this post to be about statistics or about the “mitigating factors” of trauma survivors; I want it to be about them, the people themselves, which isn’t to say that help is insignificant, but that I’m more so impressed with them, the people, the survivors, than any other aspect of their journeys.

The people who’ve impressed me the most, out of those whom I’ve had the privilege of encountering in life, are those who’ve survived horrendous physical abuse, sexual molestation, rape, and emotional abuse, those same individuals who’ve developed a core sense of self, becoming good people despite their overwhelming barriers to goodness; if there were ever any indicators of miracles in life, those individuals are them. Some of them will tell you that they are who they are in spite of their traumas, while others will argue the reverse; and those who believe that their traumas shaped them are the ones who leave me the most perplexed and the most awe-struck. It appears as a paradox that someone can become kind in the face of violence, and become good in face of atrocity and evil; and yet, it happens, more often than we believe. And in my work, I live for their stories, as they give me a sense of hope and mastery seldom achieved in other areas. Their stories shake me and, sometimes, break me, but they always inspire and empower; like my notion of my death, they catalyze my life.

Their success is, undoubtedly, made possible with the help of those who care, but their success is also their own. Tupac Shakur once wrote a poem about a rose which grew from a concrete crack on a sidewalk in a ghetto. That rose, a seeming miracle, had virtually no chance of developing, no hope of coming to life; and yet, it did. For this rose was no ordinary rose, as it had an extraordinarily tenacious spirit! And, even with its damaged petals, and its side tilt, it radiated beauty, a beauty which could only be perceived through the lens of struggle and trauma, through the window of heartbreak… and triumph. Some may argue that such a rose would be too damaged to be beautiful, and too broken to thrive, but I can’t envision a more majestic sight.

I’m truly grateful for being afforded the opportunity to continuously listen to stories of roses, stories of people who weren’t meant to live long lives, but who’ve thrived despite, or maybe because of, their toxic environments. They are the roses, and their histories are their concrete. As Tupac once remarked, I “love their will to reach the sun.”

“I was born not to make it but I did, the tribulations of a ghetto kid, still I rise.” -Tupac






  1. When I was recovering from psychosis they handed me a pamphlet with a pansy growing from concrete. I was offended because I didn’t feel that way about myself. I didn’t see the concrete they saw. I realize trauma is different but maybe they only see the rose they are and not the concrete?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that both are important in defining, and becoming aware of, your full character. You’re the resilient rose, as well as the concrete which helped make you. The struggles help shape us.


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