Many times, after I share my story, the person I am telling it to immediately says, “Oh my gosh! Now I feel terrible for the minor things that I have been through.” This breaks my heart because everyone feels pain differently.
“The wound of two individuals might be just the same, but the pain will be felt and dealt with differently.” ~Kelley McElreath
If we were to both get cut, we would both bleed and we would both hurt. You might not feel as much pain as I do with the very same wound and vice versa. I have been wounded so many times in my life. I have felt at times like I have been damaged beyond repair, like damaged goods.
Let me tell you a little bit about my wounds. To tell you all of them would take an entire book. I’ll share the most difficult ones. I lost my firstborn son when he was only four months old. I have survived a major drug addiction, the loss of my mom when I was only 23 years old, diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40, a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, I discovered when I was bald and in the middle of reconstruction, that my husband of close to 17 years had been cheating while I was fighting for my life and that he had been living a double life for the majority of our marriage and a near-successful suicide attempt.
My ex-husband picked me up from the hospital after the suicide attempt. He drove me home, dropped me off in the driveway and he never came back. I can count on one hand the amount of times I have seen him since that day. I can’t even put into words the amount of overwhelming guilt and shame that I felt. I was still very suicidal. The combination of the suicidal thoughts and the shame and guilt, kept me in a severely depressed state. I knew that I had overcome so many things in my life and was proud of that. I handled cancer probably better than anything I have faced in my entire life. When everyone knew what I had done, I felt like a complete failure and as though the entire thing negated absolutely every single tragedy I had ever gone through before.
I was thinking one day how surviving all of these things is sometimes more difficult than when the event actually took place! I did a Google search for suicide survivors. Google returned page after page of links where people who had lost someone to suicide could get help. You can’t even imagine my reaction. I immediately knew that I had to do something. I took what I thought was a complete failure, attempting suicide, and started getting my story out there.
I realized that there ARE people out there who can relate to my story, I just needed to find them. I am a life coach and I created a program called Surviving Survival for anyone dealing with depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempt survivors and anyone dealing with these things after cancer treatment or major surgeries. I started calling myself, “The Survivor Coach.”
I love hearing other people’s stories and I absolutely love helping people. I quit a full-time job to do this. I felt a burning desire in my chest daily. It just kept getting bigger. I knew that I could not go another day without doing everything in my power to try to reach people in some way. Doing this has also freed me from a lot of the guilt and shame.
Do you have a story? I would LOVE and be so honored to hear it. You can email me at email@example.com or share your own story on my site www.thesurvivorcoach.com
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Kelley McElreath, The Survivor Coach