Being Your Own Hero

Each of us has an inner hero, and it’s time to honor them

Photo by Javier García on Unsplash

I am so moved these days when I watch or hear stories about heroism. About someone making it through adversity and thriving. About someone who has been relatively unknown finally having their voice heard and celebrated. 

That got me thinking.

What is it, I wonder, that so moves me about these stories? What brings tears to my eyes when I see someone who has had a hard life finally come into their own? 

The street singer struggling to survive who has a voice that rivals any opera singer and is finally heard.

The family singer/songwriter who moves people to tears with their song of triumph over their personal battles. 

The bullied child who shines when expressing their talent and hidden powers and gems. 

It is because we all have our own personal battles. Some battles are harsher and perhaps more easily recognized by others. And those heroes deserve all the credit that they get and more. 

In many ways, we are all heroes. We need to acknowledge our own journey of struggle and pain and survival. We don’t need to compare ourselves to others. Everyone has a story that is worth hearing, even if only (and especially) by themselves. 

It’s easy to admire those that have triumphed over such huge obstacles and pain. I don’t mean to diminish them in any way.

I have had the honor (and pain) of witnessing human resilience and the spirit of survival at its most extreme. 

Having been a social worker at the county nursing facility at my last job, I worked with patients from ages 18 to 90 plus. Walking the halls and witnessing their daily pain of being taken care of and having to have everything done for them, these once independent human beings.

 An 18-year-old gunshot victim, now quadriplegic and only able to move from the neck up, learning to use a custom power wheelchair that could be moved by the few movements that he had left. 

Another 30-year-old with quadriplegia, who, weighing in at 500 plus pounds, had been in the gangs and honestly talked about knowing why he was where he was. Now in terror during parts of care that necessitated him being hoisted up above his bed. Terrified of being dropped, with no control over this at all. 

Victims of car accidents whose whole life changed in the blink of an eye. And the pain of their families, having lost who they knew, now having to learn the reality of who their family member now was. Unable to grasp this new reality. In shock. Tears, anger, frustration, helplessness.

I am humbled by what I have had the sacred honor to have been part of. To watch the resiliency of this human spirit tested and in anguish yet surviving. Through the pain. Through the changes. Through the battles. Knowing that there are more battles to come. 

I would tell myself to walk through the halls and pay attention when I thought I was having what I thought was a bad day. To see what had happened to these patients. 

There is truth to that, how important it is to remember to appreciate what we have, to realize how easily disasters occur and how lucky we are to have what we do. How quickly our lives can change. 

And yet, I realize, we must also acknowledge our own battles. Our own triumphs. Our own pain. Because to be alive is to have some struggles, to have our own story, to have our own battles to fight and overcome. 

Not to wallow in self-pity, not to get lost and give up. Rather, to acknowledge our own life path, our own wounds. And the fact that we are still here. Still alive. Still breathing and living and going on. 

I recently turned 70. And that feels like a major milestone for me. It causes me to reflect even more on life and its lessons. 

I made it through some difficulties as we all do. I survived. The pain of my parents’ childhoods and the consequences of that played out in part in me. The insidiousness of self-doubt and trying to please others to feel as if I was worth enough, and never feeling that. Relationships that I brought my issues to, repeated past patterns, and couldn’t make last. Medical scares that brought me to my knees in not knowing what the results of the latest test would be, whether I would have much time left on this earth or not. 

And this latest challenge of aging. Of watching and feeling my body slowly decline, of wondering what other changes will be coming. Of doing what I can to stay as healthy as I can, yet knowing that time will take its due. And age related changes will occur. I have seen them already. 

And facing, in a very different way as I continue this aging journey, the reality of mortality.

It takes courage to live fully. It takes us tapping into our inner heroes and strength. It takes faith in ourselves, in a higher power if we believe in that, including the part of that higher power that resides inside of each of us. It takes trust in ourselves and our ability to get through whatever we have and will face. To see how we have been a hero in our own lives. And how we continue to be. 

So, I salute the hero inside you. They have helped you make it to where you are now. They are with you still. Celebrate them. Celebrate you and all that you have come through. Celebrate the hero that you are. 

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