For months when I was in therapy I tried to say, “I’m a survivor”, but couldn’t. I didn’t feel like a survivor. I felt trapped in pain, horrific memories, ragging nightmares and feelings that I couldn’t articulate. During one particular therapy session my doctor said, “Here Maura, I have something I think you will like.” Sitting in his leather chair, he swiveled closer to his desk, opened his laptop and inserted a cd. As he pressed play, I heard Blessed John Paul II recite the following in English, coupled with his pronounced Polish accent. “Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” What pierced my heart were his words, “Be not afraid.” His deep, yet gentle voice, provoked a sense of safety and peacefulness in my soul.

His words inspired me to fight harder for freedom, as they fostered a deeper urge to combat evil with beauty.  As the months passed, the evil I was terrified to talk about slowly surfaced through dialogue with my doctor in a safe setting. As I revealed more to him, the effects of the abuse slowly unraveled. At first I thought if I told my doctor it would be wrong and that someone was going to get in trouble. Through prayer God revealed to me His beautiful plan and the depths of His Fatherly love. I came to the conclusion that if I held the abuse inside it had the potential to control the rest of my life. “Why should I punish myself any longer for something that wasn’t even my fault?” I use to blame myself, but came to the realization of just how twisted my thought process was. I needed to reshape my thought process and knew in my heart that my doctor could help me. Was I scared to take that leap of faith and trust my doctor? Was I scared to step out onto the water, trusting that the Father would catch me? You bet I was.

But what scared me more was being complacent, this terrified me. I was in the care of a phenomenal doctor. If I let the opportunity pass I would be living a “mediocre” life. And John Paul II specifically said, “Do not be satisfied with mediocrity” 

Well I wasn’t about to let that happen. I want to get married and have family. I want to launch Made in His Image and get my book published. I am going to fight until I can confidentially say ‘I’m a survivor’ and truly mean it. 

My doctor made me a copy of that cd, and in the months that followed I used it daily to practice enunciating words, phrases and life experiences that I couldn’t say on my own. I needed someone else’s voice to overpower mine, so I wouldn’t hear what I was saying. I would turn on the cd and listen to the sound of Blessed John Paul II’s voice. Then I would turn up the volume, so his voice overpowered mine. Over time, I was able to turn down the cd, so my voice resounded above John Paul II’s. I still couldn’t confidently say, I’m a survivor, but my doctor told me to just let it come out naturally. 

In the months that followed, when asked why I wanted to found Made in His Image, I confidently stated, I’m a survivor! It flowed so naturally, and for a second I couldn’t believe what I had just said. I smiled. And my smile was huge. Later in the evening when I went before the Lord in the Tabernacle I thanked Him for the gift He had given me through my doctor, the cross, and Made in His Image. There was no one else praying, so I knelt as close to the Tabernacle as I could, and said it aloud again, I’M A SURVIVOR!

While in therapy, every time I firmly shook someone’s hand or focused on making eye contact with them, they had no idea all that I was practicing. Everyday tasks that come as second nature to some, become a monument of achievement to those hoping to heal despite trauma.

I am exceedingly grateful for what the Father has done for me. And it is my desire to take what I have been given by Him, which is a pure gift, and spread His love and healing to others through Made in His Image. So our voices can join in one accord to bravely say, I’M A SURVIVOR. 

“Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim – letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.” – C.R. Strahan

P.S. You are enough.

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