Today is my own personal Independence Day.
Today I celebrate the fact that I am still alive despite an abusive ex’s hands, and despite my mother’s willful and deliberate blindness. Today I celebrate the rebirth I took from that abuse; the way it propelled me into motion. Today I celebrate how it gave me an anger that turned me into an activist which moved me into new arenas, moved me into the world. Today I celebrate living without fear.
I would never have come into this life without 13 December 1993. I would never have felt compelled to go to Afghanistan to try to repair the world if I hadn’t known what it felt like to watch the world fade away. That moment was horrible and amazing and changed me forever. It made me afraid at first, and later, it made me brave.
I would never fully thank that sad, unrealized fraud of a man for bringing me to where I am now- I got myself here- but his moment of violence was a part of this, and I am grateful for the role he played. It was awful, and it never should have happened, but 18 years later I can say that it was the pivot that changed everything. My life now, here, this—it is amazing, and that moment- that one brutal gutting grunting almost- dying moment 18 years ago today- it was the moment that changed everything. It brought me here.
What I am stumbling around saying is: I would never have left if he hadn’t tried to kill me. I know that now, and so I am grateful that he tried to kill me, because it led me to the life I have now.
This day is important to me: sad, sordid, awful, but so significant. I mark it each year, like a second birthday, or a death date, or maybe both. The girl I might have been died that day; I lost everything when I left the house and ran away to find the police, to find shelter, to find help and eventually to find a new life. My family, my future, everything I owned: gone.
And yet- it also set me free. It’s a birthday; the girl I am was born that day. I try to envision that birth as free of attachments and possessions. I try, but even now I struggle: I lost so, so much. Instead, I breathe and release. I can still do that, and that is enough, because it needs to be.
I breathe, I release, and look I at the abundance in my life. This is enough. This is more than enough. This is more than I could ever have asked for.
Every year on this day I lace my fingers around my neck, a small thing, a narrow span of soft flesh; I make a collar of my fingers, I squeeze gently and hold my breath and I remember, and I am grateful. 18 years ago today I was brave for the very first time: I took the first steps towards this, towards today, and towards tomorrow.
This is the most important day of my life.
Today, I am grateful, and happy, and full of joy; today I am lucky, and well aware of it.