I am not quite sure when I started writing this mantra, “So here I am.” I do remember that this phrase was articulated in high school but showed up later in my art and writing in college (As evidenced by the print below).
As the years pass, I continue to gain insight and life experiences, which solidify a longer mantra: “So here I am right now with you.”
Combining these phrases together celebrates how I have learned to focus my life forward.
Let me explain, from the beginning.
“So what? So why? So who? So when? So how?”
My “so” is tied to many negative messages from my childhood and adolescence:
“So what? Get over it.”
“So why do you harm yourself? Is it because you want attention?”
“So who do you think you are? You know you have it better than other foster kids, right? Why aren’t you grateful for what you have been given?”
“So when are you going to quit having this pity party for yourself? Go ahead and ask yourself, “Is it going to change anything? Never!”
“So how do you expect to change if you keep overeating.”
“So here I am.”
This was my mantra for many years. Ironically, I proudly thought this phrase embodied my stubbornness and tenaciousness to never give up. However, my “so” also trained me to doubt everyone, including myself.
I spent most of teenage years exclaiming, “Life isn’t fair.” And guess what? It wasn’t fair. I lost a lot and no matter the gains, loss is learning to live with a permenant vacancy and hurt always feels just heavy enough that you cannot imagine wrapping your arms around anyone else.
Despite setbacks, I was always expected to bounce back and be resilient. And I learned to navigate through every single “so” and that’s how I managed to proclaim, “So here I am.”
Looking back, my artwork that I created during college seemed to tell a different narrative. I drew a little girl sitting crouched in a corner with her arms wrapped super tight around her chest while a light bulb hung down from the ceiling.
“So Here I am” was a metaphor for my life, which represented the common practice of hiding. As a youth, I hid in the closet, behind my dresser and under the bed to avoid my abuser and people’s judgement.
I also remember hiding under the desk at the police station and hiding in the basement of my foster home. More than hiding my body, I also hid in other ways. For example, I went to counseling sessions but I felt like a zombie. I was hiding under a smile, to show that I was strong, when I was really thinking about ending my own life.
During my first 33 years on this earth, I was fighting and hiding at the same time, which made my existence all the more agonizing and unrecocognizable. I felt like I was never meant to arrive because I was always trying to avoid judgement or reproach from others while failing in my relationships. Surface stuff was fine, but beneath all my accomplishments, I was filled to the brim with anxiety.
I isolated myself from others, creating distance, emotionally. My relationship choices were less than ideal and I kept avoiding the pain, which only intensified with every failed relationship. Honestly, I let those men gut my spirit like a fish.
“So, here I am” was a coping mechanism – It let me escape my body when I was violated, threatened or made to feel unsafe. Technically, this is called dissociation and because of it, I survived, time and time again, even as an adult survivor of assault.
I guess you can say that I used the abandonment from both my parents as an excuse to embrace the hurt, rather than accept hope and healing. I allowed the pain of abandonment to hold me back until I learned to embrace life’s most meaningful lessons….
“So, here I am….right now.”
Yes…here and now.
I practice presence over perfect. (THANKS Holley)
Slow is fast is another way to think about purposely not rushing progress. (THANKS Sarah)
I have spent my life earning my resiliency wings & I am not ashamed to celebrate my transformation from despair to hope, anxious to inspired and fear to courage. I wasn’t on a journey to make peace with my past, but it happened when I learned to let go of my questions and began accepting that my life had a unique purpose.
After I became a mother, it was difficult to hide and for so many reasons. My son needed all of me, a whole woman guided by purpose. My son saved my life and taught me to love.
“So, here I am, right now” is the best way I can describe my healing journey that allowed me to forgive my parents. Only now, am I empowered to move forward.
I am standing- not cowering.
I am peaceful – not left in pieces.
Ultimately, I bounced back because of my mentors and teachers who affirmed my gifts and supported me- even when I my flaws and decisions made me less than perfect.
“So, here I am right now, with you.”
I discovered in my graduate program for Creative Arts Therapy about the power of symbolism. There are key symbols in my earlier artwork. As an artist, I can tell you that the lightbulb meant I wasn’t completely in the dark; initially, the light represented hope but through the years, the lightbulb’ symbolism became a metaphor for healing and connection; a source of energy greater than myself.
My resiliency is a reflection of you….
My mission has evolved from my hurt and healing, but it is also derived from a gradual evolution of self-belief that I am not alone. My mission grew from this lesson. I don’t want people to feel like they have to figure out life and solutions on their own:
I strive to lead with purpose & help others affirm and celebrate their journey forward.
Rueben Welch wrote a book called, “We Really Do Need Each Other.”
It’s truly another mantra that reverberates in my mission. Thank you for taking the time to learn about my story. But this is also our story too. I hope you will take the time to think about your purpose and mission. No matter the hurt, relational resiliency gives us a chance at developing ourselves and progressing. Do not go this path alone.
- What prevents you from achieving your purpose?
- How do you live out your mission each and every day?
- What goals can you work on in the next six months?
- Do you need support? Reach out to a mentor, coach and/or friend. Personal plug: You can also contact me for coaching (check out my bio below).
You got this. Believe in your purpose and imagine how we can achieve our missions together.
Kimberly C. Rhyan is a former foster youth and speaker/trainer/consultant who inspires/empowers foster parents, caseworkers, supporters, educators, and foster care youth/alumni to step into their future better prepared to facilitate/achieve foster youth’s successes. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org in regard to booking your next event and/or consulting services.