While preparing for #WomenEmpowerment month, I was passed a poem by our leadership team to read about Shahida Arabi; a past #WomanOfTheWeek, a graduate of Columbia University, and an award-winning #1 Amazon Bestseller in three categories. She is the author of The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care and author of Becoming the Narcissist's Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself. If you aren't familiar with Shahida's work, today we're going to introduce you to one of the most visual poems I've read so far.
I'll be honest - it's graphic, it's raw, but it's powerful! While I was reading this poem, I kept thinking "Are there really women that go through this?" and "Can a woman so hurt and traumatized from the wounds life gives her really make a comeback?"
I'll let you decide.
Here is a truth you often don’t hear: traumatized women have the potential to become the most powerful people in this world.
The most ignorant members of society call this type of woman “damaged.” But she is the most powerful type of woman there is.
What they forget is that survivors have the most dangerous advantage of all: resilience.
When you try and you try but you can never bring a woman down, you’ll know there is no going back. Don’t fool yourself. You could never defeat her. You never will.
This is the woman who will always rise from the dead; Lady Lazarus, after going through hell and back.
This is the woman who has burned her feet in the flames time and time again and always lives to tell another tale – even if she has to crawl back to life.
She was never given love or approval on a silver platter, so in order to survive, she had to love herself in a way others could only dream of. She fought tooth and nail for her own self-acceptance.
No one cuddled her as a child or told her pretty things; she had to fend for herself each step of the way. She knows she can survive because she already has and will again.
When someone tells her, “You can’t do it,” she says, “Watch me.”
She is fiery light birthed out of wintery darkness. Brought into the underworld by Hades, Persephone brings forth spring and rebirth when she reemerges finally from the cold.
She owns her shadows and seamlessly weaves them into the fabric of her freedom, creativity, imagination and independence.
All of her life, she was given every evidence of human cruelty and the evil people were capable of. She understood early on that the monsters people dreamed of existed in human skin.
She lived all of her nightmares in high definition. She was given every reason to give up, handed every justification to never believe in herself or anyone.
But there is raw magic in the ways in which she cultivates a faith in herself, to manifest the dreams her soul was meant to bring forth.
Despite it all, she still conquers.
She still survives and thrives.
The “damaged” woman is capable of immense manifestation not just in spite of, but because of the traumas she has gone through.
There is no one more motivated than a woman who has constantly been told what she cannot do or who she cannot be throughout her lifetime.
There is no one more determined to succeed than someone who has nothing left to lose.
The “damaged” woman doesn’t sign up for the hardships of her journey – but she plays the hell out of the cards she’s been dealt.
The “damaged” woman is not damaged at all – she is wounded, and in channeling and healing her wounds, she becomes the source of incredible energy, the site of unbelievable potential for abundance and change.
She possesses the power to use her wounds for the greater good and her highest good.
She builds her own success and becomes her own rugged hero; tends to her own scraped knees.
She uses every stone thrown at her to build the foundation for her empire.
Brick by brick she builds – and despite every attempt to tear her walls down, she rescues herself again and again.
Despite it all, this type of survivor may still face hatred, envy, greed from those around her. They try to tell her she is too damaged to soar.
See, when the women society call too “damaged” perform better than those who never were, it tends to upset the status quo.
As a result, she becomes the survivor of countless witch hunts, the target of many persecutors. Yet when they try to burn her at the stake, she does what comes naturally: she resurrects herself.
After all, nobody suspects that it is the wounded woman who has more power inside of her than the bullies who appear to overpower her.
They laugh and ridicule the mute warrior, the one who seems to never fight back.
But here’s the thing about this type of woman: she observes.
She learns how to pick and fight her own battles. Her spirit may be broken, but it is relentless. She perseveres, bit by bit. She takes it all in.
Perhaps she stays voiceless for years. For her soul, it may seem like for centuries. This is an ancient wound, one that seems to follow her from generation to generation.
Yet at some point, it comes time for her soul to fight back in order to survive. It comes time for her to rise.
She stays silent for so long that when she finally speaks, the world erupts and cracks wide open.
Her pent-up magnificent energy, born and bred in the pressure cooker that she calls life – is that of lightning.
Where once hopelessness was her default, now abundance becomes her birthright.
Where once she was timid, she now unleashes thunder in every action and word that she wields like a sword – and with it, she always brings a storm.
Now when she creates, she creates new worlds and transforms and manifests on a level that cannot be recreated by someone who never had to struggle to survive.
When you hear the voice of a powerful survivor and the will of a warrior – there is nothing you can do but to stop and listen.
She is the voice of a million lifetimes lived.
She is the voice of the hopeless and the powerless when the fire is brought back to their eyes. She is the harbinger of the justice that the voiceless have longed to hear and feel and touch.
Regardless of how much you try and how it may seem, you can never truly bring a survivor like this to her knees; she already knows the value her scars bring.
She knows how to fill the cracks between her wounds with gold.
She knows how to transform each bitter word cast upon her into an iron-clad will that will set her and other caged birds free.