It can be hard--much more than hard. Hard is just a word. It doesn't describe the pain, the scars, the things that are left behind, or the way that we can't change what happened to us. Sometimes it's hard to just get through life, but other times it's hard to not make comparisons. It can be hard to not be bitter. Sometimes that feeling of loss does not start until later, when you have had enough experience of something else to realize just how different you are from those around you. There is a moment when you realize that your experiences are affecting how you approach the world. Sometimes there are many of those moments, and they can be overwhelming.
We may not get to choose what happens to us. Some of the effects of our experiences may be permanent. But we do get to choose whether to live in bitterness and anger, or whether to look forward with hope. We choose whether to allow joy into our lives. That is what we get. That is our strength: The power to choose.
You can choose to be strong. Though you are broken, hurt or damaged, you can choose to look forward. Your choice to choose hope in spite of your suffering can lift you and change you. That choice can wash away the bitterness and the sense of loss. That choice can make you strong. We may not get the chance at innocence, but we do get the chance at strength.
Sometimes we don't get to just make that choice once and move on. We have to choose it over and over again. We will have to remember to choose to hope. We will have to remember to choose to trust. We will have to remember to choose to have happiness. Our demons may return to haunt us; we may be again thrown into a situation that breaks us down and makes us feel as if we've never moved from where we started. The bitter fingers of pain and despair may return to clutch at our souls. But we don't have to remain that way. We can choose again.
Every moment that we choose happiness and hope is our victory--every single one. Every time that you make that choice to hope and look forward you are growing and you are becoming stronger. Setbacks do not have to be failures. Sometimes they are heartrendingly unavoidable. Things hurt us and change us, and we are made in such a way that we have to experience it and react to it. But we can experience joy, too. We can choose it.
You can choose it. And maybe one day you won't have to remember to choose.