This phrase resonates with me more than any other I have come across. There is beauty in the battle. This phrase has helped me understand that no matter what you are going through, you have to find the beauty in your situation and in your story. Here is my story.
I grew up in what I would consider a normal 21st-century family, and some of my hardships in life, such as my parent’s divorce, were considerably simple to get through. That is until a few weeks after my 21st birthday. It was every parent’s worst nightmare and now my life. I traveled down to Las Vegas, Nevada, with tickets to the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival with my mom, her significant other, and two friends. We were celebrating my 21st birthday a few weeks late and ready for an eventful and fun weekend. Which it was, until October 1st, 2017, at 10:05 pm, when we became survivors of the deadliest mass shooting in American history. To this day, I am still so thankful that the five of us made it home safe, as this was not the case for most.
This may seem like a personal story and you may be wondering, “Why is she sharing this to a bunch of strangers on the internet?” I am sharing this because I believe that the more I share my story and what came out of this event, I could help or inspire someone to find their path as well. I came home from Vegas mentally and emotionally broken. I had so many questions that would never be answered and so many emotions that I still feel every day. I truly believe an event such as this one can stay with you for the rest of your life.
I had extreme survivor’s guilt. I would go online daily and read about every single one of the 58 people who lost their lives that day – what they did for a living, who they were as a person, if they had children, their family they left behind – all of it. I would sit there and wonder why the teacher who dedicated her life to educating children lost her life. I wondered why a college student was alive over a firefighter, EMT, police office, and veteran who all ran to save lives that day. These may seem like crazy emotions, but anyone who has experienced survivor’s guilt would know exactly how this feels. I knew I was strong, I knew I would get through this, but I still couldn’t help but feel guilty for being alive.
This is how I got started volunteering at my local shelter, the Nevada Humane Society. I decided that I needed to become a person that I was proud of, one that did not feel guilty for being alive. This also came with a lot of therapy, but I don’t think people realize the amount of serotonin and dopamine that an animal releases when you pet them! Being an avid animal lover, I decided this was where I would start. I started doing smaller tasks such as taking dogs for walks, playing with cats, and laundry work. I quickly realized how much I enjoyed helping these animals and how much they were helping me. I moved into different leadership roles within the volunteer work and was able to lead off-site events and conduct adoption counseling and applications. I started feely worthy of the life I was living.
Knowing that this was something I was passionate about, I set out to foster 58 animals in memory of those that lost their lives on that awful day. And three days before my college graduation in May of 2019, I took in my very first foster – a pregnant cat who was due with five kittens! Since that day, I have fostered 23 animals and continue feeling fulfilled with each and every one. I knew I was making a difference that I always felt the need to make.
I hope that you will follow along in my journey from living through trauma, finding my way, and discovering my true passion. I will guide you all through the steps I took to be an animal foster parent, the supplies you will need, the different types of fosters you can care for, and everything in between. I hope to shed light on trauma and that it does not have to be stigmatized as something that cannot be talked about and something that can have good come out of it. Follow along with how I found the beauty in my battle.