It’s just a few hours before sundown, when my Jewish birthday will begin. My children are finishing up their posters and I can see the excitement on their pure faces. It’s Daddy’s birthday! Watching them smile with glee breaks my heart. They are so full of happiness, yet I feel a deep sense of gloom and dread which I’m desperately trying to hide.

My brain races a million miles an hour with so many opposing thoughts and feelings, each trying to outdo the next, to scream louder and stronger, to win this battle. A battle that is just another battle in my life, laden with so many internal battles, all invisible to the public eye.

Part of me is angry and bitter. Why a birthday party? What am I celebrating? Another year of inner chaos? Another year of triggers and flashbacks? Another year of pain so deep and heavy? Another year of non-stop nightmares causing me to wake with yet another migraine? If I shed countless buckets of tears throughout the year, why the celebration? Why the happiness? And to be really honest, I can’t help but wonder, am I even excited that I lived another year? Did I even want this? What is life worth with so much pain?

From the other side of my brain, comes a thought. A vicious and abusive voice. A voice implanted by my abusers. A voice that has no feeling or sensitivity. It’s screaming and yelling that I don’t deserve a party or a gift. Who am I to deserve anything?! I’m too defiled and dirty to deserve all this. I’m not worthy of being celebrated. I didn’t even deserve to live this year; how can I get gifts for living a year that I didn’t deserve?

Hence, my dread. My deep inner pain. My feelings of gloom and doom.

But, in yet a third corner of the battlefield, a healthy and confident voice fights desperately to be heard. His voice is actually getting louder and stronger. Walking through the battlefield, right up to the front lines. It’s walking with pride and confidence. A sense of safety, despite being the possible target of enemy fire. It knows it can do this and that keeps the fear at bay.

It’s calling out in the most caring and kind voice. It’s talking to the other angry and bitter parts of me with a tone so peaceful and charming. Yes, I’ve been through many challenges this year, and yes, I’ve shed a tremendous amount of tears. At the same time, this birthday marks a year of triumphs. Countless battles that I’ve won. It contains the many bad days that I’ve pushed through; the triggers I breathed through.

It reminds me that my soul is literally a part of G‑d Himself. Like Him, it is pristine, pure, and perfect. My body, and even my mind, may be battered and scarred, but my soul remains unbroken and untainted.

With the help of G‑d, I’ve beaten so many urges to self harm. I’ve triumphed over the many urges to give up and surrender to my life. I’ve risen above the desire to declare myself a victim who can’t and won’t change. I had the right to call it quits, yet I didn’t.

Yes, I’ve shed tears of pain, but I’ve also shed tears of happiness. I’ve had flashbacks, but I’ve been able to turn many of them around. I’ve gone to work even though I had every reason to stay in bed. I’ve done things that were hard, almost impossible, but I’ve done them anyway.

I’ve worked. I’ve tried. I’ve cried. I’ve sweated through heavy sessions of EMDR, psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the emotional distress generated by traumatic life experiences. I’ve cried through unbearable sessions of PE therapy, in which I’ve endured prolonged mental exposure to my traumas. I’ve invested so many hours into my healing, and although I still have so much pain, I see an undeniable sense of healing. There’s not a day in my life, over the last six months, that I have not witnessed some sense of healing.

As tears pour down my face, this pure part of me calls out to the rest of me, pleading with the other parts of my psyche to please see the full me. Yes there have been non-stop battles, battles comparable to a nuclear war. At the same time, I’ve emerged victorious from so many of them. This is true celebration. As the year closes, I do deserve to celebrate these victories. I deserve to have people happy for me.

So as my pure and angelic children hustle about, hanging up posters and decorating the room, I’m feeling stronger. Ready to celebrate along with them. I feel a strong reason to celebrate; a feeling bursting with emotion. This feeling didn’t come easy as I had to work through the many opposing thoughts and parts in me. Yet I was able to do this. And for this and the many other victories, I’m celebrating.