Louise Hay’s passing last week made me reflect on my own healing journey. Like Ms. Hay, I survived my own version of severe trauma as a child, except in my case, it was medical trauma performed to monitor and correct a serious birth defect. Without that horrific intervention, I would have died.

I had no idea how much it affected me until I found myself listening to experts in a New York City courtroom as part of a seven-year legal battle against an abusive husband. It was there that, with jarring clarity, I learned how the early trauma had made me vulnerable to abuse, not only from predators but at my own hand.

I forced myself to be a straight “A” student, and while I’m naturally adventurous, after school I found myself running myself ragged, trying to “be” something, as if I wasn’t enough. While this led me to an exciting life as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and Tokyo, Japan, it also me eventually took me into an abusive marriage and a downward spiral into chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

For the first few years, no one could tell me why I always felt run down, like I had the flu. Some claimed it was “in my head,” and when they figured out what it really was, they said there was no cure. I did not believe that but for years could find no help. It wasn’t until I received a shocking and spontaneous spiritual awakening from a realized master in a sacred park in Tokyo that I was jolted back to life, began to appreciate my value and the power of love, and started the return path “home” to wellbeing and happiness and the realization of my own (in fact, everyone’s) unlimited power.

Despite low self-esteem and fears, this knowledge helped me fight and win that seven-year legal battle against my husband, follow my heart’s desire to write and travel, produce a best-selling book, and fulfill a dream of holding spiritual retreats on the island of Bali.

I will never forget what my spiritual master told me back when I was terrified of going on the witness stand and having to face down my husband and his hot shot New York lawyer. She said I had a tiger inside of me and that I was equal to anything.

I actually took her picture and a small plastic tiger a friend had given me into the court room with me. And guess what? It worked! The first thing the lawyer did was embarrass himself in front of the judge by forgetting his opening statement. Then, when he and my husband went off to lunch, they left their notes, with everything they planned to grill me about, out on the desk — with all the good parts underlined in red.

And when I got up on that witness stand and told my story in all it’s raw and gory detail — and the judge believed me and awarded in my favor — I understood how important it was to have a voice and to be able to communicate a clear, compelling message.

So, my message to you today is that you have a tiger inside you, also, no matter how life feels or what things look like on the outside.

And you are equal to anything, too.

I hope you really feel that and believe it, because it’s true.