Motivating Stories from Local Women
Every woman has a story to tell, and no two stories are alike. Meet the women who have persevered through challenges and tribulations and come out the other side stronger than ever. These unique individuals have seen their fair share of adversity but continue to inspire those around them with the lessons they have learned and their love of life. Read on for a truly motivating story by a woman who experienced them firsthand.
Photography by Emily Pérez Long / Photos taken on location at the Chattanooga Choo Choo
Brandi Murray, East Brainerd
From the age of six, I knew I wanted to work in emergency medical services. I knew that I wanted to help people. I wanted to save the world.
My mom left my younger brothers and me when I was 9 years old. To say that life was hard is an understatement, parts of which nearly claimed my life on more than one occasion, but this is also what fostered my survival skills. When I left home at 18, life didn’t get easier. I suffered a lot in my early adulthood, enduring both domestic violence and rape.
For the past 16 years, I’ve spent my life doing what I always said I would do in one capacity or another, whether that be working on an ambulance as an EMT or traveling the country during the pandemic and working in ICUs. I won’t say I’ve seen it all, but I’ve seen more than anyone ever should.
I have a lifetime of nightmares that live in my head. It’s called PTSD, and I also fight a daily battle of living with multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease. I can’t give up, though. I’m a wife to an amazing husband, and I’m a mom to two children who are each a warrior in their own right. Both have special needs, but we don’t let our children use their difficulties as excuses, so I can’t either.
My PTSD was debilitating. It took a toll on my marriage, my family, and, quite frankly, it threatened my life. In 2020, I went to what I will forever know as the place of my rebirth: Boulder Crest Foundation in Sonoita, Arizona. It is the leader in the field of post-traumatic growth for combat veterans and first responders, and because of that experience, I no longer live in shame and silence. I’ve learned to turn my darkness into light. I use that now to light the way for others.
“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” – Brene Brown