The Survivor

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Faith Beauchemin’s blog Roses and Revolutionaries. It was originally published on September 21, 2013.

It’s no secret that my life has been a little weird.

I’ve been trying to deal with my bizarre past in the last few months.  The process still feels like probing a wound, and I’m trying to figure out right now if I can afford the therapy I know I need.

Some weeks are fine.  This past week was most definitely not.  Homeschoolers Anonymous was running a series on child discipline, which was good and necessary and appropriately headed by trigger warnings.  I read the stories, I couldn’t stop reading them, and they brought back some of the most traumatic memories of my childhood.  Memories I had repressed.  An onslaught of things I hadn’t really thought about in years.

I would be physically shaking by the end of each story, and yet I had to read more, to try and process the fact that yes, I had been abused as a child.

Just when you think you have a handle on your life, and then it spins completely out of control and you’re dumped into a jungle of memories and problems without a clue where to begin looking for a way out.  That’s one of the reasons I’m looking for a therapist, because hopefully she’ll at least have a compass.

I tried to go out last night with my friends.  I said I was out of money so I couldn’t drink at the bars, which was true, but I turned down a free shot too, because the truth is, as badly as I wanted to block out this past week, I didn’t trust myself to.  I was already being super weird and swinging like a pendulum between talking about myself too much and being weirdly quiet.

If I got drunk, I’m pretty sure I would have started babbling about what was actually bothering me, and “Hey guess what I just realized I was physically, emotionally, and psychologically abused as a child by loving, well-meaning parents” isn’t exactly acceptable party talk.

So I went home early, leaving without saying good-bye, walking alone several blocks to my truck and driving home stone-cold sober.  I got home, tried to start writing about the memories I’d been rehashing this week, and was so upset I just curled up in a blanket and stared at the wall until I fell asleep.

That scared me, when I woke up this morning.  Is my grip on a normal life really that fragile?  I got up and started my day, but when I was flat on my back during my yoga routine, I remembered the thought that has gotten me through other difficult situations:

You are you.

I’m still me.  I am the same person I have always been.  Yes I’ve grown and learned and developed as a person through things I’ve done and things I’ve experienced and things that have been done to me.  But I’m still me.  That used to be a horrifying thought, back when I hated myself and believed that my natural self uninfluenced by God was purely evil.  But I’ve learned to love myself and so now that thought’s a comfort.

I am strong and I am a survivor.

If I could handle everything that has happened to me, I sure as hell can handle dealing with what those memories mean to me now. 

My will, my personality, my spirit was never fully broken.  I’m the same person who faced down near-daily spankings and dealt with it partly by creating imaginary adventures about escaping dungeons and forced servitude and unreasonable authority figures.  I’m the same person who was unbearably weird and unbelievably unsocialized and managed to purposefully, intentionally, painfully catch up on most of that missed socialization (though I’ll be the first to admit I’m still pretty weird).  By now I have done and lived through enough that I look back at points in my life and can say, “Yeah, I did that.  Yeah, I survived that.”

Whatever happens, I will always be me.

Hopefully I’ll continue to strive upward and continue to turn into improved versions of me.  One of the ways I can do that is by dealing with shit from the past, with help of course.  But there’s that core, that consciousness, that continuous self, and somehow that knowledge gives me the courage to move forward.

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