I want to thank a good friend on Twitter (you know who you are) for today’s #MondayBlogs topic. I could easily ramble on about this endlessly, but I swear I’m going to try to keep this within 750 words.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” At some point you may have had someone say it to you and if you’re like my twitter friend, the words probably didn’t do much to help your situation. It wasn’t the light at the end of your long dark tunnel as the speaker intended… no promise of an end to your pain; in fact, it may have made you bitter and angry.
Writers, dare I say creative people in general, often bear the scars of a difficult past. Some of history’s most amazing contributions were born from a place of pain. Stories like the tragic suicide of Robin Williams are all too common among the creative communities and we writers are far from exempt. So – heavy topic for today. Let’s talk about what’s eating you, about power, and hope.
Full disclosure – I’ve got a laundry list of things in my past that have qualified me for someone to have said the “what doesn’t kill you…” line. And, I’m happy to admit that while the scars of my past color my perspectives, I’m finally to a place where I can appreciate all that I’ve been and may yet be, despite the pitfalls along the way. I can see where parts of who I am come from both the good people and events in my life… but also the bad and that, ironically, the bad hasn’t always made me bad in turn.
I’ve talked before about how I use to think of my life as some sort of melodrama which God watched. As a kid, this detachment along with journaling, was my healthy outlet. Knowing, on some amazingly intuitive level, that no good hero ever achieved greatness without adversity made me more capable of dealing with the truth of my world. Delving deeply into my own fantasy shielded me, to some degree, from the parts of my life that I wasn’t able to address or change. While rage and depression were both side effects of my situation… my art granted me an authority to direct the one part of my destiny that I DID have power over: Me.
I think that phrase… “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” is merely guilty of being an over simplification and to a person suffering, that simplification is a slap in the face. A presumption which the speaker has over the victim: “YES… you will survive this and be better for it.” When in truth, the people we most often say that to, are the least capable of seeing any hope of life after their “trauma has passed.”
Life loses definition when you go through something that marks your soul. What you knew and what you hoped could be are thrown into a tailspin and it isn’t just failing to find the path… there isn’t a destination anymore. Normal? People in the grip of depression and suffering from trauma have not only forgotten what ‘normal’ feels like… some have given up hoping for it at all. Getting up and around isn’t a victory… the ability to see and feel victory is gone.
So, how to help? Is the horrible truth this: that while in the bleakness of PTSD or Depression, no one can help you; that parents and spouses are as much victims of the disease and aftermath as their loved one who are living it? I wish I had the answer. All know is my truth. Perhaps that’s all we ever really know in life… our own personal truths. And on the off chance that my truth could be someone else’s truth… here’s what I know.
I had to have something of my own to keep moving forward for, but it didn’t make me better.
I had to want something badly enough to take a step into life again – but it didn’t feel like victory. It was hell. I was scared and angry, and I cried and screamed and I wrote like a fiend pouring my heart across the page in words made of my own tears.
Eventually I got angry enough that I became indignant and I lashed out at my pain and I told anyone who would listen about it. I told about the things that were secret. The things that were shames, I bore them like badges. THIS IS WHO I AM! I yelled. I claimed my pain. Fuck anyone who didn’t understand it. I wasn’t going to be silent anymore. But claiming it didn’t fix me.
Then I realized how many others shared my pain… some better, some worse. We talked. We cried. We screamed… and I wanted that to be what fixed the broken parts inside more than I had wanted anything before. At times I was sure I was fixed. But then there’d be that one thing someone said, or that thing I saw in a movie, or read in a book… or how my fiancee touched me when we were alone and intimate. And shame… and doubt… and hate would all come flooding back. I wanted love and understanding to fix me just like in a fairytale… but it didn’t fix me.
When my daughter came into the world, I knew another truth. A truth I’d been scared to admit, so scared I whispered it late at night into my husband’s ear and I cried. I didn’t want my little girl to fix me. No one should want children to fix the broken they bear. I wanted to be fixed for her. To be her everything, her hero, and then… I remembered the girl I’d been. The girl who believed that God saw her as a hero in a world full of darkness. A hero who day to day kept going forward, no mater what hell came her way.
That girl grew up to be a woman, wounded, and afraid – but strong. The people who wronged her were gone and amazingly I came to realize that no one and nothing was ever going to make the wounds go away. No one could fix me. Scars remain. Deep horrible, thick scars… tougher than our skin was once before. I see things and sometimes, it still hurts – but I know who I am now. I’ve always been me, on this journey and only in the light of the “other side” could I see it. Everytime I felt life was over, that it couldn’t ever be better, I was moving towards a me I did not know and the truth is: none of us can know who we will become after darkness settles on our lives, but I KNOW because I kept moving – the person was I became was me… only better.
I am not a survivor. I am not defined by what was done to me – it is not who or what I am. What I experienced and other accidents of fate do not define the quality of person within. I am (and always have been) who I chose to be, though… back then… I did not know that I had made a choice at all.
To all of you who are suffering, either yourselves or because a loved one endures this hell – I can only say this: keep moving forward. Know that everyday is another chance to decide who you want to be, or for that loved one to realize they too are not defined by what they’ve endured. Be patient with yourself or your loved one because my words… like all words you’ll hear, are just that and they can’t fix you. There is no magic cure. I wish there was. Fiction is far easier that way. And while there won’t necessarily be a Happily Ever After… there can be a future where pain won’t rule you, one where the only thing which has power over your heart and mind… is you. I pray you find that day soon.
Okay, enough rambling. Not sure this was how I meant to say this but I’m going to hit post now. No edits. File this under “random shit Dee says.”