Someday I believe I will simply live without analyzing. I will experience each emotion and event without looking for ulterior motives or ties to my past. I will understand my behavior and reactions without needing to think, graph, compare...
That day is not today.
I have spent the last few days thinking about my PTSD moments. I've charted what led up to each one and compared stress levels, sleep patterns, and appetite waxing/waning. I've looked at my activity levels in work and in play. I've graphed the ups and downs in relationships I feel are important. And I've come to a rather startling conclusion.
I've been allowing myself to be a victim.
I'm not sure when this all began, exactly, but I suspect it was about a year ago and was in full swing by late September. When I look at my reactions to stress, without exception I find myself feeling pitiful, angry that I was wrongly used, fearful that I might have to endure even one more hurt.
The problem is that victims are helpless. I am not, nor have I ever been helpless. Even when I found myself in a position in which I had no choice but to submit to the things done to me, I did not feel helpless. I felt confused. I felt pain. I felt damaged. But something inside me assured me this was not the end, and I would emerge from my nasty experiences wearing Wonder Woman underoos, and sporting every possible super power.
But for the past few months I have felt powerless. I have felt that the events in my life have left me hurt beyond healing, hopeless and sad. I've been certain that I was stripped of any worth I may have been born with. This has left me feeling confused when people show me love--and even a bit defensive. Love makes people vulnerable.
I couldn't understand why I felt sad most of the time. I realize now that I've been preventing myself from relaxing in any situation, certain that I'm not good enough, or that someone will find out how miserable I feel--and it might be someone I truly love--and they might leave me because I'm too broken to be endured.
But I'm not a victim--not anymore.
I looked the man who raped me in the eye, treated him with kindness, and shared a meal with him. I invited my mother to love me, to accept me as her daughter, and when she allowed me to see that she had nothing left to give me, emotionally, I accepted her as my friend and loved her anyway.
I am not a victim.
I thought I was weak. I am not weak. Sometimes I'm afraid--I think that's understandable. Sometimes I'm insecure--I think everyone else feels that sometimes, too. Sometimes I long for someone to hold me and soothe away the ache that paralyzes me when I remember things I experienced which should not have happened--I think I can be forgiven for wishing to be held and wanting someone to make things better.
Today, however, I shifted my thinking. I believe the time for me to view myself as a victim has finally come to an end. I have always hated the term "survivor" because somehow I can't manage to get past the fact that it reminds anyone who says it or hears it that my life had some really awful parts in it. I think I'd rather have people remember me because I get unreasonably excited about a sunset, or because I love to run even when it snows. I'd like them to associate me with the music I make, or with my really wonderful kids. I want them to believe, somehow, I'm magic--and I want them to think of me and miss me because I make them laugh, or I bring just a bit of joy to their lives. I want them to remember that I would eat cookies and high quality chocolate for every meal, and that I adore cooking with food that looks beautiful. I want them to think of our Scrabble games, long walks, great discussions.
So I think, I am not a victim, nor am I a survivor. Somehow, in the shuffle of time I learned how to live beyond labels. I am me. And tomorrow I will run among my favorite wildflowers, and hug my children, and cook a lovely dinner, and sleep cuddled next to Darrin.
It's time to live again.