I’ve never liked the term “victim” and I like the term “survivor” little better. Calling oneself a survivor conjures visions of clinging to a raft, punctured volleyball clutched to the side. While the metaphor holds, I’ve, personally, never felt like it fit for me as someone who experienced a lot of trauma early on in life.
Because I’ve never let my trauma strand me. Not really. I’ve never seen myself as being at the mercy of the people who failed me, or beholden to their pain and the things they got wrong.
For me, I’ve always seen it as a challenge. A choice.
Growing up painfully uncomfortable in the environment I was in, I instinctually knew it had to be different. There was no choice. If I stayed their course, I would die, at my hand most probably, drowned in the wave of misery that had swallowed up most of the rest. If I took a step off the cliff…who knows? Maybe survival, or at least a death with the perception of freedom.
I chose the latter.
Thrust into the wilds of life, I was forced to survive, in a way, but not in weakness. In strength. Instead of letting things like my childhood trauma, the years I spent getting things wrong in the wake of that trauma, become the things that defined me, I chose a different course. I chose to transmute all that pain and turn it into power.
So, really, I see myself as more of an alchemist than anything else. Perhaps the road to freedom lies on this path for you too.
If you’re going to be handed a mess, you might as well benefit from the cleanup.
It’s no surprise that I grew up angry and full of spit and spite. My mother ran my father off (in her way) and then spent the next 7 or 8 years raising me in a hoarding hellhole. The carpets were soaked in cat and dog piss. The walls crawled with black mold, and every time you took a shower or flushed the toilet, the (carpeted) hallway fled with raw sewage.
Instead of cleaning it up, she taped black trash bags over the windows and swore me to secrecy. It was a secret I didn’t keep and thankfully one I got to escape…