Content warning – Mature adult themes of an uncomfortable nature.
So here, we have a guest post from a friend. A blog which I felt, rather than read. Something which contains harrowing mental images which have been written about, for want of a better word, beautifully. This persons writing style is off the charts and I’m privileged to be able to host it for you. Enjoy would be the wrong phrase, so I shall just say, read, feel, and understand…
So, yet another person has now offhandedly referred to me as a Phoenix…this week. I always just assumed it was the hair. Perhaps even a comment on my hurricane-like personality, a pun on the raku, anything. I never really know. That’s pretty much a theme now, the not knowing. I’m trying to learn how to just accept it – you will too. I promise.
Other people make sense. Get used to it.
And, before we get down to brass tacks – there’s a story here – there’s always a story, that’s all we are. If you aren’t ready to read it you may want to give this a pass, it’s a little intense.
First, generally I’ve focused on people “on the outside” – tried to reach the people who didn’t understand because they simply had different lives. It would break my heart to see their eyes, to recognize the looks of horror and helplessness. That was after I learned what to keep quiet though. Quite honestly, I was that odd writer chick who wrote about nightmares, and everyone acted like it was so kind I’d taken an interest in the plight of those ‘poor lost souls’ – it never occurred I was a ‘them’ – still doesn’t. I honestly, arrogantly, thought if I could help bring light to the subject it would help people. Evil feeds on the dark.
All the stories became ‘just another sad story’, someone else’s sad story, some type of grotesque carnival act as people salivated for details. Things that only happen in far away places or other cultures or different socioeconomic groups, or just anyone else. Pick a label. There’s always a label.
So, in the very heart of the “Change It or Adapt” mindset we develop, I’m adapting. I’m switching audience. I’m speaking to survivors.
Hello, dear. I’m proud of you. You’re alive.
Don’t scoff. I don’t buy it. I know you’re embarrassed. So, I’ll say it – maybe a little louder for the people in the back. There’s nothing wrong with having survived what tried to kill you. Yes, I know the normal people read that too, it’ll be ok. They’ll adapt. We aren’t the only ones that can do that you know. Feels like a lie saying survivor, doesn’t it? There’s always someone who has it worse after all. For what it’s worth – I agree with you.
I’ve read the inspirational success stories, and the powerful blog posts about overcoming just like you have. I’m happy for them just like you are. They amaze me, and are goals, and genuinely fill me with hope. And when I wake up in a cold sweat alone in the middle of the night I think of them and I feel like I’m just as much of a failure as you do. Ooop, oh boo – you think it was only you? Survivors guilt is insidious.
I hate signifying. It makes my skin crawl too. You know, when you’re sitting with your friends and hear stories…and suddenly realize you’re so very ‘other’ – Which were you? The hang a lantern on it kid, or the hide it under perfection kid? Doesn’t matter, variations on a theme.
So, that’s what this post is. It’s the “Don’t do this” of survivor stories. You can get inspiration anywhere. But, sometimes it isn’t inspiration that people need, is it? It’s the scrapes and bruises we learn from. Your friends are your friends – not your therapists. You have to save yourself, good thing you have experience in that. And, if you’re very very lucky – you may have some that will stand beside you while you do. Hope springs eternal.
I’ve struggled with which story. Anything too young and there’s no sense of responsibility, anything too old and it’s just repeating a pattern. I’ve deleted and hem-hawed and stalled in some of the most creative ways. Finally it hit me, that one pivotal moment. That one weekend that honestly wasn’t that bad, but, it changed how the world looked.
Friday was like any Friday, I stayed out as late as I could so I could get into our apartment at a time I wouldn’t be seen. I knew I’d be alone, I usually was, with work and school schedules sometimes it was days between when I’d see my mom. But, I was an incredibly mature kid, I knew how to take care of myself, it was fine. I also new how to pick locks, so we didn’t have to worry about me having a key that could get lost, it was much more efficient for me to just let myself in. Our downstairs neighbor had a key, incase there was any emergencies.
I got home, slipped off my shoes, and went up the stairs silent as death to jimmy the lock and get in. One jiggle on the handle and I heard the rustling inside. He was in a mood and easily twice my size and I hid. I actually hid. I was thin enough to slip behind the dryer and the wall of the shared laundry room before the door opened. After a good half hour of raging around looking for me it got quiet, I hate quiet. Apparently I’d gone to my friends for a sleep over or something. When I slipped out and got into our apartment and into my room I vividly remember swearing I’d never hide from anything ever again. Ever.
Saturday I woke up, alone, early, and slipped out to spend the day with my friend. There wouldn’t be anyone to notice me gone, people rarely knew where I was, or so I thought. But, when I got back the door was ajar, and my room was occupied, and I refused to hide. He sat there on my bed twice my mass and nearly three times my age like he owned the damn place and I pitched an absolute seething fit, which was probably ridiculous because how scary can a twelve year old actually be? But it worked. It finally worked. I didn’t even blink. The early evening was absolutely glorious. I drank tea and watched tv in the living room like a proper person. I told myself with enough determination you can do anything. For a couple of hours it was like my life had absolutely turned around. I’d learned only kids hide.
Evening turned to night and his girlfriend showed up and I learned about cause and effect and consequences.
The building was old and the walls and floors were thin and his room was right under mine. This time there was no hiding. All the while he was assaulting her and then beating the living tar out of her I could hear him yelling it was my fault, and I was next. Simple solution, right? I called the police and managed to drag the dresser in front of my door. She wouldn’t go with them. She didn’t want to get him in trouble. They left. I finally managed to fall asleep despite the noise and yelled promises. I knew I was next, I always was.
Sunday I got ratted out and learned it’s not nice to call the authorities on people.
Familiar, isn’t it? Variations on a theme. We all have that one moment, that instant that sparks the guilt. It always looks different, but we all have it. And, we all look back on it with adult eyes. It’s easier to be angry at yourself that way isn’t it? That’s what starts the pattern, and there’s only one way to stop it. When they get to you physically it just hurts, and it just passes. Mentally, it’s like a worm that just burrows in, but with patience you can get it out. But when they find your heart…
You’re not a kid, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because you can’t hide.
So, here’s your stare it in the eye moment. That moment that sparked yours – actually look at it. Quit digging yourself in deeper and just shut up and see it. Quit falling for the noise. Your perspective will shift – rather drastically. All the normal people have no idea why you’re apologizing for being alive. Look at the kid and see if you can figure out one good reason to keep doing so. Ten minutes ago I could have given you fifty without batting an eye. But, then I quit panicking and just wrote the story, and now I can’t think of a single one.