Sometimes there are things I want to write that I know no one will understand. I want to convey the horrors that I’ve seen, but I know most people can’t deal with it. But these horrors are a part of my story, just as your happy family memories are a part of yours.
Fortunately, there is a song for everything, and this situation is now no different. Yesterday I heard a new song by Des Rocks and it pretty much nailed it for me, so much so that I’m thinking I might finally get a tattoo…after I donate blood on the 1st, of course. (If you get a tattoo in Cali, you can’t donate for a year.)
I’m going to post the song here because the lyrics say something concisely that I’ve tried to say, but found it too hard to explain. I don’t expect everyone to get it, because most people will walk away with a “positive” message from just a few lines and will miss the most important one:
[I’m] living proof that the strength you will need
Has been in you forever but to get it, you’ll bleed
That is the truth of surviving trauma. You can, but at an even greater cost than the trauma. You have to peel back that skin the trauma wrapped you in to get to the strength you need to survive because that’s what blocks you from it. It’s wrapped inside all you suffered, but you have to cut yourself open to find it. And most trauma victims have to do the cutting themselves, with no one to help them staunch the bleeding.
Healing from trauma is not easy like those outside it tell us, or as easy as we hope. I understand why many of us give it up and end it all. Facing the horrors of what happened to us, especially when most of us have no choice but to face them on our own, is daunting and intimidating. We already feel weak for what happened to us. The way people continue to look down on us doesn’t help.
I personally cycle through this at least once a quarter. And when it hits, that’s when I remember that I am doing this mostly on my own. I have had no luck with therapy, and most trauma victims can’t even afford therapy. I have no real luck with friends. This is, I assume, because for the vast majority of people my problems are more than they want to handle. And, truly, they never end. They seem interested at first, but when they figure out that this is going to be hard and that I’m not going to be healed within whatever their allotted time is, they generally walk away. (And almost everyone walked away when I became an Atheist. I have only two friends from life before that, and they are both in Canada.)
And then there is the reality that people never truly heal from trauma. Oh, we can learn to cope better with the triggers, and we might finally be able to conform to social norms and put a smile on for the people. But the trauma will always be there. We can get past the place where it defines us, but it will always be a part of us. And, of course, most are not comfortable with that fact.
I used to use months like this, those focused on mental health or abuse, to try to get people outside to understand and want to help. I don’t really believe that’s possible anymore.
I also don’t like to use myself as some great example of how you too can fight to go on. I don’t think I’m that person, and every person’s story is different.
But, I think the chorus of this song really says it for me, I am living proof that you can go on. It will not be perfect. I will never promise you that it will be happy. It will be hell and it will be painful and you will suffer. Nobody likes to hear that, but maybe that’s why it takes so much longer to recover. Reality sucks. But denying that fact only makes things worse.
It will be different for you than it is for me. And maybe your giving up will actually be the socially acceptable version: Pretending it never happened. That’s the route most trauma victims are forced to take. I’m too old for that. I may likely struggle with some part of the trauma until I die, but I am just not the kind of person who gives up at all. I stayed in my abusive family for 45 years, I think I deserve to stick with myself for the rest of my natural days.