Friday, December 13, 2013

RANT: Survivor vs "Victim"

I've survived a great many horrendous things in my 32 years, and considering how things often pan out for women in my position I actually consider myself pretty damn lucky just to still be alive. I've done my share of very bad things (fortunately none of them got anyone killed) and what good I HAVE DONE with my life isn't much comfort in retrospect. At no point in my life have I professed to be a good or moral human being, I've also made no claim whatsoever to sanity (as any of my former squad-mates will probably tell you) but I do the best I can and try to enjoy my own life without imposing directly onto those of others. Even as an atheist, as much of an asshole as I can often be to theists and their tired-ass catch-phrases their priests & pastors taught them, I genuinely get no joy or jollies in arguing with them. In fact, I'm downright dreadful at debating for that very reason.

Maybe my bad experiences in life are a big part of what has shaped me as a person, but I still can't honestly say that they've really made me a "better person," just sharpened my awareness for suffering, at best. I'm a domestic violence refugee, I barely escaped a cult as it was solidifying it's purpose, I served in a war that I never agreed with started by a spoiled old cunt that I didn't vote for and I almost died on numerous occasions while deployed. Also, at the hands of at least one person and almost by two, a multiple rape survivor.

What a funny word, it is: "Survivor." To the uninitiated it does sound a bit heavy, and it's not something I talk about very often in public if only BECAUSE people's reactions to the term are often unpleasant. 

And quite frankly, unless I actually WANT TO open up and discuss my thoughts ON MY TERMS, it's no one's business but mine, maybe my lawyer as well but that's it, really. People have often tried to persuade and coerce me into spilling my secrets to them, even family members, but No Dice: Trying to force someone's memory of a painful incident is, in my experience, as selfish and cruel of them to do as inflicting the actual incident itself. If someone WANTS TO talk about the things that hurt them, they will, but that doesn't de-facto mean that THEY HAVE TO talk about anything WITH YOU just because you ask. If they don't want to talk about it, fine. It's not your job to try to convince them to, asking respectfully out of concern is fine but remember that NO MEANS NO and once that magic word is dropped, YOU WILL kindly STFU and drop it. 

I do my best not to let the things that hurt me haunt me so, but I see so many who let their pain literally become their lives that instead of wanting to be a helpful friend I feel like shying away. It's also hard for ME to remember my own advice at times, to stand aside and let that person process their pain on their own terms without intruding. I can offer a hand, a shoulder, but reasonably that's about it: I can't cry or scream someone else's issues FOR THEM, and I sure as shit have no right to try to MAKE THEM vomit out their story for my benefit, absolute worst case scenario I call the cops if things get violent. I try to do what I can when I can, but it's a tough balance to keep between being a friend and being a nosy jerk.

I have no right to expect others to tiptoe around me, if something irks me SO STRONGLY I'll either say something or walk away. That's just how I am.

I never wanted to be "that one" who lives their life through the lenses of PTSD Glasses, though I have an official diagnosis (finally) my issues are a part of me but they are not who I am as a person. I've known lots of people, mostly via the Army, who can barely function: Usually for one of two reasons, either their issues are more serious than they are actively willing to admit or take proper care of OR they seem to over-analyze every goddamn thing around them and quite vibrantly project their internalizations like a constant blood-spatter-pattern. On rare occasion, some of them find a wandering soul to cling to expecting that person to "save them."

If it sounds like I'm being insensitive or judgmental I do hope you can forgive me, but I'm not going to censor myself for any one else's benefit, especially on MY OWN SITE. I have been that damsel in distress, I used to find the casual ignorance and unknowing of others absolutely crippling, to the point of tears and great malaise. Until one hot day in Iraq, while conversing with yet another "saviour" I'd found, he offered me a tidbit of his insights on human beings in general: No one is ultimately responsible for your feelings, or how you express them, but you. Suffering is, to a point, an unfortunate fact of humanity and no one can reasonably expect nor demand that another person feel something that they simply don't. I found this puzzling at first, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't having some doubts about this person's sincerity but after having a good hard think about this for a few days, I found it hard to disagree with him on it.

No one HAS TO appeal to your emotions, however strong. Share your thoughts, express your feelings, bearing in mind you will have ZERO CONTROL over their reactions however poor or favorable to you.

In a way, I try to find a fucked up sort of peace in bad dreams and ill memories. I can't put my whole life on pause to go sob in a corner under a blanket anymore, I can only remind myself that I have no control over the images my brain shows me. I'm not in Iraq anymore, I'm home. I'm no longer in harm's way, it's been years since anyone from ANY ASPECT of my past has shown up on my doorstep demanding information, apologies or payment. I am in a pretty good place RIGHT NOW, this is no longer BACK IN THE DAY. If someone I don't want to talk to DOES show up at my doorstep, I have options (within the realm of the law) at my disposal.

I want my life to be my own, it's the only one I'm ever going to have. I've never been completely comfortable with the idea of relying on others for my own happiness or stability anyway, I rather like being the kind of person that can take care of themselves. Granted, I do have my bad days, and some days that are downright shitty. Some days I still go home in tears, but I do eventually get back up on my feet. I acknowledge that this isn't easy for everyone who has been in my boots, for many it may seem impossible. I get it, I've been there, what seemed to get ME out of that slump was coming face to face with my own mortality (NOT something I would recommend that anyone actively seek out for themselves, this is just MY side of things) and relinquishing all illusions of fate, destiny and control. Instead I embraced responsibility for my own life and well-being, even if at times it just boiled down to getting out alive.

I have severe PTSD, but I am not my disorder. 

No one is responsible for my feelings, for good or ill, but me.

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