Sometimes I have very dark days. The kind of darkness that just swallows you up, leaving nothing but ash in its wake. Where no amount of tears seems to do justice for what I feel. On those days, I forget such an important thing. I am a survivor; of so, so many things. I know that many people have had life much worse than I, but it does not dull the sharp edge of the blade that’s been slicing it’s way through my life since I was born.
I survived a house fire that killed my little brother and sent my mother to prison and house arrest, while I surfed foster homes for a year, not knowing if I would see my mom each visitation day and simultaneously grieving my brother. Let’s not even get into surviving the abuse I endured in one of those homes, at just 4 years old. I survived the years upon years of therapy I went through to try and cope with everything that had happened. And among the therapy, splatters of more trauma in the abuse of a boy who lived on my street and the hammer thrown at my head by another boy in my school. I watched in horror as the mother of my best friend slapped her across her face for no reason at all when she was only 10, learning way too young that sometimes violence happens for no reason as I watched my best friend sob after her mom left the car.
I moved homes and schools more times than I can remember, so much so that when I finally remained in a school for more than a year, I didn’t know how to make friends or keep friendships. I’d never had the chance for long. I waded my way through teenage waters, scarring my arm along the way. I endured the rage of other emotional and furious teenagers also wading through the murky waves. I lost friends, but so did everyone else. I found a few solid lights among the mist. They still shine. They shined one of their brightest moments when a classmate took to sending me death threats daily, spreading vicious rumors, attempting to run my boyfriend off the road, and sparking one hell of a screaming match in the middle of lunch one afternoon.
I was raped, more than once. I told my mother years later, and she said everything finally made sense.
She got sick, and never got better. I watched her memory fade and her world spin, unable to do anything to make it stop.
I crashed, and life was turned upside down. I uprooted my life and ran, straight into the arms of another abuser. Nearly losing everything, he made me push away my family, friends, and even strangers who tried to reach out. I couldn’t even speak to another guy in a class without facing the next 8 hours of fighting. The court system failed me, shown by the rage in those who saw the mistake made.
I lost my grandmother who had raised me for a large part of my life, and shed many tears.
And 2 months later, my mom died as well. I turned my wheel slightly to the left as I briefly considered driving myself into a tree as I rounded the bridge on my way to my parents’ house, overtaken by the deepest pain I’ve ever felt. I survived, with help. A lot of it.
My dreams of finishing college were ripped from underneath me due to my financial aid cap being reached. I did a lot of crying that month. I had to find a way to take a different path, and soon realized there was no set path for me, only the trail I chose to follow.
Since then, I’ve been surviving and will continue to survive through severe anxiety and depression. It took a long time for me to accept that this is what I am dealing with, because I convinced myself that surely I didn’t have either of those things. I thought it was all in my head. Reinforced by years of being told by others that nothing was wrong with me, I was just over dramatic.
So on my dark days, I force myself to remember the things I’ve endured, and I encourage anyone who has their own trauma and pain to remember what they have also endured.