To Call Myself “Survivor”
“I’m not a survivor. I’m not strong - I’m the weakest person I know.”
It’s easy to think that way, no matter how much you have been through. I do it all the time, and I’m not the only one who does.
The word “survivor” conjures up an image of someone who is thriving. You think of someone who has taken their crisis and conquered it, beat it, kicked its ass, made it their bitch, or whatever (all with an unfailingly optimistic attitude and minimal if any psychological problems, mind you) - and then told their story to the world, crusaded for their cause, became a public figure and founded some kind of organization in their name.
I am not that person. I didn’t get killed, but I am a dysfunctional mess at best. And sometimes I wonder if I have even been through that much. I sometimes find myself thinking, “I’m not a starving child in Africa. I have food, a place to live, an education, and a lot more. Other people much worse off have kicked some ass and founded charities, and I can’t even deal with my comparably minuscule problems?” I am no inspiration. My battles have left me weak and pathetic. So how could I possibly deserve to claim the title of “survivor?”
But I have news for you, and for me, and it comes courtesy of the dictionary:
- Continue to live or exist, esp. in spite of danger or hardship.
- Continue to live or exist in spite of (an accident or ordeal).
The only qualification for survivorship is continuing to exist after your life has turned to manure. There is no mention of strength whatsoever!
And another thing: Strength does not always come from within. It is impossible for a person to survive completely by themselves. That is why, in a moment of need, people lend you their strength. You don’t have to be strong yourself to survive.
In any case, you ARE strong to have lived through it, and you are definitely strong if you have the courage to admit that you feel weak. You are NOT a victim. NOT a statistic. NOT a failure. NOT pathetic. NOT ANY OF THAT.
YOU are a SURVIVOR.