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The difficult but important gut-check time of surviving trauma is realizing that you are the one who changed. The world didn’t. You did.
It isn’t fair. That’s life. It isn’t insensitive to state things the way they are. We all have issues and triggers and must learn to adapt.
Ex: I don’t see fireworks the same way after Iraq, but it would be irrational for me to demand others stop their festivities for my sake.Ex: I don’t see fireworks the same way after Iraq, but it would be irrational for me to demand others stop their festivities for my sake.
At no point does being a survivor of anything bestow special rights to demean and slander others for not sharing my perspective.
There are difficult choices to be made in life. This is certainly true after trauma. Some people want to make the world pay for their pain.
But just because someone uses a word that reminds you of something bad that happened to you doesn’t give you license to demand anything.
There are differences to when someone yells “I am a victim” and “I am a survivor.” One is an accomplishment. The other is not.
That’s the truth. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t excusing anything. It’s just the way it is. We are skeptics. We look the truth in the face.
We don’t flinch from the truth when it becomes painful. We don’t alter reality to suit the way we would prefer it to be. This is who we are.
You can be hurt. You can be angry that you were hurt. You can be right to be angry that you were hurt. But then what? Where do you go now?
The world isn’t stopping to wait for you to catch your breath while you process your pain. It carries on. It isn’t evil. It’s indifferent.
Life is all we have. It’s hard. It’s dirty. It’s painful. It’s unfair. It’s cold.
We provide the heart.
Yes. You’ve been hurt. No one knows how deeply. No one knows how cruelly. It happened. That was real. Now what? Between here and the grave?
You are hurtling through the void on a rock with a few other lucky beings interrupting the lifeless order of existence. What do you carry?
What do you choose to wrap your fingers around until your knuckles are aching and your hands are calloused? What does is give back to you?
We can only hold to so much. Meanwhile other things slip away beyond our grasp forever are we keep hurtling forward.
These things you carry begin to define you. These are the things you have to share with others. These are how they will come to know you.
You are here. You are alive. You are standing as the champion of your life atop the ashes of all the yesterdays which you survived.
You alone have your perspective at this very moment. You alone of all the sentient beings of all time stand to see what you see. You alone.
Is that perspective a tool in your hand? Is it a weapon? Is it an anchor around your heart?
Look into the incalculable improbability of your survival. Own it. It belongs to you and to no other. Breathe in and laugh as only can.
You are a human being.
The root of the second word is a verb.
So do that.
-Joshua, damn it…