In the last years I have learned more about survival than I ever wanted to know. Things I never thought could be lost have been lost. Losses I never thought I could survive I have. More days than I care to admit have basically been about making it from the beginning of the day to the end and little else. I have gotten a lot of practice in giving up. Many times I have felt so bad I just didn’t want to feel anything anymore.
I suppose psychiatric folks could find half a dozen different labels to pin on me but to me it has been really simple. Life in so many ways has sucked. I have been unhappy about so many things and so many of the things I have been unhappy about just seemed to be built into circumstances I had little or no control over. Pain was not about not trying hard enough. It was about living. Someone once asked me during one of the roughest times of maybe I saw things in too distorted of a manner. I told him I thought my problem was that sometimes I couldn’t distort enough.
I have thrown myself into making things better with a passion. I have never thought I was a special case or that my struggles are harder or more important than others. I found more and more that many people lived from the beginning of the day to the end. It was part of what it meant to be poor. Life was not for them about victory. It was about avoiding catastrophes and surviving those you couldn’t avoid.
Many things for me started directly or indirectly from lack of insurance. That story has been told many times on this blog. And I tried with all the voice I could muster to say justice was possible, it was important and that ordinary people could matter and that we didn’t have to settle. Giving up was not something we had to do. It was a choice we made and as loudly as possible I have tried to say I refuse to give up and to tell others they don’t have to either.
I have known rage and I hate that. I am not by nature comfortable with fury. But I have survived it. Everytime I get so angry I think I will always be angry it turns out that always is always way too long..
I have given up sometimes and then remember giving up is not about the situation but about who I want to be in the situation and resolve to try again. Sometimes my try again is not very fancy or not especially pretty but I tell myself small steps are still steps. One day I may give up for good. I don’t know. At its worst I have struggled more than once with it. I understand how somebody can.
Life is always teaching and I think I have learned some things :
Survive hurt. Above all else no matter how poorly, no matter how ugly survive hurt. Surviving may not mean it stops hurting. It means that it doesnt control. And maybe it is time by time but this time it doesnt control.
What can you do?? How do you survive?? Here is what I am learning:
1. Acknowledge it. Dont try to solve it with outrage. Blame doesnt make it better. It is a bandaid at best and not a good one. Change it from a but to an and. Instead of “things were okay but then this happened” make it “things were okay and then this happened.” Focus on “what next” and not “why me.”
2. Sometimes things remind you of the injury. It can be people, places, situations. Know your triggers. Avoid what you can avoid. Cope with what you cant avoid. Recover from what you cant cope with.
3. Know somebody it is okay to feel bad around. Somebody you dont have to explain to or justify. Someone who likes you when you think you are not very likeable.
4. Know it ends. It is not everywhere and all times. Dont forget you have other feelings. It is real easy to do that.
5. Make positive events a given in your day. Define your day by what you look forward to and not what you dread. Dont hope to do it. Do it on purpose. Schedule smiles.
6. Know that battles are not wars. Sometimes nothing helps. Try again tomorrow. It is not about winning and losing. It is about surviving today and taking what I have learned today and making it easier tomorrow.
7. Small steps are steps. Dont forget. If something is not quite what you hope treasure what it is. Dont tear yourself up.
8. The best revenge on someone who injured you or a situation that victimized you is to live well. Something to remember. Sometimes it might help.
9. The world is full of people who have survived the worst, most painful, most unjust injuries. You have already survived injury. You can survive. You can move past. You will.
Surviving life is the first step towards better life. Someone once told me something I really liked….
“Life each day is a miracle but it is a miracle that must be redone each day. “
May this day and those that follow be miracle days for you.