I got one of my favorite compliments yesterday. I was told that having met and known me for a while without knowing any of my stories, this person would never have believed the types of stories that make up my life. The way I interact with the world does not indicate that I have survived things that have broken other people.
This is an affirming testament to my belief that my stories do not define me. They are part of me, but they do not define who I am as a person. They do not dictate how I interact with people, how I look at the world, or how I carry myself.
I don’t think our stories should define who we are. The things that should define us are the ways we overcome, our grace in the face of adversity, our strength to persevere, the beliefs we have in ourselves and the world, the creativity we see in and give to the world, and our ability to nurture gratitude. Every single one of us, every single one, we are important to someone. We may not feel it all the time, but it’s still true.
Your religion, or lack of religion, my religion or lack of – also do not define us. Our color, our hairstyle, our sexual preference, our financial circumstances, our family situation, our location; these things do not define us. They are part of us. They play a part, but they are not our defining characteristics.
Our actions: the way we behave when no one is watching, the way we learn from our trials, the way we treat ourselves and others; the way we honor and respect ourselves and others; the time we take to be part of our world, the way we allow others to be themselves, learn their own lessons, those are defining.
I have some really bad days. Days that are painful emotionally, painful physically every second that I’m awake and even a few while I’m asleep. During my most difficult days, I am grateful that somehow I have enough reserve strength to look into the pit of “Give Up” and say “Not today”.
There are days that pit looks like the most comfortable bed in my head where I can curl up and just not be. There are days that pit looks deep and scary, possibly filled with endlessly deep, shark-infested waters. There are days where that pit looks a lot like a bottle of beer or Jack Daniels.
Sometimes have to say, “not right now”, because I can’t plan through the whole day. Even on a minute to minute basis, I say no to giving up. Even when it doesn’t seem to make any sense not to, (truthfully, even the rare occasion when I should), I don’t give up. I can’t. I have things to see, people to meet, places to go. If I gave up, I wouldn’t be able to do them. I don’t really like that idea.
The choice to not BE my story, it’s a deposit in my reserve tank. The choice to push through fear, that’s another deposit. There’s no one magic thing that keeps me moving. It is consistently making choices to be who I want to be; not what others think I should be, not what the choices of others tells me I should be, and not what strays from my belief in myself.
I choose not to be broken. I choose not to be a victim. I choose not to hurt others just because I’ve been hurt. I choose to be trustworthy and trusting, no matter what other people’s choices are. I choose to: love, forgive, believe, be compassionate, learn, and follow my dreams. I choose to behave the way I feel best, no matter who I’m with, where I am, or what anyone else is doing. These things, they are deposits; the things that get me through when things get difficult.
Since November I’ve been presented twice with situations in which women are the abusers. To me this is doubly frustrating. Because they are women they also abusing the role of victim. They play like they are the victim while holding money, circumstance, and perceived power over the other person. They feign being victimized to control how other people see and feel about their situation. Their victim battle cry is, “Look how I helped them with this and that. I paid for this. I gave them that. I tried to help them and now look what happened!” When in actuality each act was a pre-calculated move to control the situation and be able to have that cry in the end. They are setting a situation up to look like a victim while actually being the abuser.
I truly feel like these women are worse than their male counterparts. Women abusers make it that more difficult for actual victims to get the help they need, by preying the system with their cries of suffering. When we, actual victims, try to insist on our needs, our rights, we get stymied by the remnants of these women’s abuses.
It’s on days when I am flatly reminded that abusers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders, that I can feel overwhelmed. These days when I have to remember that my stories do not define me. I am not the victim. I am who I choose to be and I choose to be a Phoenix.
Good night from a little country of the world.