How Do You Fight a Faceless Enemy? What Do You Do When the Enemy is Yourself?
I’ve always been a fan of rewriting the narrative after trauma. I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor. I’m not ill, I’m a warrior. I’m not down, I’m rising again like the Phoenix.
But the whole story shifts on its head when the trauma is ongoing. How can you be an overcomer when the waves of trouble never cease? How can you be considered a fighter when you don’t have the energy to roll out of bed? Why would you keep trying when all you get in return is anguish?
How do you defeat an enemy that you can’t see or touch, that can’t be measured, can’t be silenced, and won’t leave you a moment's peace? How can you prevail when your own body, your own mind, your own thoughts are the enemy?
I wish I had a clear answer. It would make all of our lives easier. But sometimes, (okay, usually) life doesn’t give us the easy road. If it did, we would all be soft, selfish, weak, and incompetent. Life’s challenges strengthen us and build character.
But they still hurt like hell.
And some people seem to get hurt a lot worse, hit a lot harder, bowled over in ways that other people never have to think about.
It’s not fair.
And it doesn’t help when people say “It will all work out for good.” Or “You’re so strong, I don’t know how you do it.” (Like we’re offered a choice when life sucker punches us.) Even worse, when someone decides to share their story of suffering, as if they could somehow understand just how crappy things are for you.
No, what you need in these times is to be heard. To be allowed to say that things suck. That you hate the situation you are in. That it isn’t fair. That you are angry. That you are hurt. That you are sad. That you are scared. To be heard, and not be judged. To be afforded the space to ramble and process and sound like a lunatic, because it feels like your brain is going to explode from the pain.
You don’t need people telling you to not be scared, to not be angry, to not be sad. It’s invalidating. It makes the pain worse. And it’s not true. You should feel angry. It isn’t fair. You should feel sad. You’re missing out on things. You should feel scared. You don’t know what the future holds, and it could be bad.
It isn’t about denying the feelings. It’s about facing them. And facing them is HARD.
It’s easier to hide under a rock. To pull the covers over our heads and hope to sleep until the world is rebuilt in a better light.
We look for easy fixes, ways to escape or distract ourselves from the pain. Food. Shopping. Drinking. Online games. Or worse.
But it never works. Because the only way out is through. And it’s hard.
A warrior isn’t formed by title and rank, but by battle’s fought. By wounds survived. By friends found and lost.
A warrior’s strength is forged in fire.
When faced with pain that seems unbearable, we have a choice. Hide and cry and withdraw from life. Or fight like hell to make it through.
True warriors fall. Warriors make mistakes. They get wounded. They suffer loss.
But they keep fighting.
And sometimes the victories don’t look like they should. Sometimes the only victory is surviving.
So that’s what we are doing, my daughter and I. We are fighting. We are surviving.