The label of survivor applies to many of us. We have survived divorces, eating disorders, self-loathing, rape, abuse and suicide. But while we continue to identify with this label we do ourselves a disservice.
There is a time for survival, when we acknowledge the pain and trauma of our lives and search for others in the same situation to give us comfort and support. We share our grief and it loses its sting. We speak the unspeakable and its power diminishes.
But labelling ourselves as survivors is like picking at an open wound. We prod and pry inside for the reasons while reliving the details of our story over and over again. Focussing on the pain, wearing it as name tag keeps us in the same place.
There comes a time when it is time to move on. To say “That was then but this is now.” Our wounds need to scab over, heal and then fade into faint scars. Healing will never come while we still identify ourselves as survivors and see ourselves merely as ones who have overcome trauma.
It is time to start thriving, to start focusing on something else in our lives. We are more than what happened to us and the things we did to get through it.
Sometimes I worry for those who have survived a great tragedy and make helping others in the same situation their life’s work. Surely their own demons are kept just behind the door waiting the emerge when things get tough?
I am reminded of the story of the Ugly Duckling. Once he discovered who he was he didn’t set up a support group for other swans who found themselves in the same situation. He didn’t call himself a Duckling Survivor, he just got on with his life as a swan.
To be born in a duck’s nest, in a farmyard, is of no consequence to a bird, if it is hatched from a swan’s egg. He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him; for the great swans swam round the new-comer, and stroked his neck with their beaks, as a welcome. ~ The Ugly Duckling
Who are you now? What is your experience in the world now the demons have been vanquished? Are you ready to live your life as a swan in all its majesty and beauty never dwelling on where you came from?
I know I am.
[this post suffers greatly from mixed metaphors — wounds, demons and swans — it’s how I roll :D]