Dictionary.com defines a survivor as “a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks” and remorse as “deep and painful regret for wrongdoing”.
No one ever wants to ask a survivor how they feel about something. They always seem to want to tell them how to feel or tell them what they should do. They want to say what they would or wouldn’t do if they were in that situation. They want to say, “I understand because…”. The honest truth is, unless it has been you, you can’t say or know what you would do. And to be quite frank, some survivors still can’t even give you details about how they reacted themselves. This isn’t (all) because we are blocking it out or because we have blacked out or froze. This could simply be because that wasn’t the focal point. I was not focused on what I thought I should do, that’s almost laughable. I was thinking about what was being done or what had been done, not by me but by the person who was in control of the situation. The situation only becomes more gray the closer you were to the person. Being closer to the person, makes it even harder to avoid in the long run. “If I was you, I wouldn’t be around him at all. That don’t make any sense, you’re causing trauma to yourself.” *insert appropriate curse word here* Once again, this is a laughable statement. Do you realize I’m still friends with their friends? So I should have to alter my ENTIRE social life to accommodate someone who took from me? Yeah that makes sense, my humanity over the lack of theirs? I should accommodate them for the rest of my life socially. I should choose isolation over my own happiness. Makes sense, but I’d prefer it if he did it instead of me, I mean he was the one who chose to do what he did. I didn’t have a choice, but I do now and I won’t choose to take from myself, to isolate myself or distrust myself. “Why didn’t you tell me?”...well...I’m telling you now. I am honestly just now ready to tell you, I am just now honestly getting in a place to talk about it without feeling like I would be judged or badgered with questions. The people in my life who’ve asked me that, have cared about me the most. I hope you know that I know, how much you care.
Now comes the remorse, where I tell you what happened and I feel bad because I didn’t tell you. Where I feel bad because a part of me still thinks its my fault. I’ve been working on it, but when I go to tell my story I sometimes still have to check myself and think “girl, you know its not your fault, don’t give the devil the satisfaction”. I feel bad because I didn’t let you be there for me or because I am just now telling you. I feel bad because it happened and I now feel like I am putting weight on you by telling you. I am worried that you may look at me differently because of it. I pride myself on my strength and resilience, why would I ever want the title of “victim”. This makes me feel like I needed someone to save me, when in all actuality, the only person I depend on for saving is God. I didn’t want someone to put a title on me that I didn’t want. Society already feels the need to do so with me being black, female, straight, cis-gender (sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex so I identify as female both by gender and sex), natural hair and Christian. Not to say that I am not proud of these identities, but some of these I was born with and the others I chose. I did not choose to be a victim so I would prefer to not be labeled as such.
I chose to be a survivor, that I will label myself as; check the definition in case you forgot. I continuously choose happiness and positivity. I choose to live MY life on my terms. I also choose to let my emotions flow the way that I want. I make choices everyday gearing myself to be my best self possible. I work hard to lift the heavy things in life from my heart, making it way easier to live in the moment. I want to do that as much as possible, savoring every experience that I have because everyone was not blessed to have the same. Love you more than anyone else. Listen to you better than anyone else and be you better than you ever could.
To those who blame survivors and tell them how to feel or “recommend” options for them that include isolation and them changing their life to accommodate the person who assaulted them, think before you speak because you don’t know what you would do nor what is best for anyone, but you and your experience. If you have not had the experience, do not speak for those who have. (This translates to other things as well) For those who wish they would have known and truly want to help, everyone has their own timing for their own reasons. Don’t blame yourself, just trust the process (easier said than done I know). Our timing is our timing. To the survivors reading this, just know you are resilient, strong and amazing. Trusting yourself in your decisions moving forward is important. You can do this! DO NOT feel the need to invalidate your feelings or alter your life for the sake of others. You deserve to put YOU first, this experience may change you forever, but let it only be for the better.