On being a survivor

The thing that sucks about being a “survivor” is the process of survival. The process of getting up and living and working and being in the face of something horrendous.

While the terror is far gone, the aftermath lives on. I am half life, sometimes. Like those big, snorting, three tusked boars that walk around Chernobyl feasting on toxic grass. I have survived, but don’t know how and sometimes, don’t know why.

There is a certain mantel associated with pulling through something tragic, a blinding badge of courage that somehow carries the assumption of bravery. Bravery is reserved for those who protect. For those who shine, for those who live through tragedy whole and good and unscathed.

Not for me.

For 15 years, I have danced the edge of falling apart. For 15 years I have stared down a demon, and come away slightly possessed. This fall has been far from graceful.

At times I mourn what I could have been without this in my past. What I could have seen, what I could have done and with what ease it could have come. That I would know what intimate acts feel like with a long scar that runs up the inside of me, to what feels like must be my heart. How I will never know what walking through my own graduation will feel like, I will never go to prom, I will never be one of those unaffected, happy girls.

I will, apparently, write incredible run on sentences.

I like the grocery store in the morning, when few people crowd the aisles. I stopped in today, to get a salad since I was running too late to make one at home. I felt a presence near me and smelled cologne. I turned and it looked like him.

I know it wasn’t, he is long dead. But the panic rose in me like water in a clogged drain. Drowning the calm, drowning my sense. Coughing by him, he said “good morning”. Head down, walking fast, I smiled in return. My prepackaged salad shaking its own leaves in my hands.

This is what is hard about being a survivor.

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