I am a survivor. I wrote that word on my byline to help other survivors find me. I have survived some terrible things and I want to help other people survive them too. It is important to me that people know I am willing to bear some of their emotional weight on my shoulders, that I will put my arm around them and help them limp over the finish line. I will not leave a survivor behind.
No one wants to be a “survivor,” but it is an easier burden when it is shared. Yet, I don’t want to talk about it. I will tell you that you are not alone and that you have no reason to be ashamed. You have no reason to be ashamed! – but I don’t want to talk about me. I will just say “it is what it is.” Talking, in the open air, words out of my mouth, makes the thing real. I will help you with your burden; just let me shoulder mine alone.
I am a builder of walls. My self, the deep self, is hidden away inside of me, surrounded by a stone wall, brick by brick placed for my protection. This deep self peeks through the cracks my written personas creep out of, but there is a wall all the same. My impulse is always to diminish, to excuse, to try to make my pain less than. I was taught to hide my emotions.
I am a mother now too. I don’t want my daughters to grow up to be survivors. I want them to be conquerors. I want my daughters – the daughters of all mothers – to stand on top of the smoldering ash of their oppressors, gasoline and lighters in hand.