We spent years in silence, constantly abused and ignored. We were forced to do unspeakable acts of “craziness” our brains couldn’t understand even in our wildest imaginations. Believe me, we tried! Confusion and pain, smirking adults all around us. Then being left with all the shame. Suddenly we were ridiculed, branded names, shouted at, punished, and hurt over and over again. It never stopped. What was going on? Why didn’t anyone help us? Why didn’t anyone come for us? Why didn’t anyone see us? We shouted, we cried, and we asked for help but nobody replied. Hey, I even saw people die! Yet nobody cared, nobody saw, nobody listened to us no more.

All that time, our bodies were slowly breaking down and started to live in survival mode. We learned not to feel and not to be. That was our reality. We learned to stay out of the way, to be invisible, come what may. That was our childhood. We were broken before our lives really began.

Years later, we are adults in an unforgiving, fast-paced world. Society expects everyone to get on the treadmill that is life. Life in the fast lane on the freeway. We crash into a marathon at lightning speed, stuck in fast-forward mode and some of us aren’t even “dressed yet”. So how do we cope when everyone around us races ahead? Our classmates, get those good grades, scholarships, and opportunities as we simply try and breathe in and out. We notice them all as life goes on.

Survivors suffering from Complex PTSD after childhoods riddled with abuse have so much to overcome before they can enjoy life. The damage shattered our essence of being and we need time to rebuild to start being like “everybody else”. Most often we allow the river of life to take us hurtling down the rapids of life’s ups and downs. It’s too hard to feel, we keep telling ourselves. It’s better this way. We absorb what life throws at us and carry on like robots. We exist without really noticing what is going on around us. We don’t notice people, go to social events or enjoy our surroundings. We shy away and pretend. We don’t appreciate anything or anyone because we have learned long ago to switch off our feelings.  Life goes on in black and white or different shades of gray but colors evade us.

Then suddenly life’s “river water” calms and we look up. We catch a ray of sunshine on the water’s surface and we realize we want more. It feels good to bask in the sun’s rays and so we look up some more. The more we look up, the more we realize that we deserve so much more than just “floating” aimlessly ahead. Our lives matter and we deserve to be in the driving seat. We learn to swim and navigate those rapids and we steer away from the dangers and into shallower waters. We take back control of our lives. It feels good to take charge and go where we want. Not because somebody tells us to, but because we want to. We are free at last. Wherever you end up in your life journey, is the right path for you if it makes you happy.

I understand that we sometimes feel jealous of our friends and angry that we didn’t get our shot. Those who seem to have it all figured out, have big careers and are important and successful. Regret hits us at times when we think we could have done so much more with our lives. At that moment, we forget how much we have conquered just to survive. We have put our whole life back together after being shattered like glass being thrown into a rock wall. We have picked up each piece and put it back. It may not have gone back to the exact right place, but the pieces have been put together anyway. What once was a square, is now a shining star. That is who you are! How many people can say they rebuilt their lives without instructions or a survival manual? We have survived a childhood of unspeakable trauma, and we are still here today to tell our stories. We have lived and thanks to our strength, life is bright and colorful.

“Tough times never last but tough people do.” Quote by Robert H. Schuller.

All of us survivors should go out there, every day and say YES, I did it! I am a survivor! I am someone and I do matter. Life is precious and we should want more, so much more! We deserve it! Go out there and take those opportunities when they come. Notice the world full of color and people around you. Smile more because you got this. Life is what we make of it. Wherever it may take us, follow your hearts and live.



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