Where have I been these days? Aside from combing lice out of my hair and a bit of vomiting on the side, I’ve been right here—just thinking is all. You could say I’ve been busy.
I was reading this again.
It made me realize something. Something I needed to think about for five or six days before I could really tell you about it properly.
I’ve gotten the wrong idea about myself, my life, and my opportunities. Much of the rest of society has as well, perhaps. I’m not sure. But I didn’t make it up all on my own. I got it from somewhere.
There’s the tendency to see people who have been victimized as permanently deficient. Your past, although you are also instructed to put this past behind you, is expected to cast a long and negative shadow over your future. You will never be what you might have been. The best that can be hoped for is the same or a similar level of functioning as you would have had if it had never happened to you. But you will still have all of those “lost years” to contend with.
To some extent, that’s true. We will never be who we might have been if life had gone differently for us. Every fork in the road sends us off in a different direction.
But sometimes life makes you who you are, and sometimes you do.
What I mean to say is that, beyond healing and beyond being able to cope with life again, you can choose to use your experiences in ways that benefit yourself and others.
This is not the same as saying your suffering, of whatever kind, was put there for a reason. Probably, there wasn’t a reason. Or the reason you suffered was some version of someone else was an asshole. I am not making a statement about fate. I am saying something about choices. Specifically, about your choices.
In the thick of things, the choices don’t seem apparent. You’re just trying to get through the day. You’re trying to hold down a job while keeping the voices in your head quiet and the terrifying images that flash through your mind on “dim.” You’re trying to take care of your family. Or, you’re just trying to get out of the house once a week at least, despite your paralyzing agoraphobia. You’re trying not to kill yourself.
But you are making choices. You are probably making choices while also just trying to get through the day.
For me, the choice has been to be kinder to others, to try to help, and to try to understand what life is like for other people who aren’t me. I’m not concerned with being wildly successful in my career, or with getting the salary I “deserve,” or with achievement generally. As a child, I was told I had “so much potential.” I don’t really care about my potential.
This doesn’t mean I don’t also want to enjoy my life or have any fun. I do. Now that I can more or less get through the day without too much trouble, I think fairly often about the various books I might write just because they seem like fun. Given more time, I might even do that.
But I also want to help. Life is hard. I don’t think we can do it alone. I really don’t.