This is the truth I’d like you to place in front of you right now, where you can see it: you survived. You did what you had to in order to survive the assault or abuse or other horrible thing that happened to you, changing your status from “one of the lucky ones” to “survivor.” You got through a situation that could have completely destroyed you. That alone is a triumph. May not feel like one, but you’re here and breathing because you found a way to survive.
That’s something other people don’t get to take away from you. Not ever.
Now. You may have noticed a contingent of shitwads who think your survival technique is something they get to judge, like this is some kind of Olympic sport where you get a score based on how flawless your performance was. They’ve generally never been there, done that, but they would’ve handled your situation totes different and you should have done x-y-z and not done a-b-c, just like they would. And they’ve never been in a situation like yours or really listened to people who came through similar, but they’re self-appointed experts in what you should have done then and should be doing now; how you, the survivor, should act and behave and feel.
And there are some survivors who’ve decided Their Way is the True and Only Way™. They went through this one similar thing once, and that has made them The World Experts in Surviving All The Shit®. They’ve got a list, and they tick off what you did wrong, clucking their tongues and murmuring in severe tones that You Are Not a True Survivor™.
Fuck them, too.
Survival isn’t one of Plato’s perfect Ideas, which all should emulate. There’s no one and only way of surviving. This isn’t a fucking contest. There is no standard set by a panel of Expert Survivors that you have to measure up to.
You survived. That’s it. That’s the one fact that matters. The way you did it doesn’t invalidate that fact. No matter how you pulled it off – whether it was fighting like fury or not fighting at all; memorizing every detail or sending your mind to a safe place; screaming, staying silent, or cracking jokes – you made it. You did what you had to do. You did what was right for you, did the best you could, and now you’re here. The shitlords who think their opinions matter can go piss against a stiff wind in winter.
All right, and now you’re taking back your life. How you’re doing it isn’t any of their fucking business. They have zero say in your decisions. They don’t get to set the Gold Standard, no matter how much they think so. Their opinion has as much weight as a warm fart on Pluto. It matters about as much as whether someone had Grey Poupon or French’s mustard on the sandwich they ate before getting squashed by a semi. They don’t get to expect jack shit from you.
Fuck ’em. Do it your way.
If you need to become a virtual hermit in order to cope, then that’s what you do. Maybe you visit a therapist twice a week. Maybe later, maybe never. Maybe you let yourself scream. Or cry. Or laugh. Or all of the above, simultaneously. Take self defense classes, or learn how to build things in bottles. Only venture out to coffee-shop poetry readings, or go clubbing. Hang out quietly in a back corner, or crowd surf. Never let another human being touch you, or go for all the touching you can get. Spend years working through the sexual issues you were left with by consulting a counselor, or going out and having as much sex as you can. Wear fourteen layers of clothing in summer, or go with virtually none. Take years to recover, or pretty much take it in stride. Treat the subject with utmost seriousness, or unleash every bit of black humor you can conjure. And etc., in any combination, any point(s) in the spectrum, at your own pace.
You get to decide what you need. You decide how you’ll react. You will go about this in a fashion unique to you, because you’re you, and no one has any right to tell you how you should and shouldn’t survive.
There is no Authentic Survivor™ to live up to. Other people may act like there is, but they speak from their sphincter. Those of us who aren’t dumbfuck judgmental assholes will tell them to flush it. Their opinion belongs in a cesspit, not society.
You just get on with the surviving, your way, all the way. Do what you need to do to take back what was stolen, as much as that’s possible. Do what it takes to reclaim your power. Proceed in any fashion necessary to make yourself reasonably whole. No one else gets to dictate the method and means of your survival.
Your fellow survivor,
P.S. None of the above should be interpreted as deterring you from getting help should you need it. Genuine help is great! And you’ll know it when you see it, even if it takes you a little while to recognize it. Unhelpful arseclowns, on the other hand, should be fairly simple to spot, and you can do safely without their brand of “help.”