I have previously shared that I have almost finished reading Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy. I have about 50 pages left to read in the third book, Mockingjay. One of the minor characters is a woman named Johanna Mason, who won one of the previous Hunger Games. She is the tragic character who has both the strength and the weakness of having nobody left to lose.
Johanna makes a comment to Katniss (the lead character) that the one thing she thinks her shrink is right about is that you can never go back to being the person you were before the trauma (in her case, before the Hunger Games). For this reason, she must let go of trying to become that innocent girl again and, instead, find a way to live with being the person she is today.
It’s just a small part of the book, but it was one of the most meaningful conversations for me as a trauma survivor. Because my child abuse started at such a young age, I don’t really have a “before” to go back to, which I guess is a blessing in some respects. I don’t grieve the loss of the innocent girl I was because I don’t remember ever being that person. Still, I do grieve the innocent girl I should have been. I don’t think it’s the same thing, though. I grieve a concept while those whose trauma started later grieve a version of themselves that ceased to exist after the trauma.
I think this dialogue in the book resonated so deeply with me because it is part of the process of “letting go” that I am work through right now. Another thing I need to let go of is any hope of being someone who has never experienced trauma. That ship has sailed and isn’t coming back. It is unrealistic for me to strive to act and react as someone who has never been traumatized acts and reacts.
If I can accept this truth at a heart level, I can let go of my definition of “normal.” I used to tell my therapist that I just want to be a “normal” person. What I meant by this is I want to be like someone who has not endured trauma. That simply is not possible.
This reality does not have to be a “bad” thing. I have many strengths that were honed because I have survived trauma. I need to let go of the labels of “good” or “bad” and, instead, recognize and accept what “is” and “isn’t” without judgment.
Image credit: Amazon.com