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Archive for January 13th, 2012

One question that plagues me from time to time is why some child abuse survivors seem to fare better than others. This was another issue explored in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy. Some of the traumatized characters couldn’t survive without staying inebriated, and some had their sanity crack. However, others found a way to go on and find meaning in their lives. Why did some far better than others?

I don’t need a fictitious story to point out this difference to me. I have lived it. Like attracts like, so most of my pre-therapy friendships were with traumatized people. My heart breaks for how some of these people’s lives have turned out. The last time I talked to one, she was facing a prison sentence. The last time I talked to another, she had lost custody of her children and was battling addiction.

My life hasn’t been easy, but it looks pretty successful from the outside. This year, hub and I will have been married for 20 years. I have a great kid and several close friends. I don’t battle addiction, have had no run-ins with the law, and am not facing bankruptcy (another story of another traumatized friend). What makes me so special?

Some people speculate that it is the level of trauma involved, but I am not buying it. I am not saying that my trauma was the worst trauma ever endured by anyone, but let’s just say that few people would want to get into a p#$$ing match with me about whose trauma was “worse.” I, personally, don’t like to compare traumas – even one incident of trauma is too many. Some of the strongest and most functional people I have met endured severe trauma – severe enough to break many others.

I don’t think the level of trauma determines who breaks and who survives. I think it has more to do with hope. I am not sure that my story would have the same ending if not for my sister. Once my sister was born (when I was two years old), I experienced pure love. I think knowing that kind of pure love existed in the world was enough to help me fight back. For what it’s worth, the traumatized characters who fared better in The Hunger Games seemed to be those who had someone to live for.

Healing from child abuse takes an enormous amount of strength and courage, so I don’t point my finger at people like the friends I have referenced who have broken under the strain of post-traumatic stress disorder. However, I would like to understand what was so special about me to overcome the odds and heal when so many others have broken. I really think the difference is hope.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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