Boy, is it raining here in Seattle! The rain is pounding against my windows.
I have survived another Thanksgiving. I had fun, actually. A friend from my Survivors of Suicide group invited me to Thanksgiving with her and her husband and some friends. The food was excellent, and the conversation was even better. It was a relief to be around people and still be able to acknowledge that the holidays are difficult because of Jeff's suicide and my family history.
I have been thinking about how I have changed or been affected by experiencing suicide and abuse. That is one of the questions for my first writing exercise in The Courage to Heal. This is an extremely challenging question for me, one that is hard for me to write about because of the implications I see. That is, when I ask myself how the abuse has affected me, I question whether I can ever be the person I should be, if the abuse has irreparably damaged me and twisted my personality and outlook on life in a negative way.
I see my core personality as fun loving, social, enthusiastic, inquisitive, thoughtful, and open-minded. Some of the qualities I have learned or strengthened in response to my experiences, such as compassion, self-sufficiency, and faith in myself, support my core personality. Other emotions feel threatening to the way I want to live my life, such as resentment, bitterness, and distrust. It is especially hard to see myself as open-minded when I am distrustful of other people. I want to believe the best about other people, but find myself suspecting the worst.
I have realized in the last year that denying my emotions doesn't make them go away, so telling myself I am not bitter doesn't mean I don't feel bitter. I just don't want to be a bitter person, because that doesn't seem like me. In some sense I don't want to see myself as a survivor because I don't want to give up my identity to the people who abused me and the painful things that happened to me. I worry that personality is passive, reactionary, while the personality I define myself with is actively engaged with life.
It just started snowing. (I am sitting in front of my living room window while I work on my laptop.)
I need to get out of this defensive mode, and accept who I am, changes and bitterness and all. I can apply what I learned about grief- you can fight it all you want but then you are stuck it one place, or you can let yourself move through it and experience how you are feeling, and come out the other side. It changes you, but there's not much use fighting it because it happened, whether you like it or not. That acceptance is really the sticking point. It all happened, and there's nothing I can do to change that. I can't really change how I feel about it either. I can choose to accept it, and accept myself for who I am now, and see where that takes me.