Tag Archives: Survivorship

Healing Quotes: Looking Fear in the Face

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

We are often afraid of what the future might hold. At least I am. Today, I don’t feel like taking the leap and preparing for living with my husband at all. I’d rather choose stability, even though ultimately, standing still means going backwards in life.

When I look back at my life, I often tend to look at my life experiences with a level of sadness or anger. How much more will life hand me, if I’ve already been through this?

Another way of looking at it is, I’ve been through it and survived. This means I am strong. If I’ve been able to handle what I have, why won’t I be able to handle the next hurdle in life?

Another thing is, of course, that uncertainty is scary, but without taking risks, we won’t go forward, and without going forward, we slide backward. I believe I read it in this book I mentioned of poems by a rape survivor, but not sure. Wherever I read it, I read that there are generally two kinds of people in life: those who warn you about all the risks of following your dreams, and those who encourage you to take the chances that following your dreams will present you with.

I have generally been trying to stay on the safe side, not taking risks but thereby not taking chances either. A few of the chances and risks I took, have not turned out well. For example, I went to university in 2007 and fell flat on my face. Then again, does that mean that taking chances and risks is altogether bad?

I took the chance and the risk of transferring from the city institution to my current small town institution. It hasn’t been an altogether good choice, but opportunities have arosen from my taking this chance/risk too. For example, day activities are generally better here than in the city institution.

I tend to choose stability over opportunity, but maybe that needs to change a bit. I’ve gone through a lot already and survived, so doesn’t this indicate that I am strong enough to handle the future?

I’m a Survivor!

Yesterday I came across a song that truly inspied me.

I could not find whether the reference to premature birth is to Reba Mcentire’s own life, but it does resonate with me. I was, after all, born three months too early.

Often, survivorship refers to people who have endured childhood or domestic abuse, have survived serious illnesses like cancer, or stuff like natural disasters. Babies are too young to remember the hurdles they overcome as they survive the neonatal intensive care unit, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t survivors nonetheless. Preemies beat the odds, after all.

I remember when someone asked me what experience I was proudest of overcoming, I responded that it was premature birth, because without having overcome that experience, I wouldn’t be alive. Even my suicidal crisis in 2007 doesn’t compare to this, as I was not physically close to death then.

I am very happy to finally have found a song about a woman born too early. I know I got a CD for my birthday with songs on it about a boy with a birth defect, but these are written from the father’s perspective. It is hard to find former preemies even on large social networking sites like Facebook – I created a group for them and no-one except for the friends I added would join. There is a group on Yahoo, but it isn’t active at all. By listening to this song, I feel validated that prematurity was something I have survived, yet also encouraged to move beyond mere survivorship.

There is not much known about the effects of premature birth on the surviving children. Well, it is known that many develop autism and related conditions, but I mean stuff like attachment disorder. There is a lot more research on the traumatic effects on the parents of preemies. This frustrates me. I know that trauma before the age of three is hardly taken seriously, because a child is too young to remember it and those who claim to remember, are often accused of faking. I agree that memories before age three are rare, but that doesn’t mean that experiences from very early life can’t affect attachment and later personality development.

The important message in this song is however to be proud of your survivor status and to move on and reclaim yur life. I try to do that and am totally happy with this new music find.

Linking up with Motivation Monday, Inspire Me Monday, and Wellbeing Wednesday.

#PowerMonday: Pondering Strength

Over at Strength adn Sunshine, Rebecca P. writes power Monday, in which she ponders the nature of strength. She considers herself physically and emotionally strong. I’d like to focus in this post on emotional strength, because I possess little physical strength.

What does it take to be emotionally strong? I’m generally seen as emotionally strong because I’ve been through a lot and made it through. I’m seen as perseverant by some. Others, however, don’t see me as such, because, if I truly were perseverant, I’d have overcome my disabilities and would live independently. Some people see me as someone who gives up particularly soon.

I’d like to think of myself as strong. Then again, aren’t the circumstances I’ve survived merely that, circumstances? In my #AskAwayFriday post last week, I said thaat the greatest challenge I’ve overcome is surviving prematurity. That being said, didn’t the doctors just keep me alive? I can’t know whether I showed any will to survive. Does this assumption that I’m strong for surviving, not condemn the non-survivors for being weak?

I struggle with the idea of emotional strength as a positive attribute, also, because it condemns the mentally ill. We’re not resilient, almost by definition, because we suffer from depression, anxiety or the like. I see people in my institution who are particularly passive or negative. Does this mean they don’t have strength, or does it merely mean they’re suffering from their illness?

There are these sayings going around. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” In this sense, God is seen as the cause of our suffering, and we’re seen as the cause of our overcoming of it. This is probably a way to sustain our sense of self, believing we’re strong for overcoming something that life (or God) put us through. I’m more than happy to believe I’m strong for having survived premature birth, childhood trauma, disability, and other challenges. It allows me to believe in myself.