If I knew then what I knew now

TW: Frank Suicide Talk

I was thinking the other day “If I knew this is how I would feel when I was severely suicidal in college, would I have stuck around?” Then I immediately thought “Nope. This isn’t worth it.” And I tried to wrestle with that sentiment for a bit. May is a hard month for me. But so is January. So is November. So is August. Those are just the months with trauma triggers. February seems to slowly suffocate my soul with the lack of sun and the dragging on of winter. April is when I always feel suicidal. Summer means more of my body is on display, so I am more at risk of my eating disorder resurfacing.

The whole year sometimes feels like a minefield. Sometimes I haven’t even found certain triggers. Sometimes new trauma happens. Sometimes it is just the normal human experience of late bills, breakups, hurt feelings, missed opportunities, and the disappointments that seem small compared to trauma but feel too heavy to carry alongside the big shit.

If I knew in 2013 that my 2019 would look like this, would I have called my friend?

If I knew in 2014 that my 2019 would look like this, would I have pushed through?

If I knew in 2018 that my 2019 would look like this, would I have gone to inpatient?

The first answer is no, I would not. There is too much pain. There is too much hurt. There is too much fear. There is too much anger. I feel like I am carrying enough for several lifetimes in my bones.

But our truth is not always revealed in our first answer.

The truth is that I have grown to be a much better person that I was in 2013. I am stronger. I am more vulnerable. I am kinder. I am angrier. I have lived through an eating disorder recovery and relapse which has grown empathy and understanding within me. I have lived through an abusive relationship marked by drug abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse and hopelessness. I have survived and flourished where I thought I would drown.

If I had died by suicide in 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018 or this year, I would have died a lesser woman than I am now. For all the pain and trauma, there has grown a beautiful and vibrant human with a gift of healing. I would have missed all the pain, but I would have also missed all the laughter and love. We often forget the times we cry until we can’t breath but look fondly back on the times we are wheezing with laughter, til happy tears stream down our face.

Is that laughter worth the price of trauma that has taken place in the past 7 years? No, not at all. I often feel very cheated. But pain and joy do not have an equal exchange in our emotional currency. But this is also the very reason we are able to heal.

It is when I am crying laughing at the dark joke I made about my childhood sexual abuse with other abuse survivors that I feel most heard. It is why I laugh at PTSD memes and survivor jokes. It is why my therapist often stop to crack up at our attempts to bring some laughter into the darkness. Trauma stole a lot from me, and sometimes it feels that I am just picking up coins of laughter from the sidewalk and calling it even.

It is not even. But it is not worthless either.

After pondering if I would make the choice to live again if I knew what I know now, the answer is yes. Oh it sucks so bad. It is not the dreams of lovely rainy days with a supportive partner and reading books, and feeling secure in my life.

But trauma has cheated me out of so much. It will not also cheat me out of growth. I refuse to leave until I can leave this earth the best fucking version of myself I can be. I refuse to leave until I fucking beat this nightmare called Healing. I am not going to leave half-assed, half-developed, or under evolved. I’m going to grow, damn it. And I am going to grow strong. I am going to look back and immediately say “this place I am in was worth the path I took.” I am going to succeed, if for no other reason than I can control my success. I cannot control what happens to me. I cannot control how other people hurt or help me heal. But I am going to make it. And I am going to be great.

And one day, when I look back and ask if I knew now, what I will know then, I will be able to say that I knew I was a survivor. I knew I was a fighter. And I knew that it wasn’t even the beginning of the best I could be.

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