I read this post over at Blooming Lotus the other day, and something just didn’t sit right with me about it. I decided to bookmark it and go back later, so that I could spend some time really thinking about it. Today, as I re-read it, this part still stuck with me in some odd way:
A couple of years ago, a friend called me on my “dependence” upon the label of child abuse survivor. She told me that, although I had been abused as a child, a child abuse survivor did not define who I am. By choosing to identify myself with this label, I was boxing myself in and limiting the potential of who I could be.
If I identify myself a child abuse survivor, then I set limits on my own potential. The human spirit has no limits, so why do I want to limit myself? She pointed out that I was forcing myself to live in a closet while I had mansion at my disposal. Only I could choose to step out of the closet and claim what is rightfully mine – A fulfilling life that is not limited by anything.
I’m still not exactly sure what it is about this that bothers me, but I think it has something to do with the idea that being labeled as a child abuse survivor is the one and only label you can have. Of course, it doesn’t define who I am, but it does define part of who I am. Just like being a husband isn’t ALL that I am, or being a blogger, or working at a law firm. None of those things captures all of what I am, but they are all absolutely part of who I am. The idea that I can’t live up to my potential while also acknowledging that I am a survivor seems wrong to me. Of course I am a survivor, and I’m so much more than that. This is why I have the potential to enjoy a fulfilling life, not because I’ve turned my back on being a survivor, and calling myself one, but because surviving the abuse is only part of who I am.
In fact, it’s a part that connects me to others in the survivor community, and allows me to write about the things I write here. It’s a part that bring about it’s own areas of potential, and areas of triumph.
One of the things that I really tried to stress in the early days of this blog, was that there were a number of folks out there writing about surviving child abuse, or living with depression or other health issues, that were also living their lives, enjoying hobbies, working, etc. I wanted to give people a sense that we’re just like everyone else, we are just as capable of doing meaningful things with our lives, and sharing that online. We just so happen to also be survivors. It’s part of us, and if anything we should be proud of what we’ve had to overcome in order to do the things we are doing as adults now. If you aren’t willing to identify yourself as a survivor, how are the folks just starting down a healing journey going to realize that it can be done? Where are they going to turn to find examples of people who have done, and are doing, what they aim to do? They need to see survivors finding happiness and fulfillment, who can show them how to be a survivor, while being so much more than just a survivor.