There are two things happening.
One, I am traumatized. I have PTSD.
Two, I am simply...different. I never thought about having a traditional career. I'm not competitive. I love to write, but my fantasies aren't filled with book deals, and I'd rather self-publish than write endless queries. I also never really had fantasies about married life or children. I always wanted to write and travel...that's it.
So I came across a kind of dilemma—Why bother healing then?
What did healing mean to me?
To me, healing my trauma meant changing who I was. It meant that I was healing "for" something—healing so I could have a normal job or a family. I had to heal so I could be normal. Right?
Otherwise, if I wasn't doing all that work so I could do what everyone wanted me to do, then what was it for? Couldn't I just sit in a corner and cradle my wounds forever, and be this injured, rabid thing?
To me, healing meant selling out. I thought I was doing my pain some kind of disservice. I thought I was removing a part of myself by healing...a crucial part, the part that made me different. I could either live in constant pain and feel like myself, or I could erase myself and be what everyone expected of me.
That might sound extreme, and it was. I thought these were the only two ways to live. I was not seeing any compromise, shade of gray, or in-between.
Five years ago, I got a remote job and began to travel. I started to meet a wide range of people who lived alternative lifestyles...in every way. I met yoga instructors, dancers, people who did webcam work, people who played online Poker and made a living that way...and I met people who had no desire to live traditional lives.
And! They were emotionally healthy. They confronted their problems. They surrounded themselves with like-minded people. They had relationships with people who had similar goals and life views.
This opened up a world I had previously been blind to. I had assumed that healing from my traumas meant losing my special-ness. I didn't realize that I could be both healthy and special.
My special-ness did not come from my pain—And I could be a healthy person, and heal myself, and still travel and write and do what was important to me. And healing myself would make that all even more possible, not less.
I realized I could do it for myself, and not for others.
I slowly began to realize that I viewed healing as a favor I did for other people. If I felt better, then that was just giving other people what they wanted. I felt like I had to keep reminding myself of the bad things that happened, otherwise it was like it never happened, and that felt like a disservice to myself, to my pain.
I then realized I had to reconcile that feeling within myself. I had to acknowledge that what happened to me was wrong, without the validation of other people. If someone else said what happened to me wasn't bad, or worse, didn't happen at all, I would just have to know inside myself that they were wrong, without needing them to agree with me.
I had to give myself that gift, and only then could I heal and move on. And I wasn't healing to make anyone else feel better...I was not healing so people didn't have to feel bad for harming me. I was healing so I could live my best version of life.
When I refused to heal, I was trapping myself. When I saw the kinds of full, rich lives other people were living...on their own terms...it made me realize that I was depriving myself of that.
I didn't have to have a career or a suburban home or a family. I didn't have to do those things to somehow prove I was normal. I could do whatever I wanted to do...but not if I was holding myself back.
So now I'm healing just for me.
I don't believe in forgive and forget, necessarily. People should be accountable for their actions. But now, I don't believe in punishing myself for the actions of others.
I believe I can heal and move on and live the best, weirdest version of my life possible. I can make my own choices, and when I unravel my trauma and heal myself, I am only becoming stronger and more resiliant.
I'm going to heal...and I'm still going to be weird!