Who am I, if not a survivor?
Bowen Jean M., Beloved wife, mother, mental health advocate, and writer.
November 5th, 1990 - November 12th, 2021
Service to be held here in the moment, to put the past to rest.
A letter from Jean;
"I am here existing in this moment. This moment is for me but it is also for you.
I have things to say. Things I have had silently in for so many years and am tired of lugging around on my back, like a backpack filled with bricks.
I am emptying my burdens, one by one, so I can finally know what it feels like to walk without struggling to breathe. --
I know what you are going to say as you hear this. You are going to ask me why in the world I would walk with such weight upon my shoulders. You will look at me with those judgemental eyes as I hold reasons between my lips, like a dam about to break.
I want you to know, as I set each brick down, that I was not insane for dragging these around.
These were pieces of me.
These were every bit a part of my identity, like an extra set of organs that I carried and protected with my life. These are my stories, but it's time I set them down. --
Every time I have tried to tell anyone about what was in my bag in the past, I have not been so eloquent about it. The words have spilled out and often in a jumble of nervous tone and blunt language that made people uncomfortable.
No one can prepare for the words abuse and addictions lightly. It is not a light conversation shared between two strangers in passing.
And the fun thing about having trauma... we never keep friends for too long. There were two kinds of people in our world.
1. The kind who have shared stories of pain, with just as many matched scars and usually not enough time under their belts of healing. (which causes them to be our friends instantly and slowly retract over time until they are gone.)
2. The kind who just cannot relate and are honestly freaked out by the unloading of information. (which causes them to only attach for as long as they can assess whether we need attention, rescuing, or we are useless for their own fulfillment - so they leave.)
I want you to understand now as I open my bag and unload...
Not one of these bricks.... not one of them symbolizes a specific event or character from my past. These bricks are like words to a story. And my book.. it is so very long.
Here I go... picking up one heavy piece at a time and setting it out for you.
First up - ah yes, this one. Shock.
I couldn't believe it - every single time. I just could not comprehend how someone could betray me. How they could look me in the face and deliver compromised kisses or praise, knowing that they had already gone behind my back and hurt me. Who could do that? I could never do that to someone. I could never ever make them hurt the way they made me hurt.
Next up... oof. This one I know some of you have surely felt before. Maybe you have kept it on your shoulders too...though you probably would never ever admit it. And no, it's not the name of a river in Egypt.
Denial. It has taken me until this final letter to pull this one out and it is a hard one to talk about because I have spent this time pretending none of it ever happened.
Yes. I've actively actually chosen most of the painful scenarios I have gone through. And yes, it did in fact make me a martyr. That hurts to admit but it is a relief to set it down finally. I chose to love broken men and text a broken mother - I chose to get back with a cheater. I chose to get back into bed with someone who raped me. Yes. Yes. I chose to pour out the details of my pain in order to bond with other people over our shared misery. I have wallowed in my own pain and then asked for another serving the next time I was hungry. I have been addicted to abuse.
WOW. Can I just say I feel lighter as these words just come right out... as the load lightens and I empty this bag, the heaviness in my chest slowly lightens up too.
Oh, this brick is another hard one to unload because it has been such fuel for my fire. I have all but DEVOURED my anger up and used it in replace of ambition for most of my adult life. Everything I did to get ahead, I will not discredit myself for now as the summary of my rage. But more times did I tell people I did things IN SPITE OF the trauma, instead of just proudly telling others about my achievements. I made it about the one up from the pain. I dragged pain into pleasure. In fact, I made the point be about my hardships ALL the time.
So you see, the pain made me create bad relationships and situations constantly. I was so wrapped up in the martyr role that anything safe or simple felt boring and unfamiliar.
I want you to understand that I was never consciously selecting pain like it was fun. But I was stuck in such poor patterns and catching a constant ping of pain, only to GO RIGHT BACK IN LINE FOR MORE HELPINGS without considering my own role in it all.
Next brick...Bargaining. I do not feel ready to let this one go yet. In fact, this one helped me plan out this whole letter. Heck, this entire event. Humans... we thrive with meaning. We search for it high and low. In every circumstance, there must be a deeper meaning for how it happened, when it happened, and the deeper complex pattern of how it has happened generationally - religiously - philosophically.
This brick is what I have always felt made people pray. Now I do not mean to offend anyone here. Especially being this is a funeral eulogy. But here it goes... faith.... faith to me was ALWAYS flawed and a big fat lie. I could never stomach or trust the concept of god...of praying... of having faith. And placing meaning in the horrific things that happen to people as an act of god... or worse, because of a lack of faith or good behavior. How could there be a god when people ... when I .. have been born into and raised by horrors. When things like rape and abuse, kidnap, and murder occurs daily.
This brick, it hurts people when it is flung. It hurts people when it is talked about or debated. It hurts people to have to choose a side. Faith or no faith. Someone is always hurt. So I kept this brick until now and have carried it on my shoulders. I made peace with not having faith. I searched for acceptance and data and facts instead. Regardless, I have still arrived here at this funeral.
Up next and coming out of the bag in pieces, this brick is depression. This brick has crumbled over time - first split in half and then crumbling into smaller chunks that have gotten all the other bricks dusted with its' remnants. I have had this one the longest. I kind of cannot even remember a time before it to be honest. Over time I minded it less and began to grow into it as part of my character... the crumbs have not been heavy .... just messy. When you are sad for so long, it just becomes you. The girl who turns down auditions and contests, the girl who cannot go out to the bar, the girl who cannot make it to the party, the girl who says she is busy when she is just laying in bed.
This brick.. honestly I mean, it never hurt anybody... Not anybody else but me.
But then I think about what depression took away. What I never got to do because of having it... no, being it.
I settled for this feeling as a state of being and most avoided fixing it. I simply believed it would ALWAYS be a part of me.
Like having green eyes. Sure I could temporarily wear filters, right? I could mask the green with grey contacts... I could wear shades.
But it was and would always be there, just organically existing.
This bag is already so much lighter, now just bottom-heavy with smaller pieces of my past. Fragments of feelings that once felt so raw and had such purpose, but have since sparked out. Here each chunk is, one by one.
Each piece seemingly easy to work out and reason through now that I look at them. And yet, countless years I spent walking with tense shoulders and a tender back. All for who? For what?
Honestly... I thought this would be easier once I took it all out. But as I stare at this empty, dingy bag... I am not left with the promised acceptance. I cannot accept THIS. I am angry as I write these words out. I am now embarressed and honestly want to crumple up this letter. I want to write a better one.
I know you cannot see my face as these words pour out, but I am so ashamed. I do not want this to be the end. I was not ready for the intense feelings of regret. I want more pages... I wish I had more pages to write for you.
I realize now why this letter felt so important. Why I wanted to arrange a funeral. It is not about these stories or the pain. It was never about the pain.
This is about me. About who I was supposed to be.
I was supposed to be someone, beyond the trauma.
My identity is not the sum of the burdens I have carried.
I have arrived at the message I want to leave with you.
You have come here to listen to my final words. The mark I want to leave on the world as I leave it behind.
What I am here to tell you is that there is so much MORE to life than what you were born into. Than what you had to endure for some time. Than the abusers who are in your family or who you have dated. Than the crappy friends you have made.
There is MORE to who you are than what you have suffered through.
You have a choice too in how you walk and carry it all.
You get to walk tall or slumped over. You get to walk fast or be held back by the heavy bag of burdens.
YOU. You listening to me right now... Do not wait until it is too late.
Open up your backpack and start unpacking now.
Know yourself beyond the bricks you carry.
Know what makes you FEEL you. What makes you FEEL the good things in life. Not the pain.
You can do more than walk around with burdens.
You can change your name. Your address. Your job. Your ambitions.
You can HAVE ambitions that are not bred from regret or revenge.
You can just... unpack it all.
Promise me that you will.
That's the big secret to life. It's living it."
This is a fiction tale capturing emotions around abuse, trauma, and the mental health crisis millions continue to experience. Though nothing explicit is said, various heavy topics come up. I write to help people critically think and become more emotionally aware of themselves / others. Tipping is always appreciated to help me continue my work as a writer and advocate :)
#mentalhealth #trauma #suicideawareness #depression #anxiety #healingtrauma #abuse #funeral #complexptsd #ptsd #death #the7stagesofgrief
Mental health blogger, content creator, and creative writer. I write about trauma, mental health, and holistic wellness to empower other trauma survivors. Follow my blogs @Jadedsaviorblog @Startthrivingnotsurviving linktr.ee/jeangrey888