I am not a survivor.
Not in the sense that I’m not still among the living. I just hate that word.
Sounds like I was up against something completely insurmountable that most people never make it through. That I’ve been victimized.
I am not a victim.
The word “survivor” also comes with an implication that my life is somehow less than it was before. I haven’t been through anything so tragic that thousands of people aren’t doing it every day. I made my choices, I do not regret. I accept and move on.
I’m not a “survivor” of divorce.
I’m not “surviving” having two kids to raise with a an ex who suffers from a variety of mental illnesses.
I did not “survive” a tragic car accident.
I did not “survive” PTSD.
I do not accept the title “survivor”. Period.
I didn’t just survive my divorce. I have thrived. I make my own happiness now, and I’m teaching my children how to make theirs.
I’m not just surviving co-parenting with my ex. I am succeeding. My children are growing up to be thoughtful, resilient, independent, intelligent members of society. With or without his help.
I didn’t just survive a tragic car accident. I am not defined by my limitations—I am inspired by my abilities.
No, I can’t play the piano now. I can’t climb the Tower again. Yes, I’m a heck of a lot more vigilant in the car now. Yes, if I see a car accident, I have flashbacks.
BUT—I couldn’t play the piano before. And I already proved to myself that I could climb that tower anyway. Being vigilant is an asset, not a liability. The flashbacks aren’t great, but each one is less vivid.
On to the next challenge. BRING IT!
I lived damn it. And I’m going to keep on living. My life isn’t done yet. There is more. I am more. I will be more. I have goals. I challenge myself. My husband challenges me. My children challenge me.
Life challenges me.
I will come out on top.
Carl Jung said “I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
I choose not to be a survivor.
I choose to be a challenger.
This post originally appeared on the Live By Surprise blog on January 23, 2014.