So my last post I talked about being in the in-between of survivor and something else. I talked boldly about letting that part of my identity go, of being something else, something more.
The fact is, Survivor Girl is still a huge part of my identity, along with her sister, Victim Girl. Survivor Girl looks out for Victim Girl, identifying every single thing that could possibly wound her and laying waste to it with her violence and rage, then erecting walls of granite and steel around her to keep the bad guys out. And Victim Girl… well she just goes along with the story, wailing about how and why and what for do all these terrible things happen to her.
I am reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. The one that is the latest Reese Witherspoon movie. It’s a great book and I won’t spoil it but, inevitably, our dear heroine encounters strange, unknown men on the trail and her instincts tell her things. Just remembering this passage I can feel my heart begin to race – it’s funny how quickly that can happen. How suddenly your heart rate can seemingly double, just from reading about something that terrifies you. Knowing that this is a memoir makes it all the more upsetting. It’s real.
I actually had to put the book down and walk away. Sigh.
So, what to do? I mean, I don’t think I could ever get to the point of being nonchalant about reading rapey stories, or seeing it on television even as “entertainment” (whole other rant there). And I don’t really want to be “ok” with reading these things. Part of me appreciates the sensitivity I have around this subject. However… part of me wants to be able to read a book, watch a tv show or movie and remain calm enough to see a violent or uncomfortable scene to the end without the attending panic of Victim Girl and the mounting rage of Survivor Girl getting in the way of my every day life.
This is the problem with wrapping myself in a singular identity, I have one response to everything in the world that goes boo: smash it the fuck to pieces and then run the fuck away and then build the fuck out of a massive solid impenetrable wall to keep me safe. Which can be useful some of the time in real life situations but in imaginary life situations… I mean really am I just gonna not finish the book at all? Am I gonna fast forward through every movie that has a scene of sexual assault in it? Or never ever watch The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo because it’s too scary? I hear it’s a fantastic movie!
Part of survival for me has meant avoidance. That is what surviving things has entailed, being able to identify the scary or the dangerous or the uncomfortable or the unpleasant and protecting the soft, scared, small and vulnerable part of me from the big bad world. Keeping that part of me stunted. It makes me think of a line I have heard recently that has been bouncing around my head, in paraphrase. It’s something like, what will the world be missing out on if you don’t show up? If you hide yourself away out of fear of rejection, what awesome thing about you will also be lost to the world? The reverse of this sentiment is… what am I missing out on if I try to hide the world from view?