(I feel like this post needs more of a focus and style to it; and I’d love to touch up the themes in to some kind of story or proper “piece” with more depth to it, but since I haven’t been posting much and I suspect I never will finish this, I figure I might as well just post it anyways)
Diary No. 126 Diary No. 1, again
When I was young and first started experiencing chronic pain, it left me hopeless. I was faced with the possibility of life where each year was, on average, more painful than the last. At the age of 12, it seemed unbearable. I assumed I wouldn’t be able to live with it for another year. At the age of 13, I gave myself until 15. At 15, 20. At 20, I learned to stop making predictions
Over time, I learned to cope and I learned to live with the pain- to the point where I can hide it and pass as able bodied when doing day to day activities. I’ve lived a life that is a picture of conventional success, in part because of the skills I learned while coping with pain. The first reaction most able bodied people have, the framing of my disability that I’ve found gains the most acceptance, is that it taught me well, that it was “worth it”, that it happened “for a reason”.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a comforting fallacy to think that a great or productive future can make the past mean something. Looking at the damage that coping did to me- to my sense of self, to whoever I was- suicide undoubtedly would have been the rational choice. In a way, I’ve been so changed by my illness that whoever I was before did die; the me that earns the praise of society today exist solely because a child gave up his existence and his life so I could take his place. No ends can justify means such as that.
But just as it is a mistake to try and use a better future to justify the past, we must not use a past that never should have happened to tarnish the future. I can accept that in a perfect world, no one should have gone through what I did- that a person such as myself should never be, because we would build a society that doesn’t tell children to “man up”, that it’s all in their head, that everything is supposed to hurt. I can accept that, but I must still insist- “here I am”.
That, to me, is the challenge of trauma; and of living in a world where the past and where history is so full of trauma. To see a past that should never be, to see the present that came from that past, and to see a better future to build. To simultaneously see all three, but not group them under one value or meaning. To be able to say “the past was wrong, and in being so it leaves the world today tainted, broken, and flawed”, while still maintaining hope and trying to make the world a better place. To have true hope in the face of a nihilistic past, one that isn’t propped up on delusions of the past being “worth it in the end”.
The past is irredeemable, but the future needn’t be that way. But that requires us to be driven by future hopes, not past sins. To live is to strive to be the firebreak of the present; to be the prism that takes the broken past and turns it in to a worthwhile future.