“Forgive yourself for not knowing better at the time. Forgive yourself for giving away your power. Forgive yourself for past behaviors. Forgive yourself for the survival patterns and traits you picked up while enduring trauma. Forgive yourself for being who you needed to be.” ~Audrey Kitching
I used to suffer from survivor’s remorse.
What does this mean exactly? Well, I was ashamed of the things I did to survive.
As I reflected back on my life, I’d get filled with sadness, shame, and regret.
Sadness because I did things that were against my moral values when I knew right from wrong.
Shame because I did things that I never thought I would have to do, in order to survive.
Regret because I was involved in drugs, sex, and violence.
I had kids to feed, and they depended on me. As a single parent, I was willing to do whatever I had to do for them. I would sell tools and electronics for gas money. I would sell plates of food to buy diapers. I even chose to sell my body. I did whatever I needed to do to get by.
I hurt family and friends along the way and lost their trust with my broken promises. Promises that I would pay back money that I borrowed, knowing I wouldn’t be able to. I used people for my own personal gain. My pain caused other people pain.
I was risking my whole life, and I didn’t even realize it. I could have gone to jail and lost my kids, all because I was trying to provide for them.
How Did I Get Into a Life of Drugs, Sex, and Violence?
Well, I had a rough childhood; I dealt with physical, verbal, and sexual abuse as a child, and witnessed abusive relationships amongst relatives and family friends . I processed this into rejection, fear, and anger.
I struggled to feel love because I equated it with hurt. My family members said they loved me and then did things that caused me pain. I thought this must be love; this is normal behavior.
The hurt turned into anger, and then I started to resent people. This caused extreme paranoia.
Still, despite my relationship fears, through a twisted turn of events, I had a baby at fifteen years old. I told myself I would do anything to make sure my son didn’t have the same life I’d had.
Then at eighteen years old I was a homeless high school senior.
My Survival Tactics
I found myself on public assistance. I was in situations that evoked the exact feelings I’d experienced as a child, when I saw my mother depend on welfare and food stamps to get by. I felt impoverished, worthless, and dependent…