Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Survivor Guilt

"I've met holocaust survivor victims, through other films, and I know what survivor guilt is like." Ben Kingsley

We were at the Dairy Queen. Standing in line....waiting our turn to be served.  I glanced at the family next to us. They were laughing.... having fun... trying to figure out what to order.  I watched....fascinated. They were totally into being at the Dairy Queen.....excited about the food they were going to eat....and the time they were spending together....totally enjoying themselves.   And then it hit me - I've been living with survivor guilt...

I've been afraid to touch life.....to let go....and relax....just enjoy life. I've never let myself experience being free...except when I'm in the woods...or goofing around with my kids.....but not in 'real' life.  I've been driven...to be whatever anyone needed...twisting myself to fit what they wanted - 

But standing there in that dairy queen....watching that family...it dawned on me....I always felt I had no right to survive...no right to be alive....no right to life. I was really grateful I had.....but when I thought of friends who had killed themselves or accidently overdosed......friends who couldn't make it out of the darkness....something in me....deep down inside.... always wondered why me and not them. Why did I survive and they didn't?

Survivor Guilt - it's kept me from living free....from touching life the way others do. Seeing that familiy....watching them...made me realize I don't want to be free without living free. It's time to stop asking why. I couldn't help my friends. I couldn't save them. I couldn't even help myself. It was His touch that made the  difference. Without Him....I wouldn't be free. Maybe now with Him....I can learn to live that freedom.


Just Be Real said...

What a great revelation Sarah.

This helps me too. I pray that you do learn to live that freedom through Christ as well as I. Thank you for such an encouraging post this morning. Will help me get through my day. Blessings and ((((Sarah))))

Shanel said...

really powerful post.... you are a blessing to so many of us that follow your blog.

Just_because_today said...

it is easy to wonder why us and not others. "Why me, God?" when something bad happens and in this case, when something good happens. I do believe God gives people a chance to those who can make a difference in others. Like you are doing

Prayer Girl said...

It keeps me 'right-sized' when I think about how many don't get recovery and how grateful I am for my gift of sobriety. God offered it and I was willing to receive it.

This is a beautiful post.

They call me "Deb" said...

Awwww... Sarah - I really liked this one. Something as simple as enjoying Dairy Queen!
I caught something so deep here. You speak of 'Survivor Guilt' and then you speak of "living" free. How wonderful that you (unlike many) are able to distinguish the difference between just surviving and really enjoying life by 'living' free!
I watch children playing and I realize that they don't question "Why me?" - they just enjoy every moment of life. As a 'child' of God's that's living free.

Peter Stone said...

That's a wonderful revelation to receive while watching something natural played out before you.

"I couldn't even help myself." That's exactly what I thought when I was severely depressed, and loved your answer to that, the same answer I received - it was Jesus who made the difference.

Finally Free said...

I love what you said about God helping you. You could not help them. My pastor has been talking about how big God is and how small we are. Sometimes I think I make myself bigger and more responsible than I am. I am with, trying to rest in Him. I think I could be much freer if I could lose my false responsibility and give it back to the one who controls it all.

Thanks for the reminder to "really live". :)


Mary said...

Okay, jumping up and down here!!
Happy for you, that a truth sank deep in your heart.

Live in the freedom God made possible.

We don't always know God's purposes, but he does. You are still here for a reason.

You may not have been able to help your friends, but you are helping so many now by telling your story, you struggles, your victories!!


Zan said...

Great revelation Sarah!
This is something I can relate to. Often feeling like an outsider, thinking I do not belong here, I shouldn't be here etc.
I am aware of it, and had it been anyone else but me I would say 'That's such BullSh***! You do deserve to be happy!'
so of course I am going to tell you that I am really glad you realised this and I hope you can start truly living and letting go, become who you are meant to be.
Some day, I will say that to myself as well (working on it!)

Keep on living with your head held high! xx

Susan said...

I can identify with this.
I think of my friends I lost to overdoses and suicide so often. And I wonder why I'm here, and they're not. I either feel obligated to enjoy things even more, or I can't sink fully into the moment because I feel it should be them rather than me.
I'm trying to learn to accept this gift... one day at a time.
Together, we survivors will work this out.
And from one survivor to another - you deserve life, and life more abundantly.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

What a powerful realization! I'm happy for you, Sarah!

Andrea said...

You have every right...it came through the sacrificial gift of CHRIST...I pray, my friend that you will embrace the freedom HE has so beautifully given you.
Blessings, hugs,and prayers,

Valerie Lynn said...

Hello my sweet friend. I have missed you so. oh how your writings touch my very soul. But, I know without a doubt that the day will come soon when you will be free of guilt and you will be filled with peace, joy and happiness. I know that God will bring your freedom day soon. I love you and know you are always in my thoughts and prayers.

Denise said...

Yes, live it my dear friend. I love you.

Kathy M. said...

This is a very moving post, and it hits close to home. I've lost people to this disease, too. Too many. Thanks for sharing.

Elan said...

thanks for sharing this. I'm glad you are a survivor, and I know that those who didn't survive share in your joy when you experience it.

RCUBEs said...

It's amazing when He showed you an area of your life that you need to deal with, with something as simple as that family in DQ. But I'm glad you were open to that eye-opener. God bless you sister! And protect you and your family!

sheri... said...

girlie girl, this is fascinating stuff here! i've read all the way back through april and everything in me wants to gug you closely, and for a long time...as if the pain could, or would melt away.
it could be my own experience but the pain never has gone, it has just taken a back seat to the things that have given me life. it can even be found in the trunk if i'll keep the lid shut ;) and just like you, so many people say the nicest things about me, about the kind of person i am. but they will never realize that i'm someone who knows how bad life can hurt...i'm more than willing to sit and let them release theirs in a place that's loving and safe.
my intention wasn't to take up all this space today but to love on you and to wish you well on your journey to wholeness...so many are rooting for you :)

Karen said...

WooHoo! Amen! Seize the joy...grab the freedom...run with...LIFE....

Dean Corso said...

The fear of being happy, free and joyful, grows in one night, and dies in a life time.
Some will accept the risk, to be free again...hope you will take that risk with God walking you home.
God Bless

Dulce said...

OH YES lady... you are approaching paradise and leaving hell behind... Enough of that you've had!

So it's high time we forgive ourselves... Although there's nothing to forgive- we are not guilty of anything... There
is nothing to forgive, but a lot to be grateful for... So!
Hugs my dear Sarah!

Pet said...

Powerful post.

speck of dust said...

I do so hope you so deserve it. I do it by trying to stay focussed in the moment rather being in my thoughts by observing the colours, noises, textures, tastes etc. that are alive all around me. This was an amazing realisation you had. Now you've identified this you can work on it. Groan, there's always work involved! :)

Terri Tiffany said...

It's so wonderful to read you revelations and see you slowly step out and make your past what it should be. A past that shouldn't control your present and future!

Shelterwood said...

Hi, my name is Pete, I'm writing on behalf of Shelterwood--a licensed residential teen treatment facility with two locations in Missouri. Would you be interested in including a link to Shelterwood.org as a resource on your site? We would be open to a link exchange as well if that is something you might be interested in.

We are located on the web at http://www.shelterwood.org. Look forward to hearing from you.


Pete - shelterwood.doulos@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Reading your blog reminds me of an author i know. Angelica Harris is a domestic abuse survivor who has healed many of her own life's struggles through writing.

Check out her website and books because the two of you might be able to work together. www.angelicaharris.com

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Paula said...

I can relate so much. During trauma therapy I learned that the biggest very compley part of me holding back is that I think I should not havea good life! SIGH. I still struggle, yet I do feel more upbeat then in long. Havea wonderful weekend

V said...

i agree so much, we always ask why me you know?
We don't maybe think there are reasons to all the madness that happens to us...
We sometimes get so stuck in thinking in the NOW, and we can't look at what can be!!
After my parents separated, i would say ja i had survivor guilt. I didn't want to live pretty much, thought a lot to myself why should I have had to go through this and my friends not!!!
I learnt so much that sometimes God lights these fires to bring us closer to him, we have to go through this rubbish... and YOU WILL GET STRONGER!!!! It's been 5 years and sometimes it still gets me down, but I'm a better person now and I get stronger every day!!! There is hope i promise!!

Cherie said...

What is survivor guilt?

V said...

survivor guilt, we learnt it's like for example, say there is a disaster and everyone in your family is killed except you, then you develop guilt because you're the only surviving one when you feel you shouldve also been taken...
any situation where you feel excluded. Like for me, I had it because few of my friends understood what I was going through when my parents divorced so i felt guilty because they all had both parents and I didn't.
Most of the time it's anger that's underlying that guilt.