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What Surviving Has Meant to Me

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

I wish I could tell my story in a linear fashion. From beginning to end, tell the story that has led me to this point. I’d like to tell my story with all the ups and downs, the ins and outs in a way that makes sense. Nice and neat and in order. But I can’t. We often hear that healing isn’t linear and I’ve come to realize that perhaps we aren’t meant to tell our stories in nice and neat ways. Perhaps my story is meaningful and enough as I tell it…as a beautiful mess.

I want to tell the story of the first time I learned how to take a deep breath. I want to tell you about the first time I truly felt safe enough in my body. I want to tell you about the first time I realized that I am more than the painful things I’ve endured. All of these impactful moments have shaped me and have given me hope for healing. They’ve given me hope for recovering the parts of me that I thought I’d lost.

In between all of those impactful moments there are also thousands and thousands of seemingly mundane moments. Ordinary moments that also hold so much meaning and magic. All of this, the impactful and the mundane coming together to create this living and breathing being that I am now. I have survived and I am here.

I’ve been feeling my way through. Slowly coming alive, reawakening parts of myself that have been shut down and asleep due to trauma. I used to want to rush through these parts. To HURRY UP AND WAKE UP. To hurry up and seize the moment, seize the opportunity, take hold, live life. But what is living when we feel trapped. When there is no map to follow and our compass is broken. Where do I go? Who do I turn to? How can I possibly learn all of the things I was never taught through a loving and caring upbringing? How?

For years I searched for answers in places, people, things, experiences. And though these endeavors have certainly led me to moments of growth and introspection. I feel like I’ve come to the end of the road. No more searching. No more. The answers are here and they always have been. And this whole journey has been about coming to realize that I never needed answers from outside of myself. Only needed to let all of the layers of shit fall away so that I could experience myself as I was meant to be. My pure and true self, far away from everything I've been taught I was. Far away from ideals and expectations, far away from everything I've ever been told was right. And so I'm here at the end of the line, holding my heart. Carrying myself through every heartbreak. Carrying myself through this life, through this human experience. Feeling my way through.

What surviving has meant to me: Refusing to drown. Refusing to let decay take over. To swim for dear life and lift my head above water for the deepest, most life-giving breath. The breath in my lungs, like the wind in the trees and the waves of the ocean, my anchor. Supported by all of life. And so I take the first step of letting this story be known because there are other travelers like me. There are others also feeling their way through. You see, survivors of childhood trauma are brave travelers on a path that feels so lonely sometimes. The journey is long and full of moments, impactful and mundane and we aren’t meant to travel alone.

Eve is a survivor of childhood incest and has been using expressive arts as a way to tell their stories for nearly 20 years. They are a fierce advocate, parent, sibling, teacher, artist and survivor. You can find more about their work and community offerings on their website

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