I am not an imposter among survivors. I am not a victim. The other day a former friend called me a victim, told me I’d always be that way, that I push people away, that I’m hard to help. I let myself feel hurt and victimized by those statements. I let her words become prophetic. But then, last night, during Kuneo (worship) which I haven’t been to in a while, we talked about imposter syndrome and the things we do that are self-defeating.
I realized that one of my self-defeating tendencies is to minimize myself, to make my experience small, to take blame just so I can hang onto people who probably don’t even need a place in my life. I did this with C (Casey) and I did it again with Mia when she said those things about me. Kuneo and all of your insightful comments made me realize just how untrue those harsh words were. I’m not a victim. I’m working my ass off to get better. I’m not pushing people away, I’m just starting to let them in. And I’m not hard to help, I’m just busy helping myself and being helped by people who know how to help me.
So, this is what I wrote her back:
I’ve had some time to think on this now and you know what, you were being an asshole, and that’s okay. I can take it. I’m not playing the victim in this either. And I’m not a victim in my life. I am progressively working toward healing and I’m not letting someone who hasn’t been in my life for months negate that. I’ve been in therapy this whole time. Casey and I never touched “my shit” as it were. The relationship was hurting so I left. I chose to protect myself. And I chose to find a new therapist to continue my work on myself. Because my healing isn’t happening over night. It’s a process and I am proud of where I am and how I am on the process. I’ve been reading books on DBT and meditation and radical acceptance and developmental trauma. I’ve been practicing yoga daily. I joined a group of amazing, accepting people meet every Tuesday. I started blogging and became a part of an amazing group of like minded individuals on various paths in their own healing journies. We support and build each other up and cheer each other on. I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist. I’ve been on meds for months. I take them regularly. We are still working on the right combination but I have faith that everything I’m doing is helping at whatever pace it takes. And that isn’t even it. I’ve started dating again. I opened myself up to really experiencing emotion again. And, yes, that part I owe to Casey. I’ve made friends and a community with the people I work with. I am working my ass off to create positive change in my life. So, no, I don’t accept the victim label. And I don’t accept the selfish label. I have 140 kids who are seen and heard and loved because I take the time to sit with them and listen and care in ways they have rarely experienced. I messed up with you but I am not a fuck up. I haven’t deserted myself.
All she had to say is, “If what you’re doing is working then keep doing that.” Not that this was about winning but I think this is a win for me because I didn’t allow myself to be diminished by her words. Words which she thought were coming from a place of helping me to heal. But I’ve got this! Kuneo last night reminded me that I am the type of person who wrestles with God. I am the type of person who falls and falls and gets back up again. I don’t do things the way others want or expect. I take the scenic route. And that’s okay!
I always had this notion that I was unworthy and that’s why I made myself small. But I am not less deserving because of the things that have happened to me. And I am not a perpetual victim because it’s taking me time to overcome those things. I do not have imposter syndrome among survivors (the feeling of being a fraud who will be found out). I am a survivor.
I just so happen to be a survivor who sometimes gets stuck in past patterns. I’m a survivor who sometimes hurts people accidentally. I’m a survivor who sometimes falls off the wagon. I’m a survivor who has days where I can’t get out of bed. I’m a survivor who sees merit in telling my story. I’m a survivor who doesn’t want to just forget the past. The problem isn’t that I’m not a survivor; it never has been. The problem is the narrow definition and high expectations people place on the term “survivor.” Surviving is having the courage to wrestle our demons daily. That’s it.
And another Kuneo take away, even when all those things happen that make me feel like an imposter, I am still deserving of love. I am still worthy because I am. My worth is not tied up in what I do or don’t do. We would do well to remember that, to remember that each of us is deserving of love… granted, I’m not going to rush out and love my rapist or abusers, I’ll leave that to God/the Universe, and others. But I can find it in my heart to love myself and to love those who’ve hurt me in really raw, human ways. This means I still have love for Casey. I still have love for Mia. I still have love for those who abandoned me. I have love for every person I’ve been in a hurtful relationship with. Because if I’m deserving, so are they. I’m not a victim because I have a heart of love (ask my darling nephew who told me when he was 5, “aunt boo, I have your heart and it makes love”).
Perfection isn’t a prerequisite to love.