“I Didn’t Need To Be Stronger. I Needed To Be Safe”

I’ve seen these words come up a few times on my social media lately. Every time I read them I have a visceral reaction where I have to stop and catch my breath.

For most of my life I have repeated the mantra we get taught to say as trauma survivors: That my trauma made me stronger. That it made me more resilient. That I am who I am today because of what I experienced. That I am THANKFUL for my experiences because of what I learned from them.

It’s taken me this long to understand this is just another way of adapting — another way to people-please, another way to seek acceptance, to stay small, to stay quiet, to stay under the radar, to stay safe.

Be a survivor, but make it palatable; god forbid we make anyone uncomfortable.

There is so much damage done to survivors when we tell them their trauma will make them stronger and more resilient; that one day they’ll be thankful for who they became because of their suffering.

There is so much damage when we dismiss and invalidate the necessary grieving process.

“But it made you stronger” bypasses the entirety of the process a survivor must go through to fully and completely heal. For years I pushed my trauma down and told myself I was stronger for it; better for it. I didn’t allow myself to grieve — to feel the anger and rage and sadness and injustice. I was too busy trying to be the good girl. The good Christian. The good wife. The good mother.

The good survivor.

Instead, I turned my grief inward and eventually destroyed myself. Such is the price we pay for suppressing that which we need to feel in order to heal.

Being good will bring acceptance, but it will never bring healing.

Being a survivor will make us stronger, but not if we bypass the process.

We must allow ourselves to walk through the grief. Through the darkness of it. Through the ugliness of it. Through the parts of it that aren’t pretty or comfortable to those around us.

I was a child who needed to be safe, and wasn’t given that. The result of this is not *strength*. The result of this is trauma. And only when we choose to first acknowledge and heal the trauma do we then move toward the strength x

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