It all started with Liss' post for Blog Against Disablism Day. Praticularly this:
I see myself in the mirror, later, and I feel ashamed. I'm so fucked up. No, you've got a chronic mental illness. I'm so fucking weak. No, you're sick. I'm a piece of shit. No, you're a survivor.
Then how come I don't feel like one?
Her piece hit me like a gut punch. I have a good gut instinct for the most part, so when I feel like something has hit me there, I listen. This one made me uncomfortable though.
I don't want to claim certain labels. I feel that to do so is appropriative. I identify as female-presenting genderqueer but I never talk about it. I am a survivor of sexual assault, intimate partner violence and mental abuse, and these things all have changed my ability to interact with the world in the expected "normal" way, possibly forever, but I will not claim the label of "victim" or "disabled." I'm not disabled because my issues are ones that I should just buck up and get over, right? I mean, I'm only a raped and abused woman in America. I'm a statistic. I'm just like a huge portion of women, or any marginalized group really. And to be a "good" survivor, I just need to "be strong" and "overcome adversity" and "learn to heal." I refuse to go to therapy, mainly because I should just get over this shit. That's what I'm supposed to do, right?
That worked for a while, or so I thought.
I had a moment early in my marriage when I was not feeling well, and my spouse asked me if I was interested in having sex that night. I didn't want to but I was clearly feeling torn about saying no, and zie looked me in the eye and said "It's okay to say 'no,' baby. I don't want you to say yes unless you really want to." I almost broke down crying, I was so relieved. I could say no, and be listened to. I could say no and still be loved and respected. Later I got angry...really, really angry. Angry that being allowed to say no almost reduced me to tears, that I lived in a world where even someone as aware of this shit as I am could get drawn so deeply into this thinking that I felt like I was drowning. Angry that what should be basic human decency felt like undeserved Utopia. Angry that I still hadn't healed enough to be able to trust my partner who had never given me a reason to do otherwise.
That's just the thing, I don't think I will ever "heal", at least not in the way survivors are expected to. These things that have been done to me have changed me. I cannot go back to being who and what I was before. These things cannot be undone and the best I can expect is to figure out how to manage my damage.