Today I wanted to write about a subject that I almost never allow on my blog. I usually write about clothes, Scotland, travels, and more personal posts are becoming rare here.
But today, I felt like making a change of tone and spirit.
My post is for women and men alike. It’s especially for those people who are often told “I’m not worried about you, I know you’re strong.”.
To those who say it: you don’t know, you can’t diminish or minimize the pain and vulnerability of a person. You can’t reduce their life to a few words. Be it a harsh childhood, marked by loss or violence (verbal, physical or sexual), an illness or a mental handicap… Even if you think so, even if this person seems so strong, you can’t say that. You may admire them because they never give up, or on the contrary, you may wonder how they can be depressed when they look like they have everything they could ever wish for.
I’m so often weary of hearing “you’re doing well Nella, you know, you’re so lucky, it could be worse. Some people would have become homeless/junkies/violent is they were you”. I know that. But it’s not luck, it’s a constant fight, a fight for my own survival. Because that’s what we’re talking about here. Survival.
For a long time, to be honest, for the biggest part of my life, I only survived. I’ve only recently started to truly “live”. The death of my mother was one of my childhood traumas, but not the worst in fact. I was mistreated and sexually abused for years by a member of my family.
Locked away in my silence, guilt and shame for more than ten years, I was called a liar, an “attention whore” when all this suffering got past my lips at last. Caught in a landslide of abuse, my only option was to run away. Not only from my family, for whom I now was this lying troublemaker, but also from reality. I barely had time to hope for justice before fear caught up with me, and I decided not to bring the case to justice… fearing retaliation, fearing to be accused of slander! I didn’t see myself as a victim, but as a culprit. And when I was told “you’re strong”, I felt like all this suffering was being dismissed. Like time could erase all the pain, and that after a few years, everything could be forgiven.
That is not possible. Anyone who experienced any kind of trauma knows this (and there is no scaling or comparing pain and loss, never say “there’s worse”, because each and every experience is personal, all pain is important). But it is possible to go on, to go from surviving to living. I overcame a lot of obstacles: rejection and abandon, depression, anorexia… to be happy at last. I still have everyday problems, as everyone does, and I’m not a superwoman with magical powers… but I’m now happy for what I have and particularly for what I accomplished.
I didn’t make this journey alone, but I managed to hang onto the right hands that were held out to me at the right moment, and I never lost faith. There are still days when I’m not well. Days go by but I’m lost in time, I lose my hold on reality and I have trouble just being there, being present (I’m currently in a troubled period where I have to push myself to keep going). I wanted to share this. I want to keep growing and it’s in this sharing that I’ll make my greatest accomplishment. In standing fast for who I am, with my past, my present and my dreams for the future. With my strengths and my weaknesses. And with you.
This is why today, I want to reach out with my own hands. With my words, here on my blog. But especially with our brand new project with my dear Eglantine (one of these beautiful hands I held onto!): Breath of Life. A non-“women’s magazine”, available online, different from those authoritative ones that tell you who to be and how. A webzine open to the men who wish so. Open to all of those who want to inject this impulse into their daily lives, open to those who want to live and not just to survive.
Find us ‘Souffle Vital’ on:
This anti-magazine will be available only in french. We hope to have an english version soon… Would you be interested?