On survival, resilience and friends

There is a little piece of text that has appeared several times on Facebook and Pinterest, stylized differently but with a message that remains essentially the same:

"If you are reading this, you have survived your entire life up until this point. 
You have survived traumas, heartbreak, devastation, the different phases of life. 
And here you are. You go, motherfucker. You are awesome."

I find myself relating to this quote as if it was a friendly anonymous hand sending me a subliminal message of encouragement, especially if it pops randomly under my eyes at times where I'm having doubts. 

If it were to be summarized, my life has been until now a constant, cyclical ebb-and-flow of good and bad, of elation and sorrow, of joy and pain, of stability and trouble. And yet, I always find myself incredibly lucky; I feel a lot of gratitude when I am able to say that when I go through troublesome times, I know, no matter how difficult things are, that it's only a matter of time until things get better, and they could have been much, much worse.

Looking back, I realistically evaluate things that other people take for granted, but that I dearly missed. For one, a stable family life. I never knew what it feels to have a mother, for the woman who gave me birth was anything but one. 

After twenty years of constant emotional abuse and trauma, I found the strength to end a toxic relationship that was going nowhere. Nothing that I did was good enough, and for every little victory, for every piece of joy, I had to pay the price, as if having friends, good grades, and great opportunities was an insulting personal offense against her. How can someone be ferociously jealous of their baby, I can never understand. I know of mentally ill women who murder their children, but I still cannot understand how can a mother resent and hate the being she chose to have.

Instead of looking forward to family gatherings such as birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I dreaded the inevitable moments when she would ruin them, by either causing fights or by demanding that I listen, post-event, to her long, hateful and dehumanizing tirades about everyone who attended. On my graduation pictures, my eyes were wet and puffy, as she had done all she could so that I would be upset, angry at a fight she provoked, and hating my life that day. I remember thinking, during the valedictorian's speech, that, were it up to her, my wedding day would be ruined as well. 

In late 2012, at age 20, after narrowly surviving the worst depression of my life, I knew that I needed to run away from this person who was slowly killing my soul. I knew I needed to cling dearly to what remained of my dignity and my broken self-esteem, and run for my life. I then understood the meaning of resilience and strength, something I never thought (or was told) I'd find in myself. The excuse was that I was leaving to be close to my then-girlfriend, but being honest with myself, I knew now that I moved for an entirely different reason.

I paid the price for it, as, among others, I've lost the closeness of family members who, with a lack of strength of character and antiquated values where the elder comes before the child, chose to show her loyalty. 
But I know that nobody is perfect. I know that I might lose more, and regain those that I have lost. And I carry no hatred for anyone, not even for the principal culprit in this sordid affair. 
I am still paying the price for my decision to run, as no end can be put to evil, and it is always stirring, looking for more terrain to burn, more damage to cause. But I am better armed against it, and much stronger.

And I still think of myself as incredibly lucky. Lucky that I've made it this far, after the emotional and physical harm I have been exposed to since my teenage years. Lucky that I have my father, despite the aforementioned biological parent's failed attempt to separate us forever. Lucky that I've also survived the other troubles that always come with life, like bad break-ups, loss, financial and health problems, and I've always emerged out of whatever challenge I faced stronger and with my head high.

And my friends are the reason why I am the luckiest woman alive. The friends that I have here in DC are my support system and my true family, and I would not be anywhere I am now without them. My friends fill my life with joy, hope, fun, sincerity and delight. When someone asks me why I am reluctant to leave this country, in spite of finding life in France (or even Lebanon) much more enjoyable and of a higher quality, the answer is simple: I belong here. And not long ago, when I endured a logistically challenging situation, I was able to keep a clear head and think straight, only because I knew that no matter what happened, as long as my friends were okay, and as long as I still had them, everything would turn out to be perfectly fine. 

So as we approach a new year, one that will be filled, I am certain, with even more changes and hectic times, I look forward to it with more excitement than fear, because I know that I've made it so far, and I am better equipped than ever to face whatever challenges life throws my way. 

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