No one wants to be a “survivor”. After all, being a survivor means you have experienced something that really should have killed you, but didn’t. One can be a survivor of an illness (e.g., cancer survivor), an event (e.g., survivor of building fire), a crime (e.g., survivor of an armed robbery), a massacre (e.g., Cambodian massacre), a war (e.g., soldier or civilian), a relationship (e.g., domestic violence), and so on.
You cannot endure such hardships without much pain, and it is hard to come out of such experiences unscathed. I have been a survivor of illnesses twice over, once when my lupus attacked my vital organs, and once when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I survived. And to a smaller scale, I fight to survive everyday dealing with my chronic illnesses. But I wish I wasn’t put in a situation where survival is my ceiling. I wish I could just live.
I remember reading stories of survival and being in awe. I was inspired. But now, I can’t stand to read them because I just feel really sad for the person who had to endure such hardships. I now understand. They survived because they had to, and the cost of survival is usually very high.
It’s still hard for me to discuss all the ways I had to learn to fight and survive. How brutal those days were and how much I have lost, of myself and of my life. There were many days when I lost hope. I’m still standing, however, and that means something, I think.