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No one else gets to decide forgiveness on your behalf. No one else gets to tell you how to process your trauma. No one gets to police what you say or how you say it, or what you do.
As I sit here this evening, bells chime in a distance, I shiver slightly as the winter winds announce the moonrise; I think of how you braved the storms to find some light on some days, but let the storm engulf you on some others, and I wonder what do I tell you.
What do I tell you that you do not already know? You survived. You know you are stronger than this. You know you have people to hold on to even if it seems you are alone. You know that what did not kill you, made you resilient. You know life will go on, time will heal, you will find newer avenues and blah and blah and blah.
I really have nothing motivational or positive or whatever to say to you except perhaps that, it is okay to not be okay.
I am here to tell you that it is okay if you sit in your bathroom and cry for hours together because you are afraid to go out and confront your life head on.
It is okay to let that laundry pile up all over your home because you needed just that one more day to find the will to do anything.
It is okay if you have been ordering in your food everyday because you cannot find the energy to cook.
It is okay if you have been postponing things indefinitely because your mind has not been focussing.
It is okay to let the chats go unread, the calls go unanswered, the doorbells go unopened.
It is fine for the floors to not be squeaky clean, for books to mess around every corner, for stuff to not move for the longest while, because it is okay to take your time.
It is okay to take all the time to breathe and just be. It is okay to not decide.
Healing is not a one time effort. Healing is messy. No matter what everyone tells you, healing is not forgiveness. You are not obliged to forgive those who wronged you. That is not where you find your good night’s sleep or your next new shiny phase. That is not your catharsis if you do not want it to be.
No one else gets to decide forgiveness on your behalf. No one else gets to tell you how to process your trauma. No one gets to police what you say or how you say it, or what you do, because you are not grieving in ways they want you to grieve.
It is okay to be bitter, angry, rage and vent your heart away, and it is okay to curse and scream and collapse. It is okay if you do not find it in your heart to make amends.
My love, it is okay if your journey looks halted right now and if you have to regulate your emotions and body with the help of medicines your psychiatrist prescribed.
It is okay if you don’t rush yourself into feeling better, and it is okay if the world thinks you are taking forever. Your healing does not require you to “get over it already”. Your healing does not need to be urgent.
Those shoulders, stretch them when you find the will, and when you’re less anxious. Your journey is your own and let no one tell you how it ought to be. There will always be those who will tell you you are not doing enough. It is okay to take a break from them. You, my dear, are enough.
Dear Survivor, try telling yourself that as long as you are enough for yourself, you will get there. You don’t owe the world their pace. If you owe anything to anyone at all, then it is only and only to you. And please know, I am proud of you, I love you, and I am here for you, regardless of the time you take and the mess you make and the norms you break, while you figure your pace, your life, your way.
Dear Survivor, you got this. You survived. You will survive.
A survivor of gender based trauma is affected in ways that go deep, and their worldview can get permanently damaged. It can be really crippling in their day to day life – whether in the personal or public sphere, and sending some comfort their way can help.
We at Women’s Web are collaborating with the Saahas App for Survivors of Gender Violence to reach out to women who need to be heard, and healing, as survivors of gender based violence. Letters to the survivor from our authors will be published on Women’s Web in the coming 10 days, and also on the Saahas website, in a series called “Dear Survivor”.
If you would like to participate, please upload your letter on your Women’s Web dashboard, and if chosen, it will be published.
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