In the aftermath of something tragic, it is often impossible to think ahead to a time that is going to be better. Sometimes, the events last for months, even years, and it is difficult to remember that life can get better again.
For many, Life’s trials are so grim that they severely damage the person’s psychological state and leave them bereft of any happiness or hope. Others mourn for a time, and even continue to mourn, but recognize that there is something more still out there for them. It may not be right away, and it may take great or varying effort, but the victim moves beyond their grief into work for their future. This, by psychological terms, is called the “survivor mindset.”
Who has the "survivor mindset"?
Clearly, each individual can only be evaluated on their own, and never against someone else’s abilities to cope or move on. Even persons of the same circumstances cannot be seen as a collective whole, but by their individual psyche. In my own family full of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, each member has, in the years since our escape, had varying degrees of healing. In some things, I have healed faster than my three sisters and in others, they have left me far behind. I personally believe it has to do with our diverse personalities and other experiences once we left that either helped to heal or were purely detrimental. In one thing, however, every Wilson child had one thing in common: The absolute will to survive.
In a Psychology Today article, a Dr. Archer, who worked with both Hurricane Katrina and Rita victims, noted that “psychological victims” are people that “are passive, pessimistic and look to the past. They ask, ‘Who will help me?’ They despair and are all consumed by their loss, refusing to help themselves.” In turn, he said, “psychological survivors” are “active, optimistic and look to the future. They ask, ‘How can I help myself?’ They grieve, which is healthy, but they continue to persevere and fight” (psychologytoday.com). My sisters and I chose to fight.
Everyone Has A Story
Make no mistake. Life and our healing has never been easy, and often we found ourselves screaming backwards, propelled by some sudden memory, or other hurtful circumstances that were out of our control. I have had people begin to tell me of a problem that hurt them in the past, but many have stopped to say, “Of course, it was never as bad as what you went through. I know that.” This frustrates, because my experience does not negate another’s, or make it less valid. No one’s does. It is impossible to determine which side of the psychological facts they should be on.
It is my firm belief that there can be hope. Surviving doesn’t always mean that the victim is strong. It does not mean the person is reasonable all of the time, or that they will ever be able to step out into the light. It does mean, however, that there is a chance. A chance to set your life upright again, a chance to show the world just what you are made of. It is then that one will realize that they not only survived—they lived.