Now that we’ve hit our early twenties, most of us are carrying some emotional baggage around. Some of it is heavier than others, but you’re incredibly lucky if you’ve managed to hit 22 without anything bad ever happening to you. To be honest, I don’t think that’s a blessing. Sometimes you meet people who are so unaware, so self-centred that you just know that they’ve never had any serious disasters happen to them. There is nothing that makes you grow like loss. There is nothing that makes you love yourself like heartbreak. Honestly, without my childhood trauma I think I’d be a real pain in the ass.
But, that being said, we choose how we respond to negative situations. The circumstances of our lives are largely outside of our control, but we can decide how we want to react to them. One of the only guarantees in life is that bad things will happen to you, lots of them. Your parents will die. People will fall out of love with you. You won’t get that job you want, a car will run through a puddle and splash you when you’re wearing a brand new dress.
I can’t sit here and say that my life has been a parade of disasters, because my life has been pretty exciting so far. But I’ve had some big knocks, the most obvious being my dad getting diagnosed with terminal cancer and dying four weeks later, leaving us reeling in a house that suddenly seemed enormous and silent.
Do I have daddy issues coming out of my ears? Absolutely. Do I have a deep-seated belief that all the men I love are going to either die or leave me? Hell yeah. My anxiety is basically an extra arm who’s only purpose is to slap me repeatedly around the face. Trauma leaves fault lines etched across the surface of your personality and I trip over mine sometimes, I’m only human.
The thing I am most proud of myself for is my decision to remain as optimistic as possible. And it was, and continues to be, a decision. Surely by now we’ve all figured out that being alive and loving people other than yourself is fucking terrifying. I just got a very early insight into the importance of loving people as much as possible when you can, and dealing with the loss when it hits you. You can’t spend your life trying to shield yourself from hurt, or hurting others before they hurt you because life is going to catch up with you. None of us are going to get through this unscathed.
The only kind of trauma I can speak on is child bereavement, and maybe other kinds of trauma require different responses. But I fundamentally believe that you aren’t special because bad things happened to you, you’re unlucky. It doesn’t give you a free pass to be an asshole for the rest of your life and you make a choice about whether you are going to let your past completely define you. The only thing we can do when life throws a left hook is put some ice on the bruise and improve our footwork. Walking straight out of the ring isn’t an option.