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" I don't want to survive I want to live"

This movie quote hit me right in the face. I am not sure I understood the difference between surviving and living until I came upon this quote. What does it mean to survive ?What does it mean to live? What is the difference? Do they contradict each other or rather complement each other...deep thinking.

For me, I had to learn to survive as far back as I can remember. I thought I was just living the life that I was dealt and living the only way I knew how. I used to hold my breathe a lot; afraid to disturb the beasts(those voices inside my head) and it served as a way to shrink into myself for protection. I was always hyper-alert because I felt that it wouldn't hurt as much if I saw it coming. So, I learned early on to "read the room" and be aware of my surroundings. I thought everyone lived like this and was surprised and confused to find out that they indeed did not.

Many of my memories became only snapshots; a way to survive day after day. I'm sure that this was just a way to protect myself. I reactively moved at a fast pace that became a way of life. I went through the motions but I learned to detach myself. It was easier that way; life, you know, on life's terms that were thrust upon me, certainly not on mine. But, I did not understand that difference for a long time.

I found that growing up in facilities was easier than being on the outside; less judgmental and harsh. Time felt like it stopped on the inside, which I am sure was how I survived those days because I felt that surviving "out there" was exhausting. I knew I was different from "people on the outside" and as hard as I tried, I just didn't fit in. I had scars and stories and things I did not talk about. Every time I fell backwards, I lost a little part of myself.

Going through the motions and managing all I was trying to manage every single day, all the ways I fought to keep my head above water, being afraid of what would happen if I couldn't keep my head above water; that wasn't living! It was just surviving; nothing more and nothing less!

So what does it mean to "live"? For me, it means embracing all the goodness around me; the people, places and things that I have been blessed with, having gratitude, doing things I never did before, learning new skills, celebrating the victories, allowing the guard to come down, learning to trust people, making the best of every situation, knowing its ok to be happy. and even coming to terms with the issues I struggle with every day, but not letting those struggles define me or stifle me. I don't have to be scared and I don't have to carry regrets of what happened and of what I couldn't see or even understand of that time in my life.

The quote I once heard spoke volumes to me..."Sometimes you have to let go of the picture of what you thought life should look like and learn to find joy in the story you are actually living". -Rachel Marie Martin.

It's not just seeing the sun or knowing it's there, it's allowing yourself to actually feel it.

It's not always easy, in fact, sometimes it can be really hard. But if I rise above, I am choosing to live, not just survive, and that is a huge difference. -Jen




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