Because You’re a Survivor

I sensed her whimper before I heard it. My eyes sought her out the moment the words were spoken aloud. I watched them register. Watched her flinch away, closing her eyes against the memory. And all I wanted to do in that moment was wrap her up in my arms, clamp my hands over her ears and whisper, “You didn’t hear that, baby.”

But she did hear it, and nothing I could do would remove those words that had already dug their sharp claws into her fragile heart.

If time could be rewound, I would have spared her that reminder that stabbed like knives into an already bleeding heart. But then, if time could be rewound, she’d go back a month and make it so that there was nothing to be remembered. No tragedy would befall a girl who held all of time in her hands. But the only place time rewinds is in her eyes where she relives the moment for the hundredth time.

And I realize that she will always be this way. She will always cringe as certain words—certain sights and smells and sounds—send her back to that moment of helplessness and despair. And even if I could have sheltered her in that moment, I can’t shelter her forever. And the hardest thing is realizing that she doesn’t even know what it means to be sheltered anymore.

And as she drowns in the depths of her pain, these are the lyrics that beat in my heart:

Baby, baby, you deserve so much more than a lifetime of being trapped in that moment where the victim song became a familiar melody to you. You deserve to be sheltered a little bit longer—just a little bit longer.

You weren’t meant to be an empty shell, broken and haunted by events that were always beyond your control—even when you were in the thick of them, they were beyond your control. You were meant to sing. Loudly. And you were born to dance. Freely. And you were always made for shining your light even when you’re shining all on your own.

And I know it isn’t fair that you’re the one who has to relight the candles when the whole world has gone dark, but, baby, can’t you see that you’re the only one brave enough to rekindle the flame? And I would wrap you up in my arms and carry you the rest of the way, but I think your legs are actually stronger than mine if you’ll only remember how to use them. And I know the world has been rocking crazy here of late, but you’re more sure-footed than you realize. And you—you know the way. Even in the dark, you’ll find your way.

I’ll be here to hold your hand if you need me. I would never expect you to try to navigate this life all on your own. But, girl, if you’re looking for someone who will simply cry with you, you’ve turned to the wrong arms. Because that’s not what you need. It may be what you think you want, but it’s not what you need.

And mine will always be the voice that whispers, “Girl, you’ve got this. I know you’ve got this.”

Because you’re a survivor; not a victim.

There are no victims here.

And maybe I can hold you while the world rocks crazy, but, baby, you can take it from here.

you can take it from here

The Victim Song

Hannah Brencher has done it again. She has blown up my heart with a series of syllables scattered across a page because she’s magical like that. And, really, I think you should bounce over there and read the whole thing because it is, after all, 25 things every woman needs to know. Things like leggings are not pants (can I get an amen?), and confidence is sexy, and maybe it’s good to actually know your geography, girl.

But the message that tripped me up today was Hannah’s final point—Number 25:

“Darling, darling–the victim song is never going to fit you. It will never be good enough for your lungs. It will never be good enough for your time. You are stronger than you know and more graceful than you know. Don’t let the parts of you that want to be a victim live on any longer. You’ve got a voice… you’ve got a story… Do us all a favor and use it. Without any apologies. Without any stepping back. If ever you need a listener, come find me…”

And I wonder how many of us live with that victim mentality. I wonder how many of us cut ourselves off at the knees because we’ve been cut off before. I wonder how many of us live with the lie that our voice is not strong enough. Our story is not big enough. Our words are not powerful enough.

I wonder how many of us drown out the song of our worth with the mournful refrains of the victim song.

vic·tim

Noun
  1. A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
  2. A person who is tricked or duped: “the victim of a hoax”.

We. Are. Killing. Ourselves.

And maybe we were harmed by someone else. Maybe we were tricked or duped or injured as a result of actions that were not our own. And if you were the victim of some horrible crime, I’m terribly sorry for that.

But in the past, you were a victim. Today, you don’t have to be. Oh no, you don’t have to be.

You don’t have to keep reliving the moments that destroyed you. You don’t have to keep repeating the words that wounded your spirit. You don’t have to be the victim of your memories.

Darling, darling, that victim song will never be good enough for your lungs.

There’s a better tune out there, waiting to whistle through your windpipes. Waiting to show the world that you are so much more than a victim. You’ve got more worth than that.

And maybe you’re thinking, “Rebekah, you don’t know. You’ve had it so easy. You’ve never experienced what I’ve experienced.”

And you would be right. I’ve shed plenty of tears for loved ones, but I don’t know what it is to be a victim. Not like that.

So let me introduce you to someone who understands. I want you to meet a girl who knows the lyrics of the victim song more strongly than she does her own name. This is the girl who has been on the receiving end of a crime so terrible I hate to put words to it. This is a victim of India’s sex trade.

ValuableBut see the bends of her smile? That soft knowing that she doesn’t have to be a victim anymore? See the new lyrics she holds close to her heart because someone sang them into her when they pulled her from the brothel that had long been her prison?

That victim song doesn’t fit her any longer. To be honest, it never did.
Because she was valuable all along.

All those nights when her heart cried with the horror of it, there was a song that hoped to fill her with its beauty. A song of redemption and value and worth.

That’s the song she was meant to sing. That’s the song she would pass on to you.

So take a deep breath and let it fill your lungs.