You are what you are, playa…

I will start by acknowledging that I am a hit dog, hollering.
If there is one internet meme that I loathe more than any other (That’s a long list. I hate 95% of the internet.), it’s “[x human behavior] is a defense mechanism/trauma response.” Especially when the behavior in question is hyper independence.
Let me, Your Resident Hyper Independent Friend, tell you a secret: you don’t have to tell me my life has been traumatic. I was there. Some people can move through the world with no memory of the moment that irrevocably changed their lives, I’m not one of them. I can summon it — and the shock, pain, and sadness that accompanies it — with a tap of my finger. I’m doing it right now.
I was all set to spend this post raging until I had a chat with a former blogger friend of mine (still a friend, the “former” applies to their blogger status) about how “therapy 101” it all sounds. “[x behavior] is a trauma response” is a sentiment of discovery. An “Ah, I didn’t know this about myself.” No wonder it warrants a shrug from people who are intimately familiar with their dark corners. Well, obviously, we say, rolling our eyes. I’ve been through some shit.
Instead of raging, I’ll describe what comes after that discovery.

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Ten years ago, I died.

Twenty-four years old. In a university office. With a nice job title. Six packets of off-brand Asprin on my desk. A montage of my favorite Facebook photos on loop in my head and guesses on which one they’d use on my funeral program. Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” humming through computer speakers. A handwritten note.

I swallowed the pills two at a time. Crying. Certain. Waiting for it to end.

I want to say doubt died in that office.

I want to say fear died in that office.

I want to say hopelessness died in that office.

I want to say that I lived happily ever after.

That I spent the weekend in a psych ward and it was fine.

That I lost my nice job title and was underemployed for two years and it was fine.

That I terminated two pregnancies that year and it was fine.

That I moved back home with my mother and it was fine.

But nothing was fine and I had to breathe through the not fine-ness.

Nothing was fine but I therapy’d and loved and laughed and wrote and sexed and drank and danced and cried and road-tripped and dreamed and read and yoga’d and studied and dropped out and fell apart and patched up and fell apart and patched up and nine years after I died, I am alive.

And whenever I get lost in who I am not, what I have not accomplished, what I don’t have, what I didn’t say, where I haven’t been…

I remember the year I raised myself from the dead.