This One Fucking Life
I last told you about the previous few months since my youngest daughter (and last child because my body is beyond done) was born. I shared about realizing I’m simply miserable in my body, and how someone dear to me decided she was ready to change her lifestyle. But I accepted that wasn’t in the cards for me, yet, per the title of that post, I don’t want to live like this.
I know the stats. I have written about it before. How common it is for victims of incest to begin the manifest of multiple autoimmune illnesses, typically in their 40s. My trauma was severe enough that the myriad illnesses ravaging my body presented their symptoms in my late 20s, though it took years to diagnose them.
Usually I describe it to people like this—imagine there are identical twins. Their home isn’t safe, rife with just about every form of abuse imaginable. One twin takes all of the suffering, and the other knows about it, but only just enough to know she needs to get out. She’s able to go do what it takes to fly far, far away at first opportunity while the abused twin stays home and is the metaphorical—and somewhat literal—punching bag.
My mind and body are those twins. Body is the twin that took the pain so Mind could get out. Body still lives there, and Mind both wants to connect to her but also often doesn’t. What Body knows is fucking terrifying and if Mind knew everything Body knows I would quite likely have a complete psychological breakdown. I fear sounding dramatic, but it is worth repeating here that multiple therapists have told me I should be dead. Someone who endured all that I did should have taken her life intentionally or become so addicted to substances and toxic relationships that some combination of all of the above would have killed me.
For me, simply being alive is a nearly incomprehensible miracle, and the condition—and size—of my body manifests that.
I had this epiphany a few weeks ago: very few people on this earth have a story like mine. Tragically, far too many people, women and girls in particular, have stories of SA (sexual assault). But to have had it begin by two days old and continue for the majority of a decade is nearly unheard of. I don’t know how many of us there are, but I doubt there are a lot. Out of billions, maybe a dozen? A few dozen?
I know we all desire to be unique, but this is not a fun one to own.
And because I treasure vulnerability, I will tell you how hard it is to say that I am rare and I know it. My mom, who reads everything I write but then mentions it to me tangentially in an effort to regain control of the narrative when I take ownership and share my story on my terms, is the one who shared with me the story of why she believes Chuck began abusing me by two days old. And she shared it multiple times growing up, always telling me “it” had probably already begun. But then when I wrote about it two years ago, she tried to mention by happenstance that he probably wasn’t abusing me yet that young and insinuated I was just being dramatic to get attention.
That voice lives in my head. The doubt that I cannot know my own story, let alone know my own self, because I’m just so dramatic. I just want attention. I just want to be special. I just want to be seen. To be heard. To be loved. To matter.
When I take it to its logical conclusion, that I want to know I am not a piece of shit and that it matters that I exist, that I actually fucking matter, I realize it isn’t so ridiculous.
How immensely beautiful it is for any person to stand up, straighten her spine, and say, “I. Matter.”
I have also realized something else, and this is changing my life, so I really need you to lean in and listen for a moment because I believe it’s a universal truth that few of us really, truly know. But if you listen, take it to heart, and go forward with it I think it might change your life, too.
What happened to me wasn’t my fault. It isn’t my fault that I blocked years upon years of my life and don’t know all that was done to me as a child. It isn’t my fault that the parts I do remember were enough to get me out but not enough to make me aware that my body was sick from all of the knowing. It isn’t my fault that, in addition to crap genetics, I packed on 200 pounds over about 8 years, a process in hyperdrive each time yet another trusted and beloved man in my life harmed me.
And now? My body feels like a painful, exhausting, demoralizing prison. She does. But I don’t need to hold onto guilt or shame for what happened to her nor for what she looks or feels like.
Yet here’s the thing, fellow humans:
Nor do I have to accept it.
See, I have been a doormat for most of my life. And I thought that’s who I am. So sweet, so accommodating, and calling it selfless as though it were a good thing.
What I didn’t realize is that I am actually identical triplets. And that third sister, my soul, got shipped off when I was 5 and a half years old and my home became a place where I erased myself as much as possible to be the convenience I was expected to be, or else. Mind remembered enough of her to be a shadow of her, Body enough to be a shell of her. But at 35 I found out Soul still existed so we started to become acquainted again, albeit via long distance.
Recently Soul moved back in with me, my mind. And do you know what I found out?
That soul of mine? She’s a fighter.
Soul looked Mind in the eye, and she told me we were inviting Body to move in, too. When I tried to rationalize that Body doesn’t respond to effort, that she just brings pain and frustration; that all she can do is scream the reminder that my life was decided it would be shitty the second I came out a girl and not a boy and then within 48 hours as a sex toy for my father, she shook her head.
“Tami, this is our one fucking life. Our only one. There aren’t do-overs. You don’t get to go back. You don’t get to stop Chuck or any other man from touching you. You can’t make your mom raise you hearing how loved and wanted you are as opposed to resented and a burden. You can’t stop any of the things that happened or what was done and said to you. You don’t get to undo trauma nor can you change any of your responses to it that would result in making today better for you somehow.
But you right now? You still have today. Remember what you said almost two years ago?
You are alive.
You, the mind part of us? You kept us all breathing. You are why we’re here. You’re a survivor.
But I’m a fighter. Surviving is incredible, but it’s no way to live. You said it—you don’t want to live like this. With our body suffering and dying. Because as she goes, so do we. I’ll be damned if I can just accept that.
And Tam? You listening? When all three of us are here, together, doing the work to become the one full, whole, and well person we’re supposed to be, that’s how we get free.”
So yeah, that soul of mine, that fighter? She was so right that there is nothing else left.
I’ve got this one fucking life.
I’m going to fight for it to be what I want. What happened to me happened. And it isn’t just in the past, because it’s still ravaging my body. It’s something I cannot simply move on from, because Body knows, she carries that trauma in every muscle, and I need her if I want to be free.
I do. I want that more than anything. And so I fight for this one fucking life of mine, because it's all I'll ever have and I refuse to let one more day of it be spent fatalistically, determined by those who harmed instead of loved me.
I love me, and that's enough.
This one fucking Life. F-ing for you sensitive souls.
I’ma be using that hashtag liberally. I hope that I might inspire you to do the same; I already made sure it isn't a common one, which is why it isn't TOFL, lest we all be confused with what appears to be Russian coffee.
Oh, and one more thing about that soul of mine, the one I didn’t even know I had:
I fucking love her. She ain’t going anywhere.
Do you want to know more? Are you inspired to learn how to fight for yourself? Stay with me. I know some of you are dying to know the "how" piece, and I feel you on a spiritual level, but also the "why" is the how, and without it nothing else matters.