Being a survivor doesn't mean being strong - it's telling people when you need a meal or a ride, company, whatever. It's paying attention to heart wisdom, feelings, not living a role, but having a unique, authentic life, having something to contribute, finding time to love and laugh. All these things are qualities of survivors. Bernie Siegel.
One of the reasons I still haven't been to AA (aside from being a total coward), is that I've always kicked back against the idea of being a victim.
I hate thinking of alcoholism as a disease (see Is Alcoholism a Disease?) that has no cure. I don't want to feel powerless, or to 'surrender.' Nor do I want to define myself by the label 'alcoholic.'
That's not to say that I believe any of this is our fault. Nor do I believe that I can, or should, ever drink again. I know I'd end up right back where I started. But that's not because I have a disease. It's because alcohol is addictive, and I was an addict.
I prefer the Jason Vale attitude. We are not victims; we are survivors. We realised that we were in a hole, and didn't surrender. We climbed our way out, with the help of our friends.
Now we can get on with life, and make up for lost time. We have no need to define ourselves by a problem that's behind us (so long as we make sure never to go back).
My cancer diagnosis has taken me through the same thought process. I've realised that there are two ways of dealing with cancer:
1. You can scream WHY ME? See yourself as a victim of some cruel universe. Then you can live the rest of your life in fear of the cancer progressing or returning, spending hours googling 'cures' and prognoses. You can turn your rose tinted glasses into cancer ridden spectacles and live half a life.
2. You can take it as a wake up call. A reminder that life is precious, and that we need to make the most of every moment. You can see yourself as a survivor. A kick ass Katniss Everdene, who is only made stronger and fiercer by the whole Cancer Games experience.
We are not victims, my friends. We are survivors. Which, as Bernie Siegel says, doesn't mean being strong - it means being brave enough to ask for help when we need it, and finding time to love and laugh.
Happy hangover free Sunday!