Living in this world can feel like a constant fight against an unstoppable apocalypse. Punch after punch connects with our hearts, our self-confidence, and every fiber of our beings. A definitive rejection of our happiness seems constantly thrust upon us. And there are times when the pain of the “what ifs,” the loss, the abandonment, and the very hatred of our internal and external reflection, (or all of the above) will make us feel like we have no control over mind, body, nor soul.
I’ve been there (let’s be real, I’m still there). I have an on-and-off relationship with my Mother, a nearly non-existent one with my Father, have only legitimately dated two guys (both of whom ultimately left me behind in shambles), and I’m married to this monster inside of me that tells me that I’ll never be good enough for anything. No, maybe I’m not married to that—I feel like I’m married to the pain. It’s the only thing that’s stayed with me through all of these years. Through the nearly-empty-fridge poverty, through the senseless physical assault on my way home, through the racing thoughts every night, and through the inescapable fact that the two men I’ve shared more of myself with than anyone else saw me, the real me, and walked away. I just want to breathe in this life, but it’s hard to breathe when you still feel your father’s hands around your neck.
There’s only been one breath of fresh air, one escape from this hard reality. For me, it was her—Buffy The Vampire Slayer. While others around me had family members or celebrity heroes, I had a fictional character. But it was a relief for me, because I’d never had a hero before. Finally I’d found someone I could look up to, as stupid as others considered it.
And boy did people try to make me feel stupid for it. See, the thing about solace is that people don’t understand or care about it until it’s their own. Often we only see our own problems, which causes us to judge other people for their actions and choices, when most of the time we’re all just doing the same thing—trying to escape the misery and pain hanging over our heads. You’d think that would be enough to unite people (you’d think). But despite my many shortcomings, I am not a person that can be deterred when I set my mind to something. More than that, I felt a connection to Buffy, because her torture in this reality was 3-dimensional. She had her outer conflicts and her inner conflicts, both of which she fell and rose above throughout the series. But what I learned from her more than anything is that there is no real escape from the pain of living in this world.
It’s funny, to find comfort in a fact so cold, but I did and so can everyone else. When the hurt comes we always try to think of ways to escape it. We try to elude the fact that we have to find ways to deal with the pain. No empathetic and supportive talk from a best friend is going to get rid of the problem. They’ll help, no doubt, but at the end of the day we all have to fight our own battles. Like The Slayer, we’re all alone.
It is in this lonesome state that we deal with some of our biggest struggles. They can feel so unimportant, because the people all around, even those that we love the most, can be blind to the scars and wounds we suffer. Our lives become a book that no one else seems to read. But herein lies some of the beauty of this entrapment in reality and hurt. You can read this story. You can become the hero in this epic of your life. It doesn’t matter if someone else validates it or not. Every single thing you’ve overcome was a challenge. And it’s through these challenges that the cold world changes us. It’s darkly beautiful though—when you look at yourself in the past and in the present. No matter where you’re at now, you’ve succeeded—because you’re alive.
Buffy puts this concept to words in season 5, when she says, “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live.”
It’s the mantra that I’ve learned to live by. Life is meant to be an inescapable cycle of pain. It’s getting out of bed everyday and taking on the world that’s brave. Heck, staying in bed and staying with us in this world is brave too. It’s so easy to think of the struggles as a bad thing, when really they’re a testament to our character and a model of our strength. A friend once told me, as I was in tears, barely holding onto my sanity, that bad stuff happens to people who can handle it.
That’s what I’ve done all my life—handle it. While I’m not perfect, I know that I’m still here. I wake up, I brush my teeth, I put on one of my cute outfits and muss up my hair a little bit, and then I go out into the world. I smile; even knowing that life is always going to be hard, in one way or another, because I’m a warrior (or a Slayer.) And like Buffy, I’m not perfect, and shouldn’t expect myself to be. There are still going to be times when I’m sobbing and I don’t feel like I can stop. There’s going to be times when I feel like my heart is going to fall apart. But I’ll continue on. I’ll make it through, even if I’m battered, bruised, and alone.
Sadly, when you make it through, you don’t always take everything with you. People, places, and things that you love might get left behind. They’ll be mercilessly stripped from your life, and it’ll feel like there’s no reason to continue. But you will, because the point to continuing on is for your sake. We all owe it to ourselves to keep moving forward. We all need to go down fighting until the end, against this world that viciously hurts us. I know that I will. I’ve been through a lot, and I’ll go through more, but I’m going to be brave, and live.