What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Something

I think about this sometimes: about how messed up we all really are on the inside. How we put on this “day face” and try to just live life and be okay, but underneath all that we have all these layers of neuroses and disappointments and unresolved issues that stay dormant until they’re triggered. Not overtly, most of the time — we wouldn’t be able to function if it were overt all the time — but under. Underneath us, inside of us. Things that happened to us that changed us. Heartbreak and trauma woven into the texture of our skins.

I think about this sometimes when I’m talking to someone, especially someone I know. It’s always more pronounced when it’s someone you know: you’re looking at them and they’re looking at you and you’re discussing something stupid like where to get dinner and all of a sudden it’s a surprise punch in the stomach, simultaneously seeing the person right in front of you and everything they’ve been through smudged around them like a sort of aura. You look at this person who was once on the verge of suicide, or overcame a serious illness, or had a dad who drank or no family at all, and they’re right there, talking, standing. They’re fine. They’re there. And you get this sudden impulse to weep or just touch them actually to make sure they’re real and wish you could borrow their strength for a moment because your own bones are crumbling.

It’s crazy to think about sometimes how all of us, even the most put together of us, are comprised of layers upon layers of experiences that once broke us, cracked our shells; about how we’re constantly mending ourselves, gluing ourselves together so we can remain in one piece and keep going forward for some reason. Underneath the outer layer we’re these coarse tangles of fears and mental blocks and sense memories and the older we get the more they just build and build. Sometimes we want nothing more than to be able to “let go” and leave the past in the past where it belongs, but these things imprint, in a way. They brand us. We can’t get rid of them and we wouldn’t be ourselves without them.

I was talking to a friend of mine recently and we started discussing our “stories,” and the more she told me about her life the more I became in awe of her — I felt like, if I were ever made to go through what she went through, I probably wouldn’t have made it past the 8th grade. But then, if I step outside of myself sometimes and take an objective look at what I went through, I’m in awe of myself as well. It all looks like so much more when you just look at it from a distance; more intense, in a way. More overwhelming. More something.

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger but it also makes us f-cking tired.

We promise ourselves we’re going to stop letting ourselves get hurt. We wrap ourselves in impenetrable cocoons, or we try to. But it doesn’t really work that way — as much as we want to become immune, become untouchable, we can’t be: the world still wants to play and we can’t really say no. We’re just as fragile and breakable as we’ve always been; we just have more layers on this time around.

Of course, someone somewhere always has it worse. And I’m not going to say everyone deserves some sort of medal for getting out of bed in the morning. But damn it, when you think about all this weight that piles up on us, and all our different coping strategies (some adaptive, some not so much), and the scars we accumulate throughout our lives (everyone has them) that make us all the interesting damaged messes that we are; the way we individually experience loss and heartbreak and nothingness and push through it, we’re doing a pretty good job as humans. We do things. We go to work. We go to school. We do the laundry. We breathe. We function. We grieve and we pick ourselves up and adapt and keep going.

We keep moving, because there’s not a whole lot else to do. TC Mark

image – Shutterstock

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  • Some Reviewer

    This is so beautiful. Exactly what everyone’s feeling right now.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kevinkenkel1 Kevin Kelly Kenkel

      i am not feeling like this. at all.

  • http://1504miles.tumblr.com Maha Nusrat

    Mila

    I love this piece that you wrote. It hit me right at the core. It’s as if you spoke to me on a personal level. I appreciated your rawness and unbiased advice. The media/movies/books/ our parents always try to teach us to walk towards the sun and never look back, but god dammit that’s wrong; no one’s immune to the past. We’re humans and still go through the heartache again and again and again. That’s what makes each individual special and that’s what makes the world go round.

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  • http://gravatar.com/janetm67 janetm67

    Mila another awesome piece. You hit the nail on the head on so many levels. What you write means so much to so many. We all need to know we’re not alone, that somebody understands. Doesn’t matter how old you get either. Keep up the great work:-)

  • http://twitter.com/Amphx AnnamariaPhilippeaux (@Amphx)

    “You look at this person who was once on the verge of suicide, or overcame a serious illness, or had a dad who drank or no family at all, and they’re right there, talking, standing. They’re fine. They’re there. And you get this sudden impulse to weep or just touch them actually to make sure they’re real and wish you could borrow their strength for a moment because your own bones are crumbling.”

    I think this all the goddamn time! I’ll never get tired of seeing an abstract thought or emotion I experience illustrated so beautifully in words I can never seem to find. I think this is especially important to remember not just about the people you know, but about the ones you don’t know, and especially the ones who have hurt you. Everybody becomes a little bit more human that way.

  • Yumi

    One of the best reads yet. You captured the very phenomenon that goes on in the world, which people are afraid of talking about. Thanks for this. And hey, please keep writing. :-)

  • MC

    This is absolutely brilliant and accurate and I’m just so happy I found this piece that summarized my thoughts so well. Sometimes it’s easy to be overwhelmed by our own thoughts – having articles like this can collectively clear our heads, because our thoughts are written out for us, and takes a little bit of weight off.

  • http://www.collegiatefeminist.com Danielle @ Collegiate Feminist

    This is one of my favorite pieces on Thought Catalog yet. Everything that you have written here is so raw, honest, true. Lovely, lovely work!

  • Peeks

    Amazing.

  • Whitney

    I am writing right now about why I have such numbingly painful middle child syndrome, and I read this, and it is the most beautiful cluster of words I think I could have read right now. Thank you.

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  • Tori

    This is really beautiful, Mila.

  • http://pinkcottondoll.wordpress.com pinkcottondoll

    Reblogged this on Pink spools of yarn and commented:
    It’s true. We all have our emotional baggage. We can never get rid of them and they make us who we are anyway. Life just goes on.(optional)

  • SK Chungarian

    Wow…THIS was incredible….THIS was truly empowering.
    Thank you so much for sharing, Mila. W-O-W.

  • Nicole

    oh my. Thank you! Just shows how we shouldn’t judge other people, even ourselves. Everyone has their story. And yes, we just have to keep on pushing and pushing, cause life really goes on, with or without us. Cheers to life!
    Love this article! Thank you!

  • Char Wan

    Reblogged this on Charmanize.

  • Sylvia

    I feel like through this she’s forgetting that we all build up layers from the good memories and the love we have and have gotten. I think we get through it all because it all balances out, and you should never just look at this one side.

  • CULTURAL LIBERATION

    Due to the type of society created by the capitalistic world we live in, people have left behind ethical and moral principles to get ahead. Any shortcut is acceptable no matter the consequence/s of their action/s.

    Media slander, Penalties, fines and jail time are harsher for people fighting for LIBERATION than for harden criminals and unethical or immoral or irresponsible individuals. The hurt and pain caused by these people affect us all significantly as mentioned in the article above. However these individuals are not punished / disciplined for their wrong doings but rather rewarded financially for it.

    How much suffering and pain must we endure before we wake up and realize that this method of existence brings us nothing more than this pain and suffering. We can change this. It all starts with a small step towards love and mercy.

    Forgive and forget. God the most merciful, the most beneficial, in his infinite knowledge knew that we will come to this point and has given us the ability to solve this problem. He limited our memory capacity, as a result, if we use our memory to remember his teachings, the beauty he created, the good deeds we have performed and the good deeds other have performed. Then we will not have space for the bad things and the bad deeds. We will therefore forget and only remember the good.

    This will make it easier to LIVE & let LIVE, to FORGIVE & to FORGET and to LOVE & to be MERCYFUL.

  • http://etonasikurds.wordpress.com kurdsd

    thank you for this. :)

  • shathahijazi

    Why this made me so depressed and feel like crying!!!

    its so true, and beautifully said…thanks Mila

  • X.

    I completely agree. Sometimes I feel like we are like ants and there is some kid hovering over us, setting us on fire, poking us, lays some shit in front of us to see how we react and there is not a lot we can do but react. All we do is, maybe panic at first, then deal with it in our own special way, but then it’s business as usual…but of course it has changed us one way or another. That’s why this is one of my favorite quotes:

    “Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”
    ― D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover

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