Poetry | Poems of Protest and Resistance and Empowerment (9) | PPR

Poems of Protest and Resistance and Empowerment (9)

We publish poetry regularly on the No-one Left Behind blog. This week, a new poem by trauma recovery therapist and mental health advocate, Coleen McGleenon. Coleen McGleenon  |  Fri Oct 14 2022
Poems of Protest and Resistance and Empowerment (9)
Image: The Survivor Painting, by Annabelle Amory

If All You Did Was Survive
by Coleen Gleenon

There’s a phrase I’ve been hearing a lot lately and just to be honest, it has touched a nerve.

Anything that begin with the words: “If all you did was survive”.

As if surviving is some type of low-level achievement.

Do you know what survival entails? The reality of what that looks like?

Let’s break it down and take a good hard look:

1: It’s not sleeping for weeks or months at a time and still having to scrape together enough energy and brainpower to function as a human being/parent. Every. Single. Day.

2: It’s feeling like absolute shit, not wanting to get dressed or face the world, yet having no choice in the matter.

3: It’s the constant battle of wanting to feel better, do better, yet not being able to. Then in comes the guilt and shame just to kick you while you’re down.

4: It’s the begging for help and being put on waiting lists. Waiting lists so long, you don’t know if you’ll make it that far.

5: It’s being surrounded by people but feeling excruciatingly lonely.

6: It’s having to get to know yourself all over again because you went through a life event so extreme, you don’t even recognise yourself anymore.

7: It’s re-evaluating all you’ve ever believed or held true because your trust in the world has been completely decimated.

8: It’s wondering how you’re supposed to make it through the rest of your life when you can barely make it through a single day.

9: It’s feeling motivated for a few days then taking a huge crash that can last for months.

10: It’s becoming a master pretender… Smiling through the agony so that your kids don’t have to see the reality of what you’re going through.

11: It’s fighting the painful memories in the dark of night while you bury your sobs in the pillow, fearful of waking your loved ones.

12: It’s the roller-coaster of emotions that take your breath away, knock you for six, and leave you exhausted to your very soul.

13: It’s the wanting to be close to people and wanting to be left alone, all at the same time.

14: It’s the traumatising flashbacks and self-harm of always putting other people’s needs before your own.

15: It’s the not even knowing what your own needs are.

16: It’s watching the world keep turning while everyone else gets on with their lives, wishing you could somehow do the same.

It’s all of the above and so, so much more.

If ALL you did was survive, then you my friend, have done more than most.

You have done the bravest thing anyone could. To keep going when all you want to do is opt out.

Surviving is tough. It’s ugly and it’s complicated.

This world doesn’t make it easy to survive but you’ve done it before and you can do it again.

Surviving is such a huge achievement in and of itself.

Thank you for not giving in.

Thank you for showing up every day even if it’s in a state of constant battle.

Thank you for surviving.

I see you and you are not alone.