Saturday, November 22, 2003
Survival n 1: a state of surviving; remaining alive [syn: endurance] 2: a natural process resulting in the evolution of organisms best adapted to the environment [syn: survival of the fittest, natural selection, selection]

Even though I am barely at the mid-point of my life, I think I have already achieved a remarkable bit of survival. I don't see this as "survival of the fittest" however, but more of a function of my stubborn nature combined with sheer dumb luck.

I survived an early attempt by my body to kill me off via extremely high fevers that forced paramedics to pack me in ice like a bag of freeze-dried peas. No miracles here. Eventually the fevers grew lower and with time (and many late night baths in luke-warm water that felt like ice) they passed.

I survived the alcoholism of my parents. First that of my father, who never went out to drink but stayed at home and like clockwork at 8 pm turned into a Mr. Hyde that I neither knew nor understood. The things he said and did while drunk are still the stuff of my nightmares. When he grew old enough to fight back, I survived wishing that my younger brother would kill my father, not hurt him, not wound him, but kill him, once and for all so that we might be free. Later, I survived that long walk on the beach after my parents divorced, where my father told me how he used to beg my mother to stay with him. I survived hating her for refusing him, even though I knew that had she not done so I would still be in that alcohol-fueled hell.

Years later, I survived the alcoholism of my mother. Late nights in cars driven by her, wondering if this would be the night she crashed the car and killed us both. Coming to visit her and turning off the stove burners that she had left on all night or locking the doors she had left wide open or grabbing the dangling cigarettes from her passed-out fingers before they lit up the shag carpet or being so incredibly ashamed of her that at times I wanted to deny her existence or to hurt her enough that she would stop drinking and revert back to the Donna Reed that she had been for me for so many years.

I survived my teenage years as an outcast and a laughing-stock, although this was nothing compared to what I had already survived. It was, however, in combination with these other things, far too much to bear at times. I survived wishing myself dead and gone from that place and made not one actual suicide attempt, although I had killed myself hundreds of times, in my mind.

I survived unrequited love, loving and losing, breaking up over foolish things that seem so stupid now. I survived the active hunt for love or something very like it. I survived, and am surviving, being alone. I will survive love again, for it is in my nature to do so.

Then, I survived the loss of my parents and the extreme and incredible guilt that came with it. I survived thinking that had I done or said or thought something that caused it. I survived feeling a sense of relief and hating myself for the feeling. I survived the deep heart's ache that didn't seem to want to leave.

...and still, I survive. Life seems tattooed on my body, in pits and bumps where the hurt and joy have made their mark. Hopefully, there is much more to come.

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