Survivors' Guilt

By realitybites · May 18, 2015 · ·
  1. I'm a survivor. I have survived two major medical illnesses. Why have I arrived on the other side whereas others with similar illnesses have lost the battle or are continuing to fight for their lives—daily, hourly? Why me? Why not me?

    When I got spinal cancer at age 16, I could have felt pity for myself. Instead I decided not to be a victim but rather a warrior. I was going to live, dammit. Thirty years later, I remain cancer free. I have a few scars—battle wounds—but I am walking and breathing and still occupying space on this planet.

    Nineteen years ago I was thrown another curve ball. I fell into a deep, dark and hellish depression which hijacked my life and held me hostage for more than fifteen years. Today I am depression free—miraculously. I feel happier and more hopeful than ever. Why did I make it through to the other side when so many linger in purgatory—or worse still—succumb to death?

    Is it just a roll of the dice—who gets sick and who survives? Who, what, decides who thrives and who dies? It would be simple to say nature deals the blow, but then, we, become responsible for the fight—we will ourselves to live and live well—or at least well enough. But I think it is more complex than that. There are things like chemicals and other mysterious factors that come into play—things outside of our control.

    Should I feel guilty for getting sick in the first place? Should I feel guilty for surviving? Probably not. But sometimes I do—to both. Sometimes I take responsibility when there is simply, unequivocally, none to be taken. It was not my doing, it was chance or luck—bad and good.

    I'm sorry Gia. I am sorry Jeff. I a sorry Tibby. I am sorry you lost, are losing. I'm sorry I am happy and living. I wish things were different. But these things are out of my control. My guilt is irrational—I know—but it persists none the less.


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  1. realitybites
    Yes it is. I hope you are not in pain.
  2. scumbag
    i'm dealing with three or four - depending how you want to count - significant illnesses right now. i have no idea how i'm going to survive. being alive is expensive.
  3. realitybites
    Yes! And yes!

    Very wise words. :)
  4. My Only Weakness
    I wonder the same thing about my brushes with death.
    Look at your son and try to feel that guilt.
    It isn't so easy then.
    He needs you, and deserves to have his Mum.
    You are obviously strong stock!
    That will be those English genes!
    Stubborn and resilient.
    Great traits to have when you're on the subject of survival!
    Why did you survive?
    Maybe to have a deeper understanding of life and what it means, even without religion, it's still quite a mystical experience.
    Maybe to share your experiences and give others the hope that they, too, might find a way to make it through.
    Each thing you survive truly serves to reinforce you.
    That's paraphrased wisdom that may be a bit cliche in the original wording, but, no less true.