The following was given to me by our work place therapist. It was written by one of his clients…

There is a woman sitting in a room. All the walls of the room are engulfed in flames, which are raging relentlessly. To get to the door and get out, she must go through the flames. But her mind won’t give in to the overwhelming fear of getting burnt. Around her the flames are getting closer and the smoke is becoming thick. She is becoming weaker with each breath. She now realises that if she doesn’t get out soon, she is going to die. She imagines getting out and watching the wounds heal, but bearing the scars for the rest of her life. She thinks for a long time that dying would be so much easier and even less painful.

Outside, there are people going about their daily tasks. They smell the smoke, but convince themselves that it is merely a cigarette burning somewhere.

The woman is now growing very weak and calls out for help as she starts to fear death. Some people are genuinely deaf, but others choose not to hear her cries.

One person out of a crowd of many chooses to go to the room, clearly hearing the cries for help. But when he gets to the door, it is locked from the inside. The man becomes frustrated as he realises that all he can do is try to convince the woman to come through the flames and out the door.

The choice again is with the woman; come through the flames, knowing that there is a person waiting outside who chose to care, and be scarred. Or die alone in her own little room engulfed in flames.



13 thoughts on “Survivor?

  1. Interesting, and hopeful, that you’ve come to this place. Last week you weren’t too keen on the “survivor” term. Sounds like things are shifting.

    • Well, to be honest, last week seems like a year ago… Something very removed from reality.

      Talking to the work place therapist helped me to refocus on my personal responsibility within my healing. I was close to being consumed by the fire in my little room alone…

      I’ve always liked the term “survivor”, and look with admiration to those who deservedly carry the label. But, I often lose sight of the possibility that I also carry that label, or whether I deserve to carry it.

      Things have shifted. I worry that I’ve buried everything, as I’m “so well” now, when I wasn’t yesterday morning. This weekend will be the test.

      Take care,

  2. It really sounds like that work place therapist is very perceptive. Does it feel good to know that he is there should you need him again?


  3. hi castorgirl, what a powerful story, thank you for sharing this. it reminds me of shen’s “hole in the soul” story. have you read that?

    i definitely see you as a survivor. to me, the fact that you’ve survived and continue to try to heal is what makes you a survivor. i don’t think it means you have to have no more pain or be all healed. just like i don’t see being brave as being without fear. i see the most fearful people who face their fears as the most brave. how is anyone without fear actually brave? what are they facing?

    i think it’s interesting how we define and feel about certain labels. i find myself struggling with the idea of what i “deserve” too. for a long time i felt i didn’t deserve the term “abuse” to describe my experiences as a child. as there are so many other people out there who had it so much worse than me. i felt like they were “real” abuse victims/survivors. i felt like it was selfish or dramatic of me to think that could describe me too. must just want “attention” – like we talked about yesterday.

    but after sharing my story with trusted friends and therapists, i finally got some validation. claiming certain terms to apply to our lives can be healing in and of itself. and can take awhile to do, depending on the issues that the words bring up.

    i’m so glad your work friend is being so great. i’m glad you told her about what you go through. ((safe hugs to you)) if you want them πŸ™‚

    • Hi Katie,

      Yes, I read Shen’s entry when it was submitted for the blog carnival awhile ago – it’s excellent!

      To me the term “survivor” is such an emotive term. It conjures up images of strong people, working hard and successfully on their issues. I find it hard to equate this image to what I am doing. I know that this is a skewed perception of both what a survivor is, and myself. It is also, as you mention, about questioning whether I am deserving – of healing, health, something better, etc.

      It’s rarely helpful to compare. Comparisons are a great way to minimise your experience and create false expectations in others. If you were abused, you were abused. Whether it be once or repeatedly, you were abused. That abuse will impact on you in some way. There is also no “easy abuse” – psychological, sexual and physical abuse all cause damage.

      I’m glad you found validation. I agree, that is a huge step in our healing journey.

      Labels can help us and hinder us…

      Thank you for the hugs πŸ™‚
      Take care with (((warm safe hugs))) if they are wanted,

      • Thank you πŸ™‚ I appreciate the hugs. And you’re right about abuse being abuse and how comparing and minimizing are not helpful. I would go so far as to call them destructive habits. Ones I’ve engaged in too much and have worked hard to stop. But it’s easier said than done. And thanks for your other reply too. I linked to your blog on my fable post. Hope your day is going well πŸ™‚

  4. hi again πŸ™‚ i wanted to tell you this story reminded me of one given to me by a therapist i saw while i was in college. i always loved this story but have no idea what i did with it. but i’ve often thought of it and felt comforted by it. so i wrote what i could remember and posted it today on my blog. i wanted to put a link to your post. but thought i should ask before doing so.

    i never know if i should ask people first before i link to their blogs. or just link and tell them after…

    • Hi Katie,

      It’s fine to link to this post, I’m glad you found it useful.

      I’m not sure if there’s any protocol around linking to others posts and blogs. I have a tendency to do so without asking, mainly because I’ve usually commented on the post already, so the person knows that I found their post meaningful in some way. WordPress allows you to know when others have linked to your blog through pingbacks, but I’m not sure if it picks up all of them from Blogspot.

      Take care,

  5. Just a thought on what a survivor is … yes, a survivor is a strong person, but at least half of survival is simple endurance, and waiting. You have endured and waited all this time; you’ve endured the pain of your past, and endured the results of it; you’ve endured bad therapists and terrible treatment from a healing community that repeatedly failed you; and you’ve waited for something better to come to you.

    Those qualities make you a survivor, even if you aren’t yet able to recognize the strength and courage you do possess. The fact that you are here, and still writing, and still working on your healing, testifies to your power of endurance. And without endurance, there is no survival.

    • Thank you David. You’re right, I don’t recognise that strength or courage – if I’m lucky, I see it as being stubborn. But I did need to hear this today, so thank you.

      Take care,

Please leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s