We all have our very own personal battles; whether it is AIDS, sexual identity, PTSD, or breast cancer. Our restless souls find it hard to accept the fact that something has gone wrong, some irreversible damage beyond repair. When Michael Jackson was called “Wacko Jacko” and literally labeled a freak, he still didn’t stop from turning the world upside down as he moonwalked and sang his heart out. Demi Lovato struggled with bulimia and sexual abuse, River Phoneix barely fit in the society and dealt uncomfortably with fame, and Marilyn Monroe lost her grasp on reality as she mixed prescription drugs washing them down with whiskey. It’s not just about celebrities or else this article would be shallow.
Many people have gone through their own personal conflicts, whether it was a major thing like a suicide attempt, a rape, or a mugging, or an emotionally abusive relationship leading to heartbreak. Some of these people are doomed in the eyes of society. Artists who go for drugs are usually just too damn rich to think straight. Others are called cowards, going for the easy choice of drugs instead of being an inspirational character and using their fame in favor of promoting a philanthropist lifestyle and thinking. When these celebrities reach the peak of their fame, they skyrocket, but when they fall, they stagger to the ground and the whole world is happy to attack them, to be part of the accuse-fest.
It’s so hard being a survivor. Some people claim to be outsiders when they are young just to get more attention and empathy, but some are really traumatized by their experience as freakish teens and children. Yet, it is not about being labeled a freak, but how to survive the categorizing and move on from where you stood.
Stephen Spielberg suffered antisemitism in his suburban Phoenix, Az. neighborhood. Madonna was raped when she first moved to New York, only nineteen years of age, Winona Ryder was beaten up by a group of bullies during high school, and Jesse Eisenberg was mugged one night in New York, slammed into a concrete pillar. The examples are endless, plane crash survivors, kidnapping victims, sexual abuse survivors, people who have had their insides out yet moved to the other side. They reached the safe harbor and there they are either guiding the others on how to step onto the railing, or just sailing away into their own journey.
Survivors of the Columbine High School Massacre, families of the 9/11 victims, survivors of Tazmamart Prison in Morocco, and recently survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting –the Newtown Shooting- are among the few brave in the world who crossed the thin line between danger and safety. Those who haven’t been cocooned enough in their shells only to have them broken by a gigantic force of fate, if you believe in fate.
No matter how safe we think we are, we can still reach the same alienation that Kurt Cobain felt when he pointed a shotgun at his chin and BOOM! We can still cry with Demi Lovato when she sang “Warrior,” we can relate to Dostoevsky’s Memoirs from the House of The Dead as he told us of his –among others’- suffering in a Siberian prison camp.
Some people couldn’t make it and chose to end their lives, unable to cope with the tragedies of the world, unable to put their demons to rest. As a depression survivor and a struggling writer in a country on the verge of collapse, torn between terrorism and uprisings, I make an ode to all those fighters. I keep the ones who couldn’t make it in my dreams, I pray they found the grass greener on the other side and I try to connect to all those survivors out there, seeking compassion and trying not to feel so alone. I choose to let that fear wash over me and only then I am free.
Written by: Jaylan Salah
Survivors of Newtown Shooting battle PTSD