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Survivor…The Process of Surviving From Another Person’s Point Of View

being a survivor

The process of surviving from another person’s point of view.  So many points of view swimming around in my mind, conjured from glances and phrases both real and imagined.  These points of view are so loud and so useless, sometimes running my thoughts in circles.

I come from a line of farmers who worked themselves into the dirt, day after day.  They survived off each other and off of the land.  My mother lived a similar life of constant tasks and chores, never resting.  I do not know where I fit in this sea of dirt and movement.  Sometimes I feel stuck in the everyday tasks of developing a routine, even leaving the house.

And these other points of view, they yell and point fingers from inside my own head.  They call names, shout words, and lend the shoulds to that word “survivor.”

Each should circles and bubbles and mutates into a point of view of its own, as the day goes on, and the shadows lengthen.

“Listen to the mustn’ts child, Listen to the don’ts.  Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.  Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me.  Anything can happen child, anything can be.” – Shel Silverstein

My 17 year old self knew how to make it happen.  How to be afraid of failure but do it all anyway.  She knew to tape that poem on the ceiling right above her head.  She knew how to jump into the cold water of the deep end, day after day, and chase the things that she wanted, finding freedom from those shoulds in the struggle.

The shoulds of surviving, the shoulds of being here and alive and well.  The shoulds of anxiety and fear and wholeness and health.  The shoulds of the points of view circling around my mind.  I do not yet feel freedom in the struggle.  Maybe tonight, I’ll lay my head down, think of that poem, and start over in the morning.

How would you respond to the writing prompt, “ – the process of surviving from another person’s point of view. – to beat the odds, one with great courage, a true inspiration.” ?

This writing comes directly from one of our participants in our Unspoken Ink Creative Writing Group for young adult cancer survivors.  The participants met for 2 hours each week, for 10 weeks during our Spring 2016 session.  This writing has not been edited since its original creation, showing the wonderfully raw and powerful prose coming from the courageous writing group participants each week.  Our Fall 2016 session is already full but if you’d like to sign up for future sessions, please email