On Sunday I went to a funeral. The deceased was the elderly mother of a very close friend, a lovely woman whom I'd known most of my life. She was very ill, and her death was not at all shocking; although sad, it also came as a bit of a relief.
Somehow, though, it triggered something in me, and I've been an absolute mess since that day.
My friend's mother was buried in the same cemetary as my sister, and as I stood watching her be lowered into the ground, I had vivid flashbacks to my sister's funeral four and a half years ago. And standing there, at the burial of a very elderly person, I began sobbing uncontrollably, so much so that, absolutely mortified, I had to walk away.
It's funny what sends you back in your healing process - if indeed there is such thing as a healing process. Generally I don't think of myself as a victim of a trauma, but since Sunday, I have felt like a victim of my sister's tragic death. I have also felt like a victim of my anxiety disorder, because I've been triggered right back into a state of constant, low-level panic.
What's more, a couple of medical conditions I have are giving me grief, and so I feel like a victim of them, too.
I got on Twitter this morning and picked a fight with the delightful Helen Razer, who had taken offence to a journo's tweet referring to a 'victim' of Thalidomide.
It's only a tweet, I wrote to Helen, thinking, what's the big deal? And if I was limbless from in utero Thalidomide poisoning, I'd feel like a victim too.
Defining oneself in relation to ability and/or victimhood for one's entire life is, at best, pointless, Helen responded, and after about half a second of outrage, I knew she was absolutely right.
Defining oneself as a victim is, at best, pointless, and is, at worst, completely destructive. The thing is, it takes huge strength not to do so - whether you're a 'victim' of trauma, illness, assault, or grief. It is far easier to blame circumstances and label yourself as a victim than to take responsibility for your own happiness and identify yourself as a survivor.
Usually I find that strength in myself, however, the last couple of days, I have lost it entirely. My survivor mode has gone out the window and I've totally felt like a victim again. I've wanted to lie in bed all day, pulling the doona over my head, taking naps, and just hiding from the big, scary world. I still want to do that. I wish I was in bed right now.
Still, despite wishing I was in bed, I didn't let it seduce me. Instead, I went to Westfield Bondi Junction, where I did everything I could to make myself feel better. I got a cappucino from my favourite organic cafe. I got my nails done. I window shopped. And I bought some stationery from Typo, which will help me get uncluttered, and clear my mind.
And now I'm home again, for a blog, and a nice cup of tea. And soon it will be tonight, and I will have survived an especially challenging day.
And if I can survive that, then I can survive another day, and after that, another. Until eventually - tomorrow, or next week, or the week after - I won't feel like a victim anymore.