Saying Goodbye to Mr. Circumstance: A Life with PTSD, For M: The Cost of Survival, The Price of Guilt

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Post edit: The “hidden message” turned out to be too long (no surprise once you see it!), so it’s re-copied below. Thanks for the head’s up!

Part of the problem with moral dilemmas is that there really isn’t any good choice. We choose because we must choose, with the question of our survival being what is at stake. But even survival has a cost–we must continue to live with ourselves after. What did it take for us to stay alive? The difficulty with being put, or finding ourselves in a hard situation, is that we find out in ways many people don’t what we are willing to do to stay alive. I am lucky. All I had to do was mislead someone for two months to get away. Still, integrity, honesty, and genuineness are qualities that are fundamentally important to me. Even if I can explain to myself that what I did was necessary, and it was, in getting away from him I violated my allegiance to such values. Even if I understand what I did was for a higher good, I also know I was capable of something I had never wished to do. Living through profound challenges, then, reveals what an incredible luxury our normal lives are–it is easy to be moral when all we’re doing is living day to day regular lives. The guilt, then, comes not in what was done to escape the bad circumstances, but in knowing that surviving means I live a life that is comparably easy. It took me many years to realize I kept myself in various types of other struggles to avoid this other sort of guilt. In that way escaping him led to poverty from the literal reality of raising a child on my own, but also from the need to protect myself from the sense of how much easier my life was knowing others have been unable to escape.

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