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How I See Chester Bennington as Someone Who Also Experienced Childhood Abuse

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The death of Chester Bennington rocked me to my core, as it always does when someone influential in my life dies by suicide.

On learning of his childhood abuse, all the pieces of why his words were such a comfort to me clicked together. A man I’d never met, a man with such a gift, understood me and my pain. It doesn’t matter that the abuse was different, abuse leaves a lasting legacy on adult survivor’s lives.

I don’t see Chester as selfish, or a druggie, I see him as an adult survivor, desperately trying to find a way to relieve his pain. And as much as he had such a wonderful gift, the gift of transforming his pain into words, no one can truly understand his pain. No one. Not even me. I can empathize, but we all walk in different shoes. I do know that from my own writing, that his words probably only echo a small portion of his actual pain.

It’s left me feeling “lucky” — a strange emotion upon hearing of someone dying by suicide. But I know the despair of wanting the pain to end, just for five minutes. Just wanting the flashbacks to stop, just to not feel disgusting and broken, just to feel like I belong in this world like everybody else.

I feel lucky because I have had enough support and love surrounding me over the past few years to be able to fight, to be able to sit here writing this article. I have enough insight now, to know that this pain will never fully go away. To know there will be days and many long and lonely nights where the pain will feel like too much again. And maybe I’ll think of Chester, and be thankful — so very thankful of his presence in this world. Without his gift of transforming pain into words, I may not have survived my teenage years. Maybe, I would never even have thought of transforming my own pain into words.

So many people have complimented me over the years about my “way with words,” of my ability to explain my pain without the need for crying or emotion. In fact, my emotions were so blocked off for fear the pain would kill me, that years of therapy later, I’m still learning to sit with their power and remain connected.

And while most of my articles surround the pain of living with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I realize that fear keeps me from writing about my battle with the legacy of childhood abuse. Fear of many things I don’t choose to go into right now, but the fear of the pain is one of the biggest.

Writing has, in so many ways, saved my life — quite literally. Artists like Chester helped me “coast” with some kind of understanding, until I had the strength to face up to the pain. I truly hope my words help even one other person to do the same in this world.

“And only I can save me now / I’m holding up a light / Chasing out the darkness inside / And I don’t wanna let you down / But only I can save me! / Been searching somewhere out there / For what’s been missing right here” — Linkin Park, “Nobody Can Save Me

There is always another tomorrow, there is always someone who will see you, the way I saw Chester — an amazing being, who endured such adversity and turned it into a gift. There was nothing “missing” from him — only from his abusers.

I hope one day, maybe I can say these things about myself with proper conviction. Until then, I above all else, hope Chester has found peace, and this his loved ones get the right support to deal with such a tragedy.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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Lead photo via Linkin Park’s Facebook

Originally published: July 22, 2017
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