Failure of Courage-

For the second time I’m watching Super Soul Sunday with author Sue Monk Kidd. This woman is speaking to my soul about being a writer. But she’s said something that I completely disagree with; “Becoming a nurse, for me was a failure of courage.” I will agree that for her this may have seemed like a detour on her path to becoming a writer. That she chose a safe, traditional path because becoming a writer seemed scary or impractical to her, but I don’t see that as a failure at all.

I am a writer. It is my calling to write stories about survivors.

In my own life I’ve chosen many different paths away from becoming a writer in the traditional sense. I didn’t go to college to become a writer, until recently. I didn’t choose jobs that allowed me to primarily write, until recently. I didn’t choose to be of service as a writer in all my volunteer positions, until recently. Yet I have always been a writer. There was never a time in my life that I didn’t write-even if no one ever read it. What I believe about my path is that I never detoured from being a writer. I was born to be a writer. My path wasn’t a straight line from birth to writer, it was a winding path that lead me through so many different experiences, places and relationships toward finding my voice.

I am a writer. It is my calling to write stories about survivors.

I couldn’t write these stories if I hadn’t experienced all the places, relationships and what some may call failures. I had to become a survivor, I had to learn to survive, I had to be surrounded by survivors in order to be worthy of telling these stories. If I hadn’t been raped, I couldn’t write about rape survivors. If I hadn’t been in the military, I couldn’t write about military survivors. If I hadn’t been in abusive relationships, I couldn’t write about abuse survivors. If I hadn’t followed those “detours” toward becoming a writer, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

I am a writer. It is my calling to write about survivors. Beyond just writing these stories I’m meant to share them with others. The times I’ve felt most connected to myself, to others, to the world around me is when I’m sharing the moments that connect us all. I remember studying acting in college. There were times when I was on stage and it wasn’t Amanda or who I knew to be me, but the character who was present. It wasn’t about setting myself aside in preference of being someone else, although that did happen, it was deeper. It was preparing myself through practice and hard work to connect the character’s story with the audience. It was as if I was connecting the energy of Amanda, with the playwright’s concept of the character, to the audience. It is an intimacy that can’t be easily described if you haven’t experienced it. It is as if at the core of each of us, there are emotions we all feel. We can label this as empathy- when you feel what I feel we have a moment of empathy. But there is something deeper than empathy that I believe writers, actors, artists, musicians, anyone who creates in that space connects with that can heal us all. The true power of survivors is in connecting that energy to others which causes healing.

I am a writer. It is my calling to write about survivors.

I am gripped with fear. I struggle daily with the thought that I am not worthy to tell these stories. Some of them aren’t my stories. Some of them are my stories and I’ve hurt others in the retelling of them. Survival is filled with fear, weakness, doubt, insecurity and anger. But survival is also hope, love, vulnerability, responsibility, laughter, and happiness. You can’t have one without experiencing the other. We all fear the negative emotions-I especially fear being stuck in the negative emotions. I’ve heard and said myself-I’m afraid if I let go of this pain, if I start crying about it, I’ll never stop. When the reality has been for me that until I let go of it, I don’t have room for anything better. I can’t go back and change my past…but I can reinterpret, I can forgive it by being someone with the courage to write it out. “The keys to your happiness are no longer in somebody else’s pocket from the past, they’re in your own.” Adayshanti

I am a writer. It is my calling to write about survivors.

That statement that I keep repeating is important. I can flower it up and say, I’m a writer, I’m called to give voice to the voiceless, power to the powerless, hope to the hopeless. But what I’m meant to do is very simple. I am meant to tell a story, that shows someone who may feel voiceless, powerless or hopeless that it is possible to survive. I may not change the world. I may not become a wealthy author like J.K. Rowling. I may not even get everything I write published. But I can’t stop writing. I can’t stop trying to connect those stories with the people who need to hear them. That is my calling- that is my purpose- that is who I am meant to be!

My courage has not failed, but my path has not been straight. I AM A WRITER. IT IS MY CALLING TO WRITE ABOUT SURVIVORS!

there-is-no-failure-ralph-smart

All the world is a stage-

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. William Shakespeare

A friend and I were having a conversation recently about- when is enough, enough.  We both have dealt with or are dealing with spouses that suffer with PTSD. My best advice to her was, “When you feel that you are unable to grow or that he is keeping you from growing, then it’s enough.”

In my relationship it became obvious that my spouse felt more secure and happier when I wasn’t striving to make a name for myself or to become the person I felt I was meant to be. I have come to understand that when you are in a relationship with someone who suffers from a mental health issue, their misery loves company. If you strive to have something, do something or be something that doesn’t feed their addiction, their need to be the center of attention, then they feel acutely lost. On the surface they seem supportive, but when you actually count on that support it’s yanked out from under you by behavior that puts the focus back on them. This made me think of the theatre- how I made the choice to be the stage manager of my own life.

You see I think I made the conscious decision long ago that I wasn’t worthy to be the star of my own life’s play. I was much better suited to be backstage, making sure everyone else in my life looked good, got the applause and was appreciated for their accomplishments.  I took satisfaction in the idea that by being backstage making sure everyone remembered their lines, didn’t miss their cues and made scene changes quickly and quietly, that the applause they got was mine as well- it wasn’t and I became resentful.  The problem is that you can’t reasonably function in your own life as someone else’s stage manager- because when they forget their lines, miss their cues or don’t make scene changes that failure becomes your burden because they won’t take credit or responsibility for it and it’s been your job to fix it, so it becomes your fault. It’s a vicious circle because you can never take credit for their accomplishments and you can’t take credit for their failures because it all belongs to them. The problem I faced was that I was in love with someone who blamed me for the failures and worked against any success I tried to help him achieve.  He wanted to be small, miserable and taken care of- and I was all to willing to accommodate.  It wasn’t completely his fault, he was responsible for his choices and I was responsible for allowing his choices to dictate mine. This pattern began in childhood for me… and it hasn’t stopped.

When you spend your life making someone else look good, it’s really difficult to stop. What makes it even harder is the person you’ve always done this for, expects it to continue. Unless you can find a way to grow into a more balanced relationship, chances are good the relationship won’t last. The problem of course is to address the behavior, both of you-have to address the behavior. The balance comes when you learn to trust that you can both have a staring role in your lives and that neither one of you has to be the stage manager all the time. Sometimes you’re the star, sometimes you’re the co-star… but being relegated to stage manager in your own life… that’s not a healthy place to be.

So if you are like me you get help and try to stop doing for this person what they are capable of doing for themselves.  And that works for a little while, until you start helping other people in the same way. This is what some psychology texts would call displacement-substituting the person but not the behavior. And the behavior continues. Until at some point you say to yourself or because of a conversation with others- Enough is Enough!

Well I’ve said, enough is enough. The problem is that recognizing the behavior and changing it, is easier said than done. So I’ve found myself feeling very depressed lately. That was when I found this quote;

We can view depression as a profound and very misunderstood state of deep rest, entered into when we are completely exhausted by the weight of our own identity. It is an unconscious loss of interest in our story. It is a profound call to let go of the old, and plunge into the new…~ Jeff Foster

So for now I feel as though I should rest. And be okay with this state of rest. I think at some point something will wake me up… but for now-for now I rest.