The other day I was walking my dog in a park she is not supposed to be in. I took her there anyways bc I know what the men in tank tops and too much cologne in the park really do deep in the woods so no one bothers me. So this is my happy place and when I am there I feel cleansed and wonderfully free. But a question popped up and I have been mulling it over for days. I can only talk to one of my friends about stuff like this.
As a matter of survival as vulnerable children we come up with a set of beliefs to help us cope with our environment. Don't chew on wires, strangers are bad, teacher is right and mom helps us and dad pays the bills. But what happens when our parents are like children themselves? My father was like a hopeless teenage boy chasing skirts and staying out all hours. My mother was basically a zombie usually laying down somewhere in our vast houses. I learned to not bother them and that everything was my fault. If I dropped something bc it was too heavy for me or scraped my knee, the spanking I would get was worse than the original pain.
So in reaction, I have a set of beliefs that helped me then but not now. Nobody likes me, I'm going to get in trouble even if I do nothing wrong and don't get too attached to anything we might have to move again. The problem is that these beliefs helped me to be self-sufficient at too young an age and they stuck with me as an adult when found out about my father's other families, I was cut off at 20 and became a half orphan at 23 when my mother died. I was lost in this world and I relied on what worked before but now I was in need of new beliefs.
The problem was I didn't know what I actually believed about myself or the world at large. What did I really think about myself or my connections to others. My brain almost bled with thinking so much. So I started off with what we Americans (and fucking proud!) do when we define ourselves: I thought about success.
I am a middle school teacher that is writing a ya book for the masses. My house is a studio and my beat up Toyota Carolla is on its last legs. I do travel every summer with my brother's family (I love them so much!) In the last two years, I have really enjoyed being a teacher. But I never felt like I was comfortable or a member of the never worry about money club. I am a girl that is too independent and afraid to be consumed by outside forces. What would I do with success a nice book deal? I would tell a lot of people to shove objects up their ass. The ones who criticized me for years about everything when I was trying to keep myself alive for the past fourteen years. Then what? Even I couldn't tell people off all day.
But the other night after thinking myself to death about what success means and what I would do with it, it hit me. Success is about having a voice that is listened to. A voice that is steady and does not have to worry about it being taken away for other's amusement. A voice that was here to stay and has options. Maybe the options are small like: I don't eat pigs, I prefer no air conditioning or no I will not attend that family function. People will have be aware of what you think without sugar coating it. It didn't matter what I did with the money (new car! new car!). What mattered was that I had choices that I stood by and options when others didn't.
How do you define success?