Today is the first anniversary of my blog on OpenSalon. I had never blogged anywhere, and I feared that if I did, it would contain little more than my self-involved ramblings. Hopefully I have occasionally risen above this level. I don't know.
I usually don't forward emails I receive, but this one was too good to pass up. I attend a group for people who have lost a loved one to homicide. The counselor forwarded this to all of us, saying only that she had permission to share it and that it was from an anonymous member of the group. I think the advice goes beyond those who have lost someone to homicide, because we all suffer loss and have to rise above it daily. We have to constantly relearn the delicate balance of taking care of others while not losing ourselves.
To say that I appreciate my year here is a vast understatement. I may be around less, because I haven't made nearly the progress I wish to make on my novel. It is hard work about a painful subject, but something I feel I have to do. I think in the end, it will be rewarding. There are so many moments in life that veer between tragedy and comedy.
My brother has often warned, "Internet people are not real people." I find the opposite here. I find so many who reveal more of themselves than most of the people I've met. I have found much comfort in difficult times. I have found a lot of laughter.
Thank you for a beautiful, weird, ironic, political, heart-wrenching, wild, hilarious, profound, obscene, instructive, spiritual year. May we have many more.
(I did not realize when I first hit publish that I was starting a new journey. My life would be much less without each of you.)
From an anonymous survivor of a homicide victim in Mississippi
"A time comes in your life when you finally get it ... when,
in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and
somewhere the voice inside your head cries out ENOUGH!!!
Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to s...subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.
This is your awakening. You realize it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change...or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that you are neither Prince Charming or Cinderella and that in the real world there aren't always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any
guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you...and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.
You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not
everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are...and
that's OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions. And you learn the
importance of loving and championing yourself...and in the process a sense of
new found confidence is born of self-approval.
You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things
they did to you (or didn't do for you) and you learn that the only thing you
can really count on is the unexpected. You learn that people don't always say
what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that it's not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself...and in the process a sense of safety and
security is born of self-reliance.
You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to
accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human
frailties...and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of
You realize that much of the way you view yourself, and the
world around you, is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have
been ingrained into your psyche. And you begin to sift through all the junk
you've been fed about how you should behave, how you should look, how much you
should weigh, what you should wear, what you should do for a living, how much
money you should make, what you should drive, how and where you should live,
who you should marry, the importance of having and raising children, and what
you owe your parents, family, and friends.
You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of
view. And you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really
stand for. You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin
to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown, or should never have
bought into to begin with...and in the process you learn to go with your
instincts. You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there
is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering
through life merely as a "consumer" looking for your next fix. You
learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals
of a bygone era but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which
you must build a life.
You learn that you don't know everything, it's not your job
to save the world and that you can't teach a pig to sing. You learn to
distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting
boundaries and learning to say NO. You learn that the only cross to bear is the
one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake. Then you
learn about love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and
when to walk away.
You learn to look at relationships as they really are and
not as you would have them be. You stop trying to control people, situations
and outcomes. And you learn that alone does not mean lonely. You also stop
working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and
ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly
OK...and that it is your right to want things and to ask for the things you
want...and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands. You come to the
realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and
respect and you won't settle for less. And you learn that your body really is
your temple. And you begin to care for it and treat it with respect.
You begin to eat a balanced diet, drink more water, and take
more time to exercise. You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and
uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the
body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play. You
learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you believe you
deserve...and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You learn
that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for
something to happen is different from working toward making it happen. More
importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction,
discipline and perseverance.
You also learn that no one can do it all alone...and that
it's OK to risk asking for help. You learn the only thing you must truly fear
is the greatest robber baron of all: FEAR itself. You learn to step right into
and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it
and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own
terms. And you learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under
a cloud of impending doom.
You learn that life isn't always fair, you don't always get
what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to
unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions you learn not to personalize
things. You learn that God isn't punishing you or failing to answer your
prayers. It's just life happening. And you learn to deal with evil in its most
primal state - the ego.
You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and
resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life
out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to admit when
you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls. You learn to be thankful
and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things
that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full
refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.
Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself
by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to
never, ever settle for less than your heart's desire. And you hang a wind chime
outside your window so you can listen to the wind. And you make it a point to
keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful
possibility. Finally, with courage in your heart you take a stand, you take a
deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best you can…
Yes, I finally get it."