Wednesday, May 23, 2007

prize fight

The book I'm reading now is one that came out in the 60's with a host of others dealing with the subject of mental illness, drug addiction and suicide, formerly taboo subjects, especially involving younger people. I read "Go Ask Alice", "Lisa Bright and Dark", and several others while in high school, but "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" was one I did not read until now. What a shattering revelation. I must assume the author either fought the battle of mental illness the young woman in the book did or knew someone who did. There were so many things that stood out to me immediately as I read and continue to read. One is, that people who fight this fight, far from being weak or lacking in courage, are the most courageous and the strongest individuals on the face of the planet. It's like living in a mental boxing ring, just trying to keep on your feet in the midst of life, with punches from overbearing emotions, deep fears and confused mental processes hammering away, voices calling that don't belong, every change a fierce and furious struggle to work through. For the ones who have fought these battles ceaselessly and keep getting up, I want to be there to help you stand. I see it in the prison, peeking out from addictions and the inability to separate fantasy from reality.

For myself, it has taken a lifetime of "getting up" and purposely choosing difficult battles to finally learn how to separate out the voices that don't belong, to understand I'm a worthy human being apart from anything I do or what other people think of me, and to finally overcome living my whole life based on the expectations of others. No one can tell me what I need to be but me. How often I heard, why don't you play with other children, why do you spend so much time alone, why can't you be like......fill in the blank. I need to be alone sometimes. Let me decide that. I'm just starting to understand what needs are true and what needs spring from things that aren't real.

I don't know where I'll wind up, but I do know I can live my life with integrity, and further, there's a reason for the suffering and struggle. Those who never struggle will never really be sure of themselves. If what I have been through helps one other person in life to make it, and if that person happens to even be me, I'm glad to be who I am.


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