The power of some hand-written words on paper. They set a goal. They frame a wish. They declare a dream in a way that carries power only if it empowers the dreamer.
“One day I want to cure cancer and to stop animal and human abuse.”
Wow. That’s quite a line up for a 4th grader… Cancer. Animal abuse. Human abuse. Big wants for a little girl. Why don’t you ask for world peace while you’re at it? Better yet. Why don’t you do the prudent thing and just… choose… one? I mean, come on. Who do you think you are? Cancer AND animal abuse AND human abuse? Don’t you mean you want to EITHER cure cancer OR to stop animal OR human abuse? Come now, little missy, isn’t THAT what you mean?
The either/or thing has been playing through my head, well, my whole life, it appears, but it has come to a head, just recently. And the framing of the above questions is not how I talk to her. It’s how I talk to the little girl in me. My divorce and recent move has placed me in the luxurious position of being able to choose my next move. I can return to my career as a designer OR I can pick up where I left off in bullying advocacy OR I can continue down this path as writer of EITHER a blog OR a book OR I can head off chasing my newfound fascination and certification in archetypal analysis and patterns of behavior. Yikes. That’s a lot of “OR’s” in the water, churning and churning — creating a lot of splash but not taking me anywhere.
So, “OR’s” up. This is my boat and if I just stop paddling for a moment, the current of my life will point it in the right direction. Where has this current of events come from? What did I have written on my life before I had to learn the platitude of either’s and the or’s of real life? If I am talking to myself in a childlike litany of questions… What did I wonder about with childlike wonder? I wanted to be a mother. And a dancer. And other than that, I don’t really remember… because looking back, I framed my life was more about what I was not. I was not going to live on a farm because I was allergic to everything. I was not going to grow up and be like my mother whose husband left her. I was not going to let a lack of college degree or letters after my name keep me from living out my destiny.
And… the joke was on me. I became a mother. And I danced around the truth for so long that I could no longer stand up. And the reaction this environment caused made me flee and that left me no different than my mother and in that moment, it did not matter how educated I was or if I had a degree because the only letters that mattered were in the words “either” and “or”. Either the marriage would cease to exist, or I would.
So… who am I to tell my daughter to replace any word in her statement of herself? What if, instead, I told her that one day isn’t in the future. One day is today. AND she not only doesn’t have to choose between them because she can do all of them? Because she already is doing all those things. Isn’t abuse, of all forms, a cancer in, and of, itself? Something basically good turned malignant until it takes over our bodies and lives? And simply by being this all-inclusive-dynamo-of-the-Divine she has already served as a cure for the cancer of abuse in our own lives?
I left my marriage because I was not going to allow it to hurt one more child. I had nearly lost my 3 older children to the outcomes of abuse that I paved the way for and I was not going to allow that pattern to continue. She has loved us so well that we have been able to heal and I truly hope that that healing extends to the rest of those affected by the contagion of that cancer. But, who does she think she is? Well, I will leave that in her very determined AND capable hands. There is no either/or when it comes to love. She loves her mother and her father, and that’s it.
The other day, while searching through a box of books that I had left for that “one day” when I am out of this transitional space and in my new-still-being-built place, I came across an old journal that had been given to me by my step-father when I graduated from high school. It was stuffed full of scraps of paper and ticket stubs and even a pressed rose from some long-ago event.
The power of these hand-written words on paper. They set a goal. They framed a wish. They declared a dream in a way that carried power only if it empowered the dreamer.
These handwritten words in my journal empowered me simply by their existence. I didn’t have to dream to be a writer because I already was a writer. Big, loopy, childish handwriting that was still legible indicated that there was no hurry and no worry other than the temporary teenage angst of love and loss.
And… then I knew. That the decisions I was framing with the “either’s” and the “or’s” weren’t the issue. The issue was the idea that I had to be prudent and pragmatic with a dream. That I had to figure out how to choose between things that I had already been doing … and doing them together.
I am a mother. And a designer of an innovative strategy for overcoming the patterns of abuse and bullying which I will begin to roll out, here. And a writer of a blog and an upcoming book on my experiences. And I am dancing around the idea of some type of workshop or forum that will help others navigate the patterns at play in their own lives.
Just like my daughter had already cured our “cancer”, I have already written these stories. We simply need address “one day” by addressing them one day at a time. And for me, that starts today.
Just keep me posted.