I wrote an article about the conversations that have been happening after #MeToo starting appearing on social media.
I felt it was time to share this blog post again. I wrote it just after the shooting in Orlando and almost a year after the shooting at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston.
It is time for me to live up the title of my blog/website…Cathy’s Voice Now…and use my voice regardless of how you choose to view me. I often hold back expressing my views; You see, I want you to like me. I have written blog posts only to hide them in drafts because I was concerned about how I might be perceived.
Today, I share what I believe to be true in this post. The anniversary of Mother Emmanuel AME shooting, the ongoing story of a man who raped a young woman while a judge thinks it was “boys being boys”, and now the Orlando shooting has hurt my heart. I can’t hide behind my fear of what you might think of me; I must speak.
A Sacramento pastor responded to the Orlando shooting that killed 49 people and injured 50 more with praise, stating “they deserve what they got.” In another statement “Claiming homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts” Pastor Steven Anderson celebrated the Orlando nightclub shooting.
I believe that hate is fueled when we see others as different from ourselves. We might believe they have it better than we do or that we are better than they are. We think our religious views are the only ones with merit. We believe the color of our skin, our gender, or sexual orientation makes us superior to others. When we see people as a race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, it is easier to hate because we no longer see the essence or soul of that human being.
I have many people in my circle of friends and acquaintances. What I don’t have are gay friends, straight friends, black friends, Buddhist friends, Jewish friends, handicapped friends, liberal friends, conservative friends….you get the idea. I simply have friends.
While many of my friends may identify with those labels, that isn’t who they are at the essence of their being. It doesn’t define the relationship we share. It doesn’t change their heart and soul. If I start identifying them by a label, I lose the person I know.
Here are some labels by which I am known…white, straight, Christian, old, liberal, intelligent, a writer, an actor, a student, mother, grandmother, friend, recovering alcoholic, and more. In my lifetime, I have also been labeled a drunk, a heretic, fat, irresponsible, just a woman, stupid, underachiever, worthless, and others. If you choose to know me, then know ME, not my labels.
If we continue to label people, we are contributing to an environment of hate. This time the “homosexuals” were attacked and murdered. The shooter didn’t see the mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, friends, co-workers, aunts, uncles, cousins, sports enthusiasts, teachers, lawyers, doctors, law enforcement, military, or anything else beyond the LABEL. Some hate blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, poor, rich, white, women, and a multitude of other “labels”. They do not look beyond the LABEL. All they see is “other.”
Maybe next year it will be older white women with blue eyes. Sound preposterous? Couldn’t happen? Are you sure? No one ever imaged hated so deep it could kill almost 6 million Jewish men, women, and children. No one believed a person could hate enough to walk into a church and kill nine people in prayers. No one wants to believe a single shooter hated enough to kill and injury close to 100 people in Orlando.
Hate knows no boundaries.
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
For years, I stood in the card aisle of stores searching for a Mother’s Day card. Mother’s Day cards were always hard to buy. Pictures of children with a beautiful mother or one of those moms who did everything and wore the Super Mom Cape filled the aisles. Written in verse on the inside were phrases like “You’ve always been there for me,” or “You taught me so much,” and “I love you.” On the front, were big, bold letters that declared “For My Mom” or “Mother.” I would finally settle on a rather generic card for my mother with a picture of puppies or flowers that read “Happy Mother’s Day-Hope you have a wonderful day.”
Finding one for my Grandmother was even more difficult. I don’t remember much about my mother before she left my brother and me. When I was only four, she left me with her mother, and my brother was sent to live with my father’s parents. My mother came back to visit a few times, but by the time I was six, she had moved across the county. I didn’t see her again until I was sixteen. Letters and phone calls were all that kept us connected, but my grandmother only allowed one short call a week. I think she would have been happier if my mother had just disappeared altogether.
When I was young, my Grandmother would look at me and say, “I love you” in a way that let me know she was waiting for the proper response. I wouldn’t look at her, but I would hesitantly respond with, “I love you- But I love my other Momma, too.” Grandmother told me I didn’t have to call her Momma, but I knew better. So, I did my best not to call her anything. I would walk across an entire room to get her attention and ask a question, so I didn’t have to say “Momma.” I didn’t understand what had happened or why my mother left until I was grown. In an old trunk of Grandmother’s, I found the note my mother wrote the day she left. Scrawled on small, yellowed, unlined paper, you could feel the pain and panic of her words: “Please take care of the kids. I love them more than anything in the world, but they are better off with you. I guess you think I am awful for leaving the kids like this. Me and Joe just can’t get along. I tried to talk to him, but it’s no good. It’s just not good for the kids with me and Joe fighting all the time and him drinking. Please don’t turn them against them. I don’t know if I’ll see them again, but tell them I loved them an awful lot.” My mother was not only leaving an abusive, alcoholic husband but was leaving behind her young two children; She had just turned 20 years old.
What I soon learned was that he was not only abusive to her, but to me as well. She was afraid my brother and I would be hurt if she stayed. Sadly, we didn’t fare much better in our new homes. As an adult, I tried to have a relationship with my mother, but it was hard. She walked away from me so many times; usually for a man. When my first son was born, she was supposed to come to my house to stay for a few days to help. Instead, she left home and never showed up at my house. Her husband kept calling me looking for her. I didn’t hear from her for three days. She used my son’s birth as a way to have time to leave her husband for her new boyfriend. You get the idea? She was used to shutting people out. She had been hurt by so many for so long. She once told me that she had spent most of her life running away from anything she thought might hurt her. Many people considered her to be a “hard” woman. She didn’t take anything from anyone. However, if you got to know her, you would find that she would go out of her way to help a friend, yet keep her distance emotionally.
I could never bring myself to call her Mom or Mother, but I didn’t want to hurt her feeling by calling her by her given name, so just as I had when I was a child with Grandmother, I tried not to call her anything. Not long before she passed away, I took a trip with her to the place she grew up. She told me stories of her life that helped me understand the pain that made her the woman she was. When we returned from the trip, we sat down to talk before I left for home. As I was getting ready to leave for the only time I can ever remember, she told me that she had always loved me. She paused and said, “You know that, don’t you?” I smiled, took a deep breath, and said, “Yeah, I know that.” I gave her a hug and walked to my car. I took a few steps, stopped and turned back to her. I said the words that have always come so hard for me. “I love you. ( I paused) Mom.”
It was the last time I would ever see her. She passed away four months later. After she passed away, her husband wrote and said, “You were her daughter, and she was so proud of you. You meant more to her than you will ever know. She wasn’t good at telling people she loved them, but you were the heart of her joy before I met her and still so to the end. Her greatest joy was being your Mom.” For many years, I rarely used the word love except with my children. I lavished it on them. Honestly, it was a word that scared me. After getting clean and sober and being in therapy, I was able to use the word more honestly. My kids and grandkids hear it all the time. I don’t use the word lightly or freely. If I tell my friends and family, “I love you,” I really do. .I didn’t tell my mother I loved her very often. I wish I had told her more.
A couple of years ago, I was driving on a busy four-lane highway to my church. This is a road where no one slows down for anything. People pass and bounce from lane to lane without the benefit of blinkers or common sense. There are many traffic lights, and I have come to believe that there is a prize for running the yellow light, even if it means being in the intersection after the light turns red.
As I made my way to church, suddenly the tail lights on the cars ahead of me turned red as cars in both lanes came to a sudden stop. I didn’t see anything ahead. In a few moments, I saw what looked like the front of a broken shopping cart coming across the line of cars. I watched closely and soon realized it was a broken walker with a very old man pushing it across the highway. He walked so slowly that I was not sure how he got into the road at all since traffic is usually constant. He had only one good arm; the other seemed to be at an angle as if he had an injury or perhaps the remnants of a stroke. He walked with a bit of a limp, as well. The walker had front wheels, but there were no wheels on the back. He made it past the cars and reached the safety of the grass median. However, the grassy area seemed to make it harder for him to push and maneuver.
I worked in the field of human services, and I heard stories of broken lives every day.My heart ached as a watched his broken body push the feeble walker. There was no expression in his eyes or face. It appeared that his spirit was broken as badly as his body. As the cars began to move, I had a battle raging in my head. I wanted more than anything to pull my car into the grass and see if I could help him. The logical side of my brain wondered how in the world I could help. What if he was violent? What if he was mentally ill and didn’t understand my gesture or offer of help? What if he was ill and I was exposed? Would I offer him a ride? What would I say?
I pulled into a parking lot for a moment to think. I fought tears as I wondered if this man had family or food or a place to stay. I certainly had nothing I could offer him. My finances were already limited without trying to help someone else. Maybe I could go back and just say a kind word to him. The logical side of my mind asked what good that would do. Sure, go and say, “Hi, I saw you struggling to get across the road. I don’t have any way to help you but just wanted to say Howdy!”
In the end, I didn’t turn around. I don’t know why this man touched me the way he did. I did say a prayer for him. I believe in the power of prayer. There have been times I felt so very broken and prayed for someone to reach out to me. I am so grateful that people took time to pray for me, talk to me, and help me. I don’t know the life journey of the man I saw. I don’t know if he had friends or family or anyone to help him in his brokenness. All I did for him that day was pray. It wasn’t enough.
Matthew West’s song “Do Something” encourages us to take the time to do something for others:
I Said, “God, why don’t You do something?” He said, “I did, yeah, I created you”
I watched as Nik Wallenda walked on a 2-inch-thick steel cable, 1,500 feet above the river on the Navajo Nation near the Grand Canyon without a harness or a safety net. I can’t count how many times I held my breath when the wind blew or he would seem unsure of the next steps. My friend and I texted as we watched, wondering how much longer it would until he would reach safety on the other side. The faces of those on either side of the tightrope were filled with apprehension and concern. While viewers watched around the world, many questioned his reasoning for taking on something so dangerous without the aid of some type of safety device.
I think most of us have felt that we were walking a “tightrope” at some point in our lives. That’s where I am right now. One year ago, in July, I took those first steps out onto my tightrope. I walked out in full confidence that I was prepared in every way for the journey. I believed this was the path I was supposed to take. I had a harness and a safety net in place. I was afraid, but most things in life don’t come without some risk and willingness to follow an unknown path.
The thing is, once you are out on that rope, looking back can cause you to falter or even fall. You have to focus on each step and keep moving toward safety on the other side. When I stepped out, I couldn’t really see the other side. I just knew I couldn’t stay on the edge of the cliff any longer. Somewhere along the way, I lost my harness and my safety net. I am out in the middle of the tightrope today, and I still can’t see the other side. Things I had planned didn’t go the way I believed they would go. John Lennon’s song says, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
The part time job I counted on fell through and a second part time job did the same. Several months of being ill ended in a short visit to the hospital. Medical costs, paying for COBRA (health insurance), unexpected bills and car repairs depleted the savings that would take me until mid October when I would begin collecting Social Security Retirement. For the first time in more years than I can count, I am without health insurance. Safety net and harness are gone.
This morning I had the oil changed in my car. The service person came out to tell me that my windshield wipers were separating and I needed new ones. They would be happy to replace them for me. I asked how much it would cost. He shrugged and said, “Not very much at all. It would only be about $30.” I forced a smile and explained that I couldn’t afford that right now. I stopped at the grocery store and spent a long time trying to decide what I could afford to buy today. I am trying to eat healthy foods, but Twinkies and canned foods loaded with sodium are much less expensive. A friend invited me to meet them at the water park today. I had to say no. I came home and tried to figure out how to budget for the rest of the month since I have car taxes and a parking ticket to pay. Just as a sideline, the parking ticket was very unjust but that will be another blog post. I wonder if I will be able to afford my books when college classes start back mid-August.
Long ago, I promised myself that I would never be in a place like this again. My friend JanF. was filled with wonderful saying. She would remind me to “never say never because if you do, life will surely teach you a lesson about that. ” Much like Nik Wallenda, I have people in my life who question my decision to step out on the tightrope. They are the ones who believe I won’t make it to the other side and they are waiting to be able to say, “We told you so. ” Like Nik Wallenda, I pray and believe that God is going to protect me and be with me throughout the journey. And like Nik Wallenda, people ask, “How can you ask God to help you when you put yourself out on the tightrope?”
I sometimes say the same things to myself. Yet, I am very grateful to now have a job. It is part-time with no benefits (at least for now), but it is helping me maneuver this tightrope. I am blessed to have family and friends who are cheering me on. My daughter and her husband have opened their home and allowed me to share it with them. My health is good, for now. Someone is helping me with a plan to get my medications at a cost I can afford. Right now, my car is running well with the exception of the windshield wipers. Perhaps the tears I cry from time to time help keep the tightrope free of dust and debris, just as Nik “spat on his hands and rubbed it on the sole of his shoe for grip” when the cable gathered dust.” Nik carried a 43 pound balancing pole. Faith and prayer have become my balancing pole.
Maybe I was wrong in saying that I have no safety net or harness. When the ones I had in place failed, it seems God provided new ones. His may be much stronger and better than the ones I counted on to protect me. I can’t let fear stop me from moving forward, one step at a time. Nik talked about an earpiece that allowed his father to talk to him and encourage him as he walked across the tightrope. I don’t have an earpiece, but if I listen closely, I can hear God talk to me and encourage me. What better harness or safety net is there than that?
“It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”
― Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
Last week, a friend’s 9 year old son died. It was very unexpected and took everyone by surprise. He was one of those kids you read about from time to time. He was an exceptional athlete, he cared about people and his community, he was a very good student, and he was loved by many people. I know that children die everyday; some from illness, some from abuse or violence, and others from accidents.
For me personally, the death of child seems the most difficult thing to accept. It also brings up questions that can’t be answered in a way that makes sense to me. I know many people who have answers to the most difficult questions and that works for them. I don’t have answers but I do have acceptance. I accept that life is filled with things I can’t understand-at least not yet. I understand the concept of evil and sin and all of the theology that gives us reasons why there is pain and death in our world. It doesn’t mean I understand why my best friend died or why this young man died so young. It doesn’t mean I understand how people can be so cruel to each other. It doesn’t mean I understand the tragedy of a tornado destroying a town or someone shooting a school full of children, or bombing a group or people gathered to watch a race.
I didn’t know this young man well. I know his parents. I remember when he was born. I have met him. I have watched all of his accomplishments on his father’s facebook page. Yet, this touched me deeply. I have a friend who says that he believes grief lives in a special place in our mind and heart and anytime there is grief in our lives, that grief touches the other grief we have known. This young boy’s death took me back to the summer I was almost 7. My best friend was a young boy named Jerry. He was accidentally killed while playing on a rope swing we had in the trees near our house. I won’t share the whole story because it is a very difficult story to tell. In fact, I have only shared the whole story with a couple of people in my life. That has been on my mind the past few days. Even now, more than 50 years later, it still causes sadness for me.
I don’t know that answers would make things better. Would knowing “why” make it hurt less? I don’t think so. I often wonder if God will answer all of these questions when we get to Heaven? Maybe, we won’t need answers when we get there. I don’t know. I only know that death, pain, loss, tears, and sadness are all a part of this thing we call life. But, life is also filled with love, laughter, friends, family, and faith. Those are the things I hold on to when I have questions and don’t understand. I hope that my friend and his wife can grab hold of those things as they face the journey ahead of them.
“Being sober isn’t just about not using. Being sober is about the joy a life of clarity and living by spiritual principles can bring. There is nothing greater than that. Forget drugs….. Forget everything. We are living to experience the undiluted amazement of life on life’s terms.” Tweak by by Nic Sheff
I finished reading the book “Tweak” by Nic Sheff. It was intense to say the least. It is the story of his life of addiction and recovery. There were times it was very difficult to read because I “felt” his pain. I understood his struggles with recovery. It doesn’t matter what the drug of choice, addiction destroys you from the inside out. It takes your spirit hostage first and then attacks your mind. It leaves you with a body that has been taken over by the alien force-addiction.
I am quickly approaching my 26th sober anniversary/birthday. In recovery, we celebrate our “belly button” birthday as well as celebrating our sober birthday. I haven’t celebrated the past few years. I acknowledged it and even wrote about in my blog. Please understand that I am truly grateful for my sobriety and all it has meant to my life. I just haven’t celebrated.
A certain sadness comes this time each year. Birthday and anniversaries bring reminders of the past. I think about my life before recovery. We keep the memory “green” to remind us who we used to be. The promises from the Big Book say, “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” We share our stories to keep the memories alive for ourselves and to share with others. We share not only the story of our addiction but also the story of hope and faith through recovery.
I am also reminded of the people who are no longer here to celebrate my journey. Before Jan died, she was such a big part of my recovery and celebrating each year. Her memorial service was held just a couple of days before my anniversary and the two seemed intertwined. I think about my “Papa” Paul who died just last May. Stan, Tommy, Mikey, Rachel, JoJo, and more all died sober. I can’t begin to list those who died because they couldn’t stay clean and sober.
I miss the people who have been through so much with me in this journey and now live so far away. Donna has been with me for 25 of those years. Cathy has been there for 22 years. One is in Vermont and the other in Nevada. Peggy, Juana, Jack, Dee, Ann, Mary, Jess, Mark and more are all scattered across the country. I know they will be with me in spirit but I want to hug them, laugh with them, see their eyes…..
I know someone is going to quote the Big Book page 449 so let me do it first.
Acceptance is the answer to ALL of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation- some fact of my life- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept my life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
I write this knowing full well that I need an attitude adjustment. I decided to write this and share it in spite of that because this is where I am today. I know what I need to do to get that attitude adjustment. I need to focus on acceptance. I need to make a gratitude list. I need to reach out and do something for someone else. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts today. Here is one last quote from Nic’s book:
“And though I have done many shameful things, I am not ashamed of who I am. I am not ashamed of who I am because I know who I am. I have tried to rip myself open and expose everything inside – accepting my weaknesses and strengths – not trying to be anyone else. ‘Cause that never works, does it? So my challenge is to be authentic. And I believe I am today. I believe I am.” ― Nic Sheff, Tweak
Scott Peck wrote in the Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
Life is filled with complicated questions. “Why?” is the one that comes to mind most often. I wonder if knowing why something happened would really make it easier. If I knew why my friend died, would it hurt any less? Would I miss her any less? If I knew why parents and grandparents were the kind of people who would hurt a kid, would it really matter? Why did I become a drunk? Does it really matter why I gained weight ? Why did I get sober when others can’t? Why did I survive so many obstacles and come out in tact and with my faith when other didn’t ? I don’t have answers for all those “why” questions. “Why” often seems like searching for a treasure box only to find it empty.
I wonder if my time would be better spent accepting that life is filled with mystery and things we will never understand. Maybe my friend was right after all. Whenever something happened that just didn’t make sense she would ask, “what is the lesson you are supposed to learn from this?” As much as I loved her, I often wanted to throw something at her when she would ask this. Here is what I usually seem to learn in those times: Take the next step, do the next right thing, love the people in your life, and trust in God (whatever you may call God).
In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women’s Act. (VAWA) You can find information about the VAWA online if you want to know more about it. Here is one such document. Basically the act provided $1.6 billion to offer community based responses, investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, allowed civil suits if prosecutors failed to prosecute a case,and established the Office of Violence Against Women.
It was reauthorized in 2000 and in 2005 with some expansion each time. Statistics show that there has been a marked decrease in the rate of intimate partner violence and deaths. More cases are being reported and more victims are being supported in recovery. All states now have laws in place to provide for warrantless arrests, “rape shield laws”, laws concerning date rape, and stalking. This act has had a major impact on changing the way violence against women is viewed and handled. In 2011, Congress failed to reauthorize the act.
Here are the reasons the House Republicans oppose the re-authorization of the act.
- The act gives limited powers to tribal authorities to prosecute non-Indians accused of assaulting their Indian partners on tribal lands. Currently, non-Indians who batter their spouses often go unpunished because federal authorities don’t have the resources to pursue misdemeanors committed on reservations. **39% of Native American and Native Alaskan women will be abused physically or sexually in their lifetime. Most abusers go prosecuted.
- The act would extend the definition of violence against women to include stalking. **Many states have established laws for stalking, but this would now be included in the VAWA definition . Republicans say this “dilutes” the definition. Really?
- It would also allow some battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas. **It seems this provision is being dropped by Democrats in an attempt to appease the Republicans so this act can pass.
- It would include same-sex couples in programs for domestic violence. **Again Republicans say this will “dilute” the focus on domestic violence. I think not passing this act dilutes our ability to protect all victims of domestic violence, but that is just my humble opinion.
Some have gone so far as to imply that the money used for rape crisis centers and domestic abuse hotlines, etc. is really going to support feminist programs. They say this act increases divorce, causes marriages to break up and is set up to cause the hatred of men. If a woman is in a violent marriage then the marriage should break up and divorce is a viable solution. I don’t hate all men. I dont’ hate men at all, although I will admit I don’t always understand them. I just hate the violence inflicted on women by men.
And, before you go postal and scream that women can perpetrate violence against men, I will concede that you are correct. Men typically have access to more resources to leave and the ability to protect themselves. I dont’ want that debate to get in the way of why we don’t have a VAWA in place after documented evidence that the act saves lives. Also, part of the reason the Republicans are opposing the act is the language inferring that men could be recipients of help from this act. Oh my, that would be just dreadful.
This is my view and my opinion. All I am asking is that you look at the facts. Do some research. Get involved. If you find that the VAWA is valid, and saves lives, and helps your community, your city, your state, and your country, then PLEASE do something about it. Write your congressman/congresswoman. Call them, email them. Do something. Don’t just sit back and say, “All this violence a bad thing.”
We often stand in horror and disgust as we hear stories from other countries of women being mutilated, tortured, and baby girls being killed because baby boys are the only ones of value. Slavery was abolished in our country a long time ago, yet girls are sold into slavery around the world every day. We ask how these other countries can allow such atrocities to occur. Yet, we stand by while our politicians squabble over language in an act that prevents death and violence in our own country.
I am a Christian. Yes, a church attending, praying, Bible reading Christian. I stop just short of wearing the WWJD bracelet. Jesus showed us the way to treat other human beings and that included the women in his life. I dare you to read Luke and not come away seeing Jesus treat women with respect, caring, and love. WWJD-What Would Jesus Do? I will let you answer that question for yourself. For those of other faiths reading this blog, I challenge you to look into your own beliefs and find answers about these issues.
I don’t believe we can be rid of all violence in our world. I am not a Pollyanna. I do believe we can effect change. We see evidence of that all around us. I don’t believe the VAWA is going to rid our society of domestic abuse, violence, or rape. I do believe this act can make a difference. Yes, I was once a women who lived with abuse. I lived with child abuse in many forms as a child and as a woman I lived with abuse in my marriage. I found help and a way to live my life free of violence. I hope this act will be reauthorized and other women find help as well.
“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” Sally Koch
The voice on the other end of the phone told me something was wrong. It wasn’t the words but the sound of desperation. It took only moments before the tears came. “I feel like such a failure,” she said. I recently heard those same words from someone else. They were spoken with the same sadness and fear I heard in her that day.
I empathized with both of them. I have said those words myself and felt the pain surrounding them. Failure-it is such a daunting word. The term “FAIL” or “EPIC FAIL” has become very popular. It is usually not spoken, but yelled when someone does something questionable. We rarely associate failure with simply making a mistake or not succeeding at a task. It seems much bigger.
Early in the fall of this year, I was beginning to have those old demons emerge. I was beginning to feel like a failure. I was out of work, getting divorced for the third time, and looking at the few material possessions I owned. At 61, I should certainly be sitting on my front porch watching the sunset with my husband of 40 years, planning an exciting travel filled retirement, and having an investment portfolio to sustain my lifestyle for the next 30 or so years.
The truth is that I have failed at many things in life. What I have come to understand is that while missing my goal or making a mistake may mean I failed, it does not make me a failure. Someone very wise told me the only thing that would make me a failure was if I gave up without trying.
I would never consider Oprah a failure, yet she was fired from her first job and told she would never make it in TV. Walt Disney was told his mouse idea was a failure. I would dare say that today we would yell, “EPIC FAIL” to the person who said that. J.K. Rowlings was certainly considered a failure as a divorced, single mother, want to be writer on welfare. Yet, she continued to write. Steven King’s manuscript for “Carrie” was rejected 30 times before it became a success. There are many examples of people who failed at something and we would never dream of labeling them failures.
I am convinced that as long I am alive on this earth, I will continue to fail. I will also succeed in countless endeavors. Neither success nor failure should define me. They are not who I am. I am many things but I am not now nor will I ever be a failure. I only hope my friends come to believe that as well.