Feeling pretty good this morning. (!) I think it’s from the realization that my life, just as it is, is worthwhile. It’s hard, but I don’t mind hard if I’m doing something meaningful. A job worth doing. Before doing the work with my grandmother patches, I thought I had to get better before I could begin to help other people. But that’s not true. Just as I am, I help people — a number of them have said so. My struggle, when it’s visible, helps other people. And even when it’s not visible, I carry the energy of honesty and openness.
I was thinking yesterday that I have lived my whole life by my values: honesty, integrity, standing up for the underdog. As I struggled with baffled pain, depression, terror, feeling worthless, I still had a deep commitment to those values. I didn’t include love because I didn’t think I was capable of love.
It occurs to me that if I read the 4th of July Monologue in the light of what Elizabeth Goudge says of love, that it’s not some nice thing that you feel, it’s some hard thing that you do, then I can see love in action in how I took care of my parents that weekend.
I can see that kindness is something I value, although it was more motivated by just wanting to not hurt anybody. But then, as a young child, I wrote the story of the Wonder Flower who says to the King “You are not kind.” Certainly I knew about kindness and valued it.
I read the pieces to Erica about seeing that my life was worthwhile. She reminded me of what Bessel Van Der Kolk said about people struggling with PTSD, that they have not been able to take ownership of their lives.
Van der Kolk “The big issue for traumatized people is they don’t own themselves any more. Any loud sound, anybody insulting them, hurting them, saying bad things, can hijack them away from themselves. And so what we have learned is that what makes you resilient to trauma is to own yourself fully.” Interview with Krista Tippett, in Becoming Wise, p88.
Seeing my life as a whole, seeing that I have learned a lot of valuable things from my struggle with PTSD, has made a huge difference, seeing that just working to heal my own PTSD is worthwhile.
It reminds me of a time when my brother Jack, the recovering alcoholic who has 8 years sobriety, was talking about asking God for guidance and help every day. I said I did it too, and usually got “You’re doing just fine,” which didn’t help, just made me feel like I’m doing something easy. I said to Jack that I wanted a bigger challenge in my life. And God said “PTSD isn’t challenging enough for you?” Which made me laugh. But now I see the truth of it. Could I have a more worthwhile life?