1996: Realize that I HAVE made a Contribution

From my journal for January 28, 1996

It’s possible that my life will make some sort of contribution to the world.  By participating in circle dance — keeping that going — by building Neskaya to support activities which would be part of a world that is greener and quieter — I’m like the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings.  Surely the F of H has made a small difference, I think of the woman who said it got her through the winter.  And Journey into Courage, I know, has made a difference in people’s lives, a difference in the direction of the kind of world I want to see.  I find, and this is a result of facing despair squarely, that it doesn’t much matter to me if that world comes to pass.  I certainly don’t expect it to happen in my lifetime. But even if it never happens, I feel satisfied (at this moment) with my contributions in that direction —   And I feel proud of my participation in Journey, and good about the video, even if it’s never a commercial success.  It’s still a good piece of work.  I feel that revealing myself in the interview — and letting it go into the final version — was a mistake for me personally, because I’m more emotionally vulnerable than I realized, but I don’t think it was a mistake for the integrity of the film.

The “proverbial butterfly” is the one that in chaos theory flaps its wings in Mexico and affects the weather in Montana three days later.

I asked Dana if I had made a difference to him, other than as a challenge which forced him to develop skills in relationship.  He said that in fact, the part of himself that he had to develop in order to deal with the difficulties of being in a relationship with me is the part that he values most greatly, more than Neskaya, more than the concertina project.

Dammit!  I see that I have made quite a difference and contributed a lot to the world.  Why then do I keep returning to the feeling that my life is worthless?  Because there’s nothing here that Mom & Dad would appreciate or praise, because I have grandiose and unreasonable expectations, because I devalue what I’ve done because the world isn’t “saved” yet?  At least at the moment, I feel satisfied with my life, feel that I don’t have to push myself to do anything more, feel that I will certainly continue to do the kinds of things that grow naturally out of who I am.

I keep returning to the feeling that my life is worthless because I’m disabled by the brain chemistry of severe depression, rooted in early trauma.  It will be a few years before I finally understand this.

Dana said that one of the things he gets from me is support for a certain kind of honesty that makes possible a degree of depth in relationship and in living, that he thinks he wouldn’t have gotten to without having me in his life.  That seems to me to be high praise, that I can see as something that means my life has value after all, despite the rest of the failures and poor health, etc.  What Dana said reminded me of the time Sybil said she’s becoming more honest in her life and it’s because of me.  Alice said something similar.

Reading this now, I think that I have made a contribution to the world.  No question that Neskaya and Journey into Courage are contributions. I’m very touched by reading that Dana feels he learned something of extreme value by struggling with such a difficult person to live with, and that he’s not the only one who’s learned from me to appreciate honesty. Given that truth is highly important to me, it’s comforting to see that some people who know me have learned to be more honest from me.

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