Thursday, 6 December 2012
Orphans Make The Best Recruits
I missed the next couple of minutes while I tried to make sense of what had just happened. Where did that response come from? How had those words, out of the blue, had such an impact? What did it all mean? M's statement and my questions swam round and round my brain, slowly but surely connecting with and awakening something from deep within...
Yes, as those who know me and my writing are already aware, my parents were both dead well before I reached seventeen - not still a child but not yet an adult. So it is easy to understand the immediate connection with the word 'orphan'. But it was more than that. Because suddenly, out of nowhere, I could identify with Bond's approach to his world. Now hold on a moment, I'm not saying that I'm some kind of secret agent, nor that I possess any special skills or super powers that could in any way liken me to 007. No, it's not that at all.
What it is, though, is the realisation that being an orphan has, perhaps, made me much more prepared to take on battles - for others as well as for myself. With that comes a better understanding why others, perhaps, are less willing to push as much or as far as I do. It's fair to say that I am driven - some friends might even call me obsessive. That's why I'll consistently stand up for what I believe to be right. That's why I will not stay quiet when something needs saying. That's why I strive to help others tap in to their own inner strength. Last night, though, I realised with startling clarity that up until now I had felt more shameful of my early label than I had previously acknowledged. With that came the shocking realisation that despite all my efforts, I have been holding on to that shame in some way.
I'll always remember 'the handbag scene' (as I call it) from the play "The Importance Of Being Earnest" when Lady Bracknell scathingly rebukes the title character on discovering he has no parents "To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness!" For my sins, I of course had been far worse than just careless; not only did I lose both parents, but I was also effectively disowned by the rest of my family as a result of my determination to fight for my sister. Goodness only knows what Lady Bracknell would have made of that...!
When M's words shot out and grabbed inside me, shaking me by the scruff of the neck, I knew it was an important message. Thoughts and feelings tumbling over one another, I suddenly saw with cinematic clarity how it is that I refuse to give up. What it is that drives me to be the best I can, and to make the best of everything that comes my way. Why it is that I will fight to the death for something that I believe in.
Until last night, though, I'm pretty sure there that somewhere deep down I had been somehow trying to 'make up' for being not quite complete. Striving to create a proper family, a nurturing home, authentic relationships and loving friendships to mirror the ones I knew in my early childhood. Don't get me wrong, I am still keen to enjoy all of those things in my life - but something has changed. The past few weeks have taken their toll on me for various reasons, and I have often found myself in a pretty dark space. I always say that the darkest hour is the one before dawn, and I am fully aware that recently I have been a pretty complex and sometimes difficult companion. Tears flow easily, and I am no stranger to staring face first in to the pit of despair. It doesn't scare me - I just thought that the answers might lie somewhere in the murky depths. But I think... hmmm.... nope, I know... that I have had an unexpected epiphany thanks to a line from a Hollywood movie. Funny, eh, how these things can just sneak up on people like that?
I am no longer ashamed of my past. And, more to the point, I am actually proud of who I am and of what those experiences helped me become. Things happened, I can't change them... and now I see them as a blessing not a curse. I'm lucky to have the additional 'armour' that makes me a force to be reckoned with - it's who I am. Not who I was, or what I should or could have been... It's who I am right now.
I don't need to search out the perfect family. I don't need to prove myself. I don't have to push myself to the limits just to prove that I'm good enough. There's no going back. It's frankly no good me looking to recreate the same love and safety I felt as a child. It's a futile search and I shall never find it - those days are long gone, and I am finally ready to let them go and accept a new reality of my own making. No comparisons. No measures. No attempts to recreate. Because things are different now.
I am me. And yes, like James Bond, I had to grow up pretty darned quickly. Heck, those same experiences eventually made his character an international hero for goodness sakes! But you know what? I can't change my past, and I can't reclaim any perceived loss of childhood or innocence - and neither should I even think about wanting to do so. Because the fact is, I am who I am, and I believe that I'm blessed with the strength and determination that is a direct result of what happened. It means that I carry on regardless, knowing that I survived the worst. Each additional shockwave has only helped me to grow. That's why I'm one of the best recruits for this life...
The difference, since yesterday, is that I am going forward as me and for me. It's ironic how regularly I encourage my clients to look ahead, to grasp the future with both hands. I have a sneaky feeling that perhaps I've been ever so slightly holding myself back and holding on to the past... Doh! Well no more. What's done is done, and I'm proud of who I am and the life I have lived until now. The past is indeed the past. It is buried and I am whole. And I am finally ready to step in to the new world.
Mel Carnegie reporting for service - bring it on!