Life is one of those things that we can only control so much. It is a great fallacy of the media that anyone can become anything. It is a damaging lie to say that the experiences of childhood bear no reflection on the personality and potential of the adult. It isn´t nature or nurture, it is nature and nurturing each working together to define what we can and can´t become. In the end, we are each nothing more than a mixture of experiences and potentials combined in a pot of desire.
Two people can live the same life, but because of who they are inside – because of their nature – they will each become different things. It is the special child, the one with a fire in his belly, who can escape the slums, who can escape the abuse, who can make up for every deficit in education, nutrition, and love. This is the Golden Child the media holds up as an example of what any person can do with their life. The more normal child grows, and tries, and gets somewhere, but never quite gets past the daemons.
Daemons take many forms. There is the wealthy man who grew up poor and now clings to every cent because he so deeply fears poverty that he can´t escape its suppressing shadow. There is the once starved woman who grows fat because she so fears that her next meal will never come that she can´t help but devour all that is placed before her. Even when we recognize the things that haunt us, it isn´t always easy to escape.
Daemons are things outside us. They are things that have happened to us that now dwell in our memories. They are the things that continue to happen to us because our world is racist, sexist, hate filled, biased, and unfair. Exorcism by priest or pastor or psychologist can help, but they can never really fully banish our past. Social activism and equity laws can help, but their are always loopholes for hate. We must simply learn coping mechanisms, and learn to acknowledge these inner voices and unfair biases when we look in the mirror.
One of the things that I think is hardest for us to understand is that the sins of the parent are not because of the child. A child whose parents did not love him is still worthy of love. A child whose parents did not acknowledge her is still worthy of attention. The child who was beaten deserves to be held tenderly, and the child who was unwanted can be desired. It is the adults´ role to nurture and nourish a child. It is the adults´ role to teach the child to dream, and to explore, and feel safe in this world that is anything but safe. When an adult fails in this role, it is not the child´s fault. The first step in truly freeing one self from the daemons is acknowledging that as children we could not help or change the things that happened to us. Only after we get past these things can we move forward and learn to live, and be loved, and be free.
I could say all those things replacing the word parent with the word society.
What doesn´t kill us doesn´t make us stronger. It does, however, make us deeper.
Every once in a while I meet someone who sits on the cusp of possibility. A sweet soul cut deep by the trials of life. Someone who has experienced life in its extremes and in this moment is better able to cherish that which is good and true and beautiful. Over and over I see these gentle spirits pull inside themselves, holding themselves back from being all they can be. Over and over, finance is a barrier. Over and over, lack of a support system is a barrier. Over and over, they turn to a family that both makes them feel grounded and makes them feel faulty or trapped. I am drawn to these potentials, and I am frustrated by the locked doors that protect their dreams. I want to help them. I want to love them. And I want to watch as they blossom into being all that they can be.
But you can only be there for someone when they let you be there. You can only listen to someone who is willing to speak. You can not force yourself into any other person´s life no matter how much you may want to be there for them.
So I watch, and I wait for the moment when my extended hand will be taken. When you are ready for help, understand that I will still be here.