Sorry I have been sporadic on my blogging lately. Life has been giving me some fumbles and some great days as well but all of them have been rather busy. Thankfully my kids will be out for summer break soon so my schedule should start to go back to normal.
I was remembering my great grandfather the other day. He died when I was rather young but what I remember about him was his quiet demeanor. His strong meaty hands. His bald head, plaid shirts, and glasses. I remember he was not one to love nonsense and since I was a rather bubbly hyper little girl it must have been tiring when I came to visit. He was nice but I remember being intimidated by him because he didn't say a whole lot. He had had throat cancer and although they had cured it, he still didn't talk too much.
Growing up I always thought of him as strong. He was a farmer since childhood. He raised three great kids and had many jobs. He was the one who found his brother after his brother had killed himself. His real mother died early in his life. His life had been hard and yet he had made the most of it. He took care of his family but he was the type of father that was strict and demanded respect. Not necessarily a bad thing just different than what I was used to. He was a family man and he was a good man.
Living the way he did in the time that he did he was forced to quit school after third grade. He was needed to help provide for his family and so this interesting, strong, and definable man was unable to read or write. He could sign his name and write a few small words but he was unable to read the newspaper, or a book, or even a pamphlet.
My grandma was telling me a story the other day, about how he had gone to church and got saved. He had started going to Sunday school and at one visit they asked him to read a page from the Bible. He became so embarrassed that he left and never went back again.
And it made me sad to hear this. First of all I am a very literary type person. I love to read. I love to write. Language arts has always been my best and most favorite subject. I can not imagine how it would be to not know how to read.
And it also made me realize something. Everyone has something they feel ashamed of. Whether it be something like not being able to read or something like mental illness. We all have something we are embarrassed about. Even if we don't openly talk about it.
My great grandfather was not one to discuss his lack of literacy and in fact, I didn't even realize that he couldn't read. It wasn't his fault that he had to quit school at such a young age. It wasn't anything to be embarrassed about really, in that generation many people couldn't read. In fact that is why in the eighties, this country started a huge adult literacy program. But he was a proud man and he didn't want to be looked at like he was stupid or ignorant.
I may not have known my great grandfather as well as I would have liked but I do know we have some things in common. I too know what it is like to be embarrassed about something that isn't really my fault. I too know what it is like to feel the need to hide the things I perceive to be wrong with me. I also know what stigma is like, even if we were stigmatized for separate reasons.
It pains me to think that there was something that made him feel less of a person. I know exactly what that feels like. And maybe in honor of his memory I can choose to look at myself in a different light. I can refuse to let the things I am embarrassed about keep me from doing the things I want to do. I can be open about them because I know that I am not alone just as he was not alone in his. I can choose to not look at my dysfunctions and disorders as a negative and just look at them as they are. They are a part of me and a part of what makes me who I am today. Maybe I can look at my strong, wonderful, enigma of a great grandfather and see that one of the things that makes him seem more human to me is that he wasn't perfect and maybe if I am open and share mine as well, I can be more relatable. I can be seen as more human through my faults. Because I am human and all that being human entails. I can embrace my faults and shed the shame that tends to come with them. After all, no one deserves to go through their whole life feeling less than, simply because their lives dealt them a hand with a couple of crappy cards in it. It doesn't mean that we can't accomplish things or have to hide from our own imperfections.
It occurs to me that we are the authors of our own lives. We don't have much control over what life throws at us but we do have control over how we choose to deal with it. We have control over how we choose to look at the hands we have been dealt. We have control over whether we are going to let shame and embarrassment rule over our lives like evil dictators. Dictating what we think we can or can't do.
We write the stories of our own lives and we have the ability to change our own plots, our own character summaries, our own titles. Do we want our titles to say defeated, afraid, and ashamed or do we want our lives to have titles like strong, resilient, and unstoppable.
In reality, it doesn't matter if we falter. It happens. It doesn't matter if we are sometimes unsure of our next step. It doesn't matter if we get scared that we may take a misstep. It doesn't even really matter if we can read the stories that we have written. What matters is that we live them and that we try our hardest to be proud that we do.
Today, my title is going to be Acceptance, because I refuse to be ashamed of something I can't help or embarrassed because I fail at something other's don't. I want to be proud that I tried and trying is everything. Never give up. Never surrender. We can do this and we can do this well. We are more than just victims of our lives, we are the authors of them. We can't rewrite history but we can write the future from here on in.