Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday's Words for February 11, 2009

Much of who we are and what we become is shaped in early childhood. That’s not an excuse; it’s a starting point for understanding ourselves, and others.

I was very shy as a child, and became extremely insecure after the death of my father when I was eight years old. It took me a lot of years, after I became a wife, mother, and then an adult, to get over that shyness. I’m still working on the insecurity.

I used to be bitter, too, but finally let go of that useless emotion when I came to the understanding that the only person it was hurting was myself.

I’m fifty-four years old and have been told more than once that I am hopelessly naive and far too trusting. Guilty as charged.

I love meeting people, whether in person or on line. There is an almost unquenchable thirst within me for forming relationships with others. I trust easily, and despite many warnings by my more worldly-wise friends, give my heart easily, too. I always tell my friends, “I love you”, and I mean it.

I’ve never set out to do anything to deliberately hurt anyone, and when I discover that my actions or words have indeed had that affect, I’m devastated.

In the past five years, since I discovered this brave new world of cyber-space I have made dozens of connections with other people. I have met, face to face, a whole lot of them. Of the ones I have not met in person, I have been savaged by only one or two, and abandoned by probably twice that many. A negligible failure rate, really.

Relationships matter far more to me than they do to most of the people I am in them with. That’s just the way it is, a reflection, if you will, of my basic insecurity. When I am disappointed or hurt by someone—and here I must confess that this happens far too easily, for a thick skin I have not—I bleed inside. But that never stops me from making new friends, and keeping that hopeful, optimistic...and yes, naive frame of mind.

I believe that our fundamental purpose in life is to connect with others, to reach out and offer a hug, or words of encouragement. To uplift, support, promote, and love other people.

Life tests us and twists us and generally makes us jump through hoops. Life is filled with losses for most of us, and sometimes those losses are nearly crippling. I believe that at the end of the day what will matter most is how many people we were able to help along the way, and how many of those losses we suffered we were able to turn around and use to help someone else with their burdens.

I only become angry when someone insults or does an injustice to someone I care about. When sadness, depression, and loneliness hit me, the only cure I’ve found is taking my eyes off myself. Writing is good for that, whether it’s these essays or one of my novels.

When I was a member of the outside-the-home workforce, my co-workers used to say that I treated my ‘job’ as if it was a ‘career’. I knew they meant that as some sort of condemnation, but I never took it as such. Likewise, I’ve been told that I act as if the novels I’ve been fortunate enough to have had published are literature as opposed to being simply erotic romances.

Guilty again. I don’t know why a story that is an erotic romance can’t also be a story about learning not to judge others on a superficial basis, or learning to trust, or finding one’s self-confidence, or believing in one’s self worth, or overcoming a regrettable past, or having faith in one’s ability to decide one’s own destiny or learning to believe in magic. I don’t understand why a novel that entertains and perhaps titillates can’t also tell a deeper story, or offer the message that we’re all entitled to pursue happiness, however we may define that elusive state; that our similarities are greater than our differences, and if I can achieve something, then you can, too.

And I don’t know why a story can’t just be a time out from the trials of life, an opportunity to escape for the hour or two it takes to read it, and be valued for that alone.

But then I don’t know a lot of things. I’m really just getting started, after all.

Feel the heat; catch the fire.

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