The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
So you are probably wondering where I am going with all of this. Since leaving The Haven, I have found more of a voice. I have found people that do not look at me as a kid or something to support but as an equal with something to offer. I am beginning to get more writing out there.
The irony that I had to leave The Haven to be honest, self-responsible and authentic is not lost on me and I hope, not on you. I have tried to speak to others with little success. It took me a long time to speak to anyone outside of The Haven without guilt, so for a long time I had no one to discuss my experiences with at all.
It is strange to me, since I am often critical of social justice warriors, that I seem to be the first person (that I know of) to openly criticize some of the comments made towards marginalized groups.
Another favourite Zizek quote is, “the point is not the find one’s true self but to accept that there is no such thing.” I believe this. The more we obsess over our own process, authenticity, and ways of being in the world, the less real we are. My true self is not a Super Hero or narcissist or writer or addict but whichever invisible clothes I happen to be wearing. I would rather live life than navel-gaze. The most honest and authentic people need not discuss their authenticity–they just do it.
I no longer engage in conversations on how caring, honest and authentic other people are, and what is wrong with me that I will not accept it. Every difficult conversation used this defense–“we care.” As if I didn’t care? It is a form of a hero’s power–to insist on being the caring, big hearted, support system–automatically implying that I am the opposite (which was the claim they were objecting to from the start).
I always cared. I cared so much I let others be the hero. I was bad so that others could be good. I never asked for credit, only for a seat at the table. I have now left the table. Those who tried to turn me into themselves, I eventually realized, I didn’t even want to be.
I was slightly disappointed that no one from The Haven came to my recent reading. I was also pleased that this time people came because they appreciate literature, not in order to support me. Once I started to speak up, I was told that just having opinions on quality of writing was arrogance. And the usual list of insults. Previously, I had remained silent or full of self-deprecating comments that always got a laugh and a pat on the back. The more I insulted myself, the more honest they claimed I was being. I was just conforming to the new script. By the end, I had the self-worth of a fish. So I got away from the hooks. For the first time in years I was free, able, and speaking my mind. This didn’t sit well with the people I had been associating with. In fact, I lost almost every contact I had on Gabriola.
I still have days where I wish all of this had happened sooner. I try not to go there. A human would not regret it. There are times when I find it hard to recall how it all started. In particular, that time in being homeless and scared-shitless and put into a role that was both familiar and paralyzing. I knew I needed to break free and leave. I knew that I had to find my voice and make my own choices. This was beyond difficult to do when authority figures were consistently sending the message that I was not capable. I just needed space to be lost until I found my way. Instead, a way was given to me and I was insulted every time I had doubt. They wanted to turn me into a leader.
Now I don’t believe in leaders, not really. All I believe in is my voice. Writing is the closest thing to redemption. However, I am consistently reminding myself and others that this is not a two hour redemption with bathroom breaks story. I too easily turn my life into a comedic tragedy for others enjoyment.
Nevertheless, writing has helped me, as well as some of the new contacts I have found. My world post Haven is so much bigger. But instead of feeling smaller, I feel just-right. Picking up the pieces after so many years of conforming to roles given to me has not been easy.
I am aware of how many people whom I respect I may disappoint with making this a public blog. However, if we truly believe in honesty, authenticity, self-responsibility and openness, this should be welcomed.
Unfortunately, this has been far from the case.
Tentative future posts:
Practical steps to an ethical system at The Haven
The artists’ way to being authentic
The mental health system
aka Jill Talbot
aka S. McCuish