The domino effect of true SELF help
Now mind you, my health is not the greatest. My body is in chronic pain. It can be exhausting. So, whatever path I do decide to take I need to keep all of that in mind.
This soul searching endeavor of mine has been a roller coaster ride of emotions. I finally finished the Learning to be Free - Guided Journal for Survivors of Trauma. It was not an easy task as my fingers no longer cooperate. I am on the verge of finishing up When I Became Free-Stories of Survival.
Now I know I have the skill set to take advantage of penning those two books, the long list of public speaking and advocacy work I've done over the last 20 years, along with the fact I was editor of a newspaper and a reporter for over a decade, and push all of that and bill myself as some guru of self help. I could work tirelessly in getting my name out there and place a high price tag on all of the accomplishments I've managed while being a single mom living in poverty after exiting domestic violence. I know I could spin it my way and probably make a pretty penny in doing so BUT nagging at me is the voice in my head screaming at me that in the process I would lose touch of why I even started down the road of sharing my story and reaching out to others. It was all because I knew what it was like to be a victim, work towards being a survivor, and while I didn't have a penny to my name. I wasn't able to afford conferences and stock pile self help books. I couldn't place myself into quality counseling. I had to do everything I did while working myself to a frenzy of illness and making sure my boys were fed and had stability in their very unstable world. I was doing what so many others survivors do out of necessity.
Somehow through it all I did get on to the path of healing, and I did it on my own. On my own without a life coach, without attending motivational conferences with a hefty tab, and without having the luxury of purchasing piles of self-help books. Hell, I wouldn't have had the time to read them. I was busy living.
Journaling saved my life as did volunteering in my community, placing me directly next to other survivors looking for support. Somehow they saw me as a mentor but what they didn't realize is meeting every one of them helped me on my path of healing. I saw aspects of myself in each one of them. It caused me to reflect on my life, validate my emotions, honor my past, and re-examine my decisions, past and present. All of which didn't cost either of us a dime, the only investment was the most important kind any of us could possibly spend...effort and time.
It wasn't an easy life, my pocket book did not get larger but my life...my very existence on this planet was being enriched in ways money could never touch. Additionally, my boys were with me every step of the way. Through it they found their own healing and cycles have been broken in our family because of it all. For me that is the greatest accomplishment of all.
I've been weighing all of that against the back drop of articles on toxic positivity and how the self-help craze of the last decade has caused more harm than good. Top that off with the head guru, Tony Robbins, who is worth $500 million is now facing many accusations of sexual misconduct and...well..just flat out being an egocentric asshole. In a way maybe it is good thing our marginalized members of society didn't have equal access to such a sham. I actually believe many of them are happier than those who constantly seek out a new quick pill towards perfection.
I am sure this post will piss off some people I know because they will assume it is all about them. I know more than a few people in the self help/motivational speaking/life coaching industry but they can rest assured this isn't about them, this is about me and my original motivation in all that I do. I wanted to let other survivors, like myself..the ones with little to no financial resources, know they were not alone - it was as simple as that.
Little did I realize then that I'd see the domino effect of true self-help, survivor reaching out to survivor...and so on...and so on. People who at one time were timid or afraid to tell their story were now embracing their experiences and creating awareness among their peers, in their social circles.
It truly has been a beautiful thing to watch play out.
AND, watching those dominos of hope fall into one another spreading awareness brought me joy. It helped me to make sense out of my life and all the whys. It allowed me to take something I once covered in shame and give it the light of inspiration.
Currently I've helped people who could pay me for time and then I've been helping more who cannot afford toilet paper. Others tell me to stop giving away my value, but I have to admit that every time a woman messages me with her story and lets me know my support of them helped them in some way, it always mean more to me when it is one of the ones I don't expect a dime from. It goes back to the very reason I started this path to begin with.
Am I still struggling financially? You betcha! Would falling asleep at night with no financial worries be grand, perhaps. Is there a happy medium to be found? Maybe.
But I cannot get out of my head how the people who need the help the most are the very ones not able to access those resources that come with a hefty price tag. And, please be aware that hefty price tag means different things to different people, $50 can literally make of break many of the survivors I come in contact with.
I absolutely hate hearing comments from others like, "If they want it bad enough they will afford it," or, "If they can afford cigarettes, beer and a phone, then they're making the choice." All I can think is how can so many in our society can be so clueless about the spiral of poverty and how it affects the human mind? That cigarette or beer may be the one thing keeping that person alive - as twisted as that sounds it quells and feeds, all at the same time, the coping effect of addiction. I get it. I understand how a cup of coffee and a cigarette will calm nerves long enough to get through the next stressor in life and how when you're living on less than paycheck to paycheck you think in terms of a day or a few hours as your future. It is all you can see, all your mind can handle.
Often when I post about these things on my social media I will receive comments from people living with and in a world others dream about and may have never had..parents still alive and/or a supportive family. When you're wounded and walking in a cold world without any of those things, additional barriers are created to hurdle - barriers with barbed wire judgments.
That is why when I sit across from a survivor dealing with all of that and yet they still reach out to find healing, I have nothing but pure respect and admiration for them. It takes great courage to reach out from underneath boulders of pain, fears and judgments.
Those are the stories that can be a beacon of light and hope to others. True examples of SELF help, where the investment is in yourself - not someone else's pocket book.
Call me crazy or idealistic but if we had more of that being shared on Facebook or other social media sites and in the media, I truly believe healing would blanket the land and those outrageous suicide rates would start dropping. Perhaps even crimes rates would go down. The oppressed may find empowerment, confidence that has always been there waiting to be unleashed.
The motivation behind it all must remain pure. The belief that we're all humans with value.
I've been soul searching....
What to do????
I think the answer is clear....
I will be moving forward with When I Became Free. I will get out there and start that domino effect of true self help...conversations and human connections. Once again I will aim to reach the marginalized so they can find hope in healing without feeling alone in their struggles. It will play out a bit differently this time around as this time there will not be a book - these fingers are tired and sore. It will be a volunteer effort. Donations to keep it going will be gladly accepted, those who can donate and find value in it, will. Those who cannot afford to, but can do something else, also will. The most important thing is that voices will be heard and perhaps changes will be made.
What the Hell, it is worth the try...right?