November 12, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - Ackerman

"I don't want to be a passenger in my own life." (Diane Ackerman)

The prompt from Sunday Scribblings this week asks us to respond to this quote.

I decided not to be a passenger in my own life a long time ago, so for me to think about this means remembering those days when I was still in the stage of becoming the captain of my own ship.

When I was falling in love with a woman for the first time, I was young enough that I didn't truly understand what was happening.
This lack of knowledge was both my saving and my downfall. It saved me because it kept me from fully experiencing the fear of what lay ahead. It doomed me because I didn't know enough to be obsessively secretive, and so was soon exposed to the world's condemnation and abuse.

My parents wanted to protect me, but were largely powerless to do so. And some of their ideas about protection would have "protected" me out of what was to become my life.

So I made a decision. Faced with the possible loss of my family of origin, or with the slow erosion of self that denying my identity would cause, I chose to follow my heart forward. Even if it mean losing the family who had been my safe harbor for my entire life leading up to that point.

As it turned out, I was one of the lucky ones. My family's understanding grew along with my own, and I got to keep both my birth family and the family I now make my life with. I have been truly blessed.

The only sense in which I am a passenger is the sense in which we all are. There is one boat, and we are all in it together.

Which leads me to one of my favorite quotes, by Jane Addams of Hull House fame: "The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain – until it is secure for all of us, and incorporated into the common good."

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)


Anonymous said...

What a great quote- and story. You are one of the lucky ones!

Maya's Granny said...

When my niece discovered that she loved a woman, I didn't know what to do to help her except love her and welcome her partner. Some of the family could do that easily, some took a little longer. I am proud of my family that they all worked to make that journey. I grieve for all of the vulnerable young people whose families don't.

Shelley said...

ren.kat Thank you. I try to remember to say it every day.

Maya's granny, love changes everything. In loving your niece unchangedly and welcoming her partner, you have helped to heal the world.

It's getting better out here, but it does sometimes feel like a kind of desperate "beat the clock"... how many young people will we fail to reach in time?

Still, thank you for being you. It's all any of us can really do.