In between writing these posts, I read Meg's reply to something I wrote. She comments that it's not as hard as you think to write ... and of course she's right. But then, writing isn't really a problem. For me, deciding what to write is. I'm still working through old material at the moment, stuff that I've been thinking about for months or even years, but have never written down. Maybe I'll run out of that in a few months, and then all I'll have to do is think some more.
But I do like to organise my thoughts a LOT before I write them. I always had that problem in English class, I couldn't write more than two pages in 40 minutes to save my life because I liked to spend five minutes thinking first and then take another minute every so often. (My teacher couldn't work it out, so she watched me during an exam once and told me I was doing that.)
Even the order I organise them into probably wouldn't be obvious to anyone else. I'm a sucker for narrative, and everything is a story. So it goes: 'This is why I thought of this issue, this is what I thought, and this is what I thought about next, and I do have an agenda (I always do) so here is my conclusion.' It probably backfires cos you won't see the conclusion until you read to the end :P
Well, here's the next story.
The Ultimate Victim
When I was starting to roleplay Jean, I had to think of a background for my imaginary character. I had to explain why she was alone, and besides she wasn't good at what she did, so I decided her family had simply made fun of her for her chosen profession. So she left, and here she was.
Well, I'm a sucker for narrative so I went around the net and read other people's stories. And one in particular (by someone I know) struck me.
Whatever bad things you can think of, they had happened to this character before you meet her. She was one of twins who had been orphaned. They were born vampires (imaginary, remember). Their foster parents were not only horrible, but sadistic and pedophiles and ... everything. They had killed her twin in some horrible ritual. And it goes on.
I can only imagine what a really good roleplayer would make of this character who had seen it all, but by the looks of things ... it was just going to produce a character who was the ultimate victim. I have to say I've seen a lot of the victim mentality on the internet, both in people's imaginary characters and in their conversation about their real lives, but this was the most over-the-top I've seen. And this was a few years ago, before I'd even heard of 'emo'.
Am I a victim?
Well. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with depression. One day in 2002 I was reading the New Scientist on the way home, and something had happened in India. When I got home, I just cried and cried. I couldn't eat. My dad asked me if I'd fought with Smith, and if I hadn't been crying so hard I would have laughed. (We never fight.) Whatever it was that had happened in India, it had really got me going. And it stayed like that for the next few months. I would watch the news and cry. I would also get bombarded with paranoid thoughts about my safety.
Of course, eventually I saw a psychiatrist. And he asked me if there had been any major trauma or stress in my life. Well, I thought long and hard. The worst I could come up with was that Smith's father had finally succumbed to a year-long illness, a few months before. We weren't close, but he had welcomed me into his family and I'm still sorry he didn't live to see us marry. And of course I had been deeply traumatised by the events of September 11 the year before. But it's not like I was there, or had a family member killed. I wasn't even in the same country, and now it was more than half a year later.
I had major depression with what was diagnosed as a biochemical cause. My body was saying 'Okay, you will be anxious and sad and paranoid, NOW.' Like a good girl, I took the medicine (my psychiatrist didn't think counselling was appropriate, because we couldn't find anything to talk about) and the overblown emotions went away. But I lost a few months of my life and failed a major project, and when I tried to rationalise it to myself ... I was embarrassed.
I was embarrassed because I've had a very good life. There simply was no justification for the sorrow I felt. I felt guilty because there are people who have suffered major trauma in their lives, and people who have to deal with it on an ongoing basis, and I felt they deserved treatment a lot more than I did. When it comes down to it, when I think about my life, I simply have to be thankful, and I didn't see why I wasn't just enjoying it.
Well, that was five years ago. For the past year I have again needed medical treatment, but for exhaustion rather than excessive emotion. And then, seven weeks ago I started an exercise program, and started feeling radically better. I truly feel like a normal person for the first time in years. And then I started to write my Christmas cards.
And my Christmas thought was - In my life, I have had every possible opportunity available to me. I have to be grateful and wish the same on others.
I was born to parents who loved each other and me. I had a little sister to love and to be an example for. My father cared enough about me to bring me up and teach me anything he could. My mother cared enough to stay home and take care of us until we were school age. (Not that I believe all parents should take these particular roles, these were just the ones they chose.)
I went to primary school and highschool and university. Most of the teachers encouraged me to learn everything I could. I even had a job waiting when I finished my last degree.
I have had the special opportunity to learn anything I ever wanted to learn, whenever I wanted it. You can't say that of many people. When I told my mum at 5 that I wanted to learn the violin, I got violin lessons. (Of course the next week when I told her I wanted to learn the flute, she said 'Err, I thought it was the violin.' I learnt the violin.) When my teachers found I was able to read, they gave me the opportunity to learn something else. I have had opportunities for learning that nobody else has had. And countless teachers and academics have given me second chances when I didn't perform my best.
I was born into a peaceful and safe society where people could respect each other. I was born in a city where nature areas are respected and preserved and enjoyed. I was born in a suburb where we had access to public services such as health care, libraries and fresh food, all nearby.
I have a husband who loves me, and if need be will take care of me when I'm down. Although I won't gloat too much about that. I know he's a rare species.
Okay, so I don't have a million dollars to my name. So what? Millions of people in the world cannot identify with any of the opportunities I've had. So many go without. Of course this is the true agenda of my post. Those of us who have chances truly have to think of those who have not.
That was my reasoning when I made my most important Christmas wish. May you all have the opportunities that have been available to me. But more importantly, may you all find it in you to create opportunities for others.
Everyone finds their own way to contribute. Smith and I both have jobs so we can afford to have more than one. But a few weeks ago, I followed a link to www.freerice.com, and there I found a way that is free, and available to anyone who has internet access. That means you.
It's a vocabulary game. You guess which of four meanings belongs to a particular word, and if you get it right, they donate rice through the UN. Not hard, and they have different levels that automatically adjust depending how many you get right. For people like me who have a love of words, it's a lot of fun.
Anyone who reads this will have to try and forgive me for being such an agenda-driven girl. I love to tell stories but at the end I have a point and this is it. I guess that's part of why I started a blog. But as I saw on the internet somewhere, 'You read it, you can't un-read it now!'
Now go and play freerice. :P
the angel Jean
7 years ago