When I started writing about my experiences during this challenge, I expected it to mostly be light-hearted and funny experiences. But I'm finding more and more that's not always the case. Please remember that I use this more as a journal than anything else so if my emotions vary and I seem passionate about something, it's simply because I'm writing my thoughts--my confused and conflicted thoughts.
No longer can I go about my normal life or through my errands (like the grocery store) without thinking about some of the things I've read or learned or the pictures I've seen over these past few weeks. They are forever etched into my brain and will haunt me until I die.
But, I'm not upset about my ruining, I'm upset by the ruining. There is a difference. A huge difference.
You see I've been guilty of living my life with a terrible case of defense mechanisms. I use them all the time: projection, displacement, repression, compensation.... But I have a favorite when it comes to seemingly insurmountable situations. I use it all the time: denial.
Denial works beautifully for me whenever I learn or hear something that I am unable to control--even if it's something I really want to help with. If I feel that I am too insignificant to help, then I am well trained at feeling horrible, "realizing" there's nothing I can do (somehow pretending it doesn't exist) and then going back to my life.
I even don't do it consciously. I simply feel "What can I do? I'm only one person." or "My finances couldn't go far enough to make a difference; there's no way!" . It's true that I am only one person. And it's true that our finances are tighter now than they ever have been. But is turning away from the problems around me--to pretend as though because I cannot directly see them they don't exist--the right way to handle it? No. I firmly believe: no.
I may only be one girl but even if I can only help one person, isn't he/she worth it? Isn't that one life, one living and breathing human being ,worth my effort? Worth my feelings of intense sadness and frustration at the living situations around the world? I can't help but think about the starfish story. I know that I can't help everyone, it is literally impossible, but if I can help just one then I have succeeded.
No longer can I have the "luxury" of denial. Poverty, starvation, deadly drinking water, orphaned children, abandoned elderly, etc exist all around and turning away only helps me cope. In my tiny, all-American bubble I've been selfish. No way around it. The old me would want to use one of the defense mechanisms in my repertoire; but I will not. I will no longer allow my selfishness to win. I cannot allow it to win.
I am ruined. --And I'm so grateful for it.