My Greatest Crucible

Everyone of us has trials in our lives and some of these times can be called 'crucibles'. In many ways, our lives are a 'series of crucibles'. I think I am going through my greatest crucible right now. I am going to go ahead and post this but I will slightly edit it for a tiny bit of privacy. I thought that analyzing my greatest crucible (at least my greatest to this date) would be productive and I think it has been although very painful. So here is goes...

Trying to write freely about this event is one of the hardest things I think I have ever done - I really think I am in the crucible now. I have been relatively homeless for over a year, (edited out) I feel awful. I feel like a failure, a horrible person and an ogre. I feel alone, scared and desperate. I haven't called on very many resources and haven't felt like I have had many. I have tested the friendship of the one person I have had left. In some ways I have made myself a martyr. When some leaders from my church discovered the situation, they have worked to get me to accept resources and have offered comfort, resources and open doors that were closed many years ago by others in the church. The issues are not resolved. I will be safer this winter and less likely to freeze to death. I have food and I am working towards getting a job I need very much. I work everyday to think about my blessings, what I am hopeful for, and to remind myself that I can be a force of positive energy in my life and if I work hard enough maybe for others as well. I am not sure how my world views are currently being shaped. I know that I have spent the last year trying to really look internally on my own (I have no insurance) and try to see who I am and what I want and what I can be. I know that being in the service of others is one of the few things that really helps me to feel joy and awe in my life. I know that my family and a few others are the only people that I feel joy around with few exceptions. I think that I really need to see what I am thinking a few months and years from now to really understand how my greatest crucible has caused change in my and my outlook and views on the world and the people around me.

Looking at mentors in my life, I am not sure that I have had any true mentors if I look at it in the physical sense... that is, I do not think I have had people who have been in my life and attempted to guide me and I trusted them. If the definition of a mentor can be vague enough to open the field a bit and look at a mentor as a trusted guide or counselor and I am able to include people who have shaped my thoughts from indirect means-meaning their actual physical presence wasn't necessary and our interactions together were few to non existent... then I can think of a few :) If I stick with physical people that I have actually had interactions with then I think the first person I can think of would be Joy Demain. As a teacher, we rarely had experiences that were personal in the sense that other people were always around... and the people tended to be peers so I was less likely to be my 'real' self. In fact in those days, I think I either wanted to please so much that I had a quite desperate quality about me and I also had an energy level that was unable to be matched by most of the people around me and so I was basically in some ways out of control in my enthusiasm, exuberance and 'joy'- if I was out of my household and around any one that I liked then I felt a sense of joy that I see now as not joy but an attempt to get as much of me and other positive emotions filled before returning home. I looked up to Ms. Demain and I feel uncomfortable even writing her first name down here – she was always the teacher and I would never have dared to call or think of her by her first name. She lived in a way and an openness that I admired and wanted.... and still do not understand how to be. I few things that she said to a group of us stuck with me and did influence in in some ways. I didn't try to go on and become an actress because she didn't feel I was good enough. She thought that people who get married before the age of 25 years old were more likely to get divorce so I didn't consider it a possibility to get married before then and I married at 27 instead. The other person I can think of I married and I am attempting to stay married too. The mentors that have shaped my thoughts from their writings have really made the most change in me have actually been mentors I have collected over the last two years- they are Thich Nhat Hahn, James Faust, and C.S. Lewis. I have really studied over the works of Thich Nhat Hahn to work on my problems with anger, James Faust to understand other people and to develop confidence and tolerance, and over the last few months I have discovered the mature C.S. Lewis and I am using his works to shape my thoughts on religion and grief... although I think that he isn't able to shape my thoughts on religion too much as I tend to agree with him and not actually 'change' anything. :)

Looking at my past and opportunities for leadership, I am not sure that I have ever developed significant 'leadership' skills. I think that I have spent as much energy as possible avoiding leadership activities. I think part of that is my misunderstanding of the difference between a 'leader' and a 'supervisor/boss'. I am changing my viewpoints on those definitions currently. :) The only think that I am pretty sure that I have learned is the small lessons that together have brought me to this point. I think that past experiences haven't really been crucibles because I haven't struggled through them or tried to learn anything positive... I have simply tried to survive to get to a new point (and hoped that point was good.) Most of the small lessons seem to have worked in a negative way- to close me off not for growth. Learning to re-frame these experiences is something that I am trying to figure out how to do. Trying to figure out how to change my perception of my past is something that I have been having difficulty with. Many experiences from my past are holding me back- or more correctly I am allowing them to hold me back.

In conclusion, I am on the path to moving from 'I' to 'We', but I haven't made it yet. I think that the huge experiences of the last few years hitting me one right after another and all of them being big, painful and life changing events have brought me to this point. I would like to learn how to finish this transformation and how to truly re-frame my experiences so that they are not baggage and are positive and uplifting instead. Hopefully, I will learn some more techniques in this class to help with this journey. I do not feel like the hero in my journey... but I do feel like I am a lone traveler on my journey. I would like to feel like a pilgrim in a group on a great pilgrimage. That vision sounds nicer to me. :)

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