My Blog Motto

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement"

~Rita Mae Brown

Friday, December 3, 2010

Social Networking for Survivors and Advocates

It has only been in the past year that I have become active in the blogging and Social Networking community. I discovered this world soon after losing my job as a Community Advocate and then subsequently experiencing health problems that have restricted me from returning to the world of work. As they say, crisis equals danger and opportunity and I have chosen the path of opportunity; this “crisis” has provided me with the time to reflect upon my life goals, my values and professional opportunities.  Serendipitously, as I was wondering what to do with my life, a good friend of mine was offering a workshop on Social Networking for Women. (See link at bottom of page)
I have always been an activist and have always known that my life’s calling is to empower and support those who believe themselves powerless due to the circumstances life has dealt to them. To lose my position as a Community Advocate for Women and Children experiencing Domestic Violence was both a blow to my professional identity and to my Survivor self. My Professional self had been stifled by rules, underfunding, understaffing and policies that, I believe, did not always place the clients’ best interests at top priority. My Survivor self felt re-victimized, once again something I was passionate about and dedicated to was taken away from me. I had wanted my years of enduring an abusive relationship, learning the tricks of survival and eventually finding my own way out to count for something. I had intended that my real life knowledge combined with my years of training on the academic side of Advocacy would be a powerful combination and a great gift to offer the Community. While I still can, in my heart and soul know this to be true, I have come to the conclusion that, for me at least, this gift will have to be delivered in a different package.

My second life’s passion has always been to write, to tell real stories of real people, the kind of people who are not usually given a voice in our society. I am interested in both fiction and non-fiction and although I’ve been told I have potential as a writer, well we all suffer from self doubt from time to time.

Therefore, for me, the anonymity of the Internet has become a safe zone to test the waters of my skill as a writer while also giving me the opportunity to continue my work in Community Education and Advocacy. Thus far I have achieved this by blogging, participating in bloggers’ discussion and submitting my story to various websites whose mission is to spread the truth about real life issues faced by individuals who have experienced drug addiction, abuse, depression and medical issues or have lived otherwise non-conventional lifestyles.

It makes perfect sense that the Internet be a vehicle for writers and aspiring writers to showcase their work. There are many wonderful online groups and networks where one can submit a sample of their writing and receive feedback and critique, with the added cushion of anonymity. I think there are many of who give birth to words, music, art and beauty but who are insecure about displaying our work. I myself fall into this category which is only exacerbated by the fact that both my father and stepmother all well known local poets. There is a human nature toward comparison and I dread being compared to either of my parents for fear of not living up to the expectation their careers have defined; regardless of whether that fear is founded in reality it is my reality.

The time I have spent blogging and following discussion groups has got me thinking about my own memoirs. I encourage other women, especially those “with a past”, or a little out of the mainstream to tell their stories. Traditionally history has been written by the rich and male; the voices of the “underprivileged” (with a few wonderful exceptions) have not been a part of the pattern of our culture and our legacy as a nation, as a people. One of my favorite books as a child was the story of Harriet Tubman. It gave me great hope and inspiration that someone from such an unimaginably horrible background could develop so much courage, put it into action and tell her story. If a story can inspire a depressed and skeptical ten year old girl, it has done its job, it is a success.

As someone who came to adulthood in the pre-Internet age I am constantly amazed at the amount of information and opportunities for communication that are now available. Human Beings have are so accustomed to instant information and we have acclimated to this development in just about 20 short years of human history. Add to this the ability to communicate with like minded others on a Global scale and the collective human spirit is available to us in ways we never would have imagined 30 years ago. I am not alone in speculating what this means to the development of future generations or the impact on our culture as a whole.

In my particular situation the impact has been life changing. It has opened my mind to potential life choices I’d perhaps fantasized of, but never believed I could manifest. I am now in between worlds, one foot just barely in each. I am in fact in my own world (as my children will confirm!) a world which I am creating day by day, a world where I am content, where I feel I belong. It feels good, amazingly good. I rarely felt that I fit in any of my past environments, which may explain the repeating pattern of creation, dissatisfaction, crisis, destruction and the long road to rebuilding and stabilization. It was beginning to appear as though every time I pulled myself out of whatever kind of trap I’d locked myself into; addiction, bad relationships, poverty etc. the “good life” only lasted a few years at best. I was trapped in the cycle of ruin and redemption; and although the manifestations of each cycle would change, the basic pattern and the message to myself, remained the same. Now I see an opportunity to break free of the restrictions titles, roles and expectations that often overwhelmed me, driving me to self sabotage. I see an opportunity to continue to educate and advocate on my terms, utilizing the value of my life experience and continually learning from the shared experiences of others.

As I near my 52nd birthday and the end of a year of grueling treatment for Hepatitis C, I see a road before me that is unfettered with gates, signs, speed limits and crazy detours. I am pleased to say that my eyes are set on that path toward my vision of what my future can be.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard
Theresa Reed, media conssultant

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