Sometimes you find clarity in the most unusual places – in dystopian themed fiction aimed at young adults.
Last week I wrote about my plans for 2016 and my desire to tackle the issues that have been haunting me with integrity and honesty. What I have learned this week is that I’m part of a world that is dealing with challenge all the time. Some people thrive on it, whilst it can knock the wind out of others’ sails. A quick glance around me, and I see others dealing with all manner of crosses. After what has felt like a rotten 2015, the challenge has been in trying to work out how to change the status quo – for example, what can I change in my own behaviour and patterns of resilience that will help me to have a better 2016?
Firstly, I have started my nutrition overhaul with Georgie Fear and the One by One Nutrition crew. Rather than being food/plan centric as many nutrition plans are, the work consists of learning sustainable habits in order to keep you lean and healthy for life. The habits are build on evidence based science backed up by supporting studies. There is no calorie counting or restriction on eating any type of food, which gives a beautiful freedom to pick and choose, which appeals madly to my independent streak and love of evidence based practice. I’m approaching the end of the first week on the program and feeling much saner already. Yes, I’ve lost a smidgen of weight, but most importantly I feel better.
Secondly, and most importantly, I’ve come to the realisation that I’m suffering from a form of PTSD as a result of not just the accident, surgery and rehab, but from a few unresolved prior upsets. In the past few days I have had an epiphany that I have been beating myself up over crazy things such as the notion that I haven’t recovered quickly enough, and that I haven’t been able to seem to get over the loss of some key friendships amongst other things. I’ve beaten myself up over the fact that my problems are first world compared with the horrific things that others have to deal with; therefore I’ve believed they shouldn’t be important. I’ve continually berated myself for not being able to lose or control my weight when I’ve been feeling so crappy that I’ve slowly spiralled into some highly distressing disordered eating habits and experienced guilt and shame for feeling like I should know better. I have vacillated about whether to write about this because I’m scared that others will think I’m incompetent, nuts or a combination of the two. However, I feel like I need to get it out of my system by writing about it – and seeing a psychologist, who, thankfully, doesn’t see any of this as being nuts at all.
Where does a dystopian book series fit in? My little Lucys are voracious readers and late last year, they encouraged me to read the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. It’s set in a post apocalyptic Chicago, where order is kept by separating society into five factions based on personal character and an aptitude test – Dauntless ( brave), Candor (truth), Erudite (intellect), Abnegation (selfless) and Amity (peaceful). The protagonist of the series, Tris, cannot be classified and hence represents the “Divergent” as she possesses an aptitude for all the factions, which makes her dangerous in this brave new world.
In the second novel, Insurgent, Tris wrestles with the idea of forgiveness under the influence of a truth serum. She has killed a fellow Dauntless in self defence and cannot forgive herself. The resistance to self forgiveness is expressed in an almost primal wail. Later in the novel, Tris gives herself up to complete a ‘simulation’ for each Faction in order to unlock a message for Chicago’s residents. She passes four of these simulations with flying colours, but finds a sticking point unlocking the Amity simulation.
“To be Amity is to forgive others..and yourself”, states Johanna, their designated leader. Tris’ final simulation involves ‘fighting’ herself and finding self forgiveness and peace.
In the novel, Tris and Johanna share the following conversation:
“May the peace of God be with you,” she says, her voice low, “even in the midst of trouble.”
“Why would it?” I (Tris) say softly, so no one else can hear. “After all I’ve done…”
“It isn’t about you,” she says. “It is a gift. You cannot earn it, or it ceases to be a gift.”
This is what I’m seeking in 2016 – the power of self forgiveness.
I’ll leave you with the movie version of Tris’ story, which I believe everyone can relate to. I know that I’m not alone in going through a rough patch and truly believe that it’s probably pretty normal. May we all find peace and self forgiveness in 2016.