I remember a discussion I’d had many, many (my goodness) years ago, with my bestest friend, a new bestest friend (He who would remain such) and his bestest friend, a slobby highly intelligent, skyblue-eyed dude with a beautiful and psychotic mum who was like a magical fairy queen when she managed to somehow get to London to visit her son and I would go for long walks with her through those hidden windy ways that criss cross the city from top to bottom and left to right, and then she’d disappear into nowhereland. I wonder how she is now. But I digress.
It was a short but powerful discussion about the meaning of the word wilfulness. We all agreed I was wilful, and I just could not agree with them that it was a bad thing. I pointed out to them that the word itself merely indicated that I was “full of will”, which meant that I got my things done, which from a survival point of view surely couldn’t be a bad thing! The three of them, all highly intelligent people, certainly more than me, couldn’t convince me in the end (I can be stubborn). Yes I was wilful, but I’d be damned before I’d concede that it was a bad thing.
I was twenty at the time. The year after I would attempt suicide, but it was only because (I’m looking back 23 years ago here, mind), I couldn’t get my friends nearby when they had other things to do. As simple as that. My wilfulness would stop when it clashed against my respect for other people’s choices. I was trapped. But whereas I accept that my impulsiveness, my excessive enthusiasm and its ensuing predictable fizzling out, my recklessness and all those other nesses which will probably soon be diagnosed as manic episodes have led me into no end of trouble, my wilfulness I am sure is my rock, my safety, my saviour.
My wilfulness would intervene when I was presented with all sorts of very appealing drugs, with their promise of mindlessness which I craved, and keep me on this side of addiction. My wilfulness would take me from a place of homelessness and despair to a place of hope and tweety birds singing and helpful lovely people. It was my wilfulness that enabled me to always get out of all the crap I got myself into, alone, and against all those people who sincerely thought that telling me how stupid and irresponsible I was was the way to help me out of something. And, finally, it was wilfulness alone, after I’d decided I would produce a child to prove to the world that I could bring up a healthy child even being me, which would enable me to do so for all these years.
As I progressed through the years, I came to accept I lacked many, many socially desirable qualities: organisational skills, patience, rationality, mental order. But wilfulness would always make things right through my chaos. I would always manage to fit the squares into the round shapes and against all the odds, not only survive but even get to a better place every time.
People are not going to help you in this path, I can see this more and more clearly. You are either lucky and you have a few people who accept you and love you and even encourage you to be the better parts of you, and I am lucky to be in that position, or they will ignore you and slowly creep away from you (check) or they will downright give up on you (check) if not openly think of you as scum (check). But what they can’t do is help you.
Mental health professionals? I am about to find out. As with anything else, my faith in people and professions is total until they let me down. I could use the respite and I am getting old and I have survived so much by myself that I wouldn’t mind the help now. But if anybody can actually help I suppose they can, and the magical drugs they can prescribe, now that I am less worried about abusing them.
But in the end, what helps the most is knowledge, awareness. Knowledge of what your rights are, and ensuring you make the most of them, make sure you claim them all. Awareness of your limitations AND your unique qualities, and acting accordingly: so much I am happily avoiding because I know I can’t deal with it, including, say: a regular job with other people, driving when stressed, or likely to be stressed, answering or even hearing the phone, living in narrow-minded countries, and so on and so forth. I am so tired, that admittedly “using my qualities” is mostly when forced to look back to the past on a daily basis, I try to see the good as well as the bad of what I did , because, enough emotional challenges for me, I am retired. But once more I digress.
When I couldn’t avoid all the crap that made me mental, and had to deal with it all on a daily basis, it was wilfulness that got me through.
I believe people with a more conventional mental order may consider as qualities personality traits that work for them, fair enough. But when your mind works very differently, you will need other qualities to keep you going. A sense of responsibility, for example, is nothing, zilch, nada to me. It means absolutely nothing to me. But try and stop me if I’d made up my mind I had to get a new home for my kids, or simply get home alive for them: wilfulness may not have put me on the sensible path, but it sure as hell got me where I needed to go fast and true.
This post was inspired by this blogger (her blog is public so I think she won’t mind me linking her): I love her cutting sarcasm, it is a skill I always wanted, especially as a kid, in hindsight, but even as an adult. They keep telling her to curb it. I can’t help but feel that it’s what keeps her going, it gives her strength. And I think those who are trying to help her are being a little narrow minded in not seeing that when faced with bigger day-to-day challenges, you need bigger weapons, even those that are too pointy for other people to handle.