22 June 2008

More Words of Wisdom from Nora Roberts

This is from her J.D. Robb novel "Visions in Death" - it's from a bit of dialogue between two of the principal characters in the series. I've taken the liberty of editing it from dialogue to essay form.
" 'Overcoming' and 'getting over' are two very different things. [We] should strive to overcome. To survive, to have a life, to be happy, to be productive. [We can] do all that, and a great deal more. But [we're] not required to 'get over' it. To 'get over' being [physically, emotionally, psychologically] abused."
Ms. Roberts is absolutely right.

The difference, of course, is that when we overcome something, we remain well aware of it; and I mean exactly that. We are well, when we overcome; we have reached the point where it is well with us. And yet, we remember, we remain aware. What we overcome becomes part of who we are, because it is our experiences, and our responses to them, that form us.

When we 'get over' something, we deliberately put it behind us, and turn away from it. It has no part in our lives from that point forward. It's possible to do this with a cold, or the flu. But a broken arm is as much 'overcome' as 'gotten over' - the knit in the bone will always be there, to a sufficiently well trained observer, with sufficiently sensitive instruments.

And a broken heart? Broken dreams? These can be overcome, eventually, and by the grace of God, they eventually will be. But to turn our faces away from them, to repudiate them entirely, to wish them out of existence because they were used by predators to cause us pain? When we do this, we hand the predator a victory over our lives. It is as though we choose to have our broken arm amputated, long after it has knit and healed, because we do not want to live with the memory of its breaking.

Nobody who truly cares for you will demand of you that you amputate your past. They may join with you in mourning it, they may try to help you overcome it [and sometimes, with the best of intentions, may push you to overcome at a pace that suits them, rather than a pace that suits your healing]. But they won't demand that you deny, pretend, or otherwise dismiss your own history. It is precisely that history that makes your overcoming a triumph, it is precisely that history that gives it meaning.

In the Roberts novel from which I quote, the two characters in this dialogue are a forensic psychologist and a policewoman who survived horrendous child abuse, and worse. Roberts is by no means trivializing her chracter's suffering with these words. She is, instead, choosing to respect the sufferer, and to profoundly respect the sufferer's healing. There is much wisdom in her words, and even more compassion.

4 Comments:

Blogger CZBZ said...

"[We] should strive to overcome. To survive, to have a life, to be happy, to be productive. [We can] do all that, and a great deal more. But [we're] not required to 'get over' it. To 'get over' being [physically, emotionally, psychologically] abused."

I've never thought about the difference between Overcoming and Getting Over Something or Getting Over It.

This passage beautifully articulates our human struggle.

I can feel something bubbling up inside me right now, so perhaps I'll comment again tomorrow. This has really touched me.


Thank you,
CZBZ

01 July, 2008 20:12  
Blogger Stormchild said...

:-)

I am looking forward to reading further thoughts from you on the subject - here, or in your blog if they evolve into a blog post!

Your insights always give me new depth and perspective. I'm very grateful you exist, ma'am.

Huge hugs.

Storm

01 July, 2008 20:45  
Blogger CZBZ said...

Dear Storm,

I've tried to put my feelings into words and can't seem to articulate what 'overcoming' means to me. But it's powerful.

One day, the words will come...

I'm very patient with myself these days. Good thing 'cuz it might take awhile before my Inner Knower starts talking to the keyboard.

CZ

08 July, 2008 22:07  
Blogger Stormchild said...

Oh CZ - didn't you realize?

You already have!

That post of yours is a tour de force. It is not merely an anthem on overcoming, it's an entire symphony.

I felt privileged to read it. No; I felt blessed.

Huge hugs

Storm

09 July, 2008 20:51  

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