Friday, September 4, 2015

I Am Not a Superhero

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 16 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My secret subject is: Sept is Back to school time. What's one thing you've learned recently?

It was submitted by: 

I like to think that I learn something new about myself, the people I love, or humanity every day, so selecting just one thing was tough, but this particular lesson has been the hardest this past year and has come up more than once, so here it goes...


Everyone searches for a purpose in life. A lot of people find that purpose in religion, but that has never really been my thing. Spirituality? Maybe. But, organized religion? No. When asked what drives me to keep going if I don’t necessarily believe in an afterlife or a supernatural parental caretaker, I reply that I have found purpose in helping other people and to truly extend my humanity. After all, as far as my own beliefs go, I have to wake up and answer to myself everyday rather than a higher power, and what makes me proud to look in the mirror is that driving force I have to reach out to people that others, even the most devoutly religious, tend to judge and treat horribly or to help those in need or even to give an
just one box of many
animal in need a home and a good spoiling.

But, over the last year as I have extended my hand through writing inmates (i would say offenders but a couple I firmly believe are actually innocent)  more and more than ever before while I have the time, desire, and energy to do so, I have had to come to terms with some hard lessons about not getting burned out, not taking on too much, and, perhaps hardest of all, that not everyone is capable of receiving and benefiting from help and support.

That last one is a kicker because it really goes against my natural instincts, but it’s the absolute truth. That truth has been a bit difficult to swallow, but I have been learning how to let go and focus my energy on people that will truly benefit and appreciate my time rather than giving my efforts to those who are filled with hate and have an inability to change.

I don’t like to give up. It just isn’t in me to give up especially on a person that in my very core I know needs someone to grow with, to learn from, and to matter to… This year, though, has really put that part of me to the test, the part that ends up sticking with things too long and putting other people’s needs before my own. This year I had to learn how to decide whether it would be me or them, and I learned how to choose me without feeling incredibly guilty or feeling like a failure.

Writing people who are in prison, as I have said before, is always a gamble. Even with the best of research, you never know how things will turn out and what a person will really be like. I have had a few bad experiences under my belt over the years, but when it didn’t work, it was a mutual decision to cut things off. This year when I expanded the number of people I write to hoping to help as many as I can take on and pushing the boundaries of how much I can do (like always), I changed the ratios on the gambles I take. The number of people I put myself out there with grew as did the chances they could be the kind of people that are unable to connect with others, who use and abuse people, who prey on the people they think are weaker. Research is nothing compared with interaction. I took the risk a number of times this year. Sometimes those risks paid off, and I made great strides in making friendships with people I have really grown *with* and have been able to develop friendships with, to provide support to, and to enjoy as fellow human beings who need just that—to feel their own humanity. More often this year, though, the risks have turned out for the worst. I met people who were miserable, who hated themselves or specific groups of other people to the point that rational conversation wasn’t possible. I met people who refused to take responsibility for their words much less their actions and who really wanted nothing more than maybe a dirty letter or someone to feel sorry for them, someone to talk AT, or to use.

So, I had to let go. And, I had to teach myself that it’s okay to do so. Sometimes giving up is the *right* thing to do.

Learning that has made what I do a lot easier and taken some of the responsibility I tend to feel about saving the whole world off my shoulders. Not everyone can be saved; not everyone wants to be. I have to be okay with that and give my superhero complex a rest.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there: Baking In A Tornado The Momisodes The Bergham’s Life Chronicles Stacy Sews and Schools Dinosaur Superhero Mommy Spatulas on Parade Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Southern Belle Charm The Angrivated Mom Confessions of a part time working mom The Lieber Family Blog Cluttered Genius The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Someone Else’s Genius House of J Chronicles


  1. With a heart as big as yours, there's more opportunity to break it. It's good to see that you don't let that happen. I think there is great value in setting limits, realizing what relationships are mutually helpful and taking a step away from those that are toxic. It really is a matter of self preservation. And you're no good to others if you're not the best you that you can be.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with what Karen says and I just want to add please be careful and I am sure you have probably heard that before, but while what you are doing might help some there are so many that will take advantage of you. Don't take unnecessary risks. Sorry I guess I shouldn't say that because I don't know you, It just sounds really dangerous to me.

    1. I've been doing this 8 years now. It's no more a risk than going out at night or to the grocery store or being a woman on the Internet.

  3. Letting go and choosing you is not giving up!

  4. Choosing YOU is not quitting or giving up. It's loving yourself first and with that, it opens you to do what you do.
    Great post

  5. Choosing YOU is not quitting or giving up. It's loving yourself first and with that, it opens you to do what you do.
    Great post

  6. What Minette and Tamara and Rena and Karen said!!!! I couldn't possibly add more!!!!!

  7. It is so very hard to let go of expectations we have of ourselves - even if our brain gives us the common sense answer.

  8. I agree that we should each learn something new every day. Letting go of someone or something that does not benefit us is not giving up, choosing yourself is a healthy choice. Take care of you and fill your life with those who build you up.

  9. Letting go in a sense is choosing you. It's choosing what's best and healthy for you.

  10. What an awesome project you have. I'm glad you have learned that taking care of you is important in this process. You will be no good to anyone at all if you allow yourself to be taken advantage of and burned out. Saying "no" to certain people allows you to say "yes" to more people in the long run.

  11. You are a superhero. You just have to realize that even superheroes can't save everyone.