“Survival is insufficient.” – Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
Most of my life, I worked so hard to hold on; make it through one more minute, one more hour, one more day. I was pretty successful at being invisible… which was the goal of my parents (“children should be seen and not heard…and they shouldn’t be seen either.”); obedient… which was the goal of my first husband; stable… which was the goal of my treatment team; alive… which was the mandate of the court.
“Survival is insufficient.” I first read those words in the book, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The words were written on a banner of a roaming Shakespearean troupe that tasked itself with bringing the arts and music to the post-apocalyptic world. (The irony isn’t lost on me.) They believed there should be more to life than just staying alive.
Life can be pretty empty if all we are doing is trying to hold on, survive. How quickly we can lose sight of why we hold on and if there’s even a reason at all. I chose my reason years ago. It wasn’t the reason my clinical team gave me. It wasn’t the reason my ex-husband gave me and it wasn’t even the reason the court gave me. I chose to live so I could find joy and peace and love within myself (and for my kids) and develop my capacity to share and foster that with others. I was going to find beauty in obscure places and be a source of encouragement for others. If I’m going to be alive, I want my life to mean something.
For so much of my life I fought so hard to stay, to be, to exist. Then I fought equally hard to… not. Today, I get up (it isn’t always easy…), get ready to face the day, find a song in my heart, and a start looking for beauty. Why? Because survival is insufficient.
Judi Holder is the Recovery Services Administrator for RI International’s San Diego programs and has been with the company for more than 18 years. She is the author of the Wellness and Empowerment in Life and Living (WELL) 4th edition and the co-author of Creating Healthy Habits, a five session program to help people develop the skills and tools for healthy lifestyle choices. Judi has shared about her own personal recovery experience with service providers throughout the country.