Teddy Roosevelt’s words are ringing in my ears:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”
Yesterday, I felt or was made to feel that I was fighting in my own arenas and that everyone was watching: fighting valiantly in the area of my marriage, getting it wrong, but striving to make it work with great devotion… and daring greatly in the vulnerability of writing a public, daily blog, for which I have great enthusiasm and believe a worthy cause.
And yet I am conflicted in both, I am hearing the words of the critics, feeling their support and praise from one side and the sting from the other. Do I end the marriage? Do I stop the blog? Are these part of the ‘errs and shortcomings’? Or am I just listening to the crowds and letting their unhelpful opinions cloud and distort my instinct to stay? Do I fight and continue to get back up despite their ability to knock me down when I am vulnerable, with my armour off and my party hat on?
Conflict and confusion, frustration and fear of getting it all wrong and mixing it with alcohol is a terrible thing and so I hide today under the worst possible cloak of shame, for the tears and the embarrassment, the turmoil and merry-go-round of blurred images of faces and words of advice, words of pity, words of praise, words of judgement, words of their fears projecting onto me.
And as I hide, I lick my wounds clean off the blood, take time to dust myself off and get ready to get back in to the ring to do battle, in the knowledge that my coat of armour is love; love for him, my family, for writing, for authenticity and openness and ultimately for myself and therefore, I have no option but to thrive and survive.