If I’m writing about a book, it must be the 3rd Friday of the month. This month, I want to focus on an oldie but a goodie. I allow myself to read 12 books a year. For some, this seems like a lot. For others, is seems a small amount. Allow me to give you context. I have been a person who has had a goal to read 100 books in a year and exceeded my own expectations. I could go through a book in a matter of days. The problem was, it didn’t help my social life at all. I constantly was reading (enjoying every minute of it, if i say so) but suffering socially. In my efforts to have more social time, I reduced my goal and reduced it again. This year I am at 12 books….but I cheat. I cheat by saying I mean 12 NEW books, not 12 books that I may have read before. LOOPHOLE! It is in this way that I am writing this blog on Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (you can read the unhelpful synopsis here). This is a book, like all HP books, that I re-read every year, sometimes more than once in a year. (Before you ask, No, it is not boring to re-read the same book. As we reread, or re-experience something, our life experiences allow us to see something different than we did before. It allows us to read the book as through for the first time, simply based on the change of individual life experiences. But, I digress.
In my reading of the Half- Blood Prince, I was struck my the mental health implications of it all. If you haven’t read or watched the movies, and wish to remain unspoiled, I suggest you move on. I am not holding back in what I am thinking about what I will say. There will definitely be spoilers ahead.
Harry, to this point of his life has truly suffered. Before his memory is clear, he lost both his parents. He was forced to live in a household where is it more than implied that he was physically, mentally, and emotionally abused and often neglected. We get to catch up with him at the turning point in his life. We get to see him grow and triumph and be a dude always in detention. But in my re-reading of the 6th book, I was thinking about how miserable his life has actually been. The loss of so many loved ones year after year with no pause, no respite. He saw death in his first year. He almost died in his second. His third was marked with learning great and terrible news, but still having to deal with the loss of hope of moving on from an abusive home. The fourth book was the loss of a school mate, and a loss of respect from others. The fifth year was a loss of his godfather, though he gained back some respect and awe. And the 6th year is the loss of a mentor, a girlfriend, and any hope he had in continuing his education. So, in that sense the loss of Hogwarts, a school that had grown to be his true home.
The point is that in spite of loss, and hurt, we can still be triumphant. Yes, he is a character from a book, but what Dumbledore imparts on him, is the same advice we can take in for ourselves. It is important to note that no shitty the hand you are dealt you have OPTIONS. You can choose to go the route of Voldemort. You can make yourself into something unrecognizable, shred your soul until those who thought they knew you wouldn’t recognize you. You can become the vilest evil. AND, the social worker in me, would say you are justified. It is unreasonable that you should suffer and not want others to eat their words and/or suffer as you have. OR you can be Harry. You can, despite the circumstances of your life, choose to work and fight and make something of yourself that people would stop to behold. Of course there is middle ground. You can choose to fight, or you can walk away from a fight and deal with the fact that the fight is constantly being brought to you. Moving forward in that way can be scary. It is a dark place that most aren't sure what they should do or how they would move forward, but like Dumbledore said “ when we look into the dark, it is the unknown we fear, nothing more.” Taking that ride into the unknown can make you stronger than you ever imagined. Moving into your full glory, I would say is your obligation.
Think back. Think back to life's slights. To life's hurts. How did you handle them? Did you move in the direction that you felt was best for you? This is not to say that you should use the power of positive thinking in spite of the circumstances you lead. NO! I don’t even agree with that. As a matter of fact, there is a great blog post written by Dr. Tanisha Ranger, that denounced just that. What I am saying is that there is a time and a place for all and you have the responsibility of figuring how what the time is and what that place is.
To that end, I say, be like Harry. Understand the circumstances that have lead to them and the true root cause. (Figuring out the root cause takes more time. Often what we think of as the root is only an ancillary side effect). Acknowledge that emotion and truly experience it. DOn’t try to push it away ,or distract yourself with TV, work, drugs, etc. Just learn to be still. Sit in that emotion. Let it have its say. If that means you cry, then so be it. If it means that you want to throw things, then throw pillows. But don’t deny what you are feeling. It is hard to come out of the other side with any clarity if you are muddled in hurts you refuse to acknowledge and experience.
So here is the HOW you can without being a total wreck. Take an hour a day, after work or school. When you have time but aren’t going to be interrupted. Take the time to feel those emotions, write them out, cry it out, or gently throw your pillow onto the bed. Then when you have written, cried, or thrown yourself out and you think you are done, go through a meditation, like this one. See what comes from it. See what you know about you now that you have experienced those hurts.