By Raymond Baxter
I am a born-again survivor
When western people get asked about resurrection I’m betting the first thing they think of would be Christ dying on the Cross; timely that I’m writing about this at Easter. See, I was raised (in school) as very Roman Catholic, and people are often surprised that I can have hearty discussions with them about religion even though I am not religious. I don’t like to call myself an Atheist, though. Because Atheism to me is shouty people on the internet that like to tell people why they are wrong.
And that just isn’t me. I like to love everyone equally. I am trying.
When you ask me, personally, about resurrection, I’m more inclined to talk about my life and the way it changed for me; through my struggles I was resurrected a far better person than I had ever been. And I continue to resurrect myself yearly.
Once when I was working with people with fairly strong barriers to a healthy life I spoke to another survivor that I was trying to convince to work with me. He had been through quite bad experiences with Heroin and Alcohol and frequented my service regularly because it helped him focus and stay clean. He said to me:
“You know Raymond, I’m very religious, and I see you’re very like Jesus and the people who come to this place are like the Apostles, and I’m someone trying to figure my way through life”
I didn’t think it at the time but as I reflect on that instance I’m super honoured that he would say that. He knew that I too was a survivor, and that I had only good intentions for him, and in his own way he was believing what was necessary to survive. Sometimes people have no love in life – so they attach themselves to anyone that shows them the slightest bit of empathy. Sometimes we forget that. Sometimes we forget how much of a need there is to feel loved by someone. To feel that YOU matter.
I didn’t have that growing up. Both my father and mother didn’t love themselves enough to show me any in a healthy manner. My Mum loved me to bits, in her own way. But she didn’t love herself enough to pass that self-love onto me. She was nervous, anxious and afraid, and that’s not a good concoction for a single parent. So I grew up with Mum always trying to keep the peace with everyone rather than bitterly defending my honour to the end.
My Dad loved to pick on my insecurities. Rather than continually telling me what an awesome person I am, and how proud of me he was, he was constantly telling me that I was a failure to the family. Yet I now understand this as his own insecurities rather than mine. I think he told me how proud of me he was once, and that was on his deathbed, and when I had changed my life around.
For those of you that don’t know, my Dad was a narcissistic, alcoholic womaniser. He was a world traveller and had a woman in every port. And although he wasn’t around much for me, the experiences that I DID have with him (or lack thereof) were enough to lead me into an early life of alcohol, drugs, street gang company, and a six month stay in a Psychiatric ward. I would say the journey I’ve been on was very choppy!
And all through my late teens and early twenties I ran around the world trying to make sense of it all when I really had no great teachers. I had friends who showed me empathy and a warm understanding, I was lucky in that sense in my later years, but no-one that could take my hand and show me how life should be like. No-one to strip away the confusion and help me understand it all.
Until I started in the Charity sector. You see, I met a lady that understood me entirely; it was strange. I had never met anyone who understood my life on the level that she did. She made light work of my problems and taught me how to overcome them. Not all, but a great deal of them. It was never going to be easy, but I always knew there was something better for me.
And through that knowledge that was passed onto me I was handed the tools to streamline my life into a far healthier place. To continually reflect on my actions. To understand that staying still and not learning anything isn’t proactive for a better, more fruitful life. It’s why I say I continually resurrect myself. I’m a far better person today than I was a year ago, and so on.
So, when you talk to me about resurrection I think of myself slowly rising from a pit of molten lava, forged in Gold in the fiery depths of Mount Doom, impervious to outside influence. Hah, joking, but you get the idea. I pretty much resurrected myself from the horror that was my life 20 years ago. I didn’t have it easy, nor was I making life easy for myself. But I was shown the way by a few empathic and loving hands. People that have a vested interest in other people.
And it’s why the Relationship Blogger was born, to help others make sense of the world. To give back the love that was shown to me in my obvious time of need.
Most people can’t resurrect themselves if they don’t have a strong, loving and wise person behind them.
How do you learn to love others when you, yourself were shown no love at the beginning? You just can’t give love if you’ve never learned how to receive it.