Taking the negative experiences in one’s life off the crutch, and instead using them to help others deal with crisis in a positive way, is probably one of life’s greatest challenges.
But for Calvin Morrisseau, 47, program manager at Weechi-it-te-win here, it is a path he continues to travel on.
In fact, his manuscript, entitled “Into the Daylight—A Holistic Approach to Healing,” was accepted into the book-printing process by the University of Toronto Press eight days ago.
It deals with making empowering choices as an individual despite tragedy, and the responsibility of family and community in developing positive value and support systems for its members.
Incidentally, the date Morrisseau’s manuscript was accepted (Sept. 9) also marked the 20-year anniversary of his sobriety, causing some powerful emotions to surface.
“When I realized [the date], it blew me away. And from a spiritual point of view, I knew this must be something really good,” he smiled.
Prior to his work with Weechi-it-te-win, Morrisseau spent eight years as the executive director of the Family Violence and Information Training Centre in Sudbury, and another two years as an addictions counsellor at the Smith Clinic in Thunder Bay.
He spent the last 18 months writing the book he said is a “user-friendly” guide to wellness, born of experiences and molded philosophies learned from his triumph over tragedy.
“Being a victim [in my youth] of physical and sexual abuse as well as assimilation . . . I wanted to put things into perspective, to make sense out of chaos,” he explained last week.
“All three traumatic things happened to me and this was my attempt to make these things my friends instead of my enemies,” he added.
Morrisseau said that when he looked at his life, even with a negative past, he realized he could make a positive future for himself—a process that began when he quit drinking.
“I took responsibility for my own life. I realized nobody could force me to do anything," he said. ”Nobody forced me to drink. I put the bottle to my lips.
“Healing is about accepting things," he stressed. "You can’t heal if you are living in denial. Turning [tragedies] around . . . they lose their power over us.”
And Morrisseau is confident, as is his publisher, that the book will benefit a cross-cultural audience even though it originally was intended to be a guide for his own aboriginal people.
“The manuscript is excellent," wrote one of two reviewers from the U. of T. Press. ”It is a masterful narrative and wise teaching.
“[Morrisseau] should be commended for his courage and altruism.”
“It basically started as a self-healing kind of journey but then I realized that it was more than my own desire to heal," he added. ”It was to help other people understand how to [heal].
“It became a universal kind of book. After 650 re-writes, I figured that out,” he laughed.
Morrisseau expects it will be at least a couple of months before the book heads into its final printing stage. And while he patiently awaits word on his signing bonus, Morrisseau isn’t idle. Besides his day job, he already is working on a second book.
“This first book just provides the infrastructure for amazing things!" he enthused. ”The field is wide open. And if I could write full-time, I’d consider that retirement.
“That’s how much I love it.”
Admittedly, though, he is not an author without dry spells and lapses of self-confidence—problems he suggested most likely would be insurmountable without the help of his wife, Mona Rose.
“My wife is probably the key person behind my own [success]," he gestured. "Without her, I wouldn’t have the confidence to do this.”
“When I feel like I just can’t do it, she gently reminds me that I have the ability.”
Morrisseau also said a teacher once told him that he would never amount to anything, and he thinks that motivated him, too.
“I’ve had many accomplishments and if you surround yourself with people who are supportive, you can do anything,” he reasoned.