Monday, March 26, 2012

Writers Block and Bottlenecks

   Since deciding to write a book, or really, discovering that I am supposed to be writing a book, and giving in to that path... the idea of writing something short, sweet... pithy, is about the farthest thing from my mind. Which is either really good or really bad for my blog writing. Good, because I have so many more meaningful ideas. Even my non-book/past-related thoughts are richer. Stronger. Just... better. But, that also means they are daunting and time consuming to write out. At least to write in a way that I would be willing to put out into the world free for the reading. And so posts take days, sometimes weeks.

   The idea of writing "filler" really grates at me. I have done it. Much of my archives are filled with it. But now, it seems almost blasphemous to spend any of my coveted writing time with things of that nature. Writing for the sake of it.

   Funny how when I am entirely out of ideas writing for the sake of it seems to be the most noble of things. I check it off my list at the end of each day and feel like a real, honest writer for doing so. Because real writers don't wait for ideas. They let inspiration find them working, as Picasso asserted (much more articulately).

   Ah... but when there are an abundance of ideas, then, suddenly writing for the sake of writing is the worst thing I could do. How dare I write about my day? About tea and diapers and sore throats? About my outfit and why I feel like there is something Holy about this holey old t-shirt? When I should be writing about life, and love, and pain. About overcoming depression, and substance abuse, and self-injury. Or about God given callings. About Habakkuk and what we should do with our doubts. About feminism. And humanism. Gender roles. About all those gravely important topics that float around in my brain at 3am to the point where I have to decide whether it would be better to risk waking up the toddler (which is still so hard to type) then to lie awake for another hour, because I know that the next time I can write while he sleeps I will also have to share that time with the dishes, and eating, and cleaning... possibly even working out, or catching up on the episode of Supernatural that I feel asleep watching last night so that Jason won't have to watch it a second time when he gets home.

   How dare I write about writing? Or admit in written word that I struggle with such a time restriction on my writing but I watch Supernatural every night before I go to bed, so that I can wake up at 3am and feel like writing.

   My very first blog post was written in the middle of the night, after weeks of no sleep. And here I am sticking to my ten minutes a day... why? Because I'm scared. My thoughts are too big and vocabulary too small. I circle the story but can't find the words.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday Morning Smiles

Saturday mornings around these parts are for things like teddy bears, string cheese and Mommies old hats.  Every single toy we own must be removed from their nighttime hiding places and strewn across the floor.

   We have no need for things as trivial as pants on Saturdays. 

On Saturdays we snuggle, and jump and run. We tickle and laugh. 

Sometimes we whine... even cry, for a moment. But it always passes quickly. 

Daddy naps and Mommy takes hundreds of blurry pictures... pictures of me while I play. Lots of my hair and my feet. I'm not quite sure what that is all about, but as long as I can have my bear...

...and my books, and my drum and all the things with wheels.

The toys that make noise and the ones that don't. 

Saturdays we dance. On Saturdays... the music, it plays for hours and hours.

The sunshine leaks into our windows from every side of the house. Everywhere we go it is light. It makes it hard for me to hide. But I don't mind...

...because I like to be found. 

Saturdays are my favorite, because on Saturdays I get to run around while my parents wind down. It's all about cuddles on the couch and kisses all around.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Writing and Fear of the Unknown

   I have decided. Decided, that I am going to begin work on a book. It wasn't easy... the deciding that is. It is often one of the hardest parts of life. Deciding to start. But then again this whole starting business seems pretty daunting too. As does the long term work of it. Seeing through the emotional roller coaster that will come with digging in to my past. Opening that big scary door I keep it all behind, in the back of my head. It's a heavy metal door with one of those really intimidating steampunk style, crank-turn locking mechanisms. The kind that seem to require a lot of upper body strength to open. That or a really intricate system of levers and secret keys.

   You see, what I will be writing about is me. And I don't feel like I know me very well. Who am I to be writing a book? How is my experience unique enough to be worthy of yet other autobiography on the shelves of your local bookstore? And can I really handle going back there? Reliving it all enough to be able to retell it? Am I really strong enough for that? I don't feel like I am. And how will I remember enough to piece together a cohesive memoir, when I have forgotten so much of it already? At 25. I've forgotten. And what I remember I don't trust. I don't trust it because of my knowledge of the fickleness that is memory, and because of I don't quite trust myself. I don't know for sure what I really experienced, what I merely think I experienced and what I flat out made up in my mind that has come to present itself as real as the rest.

   What if the people I knew then pick up the finished product expecting in some way a reflection of what they know of me now, only to find shock and horror at the things that I've managed to dig up that they never knew about. Things I never told them because I had forgotten. Or was too scared. Or felt that I had already gone too far. What if I hurt them again? Or myself? What if I can't break free once I go back seeking to remember what I thought and felt, but instead I wind up thinking and feeling those things all over again? What if some of the "characters" who are crucial to my story that didn't stick around, pick up my book and proclaim to the world that I am a fraud because they are unhappy with what they read? Or quite possibly because I am a fraud in the sense that my memories of them are in fact inaccurate, due to the years, a cloudy memory, or my admitted craziness at the time that caused me to see them differently than they were. What if I have to go through a whole second process of amends after the book because of how it affects those who read it?

   Where do I start?

   Where do I stop?

   I am flat out scared... But... but.

   I know that the fear is because I need this. I wouldn't be scared if it wasn't something I wasn't supposed to do. Not this kind of fear anyways. This isn't the brand of fear that is meant to warn me that I'm about to fall off a cliff or get bit by a snake. This is the type of fear that only exists in the face of a meaningful task. A significant, and essentially necessary journey. This is the type of fear that I must follow... because it means that I am drawing closer to my calling. I am making the Evil One scared. I am on the right path. A path I can't so much see, as sense.

   All signs are telling me that I need to start now. That though I can't see the path, it will unfold before me only if I take a step. Only if I apply pressure to the wound that has been growing upon my soul. I can't lick it any longer. The bleeding will only stop if I go straight to where it hurts most, and close the opening stitch by stitch. So many people, without realizing it, have encouraged me over these past few months. I have received the book question from many people both close and near. People who know my past and people who barely know me at all save for my current writings here on the blog. And that is the least of it. The road markers have been too innumerable to measure. It's time.

  And so, I will still be writing here. In much the same way that I have been. But keep in the back of your mind that I will also be storing away certain pieces as I go. Some I will publish online, but most I won't. I will work memory by memory as they arise. I will write each individual one to completion and then set it aside. Eventually it will add up to a complete account. It could be months. More likely years. In this decade I hope... only, God knows. But, someday it will become available to you. My dear sweet readers of whom I am extremely grateful.

   Have patience with me in this time, and please, continue to come here as you are inspired to do so, and read about how this is taking over an transforming my life. Tell me how your story is doing the same for you. We can traverse our own separate journeys together in this way. Drawing on our pasts where needed to create a new and special future.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In Dealing with Discrepancies

   For as long as I can remember I have vaguely understood the notion that God allows for bad things to happen to good people for purposes that we as individual humans can't always understand. That some extremely negative things are also extremely necessary when looking at the big picture. A picture bigger than most people ever have the opportunity to see in their lifetimes. Sometimes those negative things never play out for a positive result in that individuals life, but instead it affects someone else further down the road. Creation out of destruction. Good outcomes coming from terrible circumstances. Circumstances that God allowed to happen. Even, at times, had his hand in creating. A plentiful harvest of good fruit from rotten seeds planted in a dry and barren land.

   What I never could quite understand is how to logically reconcile my knowledge of that aspect of God with my knowledge of another, equally important characteristic of God. His righteous inability to approve of any sin for any purpose or reason. No sin is excused, except through the blood of Jesus. How then can he use evil as a tool for good? How can he use one person's sin as an agent for positive change and correction in another person? God does not approve of sin. But, isn't using the sin of one person to bless another person in essence excusing the sin? Aren't those bad circumstances in good people's lives a result of sin? Isn't sin at the root of every negative experience we have as human beings? Or at least most? I mean, I wouldn't claim that sin was at the root of someone experiencing a miscarriage or contracting cancer... but war? Rape? Even little conflicts within a marriage or friendship. Those are all the results of someone's sin. And all of those things can be, and are used by God in ways to positively affect the person harmed by that sin. To make them stronger, more humble, or simply to draw them closer to Him.

   So, manipulating that existing sin that originates in the heart of the person or persons committing it, is acknowledging that sin as useful. Which, is a way of approving of it. Right?

   That seems to be the logical conclusion doesn't it? The same way that, when applying our worldly logic to the issue of forgiveness it only makes sense to conclude that forgiving someone excuses their behavior. It turns you into a doormat to be stepped on. Right? ...well, No. Our God is not a doormat in the same way that a person who chooses the hard task of forgiveness is not a doormat by deciding to no longer claim a debt against another. I knew in my heart that there was assuredly a way that these two truths about God and about human nature could coincide with each other... but I could never for the life of me explain it. That is, until two things happened, one right after another, that cleared the fog for me. The first was my deciding to read the book "How to Forgive... When You Don't Feel Like It" by June Hunt, almost by accident. I had known that I wanted to read it someday but it had for a long time remained on the back burner of my to-read list... but that day I had approached the bookshelf after finishing the one I was working on prior to it, and there it sat on the floor. Alone. Books on the floor next to the bookshelf is not odd in our house, we do have a toddler. But, a single book, sitting by itself? That doesn't happen often. So I choose it instead of what I was originally planning on reading. Or rather, it chose me.

   Less than a week later my husband and I found ourselves at a Sunday morning service of a local church we were visiting in our search for a new, more local, church home. It just so happens that, that morning they were beginning a new series on the book of Habakkuk. A series about wrestling with God. Taking your doubts to Him, unabashedly and making your case. Asking questions, and seeking understanding where you find that based on your perception, His logic seems flawed. Because that happens. To ALL of us. And, this was one area in which it was happening within my heart. That morning we learned of how Habakkuk took issue with some discrepancies he felt existed in his knowledge of God and what he was seeing happen in the world all around him. We learned of how instead of deciding to dismiss God and his faith over this, he went to him and boldly questioned his creator. And, the kicker is that God engaged with him. He didn't rebuke Habakkuk but instead honored him for having the courage to wrestle with Him, instead of turning away.

   God's using sin as a tool for refining his followers and molding them into who He created them to be, on the surface seems hypocritical just as forgiving people when they continue to do the same hurtful thing over an over again. But, just as it is with many other spiritual principles, how these two things actually play out into real life is counter intuitive.  We assume that forgiving someone of a wrongdoing that is still being done, over and over again sends a message to that person that what they are doing is okay, and that it will perpetuate the cycle. But what really happens is that forgiveness forces us to, maybe for the first time ever, confront the behavior. Acknowledge it. Extending forgiveness, while cleansing your own heart, also glaringly points out to the person who harmed you that there is something that they are doing that requires that forgiveness. Whether they act on it appropriately or not, the message sent is really that they need to look inward at themselves and they are unlikely to be fond of what they find. This can lead to reconciliation, sometimes, other times it doesn't. But in the end forgiveness works in a way that seems foreign to us until we go through the actions and allow them to play out.

   God using the sin of a person or group of persons seems on the surface to be a sign of approval, in that He is not stopping them from doing it despite having every ability to. This is far from the truth however. In using the sin as an agent for good He is undermining both the sin and the heart behind it. Bringing it to the light. Because of free will this often does not result in the sinners repenting and changing their ways. It would be naive, though, to assume that it has no affect whatsoever on their hearts, or worse that it encourages them to continue on in their harm-doing.

  This new knowledge has answered a question that has long resided in my heart. Is sin a part of God's plan? If not then how is He able to use it for good the way that He does? Well, the answer is that No it is not in the plan it is a by-product of free will. God did not create sin, nor does he deal in it. But, His plan does take it into account. He allows it. He does not guide or approve of it. But because it does exist He allows it to show people on both sides of the equation where they are in need of Him. The same way that forgiveness does this on a smaller scale.

Let our questions and doubts lead us further into faith rather than farther from it. Go ahead. Ask.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Scars of Every Shade

   Last night right before going to bed I scrolled through my Tumblr dashboard one last time as I normally do, because I am addicted to my phone, Tumblr, Facebook, and really the internet as a whole.... and I saw something. A simple orange box with black text. Text informing me that tomorrow (which is now today) is Self-Injury Awareness Day. I didn't have the emotional energy to respond and so I went to bed without really reacting to this news in any way.

   This morning I woke up and felt compelled to scroll backwards in a frantic fury trying to find the post so I could reblog it. I had to. How could I have not known about this? I mean, I'm not super into these "awareness" days in general... but I am a recovered self-injurer. Or whatever the correct terminology for that may be. It's been almost ten years now, but this morning everything came flooding back. The years have done little for my sensitivity to the onrush of emotions that hit me like a dumptruck when I accidentally stumble across an image of someone's bleeding limbs out there for the world to see. For me to see. It's too familiar. I've seen enough... and yet there is nothing I want more than to spend all day searching for, finding and sharing messages of hope in this regard. The internet is full of these messages and I want my social media platforms to be among those places... but, I am scared. Scared because the internet is also a place where hurting people reach out in disturbing ways. Ways that I am still, to this day, unable to skim over without severe mental and emotional backlash. It is full of people glamorizing, romanticizing and even fetishizing things that cut me to the very core.

   I understand why they do it. I was there. It makes knowing what you're doing to yourself far easier to bear. Placates the guilt if only for a temporary moment in time. Almost makes you feel superhuman... something which you desperately crave when you're so accustomed to feeling subhuman. But, I just can't see those things. I can't process them. My own scars, sure. In fact I love them. They give me strength. But other peoples scars? That is a different story... sometimes, most times, I can find the stability inside myself to feel for them while being inspired and resolved to stay the path. Others it's still too much. But open wounds???

I. Cannot. Take. It.

   And so I am done searching for other peoples hope to spread. I must be resigned to spread only my own, for I cannot take the chance of seeing another arm dripping with my pain. I say my pain because seeing their blood creates the most unsettling ache in the pit of stomach. They are feeling my pain and I am feeling theirs. A picture worth thousands upon thousands of words. Words that can't be expressed any other way.

   How can I stop attempting to spread hope? How can I ignore where I have been out of fear of having to face it's current grip on others who are locked in the stronghold of self-injury? How can I, knowing what I know, experiencing what I have experienced, give up on seeking to help others who are currently trudging through those muddy waters? How can I stop looking? How can I stop connecting? How can I not "go looking for it"?

I can't.

   I can't stop trying to make good things continue to flow from my bad experiences. I can't help people who are struggling if I refuse to see their struggle. Or mine... But  I cannot go through certain minefields today after barely making it through my own back then. I can reach out but not down. I can step forwards hand in hand with someone walking directly behind me and guide them to the best of my ability... but I cannot step backwards into their world with them, expecting to make it back out unscathed. I cannot tread those waters. If you can, and have positive things you would like to pass along for me to spam the world with, I will gladly accept. But I am done with the searches that inevitably produce results on both sides of the coin. I must shelter myself in some ways. It is a part of who I am. I exist today as a result of certain, intentionally chosen filters that guard my mind, my sanity. My sense of peace. My self.

   Today I choose to not harm myself by allowing such images into my line of sight. Today I choose to help others only in ways that do not put myself at risk. Selfish? Maybe a little, but hurting people hurt people, and I want to help. I can't do that effectively when I allow that level of hurt to enter my heart.

   Today I choose my mental health by creating my own hope to share and leaving it at that. For that is what I am capable of in this moment. And so I shall do it. No less and no more.

Schizophrenic Style: The Skin I'm In

   Today I spent all morning drooling over clothes online, that I no doubt can't afford. Then I went upstairs to get dressed and proceeded to curse my wardrobe as I do on a regular basis. It seems that despite buying new clothes carefully and with great intention, I still wind up looking through every article of clothing that I own only to declare that not a single item is "quite me". When one or both of the above things happen, especially together in the same day, I become incapable of feeling content in anything I put on...

   But not today. Today, even after my discouraging start, I threw together an outfit out of several less than exciting pieces and wound up feeling quite at home in them. Quite myself after all.

...something tells me that it wasn't so much about the clothes themselves. Something tells me it's my skin that I am growing more comfortable in. My ability to maintain my "essence" with or without proper outward adornments to aid in my me-ness. I think I really am finally coming in to my own. Years in the making...

About time!

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