And this is a process…

“People talk about creation as a remote fact of history, as if it were something that was attended to a long time ago, and finished at the time. But creation was not an act; it is a process; and it is going on today as much as it ever was. Nature is not in a hurry.” – John Muir

There are parts of this prompt I don’t want to touch, and yet this is the first prompt since I joined that has really struck me, and it did so gently.

I’ve talked a lot about Before and After and During… the During… how there is (or is not?) a specific moment in time that separates the Before and After, but an infinite amount of time that exists separating the two.

“Maybe just that the creation of the world – and its destruction – is not a one time event, begun and finished and over with. It’s a process. It’s going on now, it went on yesterday, it will happen again. Over and over and over, the process of destruction, creation, worlds ending, worlds beginning. It’s going on today as much as it ever was, or ever will.” – Megan Devine

But what this prompt made me think of the most is healing. This healing process that I am in. It is a process. There isn’t one act that will “fix” things. There isn’t one thing I can do to make things better, or different or over. It is all just a process.

I am doing this challenge right now and the way that we try to encourage other people is by commenting “progress, not perfection” when they are down on themselves for having a bad day on the challenge, or whatever the case may be. And I cringe every time I read it, and every time I am tempted to comment that on people’s posts… because… platitude, cliche, etc. A statement that doesn’t help anyone.

And yet… a statement that is so true.

This isn’t about being done, it is about progressing through.

I’ve been struggling this week with… life. I’ve suddenly gotten busy – I’m always busy but this is a different kind of busy. A good kind of busy. A tribe-and-friends-and-hugs-and-yoga-and-falling-into-bed exhausted-with-a-smile-at-the-end-of-each-day busy. A this-seems-so-good-and-like-it-has-so-much-potential-to-become-my-new-normal busy.

And that is progress. And progress is scary. And I feel forced to choose between two worlds… the one I’ve lived in by myself for so long and the one out there in the world where I don’t have to be alone anymore.

And I worry. I am a worrier, but I worry specifically here… what does that look like? How can I leave behind what I have to go try for something else that is different? How do I risk being destroyed again. Destroyed again. Rebuilding again. Progress again. Process again.

“We’re supposed to feel. We’re supposed to love. And hate. And hurt. And grieve. And break. And… be destroyed. And… rebuild ourselves and be destroyed again. That is human. That is humanity. That’s… that’s being alive. That’s the point. That’s the entire point. Don’t… don’t avoid it. Don’t… extinguish it.”

I have to. I have to feel and love and hate and hurt and grieve and break and be destroyed. I have to rebuild myself only to be destroyed again.

I have to learn. I have to grow. This is a process.

But progress and process mean change. And I hate change. It terrifies me.

And I don’t know what any of this looks like. I don’t know who is included in this new “busy”… I don’t know who steps beside me and who I leave behind.

Really, I don’t know anything.

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And then it was fall…

Fall

This originally started as a comment on Lindsey Mead’s blogpost “A new year”… I decided it was too obnoxiously long to post as a comment on someone else’s blog – check out her blog. Her writing is calming and inspiring.  I love it.

***

I adore fall. I wait for it all summer (I hate summer). I wish that it could be September/October and the very beginning of November year round. I love every part of the leaves turning, the weather becoming cold, the fashion I can play with, the illusion of new beginnings.

I am going into this fall differently than I ever had before. I am going in with a specific date (October 22) to try to figure out what is next in my life. It is an attainable goal; it isn’t about BEING THERE by then, it is about knowing where I want to be by then. I hope to achieve it. I have many decisions to make.

This is the first fall since I’ve finished school that I have that illusion of “going back to school” or getting back to learning, to routine, to myself. When I was in high school, fall was always about getting back to my friends, learning, reading. As a university student, it was always about getting back to whatever purpose I felt I had; I was always the most comfortable in school.

Now as I approach this season as a young adult with seemingly no purpose, in a job I hate, in a field I’ve never been interested in (it was a necessity I am still grateful for, but almost no longer tolerant of), things feel again like all the answers will come to me in fall. The fall I’ve waited for. The events I’ve waited for. The friends I’ve waited to see.

I hope fall doesn’t fail me this year. If I don’t know where I am going, I won’t ever know how to get there.

And I felt incomplete.

clothes

I’m in a purging kind of mood today.  The kind where I am just throwing shit out.  Lots of it.

It’s not just today – it is over the last months.  Two or three months, maybe?

Clothes.  I’ve gotten rid of several garbage bags of clothes over the past month – I don’t even know where they all come from and I am on a “clothes freeze” so I won’t even buy more… perhaps my impulsiveness will leave me with nothing to wear at some point, but for now, it is leaving me with less… “stuff” to put away each week.  As I am folding my clothes from my floor and overflowing laundry baskets each, I quickly glance at the items and throw a bunch of them in a pile… “I have too many long-sleeve shirts”, “I didn’t like the way this fit”, “this is a stupid colour”… and every week the pile of stuff going out grows.

Magazines.  I am a magazine hoarder.  I still have the first magazine I ever bought (don’t worry, it is safely secured in a box in the basement of things I packed away long ago).  But I buy magazines for the cover stories (never trashy gossip, just fashion magazines or movie magazines).  And then I KEEP them.  Why?  I don’t know.  But I am trying to empty off an entire shelf of stuff so I can get rid of the shelf and it is filled with dozens of magazines from the past two or three years.  And I don’t need them.  I’ve just thrown them all in a bucket and they are going.

Will I regret throwing these things away without a second thought?

I am not someone who does things without serious contemplation.  I am not someone who takes action lightly.  I am someone who can look at an action and imagine 10,000 possible reactions.  I make my decision based on whether I think I can live with the worst of the possibilities.  I usually don’t live WELL with the consequences, but I need to decide that I WILL live.

What if I need something back?
What if I need to take something back?
Why can’t we undo our actions?
Why can’t we take back our words?
Why can’t we make other people take things back?

Things they do to us?
Things done.

Done.  That’s why.  Because they are done.
Done means complete.

So why do I feel so incomplete?
And why do I feel like stuff is going to complete me?
Like people are going to complete me?

I need to complete myself.

And the lights still shone…

lights

“She felt empty.  She felt the unscaleable wall surrounding her… Maybe she felt comfortable there because she, the person, always lived like that all the time: in an abandoned room with blocked-out windows, the only light pouring in through holes in the roof.”    – John Green, Paper Towns, p. 199

She felt empty.  A glass with a hole in the bottom.  Never to be filled.

But oh, did she try.

She tried everything to fill that void.

And she still ended up empty.

In an abandoned room with blocked-out windows.

The only light pouring in through holes in the roof.

The only light.

There is light.

She is empty and alone.  In a darkened room – darkened by herself.  Darkened by other people.

But there is that light.

The walls are high and tough.  Unscaleable.

But that light… it gets in anyway.

I am not somebody who does well with light when it is supposed to be dark.  Light plays tricks on my mind.  Even my closed eyes seem to notice a light that shouldn’t be there.  It keeps me awake.

But my tantrums don’t stop the lights from being there.  You can’t extinguish the sun… and it takes a lot of effort to snuff a fire that is meant to be burning.  A fire that wants to be burning.

The holes in the roof… the lights… they’re going to be there.  If I cannot scale the wall, I cannot block them.  I cannot cover them.  I can hide myself from them… but once I poke my head out, the lights will still be there.  And they won’t have gone anywhere.

And honestly… that is what I hope for.  That is what I pray for.  I pray for lights that aren’t going to disappear – because being in the dark alone is not fun.  Even if it is where I put myself so often.

When I hide myself from the lights… when I try to make them go away, it is a relief when they are still there.  It is a relief when I cannot stop them from being there, no matter what I do.

I need the lights when I am stuck in the darkness.  I need them to find my way out.  I need them to show me where I am, but also where I could go next.

Light belongs in the darkness.

My darkness is grateful for the lights in my life.  

And I have healed…

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One of the benefits of having a writing pact with a friend is the grace you give each other when you’re just not in the mood to write.  The last few weeks have been busy and chaotic and both of us were in another session of a writing group.  This week, we chose random pages for each other and the pact was to pick up the book closest to us, turn to that page, read it, find a quote and write: I picked up Poster Child by Emily Rapp and began writing from a quote on page 57:

“I believed that something magical happened within the walled fortress of my casts.  Bones dwelled, alone and unwatched, for weeks at a time in those dark caves of plaster.  I was sure that when the scars were finally exposed, secrets would be disclosed and conspiracies revealed.”

I am entering a season of casts, I think.  A season of controlled walls surrounding vulnerable bones where magic is bound to happen, as it has before.

I am not healed.  I know I am not healed.

But I am not broken anymore either.

I’ve long feared that I was broken… completely… beyond repair.  That even a body-cast would do nothing to heal me.  That there was no healing for the pain I’d endured.  For the pain I thought I caused myself.

I’ve resonated with this line for years:

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I had to hide away that pain: I put up a walled fortress… around my entire self.  Around my entire being.  Around my entire heart.  Around my entire soul.

I put up a wall and I just sat within the dank darkness of the space within myself.

And I came out not knowing much more about myself than I knew when I went in.  But there was still healing in that.  There was… strength in waiting.  There was a knowing, somehow, someway, that I could use my voice and that I wouldn’t crumble.  Magic did happen in that cast.

I came out strong enough to learn the things I needed to learn about myself.  To heal.  To cope.  To live.

For a year, I’ve hammered through plaster.  I’ve torn down walls.  I’ve exposed every inch of this fortress within.  For a year, I’ve sat in this muck.  I’ve sat in this pain.  This pain has instigated other, more poignant pain.  For a year, I’ve lived this hell without my cast.  Without any casts or braces or crutches.  Without a wall of protection.

Vulnerable.  Exposed.  Naked.

And I have healed.  I’ve progressed.

I am not the same girl I was a year ago.

But I’m not done healing, either.

Everything has been getting… harder, lately.  Harder than it should be.  Harder than I want it to be.  Harder than I will tolerate it being.

And now there is this push and pull between wanting to be in this muck to get more healing, but also wanting to step on to the clean ground I’ve created for myself with all this hard-work over the past year.

The muck has been contained.  But my being is still fluid and goes where it pleases.

Push and pull.  Push and pull.  Teeter-totter.  Up and down.  Left to right.  Left, right, left.

And so now… I am entering a season of casts again.  Of this pain dwelling, alone and unwatched in caves of protective plaster.

This time, it is not my whole body being put in a cast.  It is only certain things… certain parts… things I know I am not ready to look at right now.

And I hope that secrets and conspiracies are revealed when these wounds-made-scars are revealed once more.

Now, right now, I am looking forward to not looking at them anymore for awhile.  I’m looking forward to the fortress of protection that stops this tug-of-war.  I’m looking forward to the safety of the cast.  The protection of it.

I think I am even looking forward to its limitations.


After a year without boundaries… without containment… I’m looking forward to a little bit of control.

And I remembered who the enemy was…

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After a long couple of days as I sat on my bed much too early this morning to fold three or four week’s worth of laundry, I put the newest Hunger Games movie release in and started watching.  It’s not the first or even second time I’ve seen the movie, but it is the first time I am watching it alone in the comfort of my home.  I’ve read each book at least twice, but when a line catches me, it is usually the audible that gets right into the deep part of my heart.

The opening scene of the movie is Katniss hiding out, reciting memorized facts about herself to help with her PTSD: “My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am seventeen years old. My home is District 12. I was in the Hunger Games. I escaped. The Capitol hates me…”

Shortly after, Katniss is brought to “command” of District 13 and is asked to be the face of the revolution; she freaks out and leaves and Plutarch says this: “No one else can do this but her.”

No one else can do this but her.

No one. Else.  Can do THIS.  But her.

I don’t know why that line caught me.  But then Coin’s response: “She is not the girl you described.”

This had me feeling a bit defensive of Katniss.  OF COURSE she isn’t the girl Plutarch described: she has endured trauma after trauma and is just trying to remember what her freakin’ name is half the time!  Of course she has changed!  Of course she isn’t “that” girl anymore.  Look where being that girl got her!

I couldn’t help but relate this to my own situation, or to any situation where someone is experiencing or facing something incredibly painful and difficult.  As fortunate or unfortunate as it is, the person experiencing the turmoil is really the only person who can change it.  The person experiencing the damaging inner dialogue is really the only person who can shift that.  There are people who can provide great wisdom and insight on how to do this, but nobody can do the work for the other person.

Nobody can do this work for me.

Nobody can write these words for me.

I am alone in this.

And of course I am not the person I used to be.  And pretending to be that person, which I do do sometimes, exhausts me.  It is detrimental.  It dangles something in front of my mind that my mind cannot possibly attain.

I was irreparably changed, and nothing can change that.  Nothing can makes events not have happened.  It cannot be changed.

I am not saying that I can never be happy, or “better” or “over it”… maybe I can.  I don’t know.  Is this something you get over?  I think not.  But I can be free from it.  I have that hope and faith.

But I won’t be the same.  I can’t be.  And that is just a fact.

The last dialogue from this scene is also something I need to take to heart: “Remind her who the real enemy is.”

I am not the enemy here.

People I fear hearing my truth are not my enemies.

My family members are not my enemies.

My secrets aren’t even my enemies.

Just as Katniss believes there is only one enemy in her story, there is only one enemy in mine.  Or there should only be one enemy in mine.

It’s not me.  It’s not my family.  It’s not my friends.  It’s not society.

The enemy is clear.  I know who the enemy is.

And it isn’t me.

Alas… if only the world were that cut and dry.

Katniss thought she knew exactly who the enemy was too.

It wasn’t until many events worked together that Katniss had a major epiphany and realized she had more than one enemy.

And in the end, she chose the enemy she knew over the one she didn’t.

Sometimes I am the enemy.  I self-sabotage.  I let myself spiral.  I force myself to spiral.

I can be the enemy.  Because I choose to be.

And sometimes, I think my choice to see myself as the enemy is like Katniss’ choice to shoot Coin instead of Snow: she is choosing to face the enemy she knows over the one she doesn’t.

I know how to control myself as my enemy.  My other enemy?  I don’t what cards they’re holding at all.

And I was stuck in an in between…

clock midnight

One of the amazing things about having writing pacts with writing friends is the grace we give each other when we have had a crazy or overwhelming week… the permission for kindness to self over following through on a commitment.  The push to follow through when it is just procrastination.  You can follow my friend’s “pact prompts” and blog here.

My friend pulled a line from one of my writings and gave it to me, saying it could be expanded upon.  That is our pact… we, any given week, have three “pulled lines” from our writing that we can use as a prompt for expansion (or for a total left turn).  This week’s chosen line is from a Writing Your Grief: Round One piece I did back in the December course:

“I don’t believe it will ever go away completely. Baring a heart and brain transplant.  And even then… the body remembers.”

The body remembers.  It remembers everything.  It remembers things the brain never even knew… or was forced to forget by its coping mechanisms.

When I didn’t remember, consciously… the body remembered.  It reacted to things that made no sense for it to be reacting to.

I would startle awake as I drifted to sleep.  The very act of drifting to sleep made me startle awake.  That moment… in the in between… A ‘tween’ place… that moment had something in it that the body remembered and the mind never knew.

It still doesn’t.  But I don’t always startle awake in that in between anymore.  Sometimes.  But not EVERY time.  Not like before.

It was the tween between wake and sleep.  Perhaps the scariest tween for me.

But there are so many more.  There’s the tween between good and bad.  Between light and dark.  Between black and white.

In this show I used to watch, Charmed, there was this episode where a little girl was being terrorized by trolls… but the trolls could only get to her when she was in an in between.  A tween place.  A shadow (light and dark).  A doorway (in and out).  And… midnight… when the world becomes one giant tween place.

I don’t know for certain and I probably never will… but I think that my world came crashing down around me in that giant tween place.  That hour of midnight.

Both times.

That June.  And that April.  Both.

And oddly enough… it was a tween between two months.  At midnight that night… March became April.  Two tweens together… me falling apart.

Happy April Fools.