Tag Archives: Writing

I Fight Anxiety Through Taking Back Words

22 Mar

I’ve had this phrase rolling around my head lately.

I keep pushing it back, telling myself I am ok.

I say it to myself when I wake up in the morning and an immediate feeling of dread washes over me, like I did something terribly wrong but I can’t remember what it was.

When I am literally sick to my stomach and can’t eat because I am anticipating an uncomfortable social situation in my mind, rolling it over and over until I don’t know how to think about anything else.

“I really struggle with anxiety.”

It’s taken me 30 years to say it.
I don’t know what that means, necessarily.
I don’t want label myself.
Or limit myself.
Or pretend I am a mental health professional.

But somehow, admitting it gives it less power.

Whatever it is, I don’t have to let it control me.

I remember all the moments I thought fear had won.

All the tense, churning feelings in my gut.
All the obsessive replays of stupid conversations the other person probably never remembered.

That intense feeling like I am a problem.

Like I am inconveniencing people.
Like I don’t need to ruffle any feathers.

Panicking over a tiny social interaction.

Practicing in my head what I am going to say to someone, even if I’ve known them for years.

Repeating these conversations over and over in my head until I feel sick.

You sounds so stupid. 

Who are you to do this?

Words, betraying me.

This has been me… for as long as I can remember.

Not to say it’s always torture.
There have been moments of triumph.
Moments of victory.
Of letting go and conquering my fears.

Of doing what’s uncomfortable and talking to people I don’t know.
Picking up the phone.
Speaking up.
Speaking out, boldly.
Proclaiming truth.
Doing what I never thought I could do.

But lately, I feel like I am going backwards.
Maybe it’s just a culmination of life right now, or me just being tired from “adulting” but lately I feel I hardly go a moment without feeling the intense weight of anxiety.

Like I am always doing something wrong.
Like the it’s only a matter of time before the world figures out I am a fraud.

Like I have nothing to give.
Like I am 30, but I feel more like I am 4 years old, hiding in a dark closet shaking with fear.

Yet, I get up.
I rise again.
I whisper a feeble prayer.
I push through my day.
I do what I have to do.
I speak when I don’t want to speak.
I make effort to connect with people when I just want to crawl into myself.
When it feels too hard to function.

I write, this.

I fight anxiety through creating with words.

I take them back and make them my own.

I hear whispers of goodness and grace through the sentences that come out as I let go and let myself be honest.

makeart

I come to “the breaking point.”
And as tears flow,
I know

In my weakness His strength is made perfect.

I know,

He chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

I embrace Grace.

I know
Every day  is a choice to believe I am who my creator says I am:
Brave.
Confident.

I matter.
I have a voice.

I am not how I feel.
I am not whatever thing is plaguing me,
Be it my own imagination or a real diagnosis.

I am not my fears.
I am not my anxiety.

These words, go beyond anything I feel

Straight from the the burning heart of love and truth:

I am simply loved.

Finding Myself In The Story

6 Dec

Sometimes I’d like to get lost in a crowd

Let the energy swell around me

Until I don’t feel separate

But a small part of a whole entity

I am tired of myself

Everything feels so personal

So internal

So stressful

So petty

I used to see the world differently

And I want to go back to that place

Back to the realization that nothing matters

But my unique contribution

But love

Like every step has meaning

Like no word is lost

Like I know everything matters

Like I can really change things

Change the world

Yes, change myself first

Yes, raise a family too

But what about that BIG thing?

What about my HARD thing that I must do?

What about pouring myself out

and out,

and out again

Once, a long time ago,

A teenage girl sat in her room alone and promised God and herself

Everything would be different

That no day would be wasted

That purpose would seep out of every pore

That she would be single-minded to the point of recklessness

Now she’s tired and feeling 30

And she buries her head in her hands

And thinks of all that’s lost

Then realizes nothing is

Because I don’t have to move mountains

All at once

Only a stone at a time

My promises don’t matter as much

As what’s been promised to me

I can change things

Brick by brick

Bird by bird

Word by word

I can change myself

(I have to believe what I am doing matters. I have to give this everything. I have to become someone else. I have to be me. I have to get lost in the story. I have to find myself there.)

So here I go…

Photo 315

Finding Jesus In the Chaos of Religion

6 Aug

Have you ever felt fed up with “The Church?”

I have.

I have walked out of services and cried in the parking lot.

I have sat through sermons feeling sick to my stomach.

I have been betrayed and lied to,

used and abused.

I have seen Jesus in some of the dirtiest and sin-filled places, but I’ve had a hard time finding him in “organized” Christianity.

I have ranted and raved about hypocrisy.

I have pointed fingers and condemned.

I have thrown my bible across the room, cussed out God, and almost walked away from the whole thing.

But Jesus never found offense in my frustration.

He loved me through all of it.

Even when I mocked his bride and hated her at times.

(And realized I was just raging against myself.)

I have gone to the opposite side and come back around.

I have found grace.

I have accepted that (all) people are infinitely broken and unconditionally loved.

(Including myself)

I have learned that I already have everything I’ve been working so hard to obtain.

I have found freedom amidst the chaos of man-made religion, in the simplicity of Jesus.

And I wrote a book about it, with a friend of mine.

It’s a bit of his story, and a bit of mine.

bookcomments

It’s a (strange) journey through religion into the heart of Jesus.

You might find yourself in this story too.

If you’ve ever felt “burnt out” by Christianity.

If you’ve ever been hurt by people who love God.

If you’ve ever wanted to say “screw it all” and run away,

But Jesus keeps bringing you back.

This book is for you.

Because sometimes we have to fall into pieces before we can fall into peace.

And sometimes we have to tear down in order to rebuild.

And there is always hope in the rubble.

fallintopeace

These Unfettered Lines

10 Apr

 

my story begins not-so-right

fighting and biting my way out of the night

 

aware of having a face that wasn’t my own

obsessed with avoiding being alone

 

pushing, squeezing

trying to work on my breathing

 

never believing

I could really make it out on time

 

but this is how I came to love

these unfettered lines

 

I traded all I thought I was

into who I really am

 

I gave up following a straight line

and started for an uncharted way

 

I turned in my map for a songbook

and traced the light into the day

 

I gave up and lost it all

and let myself fall

 

into the grace of not knowing

where I am or where I am going

 

and soon I came to see

I had been strangling the life right out of me

 

with a rulebook as a noose

and a false sense of reality

 

but this is how I came to love

these unfettered lines

 

I gave up all I thought I knew

and danced in a dark room

 

running for the sunrise

obligatory ambitions absolved

 

I returned to the womb

and started anew

 

these words finally opening my eyes

 

A Field of Empty Pages

19 Jun

 

some mornings

certain words

try to press into me

and  I can barely feel them

 

I shake off their outlines

like they never meant anything

though once they were air

now I choke and splutter

 

It’s always scary and amazing how

that which once felt like life

seems like death

and some of what I had mistaken

for death

is a lot like life

 

just a bit of it

enough to get me past

the raging feeling that

all of this is for naught

 

vanity, vanity

 

and I don’t have the energy

to disassemble

and interpret

the complex

mixed-up

stories

that repeat

over again in my head

 

with no understanding

lessons gone unlearned

headlines unheard

screaming warnings unobserved

 

poetry forgotten

I drag myself into a

field of empty pages

desperate for some awakening

aching for an exclamation

 

yet

when words fail me

I know I put too much hope in them

they are empty without

the meaning behind them

a heart with no blood

bones with no skin

love with no risk

 

you can’t read in the dark

so I must let the light in

Write It Down

7 Jan

I’ve been trying to catch some words, darting about in my head like fireflies. Words are a tricky thing to catch, you see.

Reach out too fast and too greedy and they slip right by you, or come out all awkwardly squished and misshapen.

Wait a moment too long and they are gone.

A pile of laundry lies on my bed, a mountain of color and cloth yelling at me to be folded and put away.

I force myself to walk away. To ignore. To type. Something.

Because these tiny tasks add up to one big distraction of not doing what I was created to do.

I’ve been feeling right on the edge of something, maybe just these silly sentences, maybe even a line or two that will make me go,

“Mmmmm,” when I read it later.

I walked my dog Mumford last night, hurriedly, like I do, trying to get his business over and done with so we could go back into the apartment and get warm. In between buildings, in a dingy ill-kept courtyard with pathetic grass, I looked up between sparse tree branches and saw a scattered handful of stars. I let go of a deep exhale and watch my breath go up like a smoke signal. And I wondered why, why I don’t stop to look up more. Why I don’t breathe more.

Why each step doesn’t have greater purpose then getting to the next thing.

(The next big thing is here.)

And I think of all the things that crowd my mind and block my fingers from letting out the creativity I know wants to flow through me endlessly.

I know as I am sitting here on my bed at midnight next to my antsy dog and my laundry pile, that this is important.

My aching fingers continue to type and I suddenly I know why God invented writing:

Writing is spiritual and it is human. It is a dangerous, swaying bridge that crosses from one to another, with frayed ropes and missing planks to nearly fall through.

It is adventure.

Without this act, this putting of pen to paper, of words to a screen, there are inconsistencies and incompleteness to my existence. I live each day doing what I do, feeling what I feel, longing or loving or feeling lost or like I need to get lost. And in between the mental chatter, the eating, the working, the not always seeing, there is a great sacred itch, a haunting, a pressing that says:

“Write it down,”

Word by word. Bird by bird. Feather by feather. Bone by bone. One tiny effort at a time. It is not worthless.

It is really the most important thing I can do.

It is who I am. Depriving myself is suicide.

So I will ignore the laundry’s cries, the critic’s harsh voice, the ten thousand daily distractions.

I will stop and see my breath sending up smoke signals to the stars.

And I will live to write it down.

Then there is the business of surprise. I never know what is coming next. The phrase that sounds in the head changes when it appears on the page. Then I start probing it with a pen, finding new meanings. Sometimes I burst out laughing at what is happening as I twist and turn sentences. Strange business, all in all. One never gets to the end of it. That’s why I go on, I suppose. To see what the next sentences I write will be.

– Gore Vida

The Silence Between Words

15 Oct

I needed this weekend more than I realized. I needed to get away, even if it was just eighty miles from home.

I needed to feel the wind coming in off the grey choppy waters of Lake Whitney. I needed to walk along pale smooth rocks with my dog. I needed to feel the quick excitement at the accomplishment of getting a fire started, and in keeping it going as the wind sought to blow it out until the fire grew strong.

I needed to run down the orange sand beach while the rain started, throw on my bathing suit without thinking about how crazy it was, jump in the lake with three of my closest friends.

I needed to be a child, dunking under in a moment of bravery, a moment of desiring to live fully.

It felt a bit like a coming to life as I resurfaced.

Like defying changing seasons and coming cold. Like baptism. Like defying death.

I fell onto my back with a splash, letting my breath create buoyancy in my body, letting my eyelids shut and the rain fall soft on my face. The air and water around me and the water coming down on me all the same temperature.

I needed to feel that peace.

To listen to the silence between the noise of my life.

Allow it to fill me. Allow me to fill it.

I needed that silence to erupt into a liquid hot burst of joy.

Then the four of us, connected by years of shared memories, broken hearts,  miles traveled and revelations, put words to our lives.

Hard decisions and healing wounds and the journey to finally be ok with who we are.

We accepted each other, each in a different yet similar place.

I needed to be a reminded what a gift these woman are in my life.

How relationships deepening with time is what makes life worthwhile, what drives away our fear of growing up and getting old.

I needed to know how much we need each other.

———————————————————————————————————————–

We left our campsite after a warning from the park ranger of a coming storm that could blow our tent away.

We drove around the tiny town that shared the name with the tiny town I grew up in in New Hampshire.

I laughed and shook my head at the irony,

“And…. life comes full circle.”

We ended up in a motel and spent the evening talking, drinking, eating, and writing.

The writing was unexpected.

We  thought of a topic then had ten minutes to write whatever came to mind without once stopping or taking our pen off the paper.

Then we read them out loud.

We laughed at our shared random humor, nodded in agreement and encouraged each others talent.

The last topic was “true love,” and each of us brought something honest, funny, and perhaps a little cynical.

I needed to write.  I needed to hear my thoughts put to words, to hear my friend’s words spill out of their hearts.

To know I am not crazy or alone.

To remember what I have, and how precious it really is.

—————————————————————————–

We parted ways and drove home, exhausted and rejuvenated all at once. Content yet discontent in the things that needed to change in our lives.

But most of all, thankful.

Thankful for words that flow between friends.

For healing. For moving forward. For freedom.

For cool lakes and storms and hotel beds and wine and paper and pen.

And for the silence between the words, the real understanding.

The real grace.

(Another) Writer’s Declaration

28 Sep

“One day I will find the right words,

And they will be simple.”

-Jack Kerouac

 

don’t stop now

I can’t.

I won’t.

I’d sooner die.

just typing this is my choice weapon

the one fight I won’t walk away from

 

some people run miles or climb mountain

some build skyscrapers or billion dollar businesses.

I put one word after another

like bricks only not climbing upward,

but going inward towards understanding

day after day

I try to say something

an attempt to open up the ears and eyes of someone

even if it’s only mine

 

I’ll write

 

even when I don’t know why or how

even when I feel defeated

even when the road stretches on to nowhere

and I am deaf to those cheering me on

and blind to those traveling beside me

I’ll write because it’s the only way for me to be authentically human

to understand what that means or looks like

 

some people build bridges or wells or paint portraits

I use words to cross roads

or offer a drink to the thirsty

or capture the beauty of a person

I love it and I hate it

I am a slave to it and I am freed by it

But I can never stop.

never stop.

I can’t.

I won’t.

I’d sooner die.

 

I Know Now Why Writers Are Crazy

27 Aug

The other night I was driving home from work on Precinct Line Road and the moon just rose above me, like it was trying to startle me, and I saw it for a moment, saw its beauty and really took it in and for a second I felt like myself, like really, truly myself at my best, not the me hiding behind small talk and small thinking.

I feel like myself now, too, in the best way. Typing away with nothing to gain and nothing to prove, just writing for livings sake.

I feel this for a moment, then I start judging myself and the criticism flies at me, unavoidable.

Why do I write about writing so much?

Perhaps there is a lot of empty air surrounding anything resembling a creative muse, and so I write about writing instead of actual events or metaphors.

Even now, my addict brain is shouting, “Gimme, gimme, drown me out with facebook, with something, quick I need a fix.”

No. No, I won’t live like that. I won’t deny myself breath. I hate the lazy part of myself but I indulge it as well.

If I need poetry to live, I am not doing a very good job at living.

I need Your words.

But sometimes they seem just out of reach.

A voice in me asks,
“What does it feel like?”

So I attempt to answer:

An archer poised to hit a target across a sea
not knowing which way the wind is blowing

A crying newborn flailing his arms to touch love
while the one who bore him is in the other room

owning a treasure map to a land that doesn’t exist in this world

that place of waking sleep when the answer is clear and clean
then slips away as you regain consciousness

writing everyone one of these shitty lines and hating them violently
wanting them to bleed out and die in front of me
wanting to give up and do something that involves less of me

So I write about writing as if he were my lover and my enemy, my life, my own obsession, my light and my darkness.

Maybe he is.

(I know now why writers are crazy)

Maybe he’s the only thing I’ve had to make me feel like me,

To keep my sanity. (sort of)
To even begin to make sense of myself and the world around me.

All these emotions, whirring, violently thrashing against the inside of me.

My eyes are beginning to close but I keep typing because I still am not there.

There are a lot of layers, I buried these things deep, this real sense of being, of mattering, of doing.

There it is:

Small.

Glinting.

Rough edges still.

But shiny.

And priceless.

The Final Mystery of Words

28 Jun

Clickety clack clickety clack.

The sound is a familiar one.

The sound of a brain and heart attempting to engage the world around her.

The sound of trying.

 

She stops.

 

“What are you doing?”

That cold and tired voice begins,

“Why are you still trying?

You have no credentials.

You keep writing in a passive voice.

You have never had anything published, really.

Maybe you never will

Why do you keep doing this to yourself?”

 

She continues, used to ignoring the voice by now.

 

Clack clickity clack click.

 

She stops again. Stares out the window.

She knows outside it is arid, nearly impossible to breathe. No fresh air in the summer in Texas.

She knows she’ll have to make her own air, live in the cool mountains of her mind.

 

Clickety clack.

 

Treetops can be seen beyond sand colored apartment buildings, a little bit of green, a tiny speck of nature.

She knows she is going to have to make her own scenery.

 

CLICK.

 

The air is still in the morning, any noise from neighbors or traffic drowned out by the hum of a large air condition unit. It’s Thursday, and by all facts and schedules, an ordinary day. Today she will shower, play with her puppy, get dressed, go to work.

Do simple, often menial yet enjoyable tasks to keep house and take care of people who aren’t quite able to take care of themselves. Today she will feel like part mom, part tutor, part house-keeper, part nanny, part-job coach.

Usually, someone will make her laugh.

Usually, she will get asked about ten thousand questions.

Usually, she will try to form her speech in such a way where she can be understood, simple, concrete.

Usually, she will force herself to stop and smile at the lowest functioning resident, a 21-year-old male with the capabilities of a Six- month old. She will look at him after she puts him in his giant crib, turns on the Pandora lullaby stations, and feeds him medicine to help him sleep in a spoonful of vanilla pudding. She will look into his green eyes and wonder what his reality is. What he sees when his legally blind eyes are open, sparkling, deep. When he laughs and babbles to himself.

 

She will wonder.

 

Clack. She stops typing to briefly read over what she typed.

Now, the reality of her day has words to it, concrete words.

After being jumbled, abstract thoughts, the words feel real and alive.

Final, but ever changing.

 

This is her existence.

This is why.

 

Clickety clack click clack…..

 

 

“That, I suppose, is the final mystery as well as final power of words: that not even great distance between time and space do they ever lose their capacity for becoming incarnate.”-Frederick Buechner

 

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