Free Write Friday with Kellie Elmore

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Join in the fun at Kellie Elmore‘s Free Write Friday!  It’s fun and great brain exercise for all you writers out there looking for inspiration.  This week the inspiration for the Free Write is a beautiful summer picture with this quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Then followed that beautiful season…Summer.

Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape

galleryoncentral at Etsy

galleryoncentral at Etsy (not the image from the prompt)

lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

K, here goes nothing.  No editing, no self-criticism, just write:

Outside the decrepit white farmhouse, the lush yard is our menagerie of imagination.  Arching trees soar into the blue sky, their heavy limbs creating a canopy over the dirt driveway.  Two apples trees blossom near the fence, and when June’s breeze blows, the pink petals fall like snow across the green grass, a lazy hammock swaying between the trees.  Fat bumble bees buzz low to the ground.  Honeysuckle in the air.

I’m in a white summer dress, my white blond hair in a pigtails, my skin sun-kissed.  I’m standing beneath the plum tree, sucking on the bitter purple fruit, wiping the juice on my dress.  I bend over and pick the yellow dandelions, squishing the soft center into my cheeks.   I hear my sisters laughing on the swing beneath the pink blossoms, my daddy pushing them, one at a time, higher and higher.   I want a turn but I can’t help but follow that scent–the scent I’ll carry with me dearly for the rest of my lives.  I follow it and I’m taken to the lilac trees against the house by the humming bird feeder.  The aroma fills me and I crawl into the tree’s cavernous entrance and huddle down inside.  This is my summer–the summer of my life.  The summer I dream I will return to after so many cold years.

Found Myself Today Singing

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farmnflea2Well it’s been awhile since I’ve written just a post on what’s up with me lately.  Maybe because what’s up is confusing and yet somehow dull to me.  A couple of great things are happening–I’m seeing a new psychologist who leaves around the bend across the lake and I think she’s…brilliant.  Fucking brilliant.  The first time in fifteen years I felt like, in therapy, “this is the one.  She can help me help myself.”  It’s good dammit.  Good.  I quit smoking.  It’s day four.  My singing voice is already almost fully back!! I’m drinking tea instead of coffee to cut the cravings for a cigarette and I can’ t believe how much better I already feel.  Right now I’ve got the house to myself, blaring the blues, some Aretha, some Richie Havens “Freedom”, some OneRepublic, quite a mix.  I feel so damn good today.  So calm.  Even with the cravings.  Maybe I’ve been so much more at peace because I’m on a right path–my path–and I’m ready for whatever happens in therapy.  I’m stronger now.  I’m willing to get rough.  After the first session I went home and cried so hard I was actually doing that embarrassing hiccup thing, because I felt so exposed and vulnerable to myself, not to anyone but myself.  I have this steal shield I use in the mirror to keep me from believing shit is hard, to keep me from believing I can’ t do it, that I’m weak.  I ask for help from no one, and I just can’t change that.  My sister was crying and asking me why I don’t open up, because it’s too much and too hard alone, and I love her dearly for it, but I just can’t.  It’s not my…style.  You get so used to handling the hard shit alone, pushing down your shoulders and making you sink a little, so you take bigger steps, you gain more muscle in my opinion.  I want to rely on myself, and learn how to do it better.  I was also crying so hard because she got so much out of me and i don’t know how, but I looked at myself, really looked at myself, and i was disgusted by what I saw.  So disappointed, yet I’m so used to disappointment that it wasn’t too much of a crusher.  What she’s doing with me is instead of me blathering on the same tired old story about what all happened to me, is we’re dealing with (first) how I’m dealing with it all in the present.  She’s taken me back to such basic steps I was

HelenMPhotography

HelenMPhotography

blindsided and felt like I wanted to hold her hand because I’d forgotten the importance of ‘the now.’  Back to building blocks, which feels good because I haven’t known up from down in a long time.

Why does it still seem I am still trying to prove myself to myself? Anyone else do this?  I think of therapy/dealing with complex ptsd/bipolar/dissociation/adhd as a challenge, and I must win.  I must defeat what has beaten me down, I must not let one person own me.  I must be the master of myself.  I can almost taste it, yet I’m so far.  As long as I keep going, I’ll make it.  The longer and harder it is, the better it’ll turn out, I know that.  It’s about patience.  I’m by no means rushing into therapy like I used to, expecting results I could hold in my hands, read and educate myself out of a hole.  Oh no.  It’s more holistic than that.  It’s a 180 from that.  Now I go in and I’m like a child eagerly waiting for guidance into what I already know but can’t tap.

Another thing I realized is when you’re in deep water long enough, you get accustomed to it, and for awhile you take the rest of the punches and hits with your chin up, you allow yourself to fully feel the swells of pain that can strike, but what is pain anyways but a tool for success?  Anyway, yeah, you get accustomed to it, but then somehow, after so long, you quit treading, and you float comfortably, until someone comes along and steals your fuckin floaty.  And you see yourself, comfortably numb to all around you, your life–stuck in this swirling eddy of memories and fears and even, at its worse and most embarrassing–self-pity and complacency.  I will not settle for this.  I will not be okay with the woman who fucking sits there il_570xN.445156906_6aipanymore.  She was begging for me to wake up.  And then I wonder–is this another bipolar mood trick?  Am I really feeling this or am I on the upside of the disorder, seeing things that I will only see and feel for a short while ?  Well, if that’s the case I’ll just keep coming back to write about it.  Music.  Music is everything.  It reminds me that I am alive.  That I have a say in things, that my emotions are real, valid things that I can feel without doubt and shame and embarrassment.  I have a say in things.  I have a say in how this shit’s gonna go.  It already went down, I swam through the murk at the bottom, I barely rose, but I’m slowly rising to the surface, its a long way.  And I can look back at the shore but I’ve come to far to go back from where I came, it’s time to swim to a new shore, a new island of Amyness.  :) I can’t go back to what I was, that wasn’t living, from the age of sixteen to thirty I wasn’t living, and I’m still not, but I’m trying, and I’m aware and that’s the key.  That’s living.  It may not be pretty, I may look at myself and just think “aww shit” but I have choices and options.  I remember when it all changed–a specific point.  I was sixteen (already haunted by memories of sexual abuse and living in injustices via my mother and stepfather and the lack of my real father) and I was in my room in the basement listening to “Free Bird” over and over and I was looking in the mirror and I just couldn’t see myself.  I wasn’t there.  Just like that.  I disappeared.  This is also when the bipolar began, I just know it.  I can’t explain it, it would take  to long, but it was.  I forced myself to cry and I just stared at my tears as if they were fake, and i was a fake, a fraud, who felt nothing.  I was empty.  And I would spend the next fifteen years or so trying to fill TheMapleTeaHousethat.  Until the psychosis and PTSD hit and i went to the bin–when I completely shattered.  To a million fucking pieces.  But piecing it back together—I get to create what I want to be.  Not just what i want to SEE, but I what I want to BE, because my feelings are back in full force.  I am not empty anymore.  I think all my life I waited for the break, so I could start over.

I’m About to Get Personal Whoa Shit

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Getting Intimate with You Guys.  Thanks for listening/reading:

Tonight I’m wondering about what love really is.  Did I have it?  Are there different kinds of love?  I’ve always avoided writing about love, because I have this outer shell that believes it’s ridiculous.  Hmmm.  I had someone.  A keeper.  I grew into loving him.  Is that really love?  It is a genuine kind.  But then there’s the love that strikes you dead in your tracks and makes you uncertain of yourself and your heart pounds.  I was thinking, with my fiance of nine years–we didn’t have really any intimacy.  I’m a virgin to it.  I don’t know how I’d react if I ever encountered such a thing.  I never let him in.  Why?  I’m listening to “Slow it Down” by the Lumineers over and over 

I feel naked what I’m aiming to write.  It’s so easy for me to write about mental illness and shit like [Read more...]

Gratitude

Well up until today I was having a hard time seeing what I was thankful for.  And then, in a rare and favorite moment, I felt compassion.  Compassion for, well, myself I guess.  My sister told me I’m her hero.  That’s hard to swallow but I believe her I have to because she’s never lied to me.  How someone can say something that fits right into that hole you have, that place where you kick yourself for not being stronger, for not being farther, for not accepting your illness but fighting against it only to worsen the symptoms–that sick cycle I keep continuing.  But hey, at least I’ve noticed it.  I’m becoming more…aware of what I’m doing.  I’m angry a lot, even when I don’t think I am, and my family is gently trying to tell me so…well most of them.  And what did I learn when my mother wasn’t there for me, when we chewed each other out BAD and screamed and cried and took our digs when I was having an episode?  I learned not that she isn’t there for me, she is in her own way, but I learned we have wounds that don’t heal over night.  Her in her insecurities as a mother and as a woman, and me  in my two ways–denying this illness, and secondly, being to afraid to make more changes.  Changes changes changes I’ve had to make so many, and so many have just happened.  These last three or so years I’ve changed so much–I died, I was born, I was all but decimated, I was given faith, I became whole at the core, though the outer rings need tending to now.  I’ve been afraid.  That’s the bottom line.  But I’ve made some kind of step somehow.  It’s been brewing in my psyche and in my heart for weeks and it’s now forming into these words: I’m less afraid to face this ill body because my life in the “stuck” arena is awful.  It’s cowardice.  It’s not me.  I’m seeing a new psychotherapist and I like her because she has boundaries and I need that.  I’m not dreading going to see her next week.  I’m looking forward to it.  I found myself telling her and I couldn’t believe it when I was saying it because I’ve never told anyone before but I accept these terms of my life as a challenge, as a challenge I can overcome and the answers are in me I just have to find them.  That’s exactly what I said.  I’m giving myself a warrior badge for that instinct of mine. :)    I have a lot to be thankful for, even when life feels like it’s been one kick after the other lately–I just wasn’t looking at the lessons.  If someone tests your soul, who you are, who you are TO YOURSELF, then they’re someone to be thankful for.  Difficulties and weaknesses often lead us to the very thing we need to learn.  I’m looking at my weaknesses, and it’s been a long time since I have.  Rumi hinted at these things–take to the difficulties that come upon you as a friend (he writes of thieves that get you and get you) because they’re bringing you back to your spirit, the importance of your spirit and how it shines and how you can make it shine.  I have festered in my weaknesses long enough.  I’ve sat in their gut and even stunned the time of waiting.  But now I’m waking up again.  I don’t like it in here and I’m seeking a window.  Or an ulcer, to climb my way out of.  Because that’s what I can possibly be good at and faithful to, since I’ve been denying it.  Weak.  I keep thinking of Mark Twain’s quote too “never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”  I’m having this issue with my ex, and I’m learning (ever so slowly) that underneath the hurt and the dreaming of his attention is not him, but me–thinking I need someone to love me in order for myself to love me.  I was thinking that I’m unlovable.  That when people leave they don’t love you and never did.  Write Into the Light blog showed me that.  It’s not necessarily him I seek because he is weak and so much smaller than I am.  He has the potential to find his greatness, but he doesn’t believe in it, is what I mean.  And if you can’t see it in yourself, you can’t see it in others, which is why he never saw it in me.  Well, that’s it for now.  I finally feel some peace now.

Carry Me Like Water

(in response to the question “Do You Believe In God?” over at Storylane)

I was brought up strictly Catholic. In college I dabbled in Buddhism and Hinduism, studied the Qaran (Koran?) and Judaism. But I never understood what faith was, or God, or Love, until after I hit rock bottom. When I was 28 my childhood years of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse all came to a head and I had Complex, chronic Post-Traumatic-stress Disorder. I began having psychotic break-throughs daily, along with auditory hallucinations from my Bipolar Disorder. I was chronically dissociating and hearing voices and existing as if on a different plane, dissociating into a godless existential space where no one could reach me. I was spinning out of my life. I lost my job, my friends, my sanity, my house, and my fiance within a year. I admitted myself to “the bin” when the voices and the dissociating and the psychosis became too much to bear. I showed up there like a child in a woman’s heels, banging on their yellow security door, crying “help me, help me” into the intercom.
My entire life, for as far back as I can remember, I was empty. I spent most of my twenties searching for some kind of substance of me. I got lost in a city, drinking and drugging and sleeping with anyone. The emptiness only grew and darkened and it wasn’t until my biological father died on the bar room floor from drinking that I had my first major panic attack and psychotic break. I moved home and tried to recover. I went to college and had a daughter; I made the Dean’s list, I was nominated for a writing scholarship in New York, and my essays and stories in college were coming out like a fever. I began writing about my past, which I’d never done before. I was remembering things I’d never remembered before. And the sickness took flight. I had to drop out, being to ill to face class every day. Too ill to face life every day. The emptiness was no longer a pit but a festering wound that I knew I’d have to face head on. But I knew I couldn’t force it–I had to hit rock bottom patiently. It would come in its own time. And when I was engaged and living a happy, safe, comfortable life, my body broke down. My mind soured.
In “the bin” there was no god. There was no heaven or hell, just a pointless meaningless world where nothing and no one mattered–we were all products of chaos and chance. I’d have flashbacks where there was blood on my face and a blindfold on my eyes and I’d sort of come to and I’d cry for all the sadness in this world. I was beyond empty–the girl that was empty was now dead. She was gone. And not worth finding, I believed. I was gone. She was gone. I’d stare at myself in the safety mirror which was like a metal pan bolted to the tiles in my high-security private room, and I’d stare into my black eyes. There were no stars in them. No light. I was terrified of showering, terrified of the way certain lights fell across the carpet. I’d close my eyes on my cot and try to imagine my grandmother but all I pictured was this black creature with red eyes–every time I closed my eyes. I ended up in the bin four times, I couldn’t survive at home, being so afraid of everything, especially myself. The psychosis was an oily, hellish plane of reality where no one was real, no one could help me. My family would have to hold on to me and say I was ok and I’d shake and shriek and say “I’m not going to make it, I’m not going to make it!” I wanted to die. This continued for a couple years, every day, like that. And the nights were just as awful–I was afraid I’d hurt my daughter so I stayed with family. I was afraid my breath would quit this body too and that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. I don’t know how I went through two years of that. I don’t know how I survived. I was so afraid I’d kill myself (because when I was psychotic I thought I’d lose control of my body) that I avoided the bath with my pink razors. I’d slam the medicine cabinet on my pills and run away crying. In a nutshell, I was nuts. Clinically insane.
But one day, early in the spring, I was sitting on the back porch watching bees, and it was like I suddenly woke up. And it all made sense. The emptiness I’d carried around my entire life was gone. I wasn’t in pieces anymore. Sure the pieces needed sorting out, but they were back together somehow. And one night, I wrote a poem about Jesus being with me and God loving me and carrying me when I couldn’t walk–that I fell to my knees and sobbed, overwhelmed by some foreign love for me coming from somewhere. I knew I hadn’t been alone, because I would have died had I been. It all fit together–the teachings of the Buddha, Hinduism, the Upanishads, the Vendata, the Koran, the Bible, Jesus–they were all one and the same. They all meant the same thing. I was a child of God. I wasn’t alone on this journey. I don’t know how it came to be, I just knew it to be true with my entire being. Even now, every time I go to church I have to hide my tears because I’m overwhelmed by a power and love I cannot name. God, the Atman, the Godhead, Yahweh–whatever you want to call it–breathes into every molecule of our beings and the world around us. I have found a sort of peace. I have a certain kind of grace that is quiet and private. I’ve aged so much in so few years…and it was worth it. God was merely awaking me. In the dark–that cold, lonely, hellish place–he never left me alone. He/It carried me. Carried me like water.

amysprague1184 sent you a note: Me: I want my story to be written for one reason: I want to know who I was and that Wha t I’d experienced, all the good and the bad, was real. That I was real. To this day that is the only reason I write: to know I am of some kind of substance.

Me: I want my story to be written for one reason: I want to know who I was and that Wha t I’d experienced, all the good and the bad, was real. That I was real. To this day that is the only reason I write: to know I am of some kind of substance.

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In the Mouth of Language

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A poem I found at The Poetry Foundation by Lisel Mueller

WHEN I AM ASKED

When I am asked

how I began writing poems,

I talk about the indifference of nature.

It was soon after my mother died,

a brilliant June day,

everything blooming.

I sat on a gray stone bench

in a lovingly planted garden,

but the day lilies were as deaf

as the ears of drunken sleepers

and the roses curved inward.

Nothing was black or broken

and not a leaf fell

and the sun blared endless commercials

for summer holidays.

I sat on a gray stone bench

ringed with the ingenue faces

of pink and white impatiens

and placed my grief

in the mouth of language,

the only thing that would grieve with me.

from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems, Copyright 1996 by Lisel Mueller

from the Poetry Foundation, Here

I love this poem.  And it got me thinking about when I really began to write.  My writing came out in a strange, feverish way.  I knew for years and years I had all these words inside me, but I was apparently too ill and numb to pick up a pen.  I had to shut off for a few years and then when my biological father died from drinking himself to death, literally, (and at the time I was well on my way to becoming a serious alcoholic and druggie) I had my first mental breakdown.  I spent about two years recovering, with psychotherapy projects like re-raising myself and being my own mother (that took a year in itself), I had a beautiful baby, and I was confident again and optimistic and put myself in college.  First I went to the tech college for Occupational Therapy but I was suddenly changing–big time.  I was suddenly aware of how my life had to mean something to me–that all material possessions and acts were meaningless and I wanted out.  I wanted to take my child to India and never return.  I wanted to grow my own food, work in fields, write, sing, but most importantly, teach my daughter the wonders this life could hold.  And I didn’t know what to do.  My soc professor and I were drawn to each other.  She was the one that asked me “Why aren’t you going to school to write?” and thus our relationship developed.  Turned out she was part of the Lakota tribe and she was White Buffalo Woman.  She guided me through my confusion.  She read me my animal totems (which are appallingly RIGHT ON—my animal totem was the possum, known for playing dead in danger, which I didn’t believe until PTSD hit years later.  She wrote letters of recommendations for me and helped get me into the private college to pursue writing (Northland College).  My professors there were goddamn amazing.  Each class and assignment was so new to me because I’d never really written before, yet I knew exactly what I had to say–the essays and poems and stories had been in me for years.  I was nominated for a writing scholarship in New York at the NY Summer Writing Workshop.  My adviser said there was a lot of talk about me.  I made the Dean’s List.  I was a full-time student, mama, and I had a job.  I felt invincible.  Healthy.  But into my third year I began to deteriorate.  What I was writing was getting more and more real, getting closer and closer to shut doors in my heart and body.  I was writing in a fever about abuse, therapy, feeling empty and lost and numb and that I knew something–something terrible–was coming, only I didn’t know what it was.  I began missing classes and would return to my professors’ offices with fractions of essays and stories because I couldn’t piece them together anymore, it was too big for me.  What I was writing was good enough to excuse me, and one professor wanted to work on my future book with me.  But I was crumbling.  I vanished and hid myself in a housekeeping job and then it hit–psychosis and complex ptsd, also diagnosed with bipolar and ADHD.  It was my second mental breakdown, but far worse.  After about a year of madness, I picked up the pen.  I began blogging and writing and piecing my story together.  Now I’m stuck on whether to write a memoir at all, if I’m ready to even, or if I should do autobiographical fiction.  ??  So my question to you is–how did you start writing?  Did something trigger it?  Or did writing trigger something?  I know that writing has played a HUGE part in my healing.  Share your story, I’m very curious.

howl

ginsberg_thumb

…to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before
you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet
confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here
what might be left to say in time come after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow
of the band and blew the suffering of America’s naked mind
for love

breaking hallways

They used to call it some kind of crazy–breaking those hallways like that,

mercilessly testing your wits for some kind of recommendation

on how to live a better time. 

It grew into a sad art–breaking everything down to see what it’s made of;

breaking the walls because you couldn’t fit through the arches–you with

your crates from the last place, busy with your beepers when

you wanted earlier to hide beneath the subway

and collect change beneath skirts so you could fly fly.

It’s become about losing the moments–or desperately

believing in great ones, treading across days and months

to wring out the precious in your confused lovers. 

You sit up late at night–breaking your watches,

sweating and smashing them to bits and your robed wife

leaves the lamp on for you. 

It is all an illusion–this breaking of that. 

But you curl up on your mound of forced snapshots

to wet naps in Prozac and Viagra.

The Nothing Caper

It came in the night. We were all sleeping in the house and I woke to it lifting my sheets; it made my nightgown bleed. My doll saw it all so I ripped out her eyes the next morning before breakfast. Then it started coming in my dreams, and I thought there was a monster beneath my bed gathering my dolls and things. On the scratchy carpet where the sun comes in, it branded my skin with its tongue, so I gave it my voice. Mother and father swallowed it up.

They found me in corners and closets and they didn’t hear their words running from my mouth. I didn’t know so I swallowed the words whole; they fed me spoonfuls of throbbing aches that echoed deep in my belly, burning my insides until it dulled and smoothed over.

I began to sweat them out my pores like a broken fever. I washed and raked my skin. Something curdled and clotted the mainstreams of my heart as I took their pieces and ate them. I choked and spewed out a doll that didn’t have eyes. Her messy dress had burned away so they stitched her a new one and kept it inside and I ran away, hungry.