I Love Therapy

If I woke up and was 18 again, I would start therapy right away.

I know not everyone can afford it (though some churches and non-profits has free options) or access to it. But if you can and do … dang. I was so scared of it, like by going I’d be admitting I was flawed.

SHOCKER. I *AM* FLAWED.

It has just been such an incredible outlet and growing experience for me.

That’s all.

Lie Soup

I remember how, in college, every day felt like it could be the day I met him.

Not anymore, although certainly when I started online dating I got that feeling back.

I’m actually on a semi-hiatus from it. The faces are too familiar. I need new choices.

How can I still cry for him almost two years later? Sometimes I think I should thank him for saving me from himself. Mostly I’m angry he took that choice from me.

I write to him. On a separate blog. One he’ll never see.

I’m moody and dramatic lately, pushed from behind by PMS and ahead from Cupid.

I’m angry.

It’s not constant. I’m not wasting away into a waif. I’m not directionless. If anything, I’ve been more focused and motivated, more creative and driven, than ive been in a long while.

But I’ve been telling myself a lot of lies lately. I try to follow up right away and confess I’m lying. But sometimes I don’t, and poor Jackie spends hours marinating in that awful brew.

Tonight my skin is pruney with Lie Soup. I need to cry it out.

Secret-Free

Back in, oh, 2005 maybe, all of my insides were shaken when introduced to the idea of “the box,” that is, the place where you keep secrets no one knows. I remember having a conversation about this with a friend, who had learned about it in a psychology class, and to this day, I don’t know if this is wide-spread concept or something that one professor believed.

But it struck me: did I have a box? Did I have secrets no one knew?

I sure did.

There was something very unsettling about it for me.

I decided to empty my box.

(Let me pause here and say: this is not my field, so I can’t speak about this psychologically or medically or in any smart way except that I have seen secrets ruin lives. But I also know that it is not safe for everyone to share secrets. So there’s no judgement or advice here, just a story, just my story.)

I didn’t take out a billboard and post my secrets. I didn’t start this blog till much later. I started small. One on one with a very safe friend. Then another friend. One summer, I decided to talk about OCD in front of a group of 9th and 10th grade campers and my counselor friends. I truly thought I was opening Pandora’s Box, forever altering the course of my life.

secretsI mean … I was. But not in the negative, scary way I feared.

Later, I started this blog. Wrote about mental illness in the university newspaper. Spoke for a few classes.

Let me again be clear: some of my secrets (like OCD), I eventually felt safe to share with anyone. But some of my secrets are still only shared with one or two best friends. I do not owe the world my secrets. I only owe myself freedom from them. So when I find a secret is holding me hostage, I start with finding one safe friend to share it with. Sometimes it never goes any further than that. Sometimes I share it with a group or this blog or toss it into the wilds of Instagram.

So, I’ve been secret-free since 2005. It feels good.

The Heaviness of Ideas

I’ve had one of those bursts of creative ideation where I travel two thousand miles in twenty minutes and then am as exhausted as if I did it by foot.

Two thousand miles. Is that the distance from the mind to a manuscript?

A flash of inspiration. A thoughtful soak in a hot shower. I stepped out with a new direction.

It is only 8 PM and I can hardly keep my eyes open. Creativity is a marathon, and I started training again today.

Art:Faith:Life:Death

wiman

Last night I finished Christian Wiman’s latest book, He Held Radical Light: the Art of Faith, the Faith of Art. It’s a thoughtful, deep, intellectually stimulating book that, in some ways, reminded me of the works I used to read in a writing theory and ethics course, the kind where you don’t understand every single thing but you get the thesis of the piece, and that’s usually enough.

The book is about what do we want when we can’t stop wanting? It’s a mix of theology around art, Wiman’s memories of conversations he’s had with profound writers, and plenty of poetry to back it all up. I loved it.

Wiman’s work always seems to have such a depth and urgency to it, which is due in large part to his living with incurable blood cancer. I happened to be reading his story about meeting Mary Oliver just as I was learning of her death (Mary passed away on my birthday, just 11 days ago). It was exceptionally striking to read this poem of hers in the Wiman’s book just after she passed from life into life:

White Owl Flies Into And Out Of The Field by Mary Oliver

Coming down out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful, and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings—five feet apart—
and the grabbing thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys of the snow—
and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes
to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows—
so I thought:
maybe death isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light wrapping itself around us—
as soft as feathers—
that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light—scalding, aortal light—
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.

 

A Home for Stories

Yesterday, I watched the Ruth Bader Ginsburg movie, and I felt so empowered and inspired and goosebumpy with dreams of equality and justice.

Today I couldn’t get out of bed.

My coworkers are the best and they were able to step in for me at work, but the guilt is still real. Days like today often bring on lots of shame for me, enough shame to drown in– or at least to tread till I’m exhausted.

But today I just said to my body, “What do you need from me? I’m listening.”

“A hot shower, a healthy meal, a blanket and a story, Prozac and prayer,” it replied. “And a space to write about how I’m feeling.” Hence, this blog post.

How am I feeling? Stupid. Lonely. Ambitious. Tired. Creative. Eager. Upset. Grateful. Committed. Overwhelmed.

My head and shoulders hurt. My heart feels a little numb– no, not numb; it is still tender, but it feels like it has a little armor around it, a hard crust. There’s a part of me that feels grateful for the protection, but I know-know-know that armor is not actually a good thing, so I will chat it out with my therapist.

I have so many ideas that sometimes I feel like I will burst. Like they will come crawling out from under my skin. It’s uncomfortable.

But I’m grateful for it still. I want to be a home of endless stories.

I just need to let some out. I need to write.

It’s coming.

Sunday Snapshot

wimanReading: He Held Radical Light: the Art of Faith, the Faith of Art by Christian Wiman

Listening: old school Relient K. On blast.

Motivated: to clean and organize and write

Considering: the voices in my novel

Ignoring: online dating

marcjacobsGrateful: to everyone who made my birthday so special, and especially to Ashley for everything and for the palette I’ve been eyeing for months!

Learning: to not preempt a name pronunciation with an apology, but instead to make a true attempt first!

Missing: the One Who Got Away

Annoyed: to be missing the One Who Got Away

Deserving: more than to be missing the One Who Got Away

 

37 Lessons

371. Humility and vulnerability are key to leadership.

2. On this green earth, I will always be a work in progress.

3. There are so many more shades of gray than I ever imagined.

4. Grace, grace, grace: be generous with it, both for myself and for others.

5. Love is messy.

6. Carefully choose which hills are worth dying on.

7. Quit pretending like you don’t have issues and start working through them.

8. Everyone has issues.

9. I am good company, on my own.

10. “‘No’ is a complete sentence.” (Anne Lamott)

11. Boundaries are amazing.

12. Get a great mattress.

13. Required reading: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

14. Create a list of your guiding principles; refer to this often. I keep mine posted in my office and perpetually ask myself how I am exhibiting the four characters I’ve named most important in my life: grace, creativity, humility, faithfulness.

15. Invest in health.

16. Treat yo’ self.

17. You will absolutely not win the contests you don’t enter. Enter, ask, risk.

18. Freedom begets freedom.

19. Cultivate your own intuition. Compassionately push to hear more when you believe there is more to be heard.

20. Love things with incredible passion, especially the things others think are weird. My dad cries when he watches Triple Crown winner Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes race, and I love him wildly for this.

21. Kitten videos on Instagram are their own type of medicine.

22. Vitamin D and fish oil. Start now.

23. Find songs that make you cry and let them leech pain out of you.

24. Ask for what you need. I have had friends come over to sit with me while I read hard emails or open intimidating mail. This was small for them and huge for me.

25. Do things that make your own story more meaningful. (Required reading: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller)

26. Vote. If you are a Christian, let the gospel guide your vote, not a party allegiance.

27. The body remembers trauma. Be kind.

28. Makeup can be battle paint; use it however you need.

29. Be careful with armor.

30. Compliments and encouragement cost nothing– give them out generously.

31. Take all measures to work through and eliminate shame.

32. Shitty first drafts and short assignments. (Required reading; Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott)

33. Quit saying “fat.”

34. Naps can be holy. (Shout-out to Judith Hougen!)

35. Required reading: everything by Melina Marchetta.

36. Be intentional with people. Who in your life means so much that you will put in the extra effort?

37. Listen and learn.