Thursday, February 28, 2019

Safe : Essays in 100 words

With two words you have unmade me. All my armor is stripped away my defenses lay at my feet. You see me. I would, I could... if I had any agency of my own. But I am helpless. As raw as the wounded flesh I am at first I cannot breathe. As the past suffocates I struggle to draw in air. Then my shattered senses make out your embrace. You hold me as the storm rages. You are the oak to my ivy, the shore to my wild oceans. My haven. My husband. You whisper, "You're safe. You're safe."

Monday, February 25, 2019

Just: Essays in 100 words

Just is a word used to minimize and limit. It saps verbs of their agency. Just is short for "if I may" or "will you allow". If it's ok with you, I just feel. If you allow me, I just need. If you agree, I just think. Just is an apology before the action ever takes place. I'm sorry I want. I'm sorry I feel. I'm sorry I think. It implies "I can be smaller. I can be less."
This word permeates me. It is threaded through every fiber, down to my genes. Thus I speak myself from the world.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

I just really like it...

I can think of a hundred reasons why I shouldn't share this.
It's self-indulgent.
The meme itself is wordy.
Already shared the story.
The text is too dense.
It breaks the meme conventions.
and on,
      and on,
            and on.

But,
   even with all that
this simple image
with the tiny bug and the
tiny story just feels right.
Inexplicable, but there it is.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Alone in a crowd of your peers

I belong to a group of intelligent creative women. All of us are writers, many of us are over 40 and a most are mothers. It's a very supportive group where we celebrate the ups and downs of the publishing and writing life. We also talk among ourselves to encourage one another and there is a bit of socializing. You can't avoid that with a group of writers.

There was an interesting question posed the other day - "What do you share on social media, and what don't you share?"

The list of things that were shared was as diverse as our group. There were some common themes of humor, politics and cat videos. But what surprised me more was that among this group of driven and talented women was a nearly universal answer about what they didn't share.

The common element that they refused to share with social media was their problems with mental health. That consistency from such a diverse group struck me.

As I ponder this phenomena, turning it over and over to inspect it from all angles, the feeling that there is a cauldron of emotions shaping this decision. I can see that there is fear. Some denial. And all stirring in a base of shame.

Allow me to say I only observe, I make no judgments about what is right or wrong. Because there is no right or wrong here there is only the need for each person to be comfortable with their own choice. But that so many women would feel more comfortable not sharing this aspect of their lives is I think remarkable.

It's not that I don't understand the fears that would keep anyone from speaking out. I carried those fears with me for decades. The fear of being labeled 'mentally unfit' is massive. It conjures up images of loss of family, of control, of freedom. It is a place of pure terror. So, to many people who suffer from mental problems it is safer to deny that you have a problem rather than to risk the consequences of admitting you do.

Because the fear of mental illness drenches our history. It makes us as a society uncomfortable to discuss or even to acknowledge. The common story of the lunatic asylum, the mad house, the barbarity of past treatment, and yes even the fear of contagion drives nearly everyone of us here in the United States to turn away, close our eyes and deny the condition exists. Even to the point of denying ourselves the help we need.

We fear the labels that can accompany mental illness. Crazy. Insane. Unstable. Fragile. And as women we already face these labels on a nearly daily basis without providing any reason for them to be applied. The fear of the increase in the contempt of the world should we admit we have any weakness silences us, keeping us individual and alone. 

I have no magic. I can offer no solution to this. But I can offer an alternative to siloed silence.
There are places on-line and in real life that allow people to unite to share their experiences and solutions, but most importantly to break the wall of silence that perpetuates solitude and the illusion that we are each alone.

Al Anon:  https://www.ola-is.org/
CPTSD: https://www.outofthestorm.website/
Mental Health America: https://www.inspire.com/groups/mental-health-america/


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Whistlepig sampler

One of the stories I am working on is called 'Whistlepig' ... 


Nana was not pleased to see us coming up the driveway. I saw her first as she stood in the red earth of the field. She wore a pink dress and over top an apron. Beside her on the ground was a cloth. She would thrust the fork into the ground and then turn it over. Now and then she would stoop to chuck something onto the cloth. It was one of those times that she had stopped that she saw us coming up her road. The driver of the wagon seemed to hunker low and tried to turn up the collar of his coat despite the early May warmth. We jounced along the rutted road to the squeaking of the wagon's springs. Momma waved with her big brimmed hat and called out a 'Yoo hoo'. It was merry as a picnic in her mind. But I saw nana's face as we drew nearer, and if I'd had any doubt about our arrival the way she rammed the turning fork home left no question. Nana was not pleased to see us at all.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Small: Essays in 100 words

How do I explain the limits that a child places on themselves when faced with a certainty of violence? I tried to survive by becoming small. I didn’t share the backseat with my brother. I cringed in the corner between the seat and the door. I curled into a knot. Tighter, smaller so I presented less of a target to him. Smaller still, curling in on myself not allowing a hair, a thought or an expression to ripple the air around me. Drawing in still tighter I collapsed until nothing escaped, becoming a single point without boundary, mass or being.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Happiness: Essays in 100 words

Happiness is not a word that I generally associate with my life or myself. To me life has always been about what I must do for others. What was expected out of me. What I was and wasn't allowed to do, think or even feel. Somewhere along the timeline of my childhood happiness was put in a box and stuffed somewhere deep in the metaphorical closet of my self. It was in my 20s that I first approached a mental health provider with the first of a long list of questions. She showed me that my happiness was my responsibility.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Hollow : Essays in 100 words

I am hollow.
A coiling tension surrounds the body, pressing from front and back.
It squeezes until the throat closes tight.
Making the body voiceless.
Emotions long silenced initiate a new silence.
The silence of survival is replaced by the silence of terror which newly echoes through the empty frame.
The heart contracts, refusing to beat as if any action would break the status quo.
I am the hollow.