Confessions of a Twenty Something : I’m in Therapy.

I was 21 and had just graduated college. I was two months away from marrying my best friend, but I didn’t have a job and neither did my then-fiance. And I was completely insecure in the choices I was making. Should we still get married if we have no money? How can I earn money as a writer? Is that even possible? When should I go to grad school? I love my fiance, but am I capable of being a good spouse to him? Am I ready to be an adult?

How do I cope with all of this anxiety?

And I was beginning to notice things about myself. That if I was at my apartment alone without my roommate around, I was doing one of two things: crying uncontrollably, or laying on the couch like an overcooked vegetable watching reality television. My “anger management” techniques, though inherited honestly from my German-American family, were highly ineffective, unhealthy, and were not conducive to being someone’s spouse.

I wasn’t writing.

I wasn’t looking for a better job.

I was letting the negative things in my life strangle the positive things. I had a college degree I’d worked hard for, but I had no job. My confidence in my writing and my professionalism were rock bottom. I had a great relationship with my fiance, but I was terrified that I would ruin it with my obstinacy and insecurity. I had faith in a God that has consistently been faithful to me, but I felt unfaithful to Him by living in fear of the future.

And I knew my friends couldn’t fix me. 

So I went to see a therapist I knew. And we began to unravel a few things.

First: are you sure you want to get married? 

The answer was unequivocally and irrevocably YES. Yes, I did want to marry my best friend. Even if we lived with his parents for a few months while we got on our feet, even if it meant that we wouldn’t be able to go on a honeymoon or buy better vehicles or go to grad school right away, I knew with every part of me that we would be honoring God and one another if we chose to work through those things together in marriage.

Second: since I’m getting married, what do I need to do to be an emotionally stable spouse? 

All of us were raised with habits, good and bad. And then, at some point, we realize the unhealthy ones are getting in the way of constructing positive ones. We have to deconstruct the unhealthy habits – admit them, analyze that pattern of behavior, let go of it, and then try – painfully at first – to speak, act, reach out, apologize, forgive and encourage in new ways.

Third: how do I learn to cope with my mother’s unstable health? 

There are days when I’m overwhelmed. There are days when I feel numb to it. And because I am the oldest child and the only girl from my family of five, I will always feel responsible for the well-being of everyone else. I will, instinctively, suppress my emotions in an effort to accommodate those around me. I will, instinctively, believe that if I just “keep it together” I will find a way to fix the situation. I’m learning to confess my grief, my doubt, my fear. I’m learning to let my faith sustain me. I’m learning to be honest with myself and with others about how I feel in a given moment.

And I had to my ask myself this question:

Is going to therapy a sign that I’m broken, or that I’m healing? 

We reap what we sow. We have to do the hard work of uprooting the negative in order to make room for positive things to grow. There’s a lot of sweat and tears and patience and prayer involved. A lot of talking and crying and brutal honesty. To bear the fruit of a healthy life, I had to find the help I needed to unearth a better way of living. I hope each of you find the courage to do the same.

This post was written in conjunction with the blog series Confessions of a Twenty Something, hosted by Ally Spots.

Words and Strings

historyoflove

Because I couldn’t help but fall in love with this passage, I thought I’d share it with you:

“So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days, you can hear their chorus rushing past:

IwasabeautifulgirlPleasedon’tgoItoobelievemybodyismadeofglassI’veneverlovedanyoneIthinkofmyselfasfunnyForgiveme…

There was a time when it wasn’t uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bunch of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard by everyone were often at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance between two people using a string was often small; sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string.

The practice of attaching cups to the ends of string came much later. Some say it is related to the irrepressible urge to press shells to our ears, to hear the still-surviving echo of the world’s first expression. Others say it was started by a man who held the end of a string that was unraveled across the ocean by a girl who left for America. 

When the world grew bigger, and there wasn’t enough string to keep the things people wanted to say from disappearing into the vastness, the telephone was invented. 

Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever its form, is conduct a person’s silence.”

– Nicole Krauss, A History of Love

[Photo.]

book·ish : Literary Great Britain

I’m no good with geography, but as a wanderlust and a book nerd, I find this literary map of Great Britain positively delightful.
great britain map
book·ish/ˈbo͝okiSH/Adjective
 
1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.*
 
*All items posted in the book·ish section are found by myself and posted of my own accord unless otherwise stated. If you would like to be a sponsor or host a giveaway, please contact me at shewritesandrights[at]gmail[dot]com.

Guest Post | Pen to Paper.

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Helena of byebyebitters.wordpress.com. An avid reader, snarky writer and devoted note taker, she has a few things to say about putting pen to paper.
Pen to Paper

Recently, the powers that be at my workplace offered to provide each of us with another axillary monitor – bringing the desktop total to three. I said no. As this response was not in keeping with the majority of my coworkers, I’ve had to frequently explain my refusal. My reasoning? The proffered monitor would take up space currently devoted to my Bic pen and legal-size notepad. This space is sacred, mandatory.

I’m a pen-to-paper girl.

Throughout the workday I jot notes to myself, make lists, and scribble bits of information onto the pad of paper that is always by my side. Without this notebook – and this space to take notes – I would be lost.

I’ve always been an avid note-taker. I have a well-worn callous on my right ring finger where the pen rests as I whip across the page. I filled notebooks with schoolwork and journals with teenage angst. I have a basket of stationery and have long been an active pen-pal with anyone willing to receive my letters.

Handwriting was initially a struggle. I held my pen “improperly” and struggled to form cursive letters with the flow and ease of the other students. Mrs. Harrington, my third grade teacher, would hang examples of proper penmanship on the bulletin board for everyone to admire. I longed to have my own work featured, but continued to fall short.

Formal cursive was later abandoned for my own special longhand hybrid. By the time I entered high school, my script had become a point of personal pride. I experimented with letter-formation: dotting my i’s with bubbles and curving the tails of my y’s elaborately. I copied my mother’s capital H’s and my friend’s lowercase e’s until I developed my own, wide font. My notes were now as neat as they were complete. The employment of several different ink and highlighter colors to further accent my notebooks would come later.

For me, there are certain situation that require pen-to-paper to be properly processed. I learn by writing things down. My brain makes connections as ink spreads my new knowledge along the college-ruled lines. I wonder how I would have done had I started at University any later than I had – in a time when laptops would become ubiquitous and spiral-bound notebooks scarce. Would typed notes have the same resonance? Follow the same well-worn kinesthetic channels to my long-term memory? Be as easily recalled? My learning style requires something more tactile than tapping on a keyboard.
With school and most of my frantic, avid note-taking now behind me, I still reach to a pen to document ideas. I storyboard, I doodle, I make maps. I circle, I highlight, I pin to bulletin boards. While, invariably and understandably, these ideas are typed before they are shared with others, they begin life on a humble piece of paper.

~

Helena Butters lives in Chicago with her fiancé and two cats. She blogs about life, love, and the pursuit of better body image at Bye Bye Bitters.

On Remembering in the Twenty-First Century.

photo (1)

As I turned to washed my hands in the third floor bathroom of my 1920′s Georgian mansion-turned-office building, I saw the most beautiful shadow I’ve ever noticed. Maybe an odd place to contemplate beauty and life, but nonetheless, I was fascinated as I watched the evening sun play with the leaves and the arch of the window.

I had the sudden, second-nature instinct to video it or snap a photo, to find a way to keep it forever. The quick darting movement of the branches and the light as they swung back and forth against each other reminded me of those moving photos people keep making now, those series of two or three photos that make it look like a stop-action illustration.
In an instant, I saw it: the reaction to a reaction to a reaction. Art that imitates life that imitates art that imitates life.
Sometimes I love technology and everything that we can do with it to capture the world we live in. Without photos, some memories, both the important and the mundane, would be lost forever. Without video, we might forget things like what a loved one’s voice sounds like, or the way your grandmother’s dining room looked with everyone gathered around it as you blew out your candles out on your third birthday. Those moments would die with us. They would flicker and disappear like a beautiful but rather nondescript early September day.
As a writer I’m repeatedly struck with the urge to write things down, to transcribe every moment, every thought, every conversation. I don’t want to lose it, this moment that feels so pivotal and poignant. I’m afraid that I’ll forget, and that all these things that seem so necessary will slip through my fingers and that I will reach the end, not knowing who I am or how I got here.
But if I have to record it for it to last, was it ever that important?
And what will happen to our perception of lives lived?
I fear that if I’m only blogging and tweeting and photographing and documenting the happy things, the funny things, that I’ll look back on life with a false sense of reality, believing that things were less painful than they really were. Or that I will be wracked with an unidentifiable emptiness and disconnect to periods of my life that were filled with hardship, because only half of it is visible.
In our flurry to document and text and tweet and Facebook and Instagram it all, maybe instead of creating a new facet of permanence to our lives, we are instead losing our ability to remember and forget naturally, to live independent of the collective conscious, to appreciate a fleeting moment for the bittersweet thing that it is.

I took the photo anyway.

Poem: The Master Speed

Screen shot 2012-05-02 at 10.00.40 AM
There are some poems I read that provoke strong imagery. The lines and their imagery come to me like a recurring dream whenever I am caught in a situation that reminds me of it. A year ago, Matt and I had just celebrated our first anniversary and were finally settled into our new apartment. It felt like things were finally beginning to go right for us with steady jobs, a place of our own, a routine.
But other things were also becoming apparent: that my mother was entering a new phase of struggling with cancer harder than she had yet experienced, that some of our friends and loved ones were not experiencing the came contentedness and peace in their families, marriages, jobs and homes, that the economy was still not on the upswing. Just when we felt settled and ready for anything, we sensed a current sweeping us away from that steady place. In the midst of that, I read this poem. The words and the imagery were an encouragement to me, an anchor that reminded me of the sacred commitment of marriage and friendship, the power of love to create peace and determination like nothing else can.

The Master Speed 
Robert Frost

No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have speed far greater. You can climb
Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will,
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still-
Off any still or moving thing you say.
Two such as you with such a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar.


Do you have a poem, song, book, etc, that does this for you? 

[Image here.]

Library Card! and What I’m Reading Now

Guess what? I am now in possession of my very own library card! I haven’t had one since moving to Illinois [unless you count my college ID, but we’re talking reading for pleasure here, so it doesn’t count.] So technically, this is the first library card I’ve had since I was in high school.
I know, I know. You’re thinking, Bethany “bookish” girl didn’t have a library card? What’s up with that? But the truth is, I’ve had this really bad habit, like all book addicts do, of buying most of the books that I wanted to read. [Tell me I’m not the only one that does this!] And then I realized I was broke. I’m sick of borrowing books or just going through dry spells of not reading, so I am now the proud owner of a library card, and I checked out The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.
Ever read it? Seems like everyone is raving about it right now. I’m 50 pages in [since starting last night!] and I understand why!
So what are you reading? And do you have a library card or do you buy or borrow all of your books?

book·ish : Kansas City Library

This giant bookshelf serves as the facade for Kansas City Library’s parking garage. I’m guessing it’s probably the only parking garage that is itself a tourist destination. I’d certainly love to visit!
kansas-library (3)[2] kansas-library (2)[2]
[Images found here.]
book·ish/ˈbo͝okiSH/Adjective
 
1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.

Inspired By.

flowers from jane flanagan
It’s Friday. [And the peasants rejoiced!] I’m feeling a little wilted, unlike the photo above. This week has been out of sorts with an undecided, in-transition, what’s-going-on, how-do-we-do-this office move at work, a bee infestation in my apartment bedroom window that forced my husband and I to set up camp in the middle of our living room so as not to find ourselves exterminated, and a car that’s on it’s last life and my last nerve. To add to it, my mom is still in the hospital [since Tuesday, August 16] and doctors are still trying to figure out the best way to, well… make it possible for her to be healthy outside of it? It’s hard and painful to explain.
Needless to say, I’m tired. I find life exhausting at the moment. Might explain the dream I had Wednesday night and the lack of personal writing and posting around here recently. My head [and my heart] can’t decide if now is the best time to write [time? what time?] or if I am understandably excused from adding that to my to-do list [if not now, then when?].
My soul is surviving on small increments of rest, grace and joy, wherever I can find them. Tomorrow, a group of my favorite girls and I are going to enjoy a day in Southern Michigan tasting wine at local vineyards, snatching up local produce, and surveying what promises to another beautiful sunset like this one.
I know that this is another week of the last several where I’ve complained about “my lot” in life. I’m well aware that I am blessed, that I am healthy, that I am capable, and that many many many other people in the world are not for a variety of reasons. But on the other hand, this space is not an escape for me. It’s a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings and opinions and experiences freely like I can’t anywhere else. So if you’re feeling a little wilted or trampled, or you have been but are now feeling rejuvenated, feel free to share your thoughts. The company is welcome.
Until then, here are a few delightful posts from around the interwebs:
Mandy wrote an encouraging post for me this week about the importance of traveling and finding a job you’re passionate about. That alone is inspiring, but she emailed me today to tell me: she got the job she mentioned in the post writing for a travel magazine! Congrats, Mandy!
Nothing could ruffle her, and that’s why we loved her.
How do you relate? Paintings versus photographs versus blogs versus life.
I really love this blog. Decadent photos and beautiful words.
Eight secrets writers won’t tell you.
Image found here. The flowers are gorgeous, but of course, I’m loving the bookshelves behind it, too.
And finally, this girl is going to share her snark, wit and good grammar with us next week. I’m excited! She started a new series this week, Fat Tuesday, that I’m already addicted to.
What are your plans for the weekend? I hope it’s a good one, friends.

Last Night’s Dream : Zoo Animals and A Book That Can Tell Me Everything.

There are a lot of things I don’t remember about last night’s dream, but I do remember that I was living in a beautiful apartment in the city with some people I don’t know. I was walking down the street to my apartment, which was full of taxis and pedestrians. One of the men I lived with was walking behind me, as if we were headed home together. We saw a man whiz past us on a bike, and immediately heard a crash once he was behind us. A car had hit him, and I knew instinctively that it had killed him. Not wanting to see the gore of the accident, I ran away.
 
Next, as I was running into the safety of my apartment to shut the door behind me, I saw a tiger and a black panther, presumably zoo animals on the loose, run at one another and begin to attack each other in the street. I watched for a few moments, and then found myself in my apartment living room, where I could see through the window that there were two giant phoenixes flying through the sky, and a lion pacing on the balcony of my apartment. I was worried that the animals would attack us, but they never did. The apartment separated us from them, but the separation felt fragile, like it could be broken at any moment and the animals would break through the glass to get us.
 
Then, an old Hispanic woman, also living in my apartment, gave me money to buy books at a bookstore. I could choose anything I wanted, but I couldn’t think of any titles to books I wanted to read, so I looked around the store. A huge book, as long as my arms with thick, brightly covered pages, stood out to me. As I flipped through it I realized it was a reference book that held answers and explanations to all the things that I don’t understand in the world: slang terms, differing cultural traditions, why terminal illnesses have killed so many people in the last century. I bought the book with the money I had and took it home. I remember thinking as I pulled it out to read more later that I wish I had chosen something smaller and simpler. One by one the titles of all the other books I’ve been wanting to read came back to me and I wished I had bought them instead, fictional stories that have a beginning and an end and characters I can relate to, but I didn’t have the energy to return the book to the store.