Life · Personal · Ramblings · Writings

Lines

 

Sometimes I don’t know how to deal or how to function. It usually hits me out of the blue and I don’t really have it calculated down to an exact science. I wish I knew what could trigger it. I wish I could know why lines are so important or why I crave them. Isn’t that weird? I guess it only needs to matter to me that I think lines of red are so beautiful. But I’m selfish in my thinking. I hate them on others and want to kiss them away. But red lines on myself? Quite promising.

I wrote the above paragraph while trying to make sense of my brain. I still have yet to discover the key to unlocking my mind’s clockworkings, and yet the above paragraph helps. Even if it’s just to me.

I really do wish I knew what started me feeling a certain way, or what made my feelings vanish all together. I remember when I first tried to explain to my parents what my depression looked like. To them, Nothingness isn’t an emotion. And they’re right. It isn’t an emotion because you don’t feel anything. It’s the lack of emotion; the lack of all feeling whatsoever.

My dad asked if it was like a nothing box.
No.
But nothing boxes have nothing in them, right? And that’s what you’re saying, right? That you don’t feel anything. Doesn’t that just mean you aren’t thinking about anything?
No. You aren’t listening. It’s not that I’m thinking nothing, it’s that I’m feeling Nothing.

It’s like when the sun is suddenly covered with a cloud even though there’s been a cloudless sky all day. Or when you drink your coffee and discover it’s ice cold even though you JUST pulled it out of the microwave. It’s like when there are less steps than you thought, and your foot comes to contact with the ground out of nowhere. Or when you reach for a hand that you expected to be there and it isn’t. It’s like talking to a loved one and then realizing they’ve been gone for a week now, and you’re left picking up the pieces all alone.

You could be sitting in traffic, thinking of nothing in particular when you suddenly seem to wake up to discover how alone in the car you are. How still the air is. How meaningless the radio is. You aren’t sad or lonely or angry or happy or tired or excited or bored or annoyed or hurt or forgotten or anything. Just Nothing. And the Nothingness scares you. And just like attempting to wake from a nightmare by jumping off a roof or laying down on railroad tracks, you draw lines. Somewhere that no one can see how scared you got. Because pain is better than the Nothing. Anything is better than the Nothing. In that moment, driving your car off a bridge is better than the Nothing.

I wish I knew what triggered it. But I don’t. It helps to talk about it with people, though. Later, when I can feel things again, like shame and sadness, I feel like I can talk about it. But by then, usually I’m much better. Back to normal, even. Sometimes the Nothing lasts 30 minutes. Other times the Nothing lasts for weeks. My friend Jacqueline was great at helping me hide my sharp things when the Nothingness lasted for weeks. She saved me from a lot of lines in college.

Chesh hasn’t really had to deal with it much, because for some beautiful reason, the Nothing doesn’t come around like it used to. I think it has to do with feeling safe with Cheshire. Nothing can’t hurt me when is arms are around me and everything smells like applesauce. He helps me feel less alone when I re-surface from my Nothing. He calms me down and helps me breathe. And I am so thankful I have him.

I don’t have a conclusion to this post because I haven’t found a conclusion to my Nothing. Just more lines and less alone.

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Life · Personal · Ramblings

Love is…

For the past two years I have worked at Camp Sandy Cove, a Christian camp nestled up in the mountains of West Virginia. My first summer there I worked as a Chief (the camp’s term for counselor), with the Squaws (the camp’s term for 13-15 year old girls). If you want to feel like a fully insane, fully tired, and fully joy-overloaded individual, I say work at a camp. There is no other place to act like a kid with the title of authority than at camp.

The summer had been wrapping up, and I was on my last cabin of Operation Purple girls before heading back to SC for my senior year of college. Operation Purple was the best week of the summer, as the kids who came were from military families. It’s a great way for kids to be kids and build great relationships with other MKs as well. Since the program is funded by the government, we remove chapel from our schedule, and have a moment of silence before every meal instead of a prayer. We don’t have quit times or cabin devotions, but allow ourselves to be there should any of our kids want to talk about spiritual things. That way we can respect the fact that not all kids who come during OP are Christians.

My group of girls were fantastic! I had a great group that knew how to have fun, knew when they should all take a nap, and knew how to drive me insane. The week was coming to a close, and the girls and I had gotten pretty close (which is a personal goal of mine at camp). A rainy day rest hour had begun, and I was jumping in the shower while there was still some hot water, when I heard the girls talking.

“Love is crying into your pillow at night.”
“Love is wondering if he really does love you.”
“Love is getting your heart broken over and over again.”

Let me tell you, I jumped out of that shower so freaking fast.

“Hold on just a second!”

I stood in front of them in my towel, hair dripping from the three seconds it was under the water, and gave them my best “mom” look.

“Chief? Uh… You’re making a puddle.”

“Yes, thank you Rachel, I realize. I just needed to say something really quick.”

They gave me The Look. If you’re a mom with teenagers, I’m sure you see this look a lot. It’s the ‘oh-god-are-you-about-to-be-super-embarrassing??-yep-ok-here-she-goes’ look. Six of my girls were scattered through the room, laying on bunk beds and curled up under blankets as the rain poured outside.

“Love, my dears, should never be those things. There are emotions you can feel because of love, like feeling heartbroken or hurt, but they should never drive love. If your love is based on whether the other person returns it or not, maybe that isn’t the right kind of love.”

At this point, I wanted to pull out my bible and show them 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, but since no one had technically asked “what the Bible said about love”, I felt weird pulling it out. So instead I racked my brain and hoped I didn’t misquote.

“Love is supposed to be patient. It’s supposed to be kind. It doesn’t get jealous or bossy or demanding. Love is not hurting others to get what you want. Love focuses on the truth and doesn’t hold grudges. Love is protecting people and putting them above yourself.”

It was Rachel who said something first. “Chief…isn’t that from the Bible?”

Leave it to Rachel to know her Bible verses.

I smiled. “Yeah, I guess it is. But here’s my point: Real and true and honest love has absolutely nothing to do with the other person. There was someone I loved once who didn’t love me back. We were best friends and he was dating someone else. And you know what? That didn’t change the fact that I loved him and still to this day love him. Here’s the difference. The love changed. It went from romantic gushy love to a deep friendship love. I knew we would never be in a relationship and that wasn’t what drove me to love him. I love him because of who he is as a person and because of all the time we have spent together sharing our lives. Whether he loves me back has nothing to do with how I feel about him.”

The girls awed and “poor chief”-ed at me, but I stopped them.

“Guys, you’re missing the point. That wasn’t supposed to be a woe-is-me moment. All this happened a long time ago. My point is that love shouldn’t be “crying into your pillow at night”, because that means your love is dependent on their feelings as well. Should that really change the fact that you still love them? Is your love based on their returned affection, or is your love based on who they are as a person?”

After that I went and took my shower, and wondered if that had meant anything or made any sense to them. I’ve thought about that moment a lot, and it was only two months ago when I got another reminder. Cheshire and I were at a pre-marital retreat in Rome, GA called “Prepared to Last”. The retreat was excellent, and he ended up proposing on our last night there. Talk about perfect!

During a session, one of the speakers talked about how sometimes in marriage it can get really hard to love your spouse. They were talking about how the best marriages happen when each person is giving their un-selfish 100% towards the other person. She said, “Remember this: You are called, by God, to love him. But you are not called to be loved by him.” Talk about an ouchy, am I right? Everyone wants to be loved by their person. But when I think about it, whether or not Chesh loves me, shouldn’t change the fact that I love him 100%. And I do. When I marry him, I’m promising to love him through good things and bad things and loving him despite how he feels.

Romantic love changes over time. In fifty years, we are not going to be the same people we are now. But that’s ok. That’s the exciting bit to life. We are going to grow and change and (hopefully) mature. Most importantly we are going to do it together. And I can’t wait.

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P.S. If you’re interested on Chesh’s perspective, he wrote a (sort of) similar post here.

Life · Lifestyle · Personal · Ramblings · Writings

Self Doubt & Other Things That Go Bump In The Night

I love to write. I always have, and I hope I always will. There’s something to me about being able to create a world that doesn’t exist. I can put whoever I want into that world (including myself), and anything can happen. Not only can I create worlds, I can also invite people into them. The biggest compliment you could give to my writing is that I made you laugh out loud, hurt with my protagonist, or maybe even cry in the end. I love that by piecing words together, I create a whole new universe that has the power to seriously mess you up. In a good way.

I love going back and re-reading what I’ve written. I always surprise myself and think, “You crafty devil, I see what you did there.” I love the emotion that comes from my writing. There are times when I’ve gotten so emotionally invested, I’ll cry as I read my own work. The reason is because I’ve pour my heart and my soul into my writing. To me, it is a work of art.

The worst, most terrible thing for any artist, no matter the medium, is self doubt. If you don’t know what that is, you’ve been blessed. Self doubt is that tiny little voice in the back of your head that wonders if you’ll ever be good enough.
“A rejection letter? Maybe my writing is no good after all.”
“She read that really fast and said it was ‘fine’. Just fine?”
“What if no one likes my blog post?”
“What if everyone is afraid to tell me how bad my writing is?”
“What if…?”

Let me stop right there. The “what ifs” are probably the worst thing you can do to yourself. And it doesn’t matter how many motivational ‘Hang in there!’ posters I have if my self doubt kicks in. Self doubt can burn my whole operation to the ground.

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The above picture is my desktop background. Each of the pictures represent something I care about that usually gets destroyed because of my own self doubt. I may have the creativity, the drive, the motivation, the master plan, but if I have a little bit of self doubt, all of the afore mentioned can come tumbling to the ground.

I started doing something a while back. I started saving rejection letters and criticism. Now, I don’t take rejection very well at all. I love people and I want people to love me back. My dream is for everyone who reads my work to think “Wow! What an amazing writer. She captures her thoughts into words so well.”  I realize that won’t happen every time, but it’s a hope. Getting rejection letters and criticism can sting, but if I let those things discourage me now, I’ll never reach my goals. Instead, I started looking at rejection and criticism as a way to grow. In a way, saving them gave them validity. It gave them space somewhere other than my junk inbox. It gave them a voice that said, “You aren’t there yet. How can you get better? Impress me.”

“Rejection letters are a healthy part of the process of writing. Stabilizing, even. They ground you, helping to at least tether your feet to solid ground. Stephen King collected rejection letters for years, tacking them to the cork board in his bedroom, starting at the age of thirteen. With each no, he knew he was one step closer to that yes.” Linda, Book Mama

Stephen King has a gorgeous list of 20 Rules for Writers. The top-most one on the list is this: 1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.” 

I don’t know if you saw it, but the cover photo for this post is of a tiny piece of blue paper that I tacked to my mini cork board at work. Since I try and write during my lunch break, having it right there is a great reminder.

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Who are YOU writing for?

It’s a good question. If I’m writing for other people first and foremost, how can I ever be most true to myself? It’s like a painter who only paints requests from other people. It isn’t necessarily bad (especially if you’re doing it to pay the bills), but if you are so consumed with what other people think, you’ll miss out on the whole picture.

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P.S. If you are interested in Why I Write, check it out here.