Chuck Wendig: Write about something that scares you.

This week’s flash fiction prompt from terribleminds was this:

“This week, I want you to write about something that scares you.

This can be something overt and obvious (CHAINSAW CLOWNS) to something deeper (“I am afraid of losing my mind to Alzheimer’s”) — but I want you to take aim at it and lay it bare on the page and construct a story around it as best as you can.”

I’m not sure how this fits the “story” structure, but it felt good to write it out. We were given 1000 words, I only used 322.

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It’s been seven years, almost to the day since I walked away. I had promised myself when I was thirteen that I would. Finally, at age twenty-nine I did.

It has followed me. They have followed me. I’ve had little to no contact over the last seven years, yet they are always with me. Even with time and from this distance they still live in my heart and in my mind.

Cruel things they were, especially to a child. Though as I got older they continued to break away pieces of me. It had turned out that my age didn’t make a difference. I was different. They didn’t like different. Even when it held their last name. Even when it lived with them. Smiled for them. Tried and tried to fit in. They chipped away from childhood and as I got older I began to crack. Then I shattered completely.

I became a dangerous mess. Sharp painful pieces spread out around me. I didn’t have the energy to sweep it up. Ultimately it consumed me. The cuts on the inside began to appear on the outside. I began to disregard my being in the same way they had. I tried to remove myself from the situation entirely.

It has taken years to put my pieces back together. Like all shattered things I am not quite the same. I’ve been trying to find them and replace them. Some bits don’t match. But overall I have managed to put myself together again.

Sometimes they are still there. They still live in my mind and my heart and I still feel the shame of not being good enough. Of not being one of them, in spite of the term “family”. I am terrified that even though I’ve worked so hard to pick up my pieces that I will allow them to tear me down again. That I will never be able to truly free myself.

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About this writing:

I was adopted when I was six years old. I was brought into a family that engaged in abuse. I was awkward and I was different. I was never allowed to forget that. Most stories of adoption have a happy ending and I don’t mean for this to sound like a negative view on that process. This was simply my experience.

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The Fear of Moving Forward

In my senior year of high school I took a screenwriting class. I can’t remember why but part of the class involved speaking in front of a camera. I went into a room with the teacher and the camera. When it was rolling I found myself unable to speak. Not a single sound came from me, though I tried. I was frozen. The words stuck somewhere in my throat and just collecting there. The teacher left the room so that I would feel more comfortable. Nothing changed. I was alone, save for the camera, and I could still produce no sound.

I’ve realized over the last few days that I still experience these symptoms. While I have many story ideas written down, even plotted out I often stop there. I want to write it down. I want to take these ideas out of my brain and make them form something meaningful. However, the thought of putting them out in a physical medium freezes me. I again become the teenage girl who couldn’t produce a single sound. I know like I did in that room with the camera, that what gets written is only for me. I know that it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. That it’s not even supposed to be perfect in the first draft. I know that no one is watching or judging me. I still sit with my notebook or in front of my computer and have that same freeze. That same inability to produce a single thing. That same irrational fear.

What I don’t know is how to overcome it. I can reach back and say that nothing I did was ever good enough when I was growing up. That my mother (and only parent) would look at the A’s I got in screen- and creative writing and say “Who cares about writing?”. I know that I judge myself harshly and worry about still never being good enough. I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know how to break from the stillness and fear and just do the damn thing already.

So that’s my new goal. To figure out how to break past that barrier. To learn to do something that I know makes me happy when I can manage it. Maybe I need to set a routine. Maybe I need to just sit down and write stream of consciousness every morning. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that I’m tired of being afraid to do the things I want so badly to do. I’m tired of having that seemingly self-imposed restriction. I’m ready to do what it takes to break through it.

It’s hard for me to say that I deserve to be happy. I deserve to enjoy my life. For a very long time I was told, and believed, that I didn’t. Living with chronic physical and mental illness has not really helped dispute that fact. I want to get my degree in Ornithology. I want to work outside the house. I want to run a marathon. I can’t. I should at least be able to enjoy the things that I can do. I deserve that. We all do.

Spending Time With Shared Experiences

Carrie Fisher

Yesterday while getting some stuff done around the house I listened the Carrie Fisher’s “Shockaholic”. I really enjoyed the whole thing but the first three chapters (more prominent in Ch. 2 &3) focus on her experiences with ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy or “Shock Therapy”). As someone who has had ECT in the past I’m always looking for relatable stories about something that was so helpful for me and is still so misunderstood. Carrie Fisher did not disappoint.

She talks about how she got to the point where something like ECT seemed like an acceptable option (when at one time she never, ever would have considered it). She talks about the experience of the procedures and the after effects. She even adds in a bit of history (other than the well known facts of it being used as punishment).

If you’re interested in knowing more about the process on a personal level or have experienced it yourself I highly recommend “Shockaholic”. I also recommend sticking around for the rest of the book. Carrie Fisher was an amazing woman and writer. I also really enjoyed her narration (should you also choose the audio version).

(That’s all! Just a quick post while it’s fresh in my head. )

Reflecting back & Looking forward

2016 was different for all of us. Some good, some bad and some a healthy mix of both. For me, it was the latter. I can’t knock it too much though because something amazing happened for me this year. Something I didn’t know was possible.

I started and completed a DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) program. Something I wish I’d had access to years ago. It brought me out of a place of constant depression and anxiety, a place where my past was present in every day. Despite years of being told that I would never feel right until I faced my past, lived in it and processed it I’ve learned that that way of thinking was dragging me down. I won’t say that the past is not important. I won’t say that it shouldn’t be faced. Everyone is different and has different ways of coping. For me putting more focus on how to get through the day-to-day symptoms and not so much on what brought them here has given me a sort of freedom. I ended the three month program about a month ago. I still have work to do (and that’s just what it is – lot of hard work). As someone who earlier this year felt that things would never change, could never change I’m so glad to be putting that work in.

For a long time I didn’t bother with making goals. I knew I’d fail every time, and I dreaded the disappointment inside that would follow. I’m feeling more, for lack of a better word, able these days. I’ve made some goals for the new year.

  • Turn my writing inward. I don’t know if I can completely leave fiction writing behind but I would like to put more focus on self-exploration with my writing.
  • Make more effort/ time for self-care. To include eating better and getting back to regular exercise. I used to jog and I loved doing it. I stopped when I developed chronic pain. When I was both jogging and eating well both my mood and body felt so much better!
  • More books!! I definitely want to fit in more books this year. I read kind of slowly and always wish I was able to consume more fictional awesomeness.
  • Grow out my pixie cut. Okay – probably a silly goal but I’ve tried three or four times in the past and just get frustrated and shorten it back up. This year I shall be victorious!

Have you got any goals for this year? Or this month or week? Even if it’s just for today. Maybe to get dressed or make sure that you drink enough water. Whatever your goals or plans please be kind to yourself. I know that on some days that’s the hardest goal to achieve.

 

 

Weekly Writing Prompt #004

Better late than never?

Sorry that this week’s prompt is late. Holidays, blah blah. Have a cold, blah blah. General celebration and humbug, etc.

This week I’m using a photo of the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England. It brings up so many possibilities for me! I hope it does for you too.

Please do share anything you create with this inspiration!

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(Photo Credit: Unknown)

Welcome To Your 36th Year! Please leave all dairy behind.

It really seemed as cut and dry as the title suggests. I turned thirty-six at the end of October and it was around that time that I started to notice that eating had become less of a necessary, sometimes enjoyable thing and more of an “Oh god, do I really have to?”. Nearly every time I put food in my mouth my body reacted with itching, flushed face, coughing, etc. Generally within twenty minutes of the first bite. I started keeping track of what I was eating versus symptoms and it didn’t take too long to realize that my body had decided that dairy was the enemy.

My first thought? “Fuck!” My second? “Shit!”Like most people the thought of giving up dairy (or any major food type) seemed literally impossible. No more milk? No more cheese? No more ice cream?! Nevermind the types of packaged foods that have some measure of dairy in them. Casein. Whey. Things I really never paid attention to were now the secret undercover enemy. I became that person at the grocery store who checks every label before adding something to their cart. I also started pointing excitedly to things while telling my husband “Hey! Look! I can still eat this!”

It’s been about eight weeks since my discovery and the literal grieving process. (1. “No, it’s not dairy. There must be something else..” 2.”Oh FFS! Seriously? How? How all of a sudden?” 3. “I’m sure it’s okay if I have it sometimes. I mean, it’s not full anaphylaxis after all…” 4. I mentally list all the things I’ll never eat again and feel sorry for myself about it. 5. “Alright. Fine. By taking dairy out of my diet eating is no longer a dangerous activity. Plus my mood has turned up a bit as well.”) Since then I have begun a love affair with coconut milk. As a beverage, coffee creamer, yogurt, ice cream, etc. I’ve learned how to make dairy-free sour cream with tofu and actually like Daiya’s “Cheddar style shreds”. I am at no point going to mistake these substitutes for the real thing but they have a good flavor in their own right. I’m cooking more of my own meals which is never a bad thing. I really have noticed a difference in both my mood and the amount of energy I have.

I don’t know why in my mid-thirties my body suddenly just said “Nope!” and it still kinda sucks. But I’ve got a great husband who brings me home dark chocolate bars without dairy and awesome friends who make readjusting – especially at restaurants and such – much easier. I’m also not blind to the fact that there’s a lot of stuff going on right now – in my own world and the world in general – that hanging on to the negatives of this change is a waste of my energy. Energy much better spent on the people, animals and things I love.

 

 

Weekly Writing Prompt #003

It’s finally starting to get cold in SE Wyoming! I certainly wasn’t looking forward to the below zero wind chill. It just seemed odd that we didn’t get any snowfall until November. Usually, we’re seeing the white stuff in September!

Anyway, I thought I’d make this weeks writing prompt a bit warmer than what we’ve actually got going on here. As always if you decide to do anything with it I’d love to have a look!

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(Image credit)