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I’ve been writing ever since I can remember holding a pencil. I’ve always been infatuated with words and stories as well as putting my own thoughts on the page.  My biggest fear has always been sharing my work with others. So, I’ve started this blog to break out of my comfort zone and to become a part of this project called #52essays2017. My purpose here is to write with all honesty, to delve deep into my soul (making improvements along the way)while I continue to hone my craft in writing.

For me, writing is organized chaos.

This is my commitment to authorship and I welcome you to join me.

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Personal Essay #46

I’m still here.

I’m still alive and still trying. The past few days have threatened to stop me and squash me in my tracks with anxiety. I don’t have time for anxiety or setbacks right now. I am in the middle of doing Nanowrimo and have a 50k word count to fulfill. (In case you don’t know, Nanowrimo is a writing contest done during the month of November. 50k words would be roughly equivalent to a 200-page paperback novel.) I am using the motivation of this contest to finish a book I have been trying to write for a decade. I’m both proud and embarrassed to say that I’ve never written this much in such a short period of time in all the years I’ve called myself a writer.

None of this comes easy for me. I struggle hard with fear of failure but eventually overcome it in due time. However, I am committed to finishing this latest version of my novel that I have been writing since June. In a matter of weeks, I’ve already tripled what I wrote in that 5 month period of time. I am not allowing myself any time to or giving myself the chance to edit it or make any major revisions. The only luxury I sometimes allow myself comes only after I write and only by making brief editing notes in the margin.

I have 12 days left to write and now that I have scaled some of the tallest structural parts of my novel and passed beyond the midpoint, I feel that these last 20k are completely attainable. I even have a backup plan for if I happen to get to the absolute end of the story before reaching my word count. I have plenty of areas where the story still needs further development. When I look at my previous days writing, certain parts of it tend to stick out at me and seem absolutely horrible, begging me to cut or edit them. That’s when I have to I remind myself, I can’t rework material that isn’t there and when I get stuck that I can’t edit words that don’t exist. I can only keep trying till I get it right.

This challenge has taught me a great many things. One of which is, no matter how much preparation you’ve done, there comes a time when prepared or not, you just have to dive in or you’ll never finish. I have learned that writing a book is way harder than I ever expected (and I am only on the first draft! No panicking.) but I love it. I love everything about it and I hope that love shows with each word on the page. This process has taught me that sometimes you have to give up other things to get stuff done (my reading time is suffering.). I have learned that you can’t wait for inspiration and you don’t have to. You truly can create your own. I have learned that I can always do more than I think I can, even when it feels impossible.

So, even if I don’t hit my mark every day, I have to be okay with that. I have to accept when I don’t succeed. I know it’s okay to keep trying harder till I get there. It might take me a bit longer but I will always get there as long as I keep trying and never give up. I’m still here. I’m still alive. I’m still trying, no matter how tough it feels, there is always hope to carry me even when my will doesn’t want to.

The only reason I look back is for the motivation of seeing how far I’ve already come because if I’m not trying I will never get anywhere.

#52essays2017
#Nanowrimo

Personal Essay #45

The time I fell in love with a narcissist.

I didn’t know he was a narcissist when I met him. It took me about a decade to figure it out. It was by far the strangest love affair of my life and it nearly destroyed me. I never understood which was worse the fact that I let it all happen or that he willfully hurt me time and time again. I learned many things about myself during that time and in the reflection of his mirror, he showed me what areas I needed to work on. Just like all things, there was some good with the bad.

During that time I suffered from a lowered self-esteem. Now whether this was just who I was then or whether or not something he did made it worse, who can say? I try not to talk about it. He had me so crazy in my own head for far too long. My friends still cringe when his name comes up. This one particular heartache is one that I don’t think will ever fully heal.

This all came to the surface again recently after I read an article on “Why empaths are attracted to narcissists.” Suddenly that entire relationship made sense to me. Every misstep, every low blow, every complaint, every odd quirk, every dishonest or telling moment… now it all made perfect terrifying sense.

Now, let me be clear. This was not physical abuse. I know he would never have laid a hand on me. He’s not that guy. But I do think he emotionally hurt me and did so with intent in order to keep me attached to and dependent on him. It took years of no contact in order for me to be able to look back and see things clearly.

After these years, I can now see the clear path of destruction and the grieving and the eventual rebirth of my path. It was a growing experience that taught me things I couldn’t learn any other way. It gave me a new perspective on life and love and intentions. It also planted a permanent seed of distrust which has taught me to be cautious in general.

I finally did the update to my email that Yahoo has been reminding me to do for months. There now appeared a place with pictures from old emails. When I opened it there popped up pictures from an outing we went on but no pictures of us together. There never were. We were never like that. It didn’t hurt like I thought it would, it just made me remember. Now it seems that all happened another lifetime ago.

I am still grateful for the lessons even though the cuts were deep and took forever to heal. The scars keep me protected. They’ve thickened over time with maturity and learning. The lessons I learned gave me the strength to walk away from any situation that is no good for me. I learned that I keep the key to my own happiness. Because the old adage is true…

If someone else holds the key to your happiness, they will drop it, they will drop it every time.

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#52essays2017

Personal Essay #44

I’m going to tell you a story that is quite possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever done. Like most of the “worst” things I have done, this was completely unintentional. Not that it made the situation any better; it never does. My crime was breaking trust and in the process, I lost a cherished friend. This is one of the bigger issues for me as I am not one to make friends casually or lightly or even easily for that matter.

This incident still haunts me. It was one of those situations I wish I could have gone back and done differently. But the truth is that I didn’t handle it well and there was nothing I could do to fix it once the damage was done. Once the words escaped me there was no getting them back. The scene was one of friendship heartbreak. All the sorry’s in the world wouldn’t fix it. Instead, a pile of pain laid where once a friendship stood. The remnants broken, trashed, and useless.

I learned so much from such a small slip. She even sat me down and confronted me giving me a chance to at least explain myself—to own my shit and admit to my wrongness. She was calm and open about it.

It was a chance no one had given me before and it instilled in me a greater sense of responsibility. I, in turn, gave her the ability and opportunity to express her feelings and disappointment. I even allowed her to dump all those feelings onto me like trash upon the pile. I can still to this day feel the pain and the guilt, but I learned.

I lost her then. Well shortly thereafter, she uprooted herself and I have never seen her again. Not another word was spoken or passed between us. She fell off the face of my planet. I miss her. I still have some pictures of us together in Vegas. They are in a box somewhere around here. I don’t know why I still think about her but I do.

I’ve been wary and careful in the making and keeping of friends ever since. It’s a hard thing to trust another person (especially women sometimes). It’s also hard to be trusted and you never know the level of expectation the other person has for you in their own life. Therefore, I have very few close friends anymore.

My closest friends are now mostly independent women. I like that and need that independence as well. It’s not essential to see each other all the time to keep our friendship going and growing. I have changed in many ways over the last few years (thank the gods). I now keep secrets without fail. I am careful with feelings when I can be. But I believe sometimes we do need to hear the hard stuff. I believe sometimes we have to be confrontational and express what we are feeling and allow others to do the same in order to better things. I’m still not good at all the intricate bits and confrontational stuff is, and will probably always, be hard for me.

Examining my list of the worst things I have done, I’d have to say this one rode in on a high learning curve. Which in my perspective, turns a mistake, into a lesson.

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Personal Essay #43

Why is the feeling to quit such a strong one? I don’t know about everyone else out there but this is a serious internal issue for me. A task, a job, a relationship, a project; it doesn’t matter what it is, I get to a point where I hit a wall, my mind tells me it’s too hard, I can’t do it, just quit. In those situations, quitting seems like the easiest option, even though I know it’s not.

When I quit smoking it was hard. Quitting any habit is difficult. It doesn’t matter whether it is something like chewing one’s nails or not eating sweets, it takes active effort to quit. The research says it takes 3 weeks to break a habit. Basically, 3 weeks to really quit anything. Yet it takes me one second to say to myself “this is too hard, I can’t do it, I quit” and walk away.

The weight of this feeling slows me way down. Everything suddenly feels unbearably heavy. Everything seems ultimately impossible. It’s that devastating “all is lost” feeling and it tries to devour me. This feeling usually comes along hand in hand with moments of lashing out at those around me because things did not go my way. This frustrated reaction only serves to make matters worse, when what I need to do is to make things work.

Luckily, I’ve been through this series of events and feelings enough times now to know there is another way out. I stop. I pause. I take a deep breath and I either try again or I ask for assistance. Once I have refocused and put that feeling aside, everything usually falls into place or I fall into a place of acceptance. I always feel better for not having quit and enjoy instead the feeling of success.

With all this said, I still don’t understand the feeling and why it persists. What keeps it alive? Cognitively I understand that this is a learned behavior and that every time I choose to change the outcome, I am slowly overcoming that behavior. Yet, it is still there. Like the temptation of a cigarette or Halloween candy sitting unattended in a bowl. Perhaps it is just part of the human condition and entwined in the bare bones of our primitive human brains. There are a million reasons and a million excuses, much like the ones that come up in my mind when I want to quit. I am grateful that, for me, the will to live and desire to improve overcomes the hunger to quit.

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#52essays2017

Personal Essay #42

During my childhood, I was starving to learn. There were no real books in our house and no one around to learn from as both my mom and my step-dad worked two jobs during those early years. I wanted to learn to work on cars, throw a ball, and climb trees. Instead, I was taught how to fold laundry, clean the bathroom, and do the dishes. I was rarely around people that I could really learn from and my life took on a very secluded and barren state. I wanted to learn to do real things. I wanted to grow.

I watched instead, longingly. I tried to watch and learn on the rare occasion that I was near someone working on a car before they shooed me away. I sat on the bench, watching others out on the field toss around and hit the softball with ease and grace. I watched nimble children climb trees. Even though I wasn’t the girlie type, I even watched the girls at school putting up their hair in pretty styles while I struggled to make the basic ponytail look good.

There are even more things I wanted to learn to do. I’ve always admired strong swimmers. I have never been one nor am I graceful when I do swim. All these things make me wonder, especially now that my own child has grown, why didn’t I learn these things? (I gave my son as many opportunities as I could afford.) Was it the opportunity? (I know I had few if any.) Was it just a lack of natural ability? (Please don’t throw me a softball as I am likely to catch it with my face.) Was it fear? (I’ve always been quite timid about learning new things even though I have a strong desire to learn them.)

I do have skills that I have learned over the years, many of them self-taught with minor instruction. Therefore, many of the things I can and do, are not done efficiently and most likely don’t fit into what is commonly taught. Although I do partially learn by watching, I also learn by doing and I have learned to do a great many things through trial and error.

The great thing about learning and about being self-taught is that I have learned to figure things out and to solve my way out of problems. I am rather successful at solving the majority of problems I have to face. I won’t lie, I still have plenty to learn, but I am done with watching things from the sidelines. I am halfway through my life and running out of time. It’s time to start doing.

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Personal Essay #41

“Not everyone is going to like you.” She said.
I was in my early twenties and still new to this world in so many ways. I have always been a sensitive person so I won’t lie; this statement cut me to my very core. We all want to be liked and to fit in and I had always tried too hard and I often failed miserably. I was perpetually socially awkward, (who am I kidding, I still am) with little in the way of ability or experience to fully understand the dynamics of interpersonal communications, let alone possessing any of the tools or skills needed to navigate certain aspects of social interaction. I felt like the child who’d been raised by wolves or apes, possessing no clue as to how to accomplish more than meeting my own basic needs of survival.
This handful of words struck me hard, hitting me like a knife tip sticking into the wood after it’s been thrown, leaving only the ominous sound of pain behind it. This one sentence changed the course of my personal growth. It shifted me into a state of being and learning that would take decades to come full circle bringing about harsh truths of the matter relating to the reasons why not everyone is going to like you and why you will not always like everyone you meet.
Someone may not like us because we annoy them or because we behave in a way or do things that encroach on their personal space or bubble. Sometimes this dislike grows slowly over time and other times it is an initial first impression. Other times it is a conflict of personalities or a difference in beliefs. Sometimes the dislike will evolve into change for one or both parties. Sometimes, and as is most often the case, things will escalate into some kind of drama, some personal or public confrontation.
It happens— it happens all the time.
So who was the woman who spoke this life-changing sentence to me? Honestly, I don’t remember her name. I only remember her face because she was someone I used to work with but I barely knew her. I can’t think of anything specific I could have possibly done to incur her wrath. Looking back, the only thing I can think of is that she didn’t like the person I was then. Honestly, I can’t blame her for that. I didn’t like me then either.
This moment, this sentence, this catalyst, made it easier for me to accept when someone didn’t like me. I was able to spot the signs right away and just steer clear. Though it didn’t take the sting out of the feeling, it gave me the ability to not really give a damn, at least not as much. However, it also provided me the ability to be okay with my not liking someone else. Therefore, I have learned to pause and take stock in the “why?” And then act accordingly. I have learned this introspection is necessary and important and can be very revealing on a personal level.
“Not everyone is going to like you,” …and that’s okay because not everyone has to.

The only person who has to like you– is you.

CUDsWeL
#52essays2017

Personal Essay #40

There have been many times in my life when I have been undeniably drawn to writing. These are times when an unspoken force pulls me in and I find myself fully caught up in the throes of inspiration. Those moments are rare and fleeting much like young love or infatuation and burn out just as quickly as they arrive. Leaving behind only partially finished, disorganized thoughts randomly but beautifully strewn together across numerous pages.

With that being said, I have not fully submersed myself into my creativity and the writing process with my current novel. I know that when or if I do, I could lose control and everything else in my life will go by the wayside. I feel as though I can’t-do that just yet. I am afraid of what will happen if I do and what will happen if I don’t. I guess part of me is scared that I won’t be able to do it all: the novel, job, relationship, just life in general. So, I do just enough to keep all the balls I’m juggling in the air and moving with as much precision and grace as I can muster.

At some point, I will have to let myself go deep into the story of my character. The key will be separating that creative process from the other parts of my life. I have to maintain the other aspects of my life and keep my responsibilities at the forefront even though it seems so limiting to me right now. Perhaps that is where my frustration is coming from, from feeling limited and hindered. (Although, ironically, that is also what my protagonist is feeling.) Maybe in some ways, I am deeper into the story than I realized. Perhaps I’m moving through my own frustrations the same way she has to while we both look for the right solutions.

My current overwhelming feeling is that I need to jump into the deep scary depths of my novel. Even though with this draft, I am crafting and creating more than I ever have before, I’m still allowing myself to take the time to learn what I can along the way. This entire experience exudes a special kind of magic, it feels like what I can only describe as love mixed with creation. It feels promising and hopeful like the sunshine after a hard rain. It feels long lasting like the mystical dog days of summer.

I am so grateful that the ideas and scenes are still flowing to me daily. I’m trying to piece them together— like one big puzzle. I started an idea book, in which I try to catch every idea as if they were elusive butterflies and I was a collector. Some of these ideas I know go into this first novel and some will fit in later on in the series. I’m enjoying the play of piecing them all together and matching up what fits. It is a fulfilling and taxing thing I am doing and I feel amateurish still. But I’m secretly hoping that feeling doesn’t go away anytime soon. Even though it is difficult to battle the doubts every single day, it is still such a beautiful thing to have a hope that’s filled with endless possibilities.

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