Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writing as therapy?

I read a book a few years back that suggested writing as a therapeutic way to work through issues. Writing forces you to face things, to put them down on paper (or screen, as the case may be), dissect them, pull them apart, look under them and in them and around them, figure out why things are the way they are. The hope is that during all of that, you'll actually find an answer to your problems.

Sounds simple, right?

I thought so too.

Let me tell you, it's NOT. It's not simple at all. When I'm writing, my characters usually end up with some issue or problem or flaw that I need to work through in my own life. I put them in a situation that may be happening, or may have already happened, and watch them to see how they deal with it. Sometimes, it's something that someone close to me has already lived through. Generally speaking though, at least one character in each of my books has dealt with something I've lived.

The problem I usually face is that once they solve that thing, once they get their minds and hands and hearts around the problem, they aren't that interesting to me anymore. So I stop telling their story.

Writing is therapeutic. But it makes for horrible fiction, in my case.

From now on, I think I'll just stick to made up issues. I may be more of a mess in real life that way, but at least I'll finish a damn story!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It's been a LONG time...

What could possibly make me return to this blog after almost 3 years? It had to be something big, something monumental, right? Does turning FORTY count?

Actually, my recent birthday was only a small part of my return to the blogosphere. There are many other things that prompted me to log in and try to figure out what I wanted to share. I have almost three years of things to tell, but be patient please. Rome wasn't built in a week, you know.

I broke up with someone recently.

There. I said it.

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what happened. I have a feeling I may be trying to figure that out for quite a while.

It started over something silly, as many breakups do. I disagreed with something that was said. I wasn't silent about it. I voiced my disagreement, albeit in a comment on a social networking site, and it was promptly deleted. What followed was craziness, from both of us, really. I got an e-mail telling me how wrong I was. I read it and was outraged and responded. I got another e-mail stating that we'd had a relationship for years and shouldn't break up. I responded to that detailing how hurt I'd been by two recent things that had happened. I got a response asking where we were supposed to go from there, and I responded, hurt, that we should just call it quits. The response to that was that we shouldn't end our relationship, we'd both invested so much and it was worth it to fight for it, so I should just state what was needed and it would be done. So I did.

Now, I should insert right here that I totally knew that the idea of confrontation is pretty much foreign to this person. Not only did I already know this from our relationship, but this person stated it (more than once) in various e-mails.

Still, that's what I needed.

As happens often in many relationships, we both were guilty of unintentionally inflicting small wounds upon the other. A slight here, a dig there, from both of us at different times, had left us both feeling a wee bit bruised and battered. It's not something I easily admit, but I'm trying to be totally honest here. It happens. In a normal relationship, in a healthy and secure relationship, things happen. Hurt happens. It's inevitable. I have never met a person that can honestly say that they have one single relationship where no hurt has been felt on either side at any time.

Now, I don't thrive on confrontation. (You, over there in the corner, shut UP!) I actually don't like it at all. My body literally quakes, my limbs shake, my mouth goes dry, my heart skitters and sometimes stops. It goes against my upbringing in many ways. You can't be Southern and really like to yell and scream, hence the "bless your heart" that some people scorn. However, in my house growing up, if there was a problem - we cleared the air. We laid it all out on the table, all of those nasty ugly bits- we dug around in it with our fingers, poking and prodding, we got dirty, messy, sometimes even bloody. We said what we had to say, got it all out, then buried it out back in an eight foot grave. Trust me, six feet wouldn't have been deep enough for some of the stuff we laid bare on that kitchen table. At the end of the day though, just like Jesus on that cross on that hill, it was finished.

That's what I needed from this person. I needed to clear the air. I was willing to examine the ugly that I had spread. I wanted to do the digging, the poking and prodding, the wading through the muck, because I knew that at the end, the table would be wiped, cleaned and sanitized, and the stuff that was left would be better, stronger, and last for ages.

What I got was another e-mail. Instead of dealing with anything, instead of facing the issues and actually working through them, I was told that the thought of actually doing so made this person 'weary'.  Weary?

Well then.

So. We broke up. We ended a relationship that spanned years. And here's the kicker - it was all done from the safety and security of the internet.

Yep. That's right. We never spoke.

Was I hurt by that last e-mail? You bet your sweet bottom I was. Did I pick up the phone and get things straightened out? Nope. I did not. I let that relationship die on the vine, like last summer's over-ripe blackberries.

Why? I'm not really sure. I was hurt, of course. I was shell-shocked, for certain. I walked around in a daze for a while, not really believing that we'd both let things go so far.

Mostly though, I was sad. I was sad that the other person said they would do whatever it took, but in the end - they bailed. I was sad that the thing I needed most - to clear the air- was just too much. I was sad that neither one of us picked up the phone and put an end to the craziness.

Why is this enough to make me come back here? Well, here is where I did some of my very best thinking and analyzing and sorting. Here is where I learned things about myself, through the art of baring it all and the act of reading your views. Here is where I used to think best. Here is where I can not hide, not from you and not from myself.

The relationship is over. I'm learning to be ok with that. What I'm not ok with is what that says about me, and that relationship. See, I thought it was good, and true, and strong, for many years. Yet, when I took issue with something, I learned how fragile it really was. I watched it crumble like the sandcastles I'm so fond of constructing. It broke apart and disintegrated. I was left staring at remains, and wondering how it had happened.

I don't regret that it's over, I think. If it was that easily destroyed, it wasn't all that strong, right? I regret other things though. I regret that I didn't see the destruction coming. I regret that I foolishly believed it was strong enough to withstand truth, or even a little storm. I regret that I invested so much time and energy into something that proved not lasting or durable.

I have many acquaintances. I smile at strangers and draw people close, but not too close. I have fingertip-length relationships with most, not daring to let someone new in close enough to hurt me. I can count on one hand (minus a few) the people I would call in a crisis, and that includes family. I have a few strong bonds that have been forged through years and tears, that have withstood the test of time because both of us believed in them enough, that have gone through the ugly bits and come through shining like polished steel. I said "a few" and I meant a very few. I thought this one was one of those.

I was wrong.

It never hurt so much to be so wrong about something I once held so dear.

I have good memories of this person, and the many times that we shared together. Yet, it's sad to me that the thing that stands out most is that when it came right down to it, I wasn't free to say what I needed to say, and the other person wasn't willing to hear it, without it ending something that had lasted for years. It felt like a limit had been imposed on the relationship, and I exceeded that limit with my honesty and my demand for their honesty in return.

Have you had a relationship end like this, out of the blue, over something that seems incredibly trivial but actually goes much deeper? Have you let something that was once terribly important just fade like the setting sun?