The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


2007: A Retrospective

roots, saint clair park, greensburg, pa; summer 2007

Because you've been waiting for me to write something here, and because a real story is the only story worth telling...

In 2007, I found myself again, after years of wandering lost in the wilderness of depression and despair. Ironically, I found my joi de vivre in the same year that was one of the absolute hardest of my life. During seemingly endless months of fear, anger, and sadness, when the building blocks of my life shook and threatened to shatter, I discovered that the foundation of my self was being repaired, rebuilt, and shored up.

At a time when trust seemed treacherous, foolish, and mostly impossible, I learned to trust myself again. For much of 2006 and the first half of 2007, I let myself be manipulated into believing that I was the problem, the failure, the reason for so much strife. By mid-2007, I realized that this was false. I found a vantage point of clarity, where I recognized my own true faults and mistakes without taking on the blame for every issue.

I realized—much to my surprise—that I would be able to change course and build a different life if that was necessary. I didn't want to do that, and so far haven't had to do so. But where I once thought I would fall apart and die, I realized that I would survive emotional devastation and eventually embrace new opportunities. This scared and somehow saddened me, but also made me realize that I'm brave and strong.

In 2007, I reconnected with my creative self. I tried painting and began to explore the idea that I could try my hand at different types of expression. I accepted that it's perfectly fine to make art for art's sake, not as a high-minded pursuit, but as an expression of myself and the world, just for the sake of doing it. At the same time, I unearthed my love of writing and rediscovered that it is truly my gift: a gift given to me, whether I share it with the world or not. I reaffirmed that I want to share it with those who will listen.

For the first time that I can remember, I had days when I was just happy to be alive. Each day suddenly held beauty and joy and meaning. I was shocked to realize that I was excited about the coming day; that I looked forward to the possibility of getting up tomorrow and seeing what would happen. This new sense of euphoria left me breathless. For so long I've wanted to live a life of joy and wonder. And for so long, it escaped me. I finally realized that I had to create such a life if it would not just come to me. Of course, the more I sought to create it, the more it came to me.

I'm no longer certain of some things I used to know for sure. It's painful to question long-held beliefs and waver on what were once absolutes. Still, I think that to be unsure and seeking is better than steadfast and sleeping.

In 2007, I learned to be kind to myself, true to myself, and open to myself.

Still, I grieve for all the time that was lost in misunderstandings and hurtfulness in 2007. I spent a lot of time terrified and lonely. Sometimes I'm still disappointed in myself for not taking a harder line and demanding more. But I forgive myself for that, because it's hard to navigate the canals of heartbreak and trust. If I was talking to a friend in my situation, I'd tell her that she was too hard on herself; that she did the best she could at the time. As my dad says, we make the best decisions we can with the information we have on hand. I did the best I could, even though I wish I'd done better in retrospect.

I don't think I've forgiven as much as I need to. But I won't wallow in guilt over that. Things are so much better than they have been in so long. Despite the lingering pain and still-tender scars, I'm happy in a way I can't ever remember being. I'm working on forgiveness with a watchful heart.

I'm afraid that things will go back to the way they were. When I have a bad day, I'm terrified that the depression is returning. But I've been to the mountaintop, and I know I can find my way back if I end up in another valley. That knowledge alone comforts me and gives me hope.

What's done is done. There is no way to change the past. Now that it's over, it couldn't be any other way. (I kind of hate that, but mostly believe it to be true.) Linear time is God's gift to us. Imagine the muddled situations we'd get ourselves into if we could move forward and backward in time. Think of how much we'd lose or throw away if we had the ability to go back and change things. It would be so easy to get stuck in a loop of trying to perfect the past, of trying different actions to affect the outcome. Linear time frustrates us, but it keeps us sane. The alternative is unthinkable. (But would make a good episode of "The Twilight Zone.")

God knows the end from the beginning. All I can do is to keep moving forward.

I declare 2007 complete.

2008 is my year of opportunity.

"The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning." ~George Baker

I found the quote above and the format for this retrospective on Superhero Journal.


add to kirtsy | 8:01 PM


Blogger Lisa said...

This is an unbelievably powerful post, dear Jen. I don't print posts very often, but this one is a keeper. Rest assured it will have a special place in my journal.

I commend your honesty and bravery. I have tremendous empathy for what you're expressing and find quite a connection with you in your words, as I have been discovering many of the same things about myself. It's maddening and liberating all at the same time, right?

Oh how I wish we could share tea and our heartfelt feelings in person! Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you as you claim the life that lives inside of yourself.

Thank you, thank you for sharing with us...


1/22/2008 9:38 AM  

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