and it has a little red button.

I took the plunge and finally signed up for a creative writing class. I was so excited to finally be at a place in my life where I can figure out what I want to do and just decide to do it. This has been a long time coming, let me tell you. So I put on my oldest, rattiest and most-loved sweatpants, made my favorite kind of tea, applied my crest-whitestrips and sat down to write. This is how it all went down.

Okay, click here to log in.
What the fuck is my password again?
Oh okay, yeah. It's the same one I use EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Hmmmm okay, announcements.
AH! First assignment.
Fuck shit fuck.
Why did I sign up to take a FICTION writing class?
I don't know jack shit about fiction.
First assignment:
The Six-Things Exercise
"The idea is to relax and play a little as the writer you've come here to be. Basically, we're asking you to make short journal notes, with a writer's eye and sensitivity, about six separate things each day.  Something like: "wind clanking the boat halyards at the marina" or "the chipped handle on my coffee mug." Every day: six new things, especially during the first week.  Then, each day, you expand ONE of those six things notes into a 20-to-50 word piece.  The expansion can add descriptive details, internal thoughts, or context that begins to threaten an explosion into full-blown story. In this forum, you'll post one or two of those EXPANDED daily entries, to share with fellow students.  Nothing formal or polished, just very short and informal items during this first week."

(frantically scans the living room)
Hmm okay, I can do this. I just have to jot down thoughts about random things.
The... remote control.
And it has a little red button.
The red button reminds me of...
I mean, fuck. Did I mention shit fuck? I cannot do this.
To make matters even worse, I went ahead and started reading what some other people were posting.
One classmate wrote: "The familiar whitewashed cinderblock walls forge a fortress of rooms and cells, muffling the faint yells and slamming doors. Reluctant and uninvited guests check-in; the check-out date determined by their crime or court holidays. Upon arrival time arrests and the walls heave with rushing air under obscene fluorescent lights. The guests sleep on a thin gray pad. The room comes with cable and free meals, although some complain about the guest standing in the shadows on the third floor. The one who never departs?" Another one: "In an otherwise dark room, one lone gold star on the Christmas tree has caught a distant light and glows with warmth."
I can get down with the second lady; she and I could be friends. First lady can go fuck herself with her stupid, creative story about a haunted hotel. I mean, when she reads my epic piece about a button on a remote control that reminds me of the devil, I'm sure she'll just be eaten alive with jealousy.
I would rather strip naked and walked down the middle of the 405 freeway than try to do this exercise.
I would prefer to stick a fork so far into one eye that it comes out the other eye than to do this exercise.
I would rather bare my naked, bleeding soul to the whole of the internet about my failed marriage, cheating ex-husband and general failings in life than try to write fiction.
Not only does fiction bore me, I'm not good at it. At all. Everything I try to write about comes back around to me and my life experiences.

In the end, this is what I ended up writing. And it's bullshit because it's totally not fiction. But whatever.
She never knew avocados could mean so much. The not yet, not yet, not yet, eat me immediately, too late nature of the avocado might as well have been the theme of her life. Rock hard and inedible one moment, swollen with mold the next. How did she never realize this before? She was a fucking piece of fruit.
Annnnnnnd I quit. Thanks for playing. 

there is nothing to writing. all you do is sit down to a typewriter and bleed. -ernest hemingway

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.
-Anne Lamott


I am so exhausted but this is one of those nights where I won’t sleep if I don’t write it out. So I’m sitting here in my pajamas with wet hair and a plate of nachos. Because nachos are the perfect comfort food – crunchy, salty, cheesy & easy to make. I’ll admit it – I’ve had a rough few days. A fact that pisses me off because it’s the beginning of a new year and this year JUST HAS TO be better than the last one (which won’t be hard to do). I know it will be. Like I said though, a rough couple of days.

It’s one thing to accept the fact that your selfish, manipulative husband has lied to you and cheated on you. You will probably even feel an immense sense of freedom when he announces (over the phone) that he’s filing for divorce. Sure, you’ll cry and go through the stages of grief on a regular basis, but you’ll know in your heart that this needs to end. This will further be confirmed when he shows up at your apartment five days later, sans wedding ring, and announces that TODAY is the day he is going to remove you from the joint bank account and the cell phone plan, and switch all of the utility bills to your name. Oh and don’t worry, he’s already opened up his own bank account and transferred money to it. Once you (barely) survive that day, you’ll spend a few weeks in various stages of denial (“I must be dreaming”) and panic (“Where the fuck am I going to live?!?!”). Once you’ve calmed down and received plenty of support from friends and loved ones, you’ll eventually figure things out and life will slowly start to sweeten. You’ll move to a kickass apartment, get a raise at work, and finally experience relief for the first time in a long time. You’ll read more books than you can count, drink a lot of cheap wine, and re-discover your love for hustling grown men at pool halls, dancing all night, and laughing throughout an entire day. You’ll spend nights journaling and having life-altering conversations with beloved friends. People will tell you – on an almost daily basis – that “you seem like you again” and your soul will agree with them. You will throw yourself into friendships and relationships with family and into rediscovering who you are and what you want to do. You’ll eventually get used to spending money on something you want – with money you’ve earned – and not instantly feel guilty. You’ll start to enjoy going out for drinks with responsible people, because for the first time in what feels like forever you don’t have to worry that you’ll end up carrying him out of the bar, covered in puke for the millionth time, or fighting over the car keys because he still thinks he can drive even though he can barely stand up. You’ll even almost forget what it feels like to be called a “fucking bitch” and cry yourself to sleep. You’ll get counseling and continue your beloved journey of putting the pieces of your life back together just the way you want them. You’ll celebrate with friends when you get the news that the state of California has finally finished taking its sweet-ass time and your divorce is finally official – just in time for the start of a new year.

And it’s another thing entirely when the VERY NEXT DAY, pictures of him and the “woman” he cheated on you with start showing up on social media. You’ll find that hidden “glutton for punishment” button in your subconscious and you’ll push it. When that happens, you’ll discover that he took her home at Christmas. It’ll be confirmed that yes they do work together and that means you’ve met her. It means she knew he was married. You’ll see pictures from UCLA football games and days at the beach. He’ll look startling sober in all of the pictures and you’ll start to think you got the worst version of him and she’ll get the best. You’ll forget the misery that was your married life and wonder what you ever did in a previous life to be deserving of such jackassery. You’ll wonder why he gets to look SO happy & you’ll be annoyed to all hell that he thinks he has gotten away with this big secret. You’ll cry and pout and scream and feel sorry for yourself and think “fuck you” in your head when everyone who loves you tries to put this into perspective. You’ll think FUCK PERSPECTIVE, I JUST DON’T WANT TO BE THE PERSON WHO MARRIED THE ASSHOLE GUY AND GETS LEFT FOR THE SECRETARY BECAUSE NOT ONLY IS THAT DEPRESSING IT’S NOT EVEN ORIGINAL – IT’S CLICHÉ AS FUCK. And you’ll dream up all the things you’ll say to her if you ever run into them (which will, of course, be at 9 pm on a Friday night at a grocery store when you are wearing your oldest pair of sweatpants because its laundry day and you just got out of the shower. You’ll actually be shopping because you are a planner and the ONLY good time to shop at Trader Joe’s is 9 pm on a Friday night, but they’ll be running in to grab a bottle of champagne for the super fantastic party they are on their way to). As awful as this scenario is, you’ll filter through your options should this actually occur:

1.      Be calm and pretend like you don’t see them.
2.      RUN AWAY.
3.      Stare calmly into her soulless eyes and say something bitchy like “Nice to finally meet you. Tell me – do you feel all warm and fuzzy inside when you think about the fact that when you started dating him he was still married to me? I mean, that must just make you feel like a winner.”

At which point they will both be entirely uncomfortable and you’ll saunter away completely unfazed. (The actual statement will be negotiable up until the very last second, with other options being: “Hope you’re enjoying my sloppy seconds”, something that eludes to his poor love-making skills, or the most truthful “you can have him” or “you two deserve each other”.)

            Being confronted with these pictures – the photographic proof of what you were only previously 98% sure of – will have you playing out this scenario a thousand times in your head, on a constant loop. Until you eventually realize that you would never really do or say any of those things because at the end of the day, 1) you are striving to be a better person than that, and 2) you are the real winner here. She can have the alcoholic cheater and he can continue to jump from relationship to relationship as to avoid: a) Any real growth; b) Any real pain; c) His own demons and insecurities; or (the correct answer) d) All of the above. You are left with all of the best things – freedom, real honest-to-goodness relationships with loving and kind people, and an opportunity for a much brighter future. You get to date – for the first time in “like, ever” – and be as picky as you want. You know that you won’t settle for anything less than what you deserve, and you’ll be in no rush to find it. You are constantly in awe of the quality of life you get to live now and you’ll remember to say Thank You often. You’ll go back to living this insanely wonderful life and enjoying your ridiculously rewarding job everyday. You’ll be a better friend and sister and daughter and someday a wife and a mother. You will get everything you’ve ever wanted and more than you’ve ever deserved.
And it will be EPIC.

words wrapped around it.

I just started reading, "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead" by Brene Brown. Before I even started this book, I knew I would love it. Dr. Brown is a social worker, for one. Being a social worker myself, I'm always drawn to the work of other social workers, and I find, more often than not, there is an invisible thread connecting us. Secondly, I have always tried to be vulnerable, if this blog isn't evidence of that enough. One of my favorite quotes of all time is:

"Our brokenness reveals something about who we are. Our sufferings and pains are not simply bothersome interruptions of our lives; rather, they touch us in our uniqueness and our most individuality. The way I am broken tells you something unique about me. The way you are broken tells me something unique about you."  - Henri Nouwen
I don't strive to be vulnerable because it's easy or it's the right thing to do. I simply have found, in my own life, that perfection doesn't interest me. I'm drawn to people who have something to say, an experience to share, and shadow they are willing to explore. It's so much more interesting. And how I can I expect to find and befriend those people in my own life, if I'm not willing to wear my own insecurities and vulnerabilities? It's a balancing act, to be sure - the fine line between being vulnerable/human/real/authentic and divulging too much information, too fast. And even if you do it perfectly, which we've already discovered isn't really an option, people are always going to use our vulnerably against us. I think that's also just human instinct - when someone hands us a stick, we either use it to beat ourselves up, or to hit someone else. I'm just as guilty of that as anyone else, looking at other people's failures as a way to feel better about myself and my own shortcomings. I'd like to think that these days I'm getting better at avoiding those temptations - that now I use the stick someone hands me as a walking stick to steady myself as I walk along side them. I'm decidedly not perfect, but that's at least what I strive for these days.
I have journals upon journals from elementary school, junior high and high school. Those journals are some of my most cherished possessions. In college I discovered blogging and haven't looked back since. I like the idea of the big, bad internet having a little piece of me floating around in it somewhere. That, and in case of a fire, I won't lose everything I've ever written. I have an iPad but I've never taken to reading e-books. My home is crammed full of paper books and I still order new ones regularly. I love holding a book, tucking one into my purse, using highlighters, and being able to loan my beloved books to friends and family. Maybe someday I'll switch over, who knows. The point to all of this is that reading and writing have always been such a huge part of my life. Except, now that I look back, while I was married. I rarely blogged, telling myself I was "too busy". And that might have been part of the reason. I was very busy, trying to start my career, find my place in a new city, and figure out how to save my almost instantly-failing marriage. It was a lot to juggle. If I were to blog, I would have been blogging about superficial things, and I guess I just couldn't bring myself to face that reality. Denial is a very specific art form; one that I got very good at.
Then, as I got less and less successful at the juggling and it became more clear that not only was my marriage not going to be saved, but that maybe I didn't want to save it anyway, I struggled to put pen to paper again because of this deep shame I felt about both of those facts. As a trauma therapist I see the redemptive qualities every day in being able to name and voice and speak our fears and our shame. I've seen this time and time again in my own life, but it was still incredibly difficult to begin. Again, in her book Brene Brown writes about shame in a way that I can relate to:
"Shame derives its power from being unspeakable. That's why it loves perfectionists - it's so easy to keep up quiet. If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we've basically cut it off at the knees. Shame hates having words wrapped around it. If we speak shame, it begins to wither. Just the way exposure to light was deadly to the gremlins, language and story bring light to shame and destroy it." 
This is most definitely something I experience in my life. Speaking - and writing - about my shame and my negative experiences certainly makes me a target in some circumstances. I'm handing out pretty big sticks. But in that same vein, writing about my pains releases them from my mind and my heart and somehow, makes them a little easier to bear. I guess as I'm handing out those shame sticks, I'm just trusting and asking those taking them to not use them against me. For the most part, I've been pretty lucky. I have a lot of people in my life who are using those sticks as walking sticks, and some who are putting their sticks together to build something even better. I will try to remember that those who use the sticks against me, are doing so that they can feel better about something in their own lives. It's still painful, but I understand. I've been there, hitting others with sticks too.
More wonderfulness from Brene Brown:
"We either own our stories (even the messy ones), or we stand outside of them - denying our vulnerabilities, and imperfections, orphaning the parts of us that don't fit in with who/what we think we're supposed to be, and hustling for other people's approval of our worthiness."
"That's the paradox: Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first thing I look for in you."


here is what I know for sure.

As I sit here currently and look around at what appears to be my life, I cant help but wonder if I've stumbled into some sick, fun-house version of what should be my life. Things are not where they are supposed to be, images are distorted and I keep hitting the glass wall in my attempts to escape this madness. In the midst of the chaos, I can honestly say I have never felt more loved and supported, not only by my loved ones, but by the One who Redeems even the most broken of hearts.

There are a few things I know for certain:
1. Being 27 years old and divorced was never in my plan (I'll be 27 when the divorce is finalized). I never thought I would ever have to use the phases, "in my first marriage" or "my ex husband". That's not even a reality I can comprehend at this point.
2. My heart has been utterly and completely broken and betrayed, by a person who has completely transformed from someone I knew better than anyone else to someone I can barely recognize.
3. God has been holding me this entire time. I can feel it, I am certain of it, and I feel so thankful.

I have a love-hate relationship with the idea that "everything happens for a reason". I'm not so sure that's the best way to put it. I do believe that God can redeem every situation, but saying that awful things "happen for a reason" seems unlikely to me. Its hard for me to imagine how God is going to redeem this heartbreak and disappointment in my life, but I unequivocally know that He will. As long as I'm putting it all out there, I might as well describe how this has happened in my life before. I was 4 years old when I was sexually abused; its my first memory. Do I think that "happened for a reason"? No. Not for any other reason than a very damaged person decided to perpetuate that damage. Did I know or even have the faintest idea of how God would redeem that tragedy in my life? Not a clue. Is it true that I now work as a trauma therapist and help children who have experienced horrendous traumas and abuses? Yes, and I'm so passionate about my job. I am able to empathize and support my clients and their families, in a way that promotes healing and understanding in their own lives. Is that me? Nope, that's my Redeemer.

This all makes me think back to an essay I had to write in one of my college English classes. The assignment was to write a "This I Believe" essay to submit to NPR's yearly contest. I had never heard of it before this assignment - and if you haven't either, I encourage you to check it out. The essays are incredible and thought-provoking. You can find them here. Because I have always been a writer and blogger, I was able to find a copy of my essay on an old blog. As I was reading over it tonight, it seemed fitting to re post it here.

Written in December 2007: This I Believe.

I’ve been known to disappear for hours at a time, even in the middle of the night, usually when I’ve had a particularly stressful or upsetting day. On these occasions I am always headed in the direction of the nearest beach, because I am seeking the healing powers of the ocean. I believe in wave therapy.
I’m not a surfer, shell-collector, or kite-flyer. I am a woman who finds life-lessons in the simple sound of the waves crashing on the sand. No matter how great my problems seem to be, they are nothing compared to the greatness of the ocean and its waves, nor do they hold as much power over my life.
When I was a little girl, I learned to fear the ocean after getting caught in a rip current. I discovered that you have to pay attention to where you place your feet in this world, or else you might get caught up in something you can’t save yourself from. As the lifeguard pulled me to safety, I learned to savor the sweetness of air and the ability to breathe.
When I was a teenager, I learned to fall in love with the ocean and its promises. Growing up is a fragile process, and when you are thirteen it seems as if everything is changing weekly, from your boyfriend to your bra size, and you’re never really sure what to expect next. You learn from experience that even the best of friends can hurt you and let you down, but the ocean is still going to be there, as steady and consistent as ever. It is going to continue to pound the shoreline. It is going to be there when you show up after everyone ditched your eighth grade Halloween party for the star of the football team’s Bar Mitzvah, and it is going to remind you that, no matter what, it’s waves will continue to roll in and your life will go on.
As a young woman twenty-one years of age, I am still attempting to find my role in this inconsistent world. I am more aware than ever of the mistakes I have made, and continue to make. I struggle and I bend and sometimes I break, often forgetting that life is much bigger than I think. And so whenever school or family or relationships are getting overwhelming and I am struggling to place one foot in front of the other, I put on my blinders and race westward. The comforting roar of the ocean and the pattern the waves create on the sand are a better form of therapy than money can buy, and an everlasting reminder that this too shall pass.

I live 5 minutes away from the ocean that has always been so calming. This too, shall pass.