Once again, there are two prompts to work through today. The prompts today are totally unrelated, which is often the cases, and both of them have required an incredible amount of thinking on my part – neither one of them easy for me to answer. That’s part of the beauty of Reverb. One of the things I love about Reverb is that it gives me some really great things to think about…things that I feel like require a lot of thought. One of the things I hate about Reverb is that wee get these great prompts that require a lot of thought & there is such a limited amount of time to do that thinking. I started thinking about these prompts this morning with my morning pages & have been thinking about them all day. In the end, it’s not really about what happened in the year – it’s about getting to know yourself deeper and more fully through the process of writing.
Before we get much further in today’s post, I feel like I need to include a trigger warning. Readers who have experienced childhood trauma might want to skip today’s post.
First up from Kat McNally:
What unfinished projects from 2014 am you willing to release now? (Regret not required.)
I think the easy answer to this is that I need to release the clutter and the junk and the unfinished projects that sit deep in a closet somewhere…the things that I’ve carried around because I have. Because they belonged to long-gone family or because I don’t know how to let it go or because they are items that once held sentimental weight but now just take up space. All of those things need to go, and I intend to send them on their way before the end of the year. Because. I don’t need them.
But that’s easy and perhaps even expected, and for me Reverb is about digging a little deeper – not merely scratching the surface but rather hauling out the shovel.
A dear friend once told me that it is a miracle that we make it out of childhood alive – physically, emotionally, psychologically – there is some kind of hurt.We were discussing our shared history as survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and how that particular past shapes the present. Sadly, neither of us are anomalies. Depending on what statistics you look at in America, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men is the victim of a child sexual assault.
We all suffer trauma – knives to the heart and paper cuts in our cuticles- each powerful in their own way, and some that we spend the rest of our lives trying to heal. I don’t hold on to that particular piece of my identity. Therapy and forgiveness and some willful forgetting has eased those jagged edges.
Those other things – seemingly smaller offenses and pains – are what have been longer lasting and what I really need to release. I have forever felt a need for perfection and to be everything and do everything, and while it is easy to lay those at the feet of the abuse I suffered, I don’t believe that’s the biggest part of the story. I have dragged this stuff around since childhood to and the weight is just overwhelming and tiring. I am far from perfect and everything is out of my reach. I am disappointed in myself when I fall short of the mark, but I could never meet the mark in the first place. I’m tired of being disappointed in myself. I’m tired of lugging these expectations around. It’s past time.
Which isn’t to say that I won’t struggle with the release. Of course I will. How long have I carried this shit? It’s not something that is easily shaken off.
…and then from Project Reverb:
Gorgeous: When did you feel beautiful this year? Why?
I somehow managed to make it out of childhood and through adulthood without body image issues. I’m comfortable in my skin and OK with who I am. There are parts of me that I really like. Parts of me that could use a little work, but that’s OK too.
I really struggled with this prompt because I don’t ever think of myself as “beautiful”. I know Sweet Husband does; he doesn’t miss an opportunity to tell me 😉 But I don’t look in the mirror and think, “I’m beautiful today.” There are days when I think that I’m having a good day (particularly when it comes to my hair. We won’t talk about those awkward high school hair years. *sigh*), but never a moment when I think beautiful.
So for me, it comes down to those moments I loved. I love this particular picture of me – taken by SH during our anniversary trip to New Orleans on Easter. We were having hurricanes at Pat O’Briens after having missed the parades. I have no idea why I was laughing so particularly hard, just that I was. He’s good at keeping me in stitches; one of the things he promised me when he proposed was that he would make me happy and make me laugh. He does.
Whatever flaws there are in my physical appearance – the nose that is too long, the crooked teeth, the heavy thighs, the soft belly – fade away in the face of joy. All the posed photos from this year, all the attempts to get it right – none of them close to this moment.