* Originally written at the end of January 2013 on my original blog.
Do you ever feel like you forget who you are? Like there are so many different things smothering you for time and attention that you slowly lose yourself. You can see pieces of you slowly leaking out and away but there’s nothing you can do to stop the continuous draining. Until it feels like nothing is left.
I’ve been feeling like this lately. Probably because of my anxiety-ridden licensure exam coming up in 3 weeks. But for many other reasons as well, I’m sure. I do know the main reason I feel like I’m losing myself, unsure if I’ll ever get those pieces back, but I’m not quite ready to talk about that just yet. It’s coming though.
But really. 2012 was a very hard year for me. I am so relieved it’s over. And desperately hoping 2013 is better.
What do you do when you feel like you’re losing everything that makes you, well, you? It’s an incredibly unsettling feeling. Especially when you’re trying to become a therapist and help others only to realize that you need so much help yourself. That’s okay though, right? I’m allowed to be human, too, aren’t I? Sometimes I need that reminder. That permission to be fallible. To make mistakes. To feel those emotions I help my clients deal with. But still… it’s hard to give yourself that permission. Especially when you really haven’t given yourself permission for much, ever, which is my unfortunate tendency.
The only thing I can think of right now is hold onto the pieces of myself that are still there. That I can identify. That feel real. And true. And since discoveries, especially of the self- variety, are what I really like to share here, this is what I have come up with so far.
This I know about me - Rachel.
1. Maxi skirts. Who knew that such a simple article of clothing could come to feel so right to me? I feel so comfortable in them. So free.
I really hate clothes. Especially when they constrict. And I especially hate pants. I made it all summer with only wearing jeans once. To me, that is a beautiful thing. My discovery of maxi skirts helped free me, once again, and in another way, from society’s expectations for me. Or my perception of society’s expectations. Whatever.
I hope to one day have my wardrobe full of maxi skirts. Other skirts are nice too. And maybe someday I’ll break down and get some leggings to go with my boots. Cause I sure feel great in boots too. I think that if you had to define yourself in terms of clothing, I would be a maxi skirt. Comfortable. Free. But classy. And flowy. Cause what better word to describe yourself is there than flowy?
2. My hands. And how I adorn them.
For some reason, I am at peace with my hands lately. I bite and tear at my nails incessantly. I’ve tried to stop. I can’t. I don’t really care to anymore. I have owned my short, sometimes jagged nails. They like to be painted fun colors, but have been sad because I’ve been to busy, or lazy, or both, to give them the color they like. Sorry nails. I’ll try to do better. (Post-edit: About a month after writing this, I started painting my nails again and they have been painted for the past 6 weeks. Yay for progress!)
I’ve not worn rings since I was pretty young, except for a CTR ring. Until I lost my CTR ring and the others I had didn’t fit comfortably. I always wanted to wear rings more, but I got my dad’s hands and my fingers are just thick. Which makes it very hard to find a ring that actually fits and looks good.
This summer at West Yellowstone I found the ring. The one ring that actually flattered my fingers. And excited my eyes. And brought a smile to my face. It was a big turquoise stone with the most beautiful veining. And a small-ish silver band. I can’t do just small bands because then my finger looks huge. But a small band with a large stone on it? Oh yes. Yes, that I can do. And I have loved it ever since.
I finally got my eagerly, and not-so-patiently waited upon ring from my beautiful Grandma. She collects them. And got enough for all her granddaughters to have one of her rings. My sisters and I were among the last to receive ours, but only because we live so far away. We semi-hesitantly trusted Mom to pick our rings for us when she was on a trip to Utah. She called me to discuss the options, but I had to go off descriptions because her phone is ultra-ghetto and won’t send or receive pictures. I was unsure how they looked, and nervous that the picks for the 3 of us would not quite suit us. Finally it came. And suit me it did! Large smoky quartz stone in a beautiful antique-esque silver band. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. Sarah and Becca’s were beautiful, too. Geez, my grandma has exquisite taste in rings. I hope to glean more of her ring knowledge from her this summer. Because this is knowledge I need. Desperately. One of these two rings is on my finger every day. Except when I forget them and upon realizing my mistake, curse myself and feel naked and so un-Rach-like all day long.
I have also recently added a charm bracelet to my left wrist. It was also bare since I lost my CTR ring in March, 2011. I had the most perfect watch that I would put the ring on for safe keeping when I wasn’t wearing them. Well, the gremlins in my mom’s van stole them after my MFT interview. I hate those gremlins. No matter the searching I did, I never found any watch, or other decoration, that accurately said “I am you. I make you more yourself. You need me. Right there, on your left wrist.” And so it’s been naked. And alone. And sad.
James Avery had a sale on their new bracelets. Buy two charms, get a bracelet for free. Sign me up, I declared! I looked at the charms for probably an hour. Because picking a charm is no light business for me. Especially the first charms. Finally I found the ones that not only called for me, but fit within my poor-grad-student budget.
A music note. Because few things affect me like music does. My dream life is still playing French Horn in the pit of broadway musicals. Please, if you ever see a charm with a French Horn, get it for me. I’ll pay you back. You know how most people, especially girls, always have something on their minds that they are thinking about and planning? That doesn’t happen for me. When I don’t have something I’m actively thinking about, I have music playing in my head. It’s completely unconscious. And completely beautiful.
Also, a dove. This was a more abstract pick. I wanted something for my chosen-if-not-exactly-dreamed-of profession. A marriage therapist. But what would a charm for that look like, exactly? A couch? No. So I thought about what my purpose would be in that profession. To help people. To pull marriages up through the muck of pain they’ve been slopping through. Or. To give hope. To give peace. Which is what a dove represents, after all. (Not to mention the religious significance of a dove, which is also important to me).
I have two more charms ready to be added. My best friends forever half-heart that fits together with my thank-goodness-she’s-still-around-and-loves-me-cause-I-need-her best friend, Malorie, given to us by her mother at my graduation. And my Texas heart charm. Because my heart is always in Texas. And Sarah is getting me a nativity charm soon, which yes, will be on the bracelet year round, because what more could I want than a constant reminder of Christmas and that dear little baby who saved me?
3. Reading. Oh, reading.
I am consumed by it. In a wonderful, coming-alive sort of way. All my worries slip away as the story weaves through me, lifting me to something higher. I am changed, yes, but in all the right ways, by the books I read. I think more critically, feel more deeply, desire more strongly because of being swept away to new places. Places I could never explore if not led by the hand by these authors with the most beautiful gift of words. I find myself in those pages. In those words, between those lines and through those experiences of characters so different from myself. And what have I found?
A desire. A desire that has always been there, but never came out into the light for me to really see and examine. It was there, but out of focus and blurred differently each day. But it has stepped out into the light. I’ve seen it, felt it, studied it. And now this I know:
I want to be a writer. An author. I want to lead people by the hand, as I have been led so many times before, and take people where they could never go without my help. Into the recesses of my music-filled mind. Into the nooks and crannies, shadowed corners and vaulted ceilings of my imagination. I haven’t even really been there myself, but I want to go. I want to make a record of my journey and share it with others. For no other purpose than enjoyment. Fun. Hope. Peace. For me and for them.
And can I share a secret? I’m terrified. This desire (which was brought into the light by Veronica Roth and Divergent, by the way,) scares me to the core. I don’t know how to write a novel. I’ve never written more than 25 pages in one work. I’ve never written more than what has been required me by my professors. Never once have I written creatively, with the exception of my blog. But that is all based on life experiences, not pulling a story out of nothing. I only ever took one literature class, which I loved, but wasn’t even in the genre I plan to write in. I don’t know the first thing about any of this writing business. AND I’m about to get a degree in therapy!
And somehow I have the audacity to think that I can do this. That I can (with plenty of practice, mind you – I don’t expect this to come easy or naturally) write a story that other people would be interested in, maybe even pay money for. I partly think I must be having delusions of grandeur, because this desire seems so unlikely, so impossible.
But I want it. I want to write. And read, because every writer knows you have to read at least as much as you write. Maybe I won’t ever get published. Maybe I won’t ever get past a short story. Maybe the only people to read it will be myself and those few friends I trust to share in the intimacy that comes with writing from the heart. But I want to do it. I want to try.
I don’t really know how to work this out with school and licensure and a profession looming. But I’ll figure out a way. Because somehow, I feel like the only way to find myself again, after losing so much, is to write.
And so that is what I plan on doing.
(What is your favorite piece of clothing that makes you feel you? What are your accessories that scream at you that they belong with you, on you?)
(And for the love of all that is holy, AM I CRAZY? Those of you who have read my writing, is this possible? I need some encouragement cause like I said, I’m awful scared.)