A Year of Thanks

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something lost, then gained July 19, 2011

Filed under: family fun,favorites,friends,self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 12:38 pm

Yesterday I was talking with a friend. The conversation is really unimportant, but a comment I made has my mind working overtime.

I said, “so and so is just rational, and I’m so much more emotional.”

What? Did I really just say that?

I am not emotional. I am the exact opposite of emotional (minus the years 12-16 when I was an emotional wreck. My mom will tell in great detail how tortured of a soul I was then. Come on, it was hormones. I also blame The Smiths.)

I pride myself on my rational mind and heart. Though I also know that this rational side has become a little (or maybe a lot) too hardened. Too protective. And I have been working with my therapist to soften this side of me, but I didn’t think I’d actually made any gains.

Until I said that sentence. Out loud. And even my friend looked at me quizzically and made a comment about how I’m not really emotional.

I can’t even blame The Smiths this time around (though I did listen to their album Louder than Bombs [their kick-ass compilation album] last night and then seriously thought about putting on all black and smoking a cigarette in bed, but OBVIOUSLY I wouldn’t do that because smoking is bad and even worse when your 3-year-old is sleeping next to you and also because it would be odd to wear all black in bed with a sleeping child, but still…).

Anyway, all last night I started thinking about this whole emotional side of myself emerging, because yes, it is emerging, and I think it all started with a breakthrough I had in therapy, then a sad movie, and the next thing you know I’m all tears in Harry Potter 7, and well, I might be on my way to actually being a somewhat normal, emotionally healthy person.

How very, very frightening.

My major breakthrough in therapy occurred last week. And it was one of those breakthroughs that I didn’t even see coming. There I was just discussing my week, and my therapist started really pushing me with one particular part.

He said, “Well, what does that mean?”

I said, “I don’t know.”

He said, “Yes, you do. You do. What does this mean? Why is this important to you?”

I said, “Ummm, I don’t know. Cause I was raised Catholic?” (Ha. My go-to answer for everything).

He said, “No. What does this mean? You know this.”

Finally, with much frustration (on both our parts, I think), and together, we came to what was probably pretty deep beneath my surface but what was also bubbling up and pretty damn obvious.

Breakthrough. Big time.

And I know this is vague, but it’s also too personal to write about, but it was like all these little lights, like the ones you use to decorate Christmas trees, lit up in my brain and then all connected.

Magical progress I’m making. But also very, very scary. It’s like being on uncharted territory (what a terrible cliche, I know), and I’m not sure what to do from here.

But still, progress is good. I think.

So a few days after this amazing breakthrough, I went to the movies with my friends Andy, Jason, and Emily. And I really wanted to see Buck, this new documentary that looks amazing, but they all wanted to see Tree of Life. I had read so many reviews of ToL and they were all mixed and mostly negative. But my small vote to see Buck was diminished by their 3 strong votes to see Tree of Life. So I went in all cranky and upset that I wasn’t seeing Buck, but within 5 minutes of the film, I was drawn in and sobbing, and I pretty much cried the entire film, and poor Andy kept handing me his popcorn stained napkins to dry my tears. And after the movie, though we had plans to all go get a drink, I just couldn’t. I felt incredibly emotionally drained.

That’s not to say that everyone should see this film. I do understand why the reviews were mixed, and some of my friends vehemently hated it. I think there are some parts that could have been edited out (like those stupid dinosaurs), but as a mother, I was engaged in the story, and the feeling of being emotionally drained stayed with me for a few days.

So for a few days, I walked around in a weird haze, and life around me seemed to be covered in some sort of mesh material. And I felt rather like I lost something, but I wasn’t sure what it was.

This weird haze engulfed me as I went about my week. Maddie and I had a few date nights when Luke was with his father.

We rode bikes:

We hiked a lot:

(The family that iPods together, stays together!)

We went and saw Harry Potter 7.2 with my sister and her son and our friends Brian and Jen and Jen’s little sister.

And I cried. Even though I’ve read the book and knew what was going to happen, I  couldn’t help but get choked up during a few parts.

Luke and I also have had some date days and nights. I love watching him and Cate at music.

(15 seconds later he pushed Cate off the stage, but still, he does love her)

And can I just say my boy’s got moves:

As a family, we also entertained a whole lot, and I’m pretty sure in the past 10 days or so, I’ve had people over for dinner or meetings at least 7 of those days. I didn’t take any pictures because I was having too much fun, and I’ve tried to make it a point to leave my phone in another room so I’m not disengaged with my friends.

Luke has been needing a lot of outdoor time, so I took him and Maddie to see my friend Reese’s band, The Kicks, play at an outdoor event. Kids were all over, people were dancing, the sun was shining: there’s not much more we could ask for.

We also went and celebrated a neighboring town’s 100 year birthday. There was a block party, lots of friends, tons of kids, a parade, and even fireworks.

On my own time, I’ve been spending a lot of time writing my novel (it seems so pretentious to call it this, don’t you think? What would be a more humble and true name for it though? My work-in-progress? I like that better. From now on, I’ll refer to my writing project as my work-in-progress. No, wait. I like writing project better. I’m going to use that.)

So I’ve written 24,000 words, which is good, and I have a more clear direction of where this story is going. But still, some more writing worries:

1. A colleague and friend (who teaches fiction writing and has published a few good novels. Quite good, actually.) once told me that no one can be a writer if he/she doesn’t know the craft of fiction writing (i.e. has an MFA or even a PhD). If this is true, then I am  seriously screwed.

2. Another colleague and friend (who teaches poetry writing and has published books of poetry and is very accomplished) said recently that a writer is not made, s/he is born. That a writer has always been writing: at 5 writing rudimentary stories, at 12 more involved stories, at 21 more introspective stories, and so on and so on. I called my mom and asked, “Did I write a lot when I was a child?”  The answer was no. I’m prone to blame my own mother for this lack of creativity, but there’s really no merit to this except for the fact that I wanted to keep a diary but was too afraid that she would read it (and case in point, she DID read my sister’s diary and then my sister was grounded for, I believe, LIFE. In fact, she’s probably still grounded in my mom’s eyes.). Regardless, I wasn’t an avid writer when I was younger, though I was an avid reader but that’s not the same thing, so I feel like I’m doubly screwed.

3. Do writers have kids? I know this is a stupid question and the answer is “YES,” but my bigger question in HOW. I can’t write with my kids around; I get nothing done. And so this limits how much little I actually write. Which is frustrating. Writers are generally poor, correct? So who watches their kids? Surely not a well-paid nanny. My only answer can be “the spouse,” which I don’t have, nor necessarily want. But if ever there was an impetus for me to find a spouse, this is it. I can already see the craigslist ad: “looking for a husband to look after kids while I write. Will cook and clean in return.” But you know what I really need then? A freaking wife. And since I’ve never had lesbian tendencies then I feel like I’m kind of shit out of luck.

Despite my fears, this whole writing process gives me such an incredible feeling that I crave the time I do have to write. I’ve never thought of myself as a creative person, but at the moment, my whole being feels like it’s giving birth to something really creative (and not creative in the sense that I think what I’m writing is great or even good, just in the way that I feel alive from the inside out, which is an amazing feeling). I don’t feel reigned in at all. I feel free. I feel different.

Partly I feel different because my life has taken on a somewhat introspective, somber tone, which is fighting with my happy outlook on everything. I’m not depressed; I’m more just different. Like crying during Harry Potter or while alone in bed late at night.

Something kind of broke in me this past week or so, and it feels like I lost something. Perhaps what’s been lost is one of those high and guarded walls. Which is terrifying, but liberating at the same time. Because when the walls start to come down, I gain something in its place. Something that makes me feel more like a real person. Unguarded, sure, but real nonetheless.

It’s like a text I sent a friend the other day, which had nothing to do with this overall conversation about who I am, or maybe who I’m in the process of becoming, but still, I think it speaks volumes for where I’m at right now:

“I feel really comfortable in uncertainty.”

I think.

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3 Responses to “something lost, then gained”

  1. Denise Says:

    What a great post Courtney. I have many things to say but will call you instead of typing them here. And you are a writer, anyone can be a writer even if they have not picked up a pen or paper in 50 years. Whether your a good or bad writer may be a different question, whether you are writing something anyone will want to read remains to be seen. But never doubt the fact that you are a writer and your words inspire and make people laugh. I love you.

  2. reesegalido Says:

    yay, and the reese brings all sorts of dancing opportunities too.

    i’m loving your words, winglady – keep ’em coming.

  3. --ginger. Says:

    If I may, here are my thoughts about your listed concerns about being a writer:

    1. Total bullshit.
    2. Also unnecessarily constricting.
    3. Yes. And the ones that do have kids–and by “have” I mean live with the minute-to-minute responsibility for even when the kids are not physically present–don’t tend to say the two things listed in #1 and #2.

    Here’s the reason you’re meant to write. You said it: “in the way that I feel alive from the inside out”

    Keep at it, friend. You’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. I think when we hit those seasons or months or chapters or spurts or whatever they are when the page itself connects to our insides and somehow we make or find the way to keep going back to it, then that’s some of the best living. And you should go for the ride while you have the ticket.


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