When we need peace most

by Kristin on November 2, 2012

in Culture, ideas & paradigms

It’s been an emotionally exhausting week, both in abstract and concrete ways.

For me, the abstract stress has been tied to hurricane Sandy—all the images, stories, and hardships we can only begin to imagine as concrete realities from our everyday lives here in the sunny Midwest. I’ve carried with me, throughout the week, a heavy sense of the turmoil and loss so many are feeling.

The more concrete emotions have been rooted in the writing I’ve been doing this week. I just started an eight-week online writing course through Media Bistro, geared toward nonfiction writers who have completed proposals and are in the process of writing their books. Each week, we need to turn in 10 new pages—solid, polished pages—for review.

This type of accelerated push is the main reason I signed up for the course. I needed the kick in the butt to keep this project moving. But I didn’t anticipate how the deep-diving into my story, for hours at a time, would impact me emotionally. The chapter I’m working on gives the necessary background about my first marriage, setting the stage for the story to come. Who was this woman, who thought getting married at 22 was a good idea? Who was the man she fell in love with? How did they get themselves into this situation, and how did it gradually deteriorate over the course of a decade?

To be honest, I don’t want to tell this part of the story. I’m not sure I know how. But I also know my redemption story is meaningless without the story of brokenness and destruction. Without that, what is there to redeem, and who can I point to for that redemption? Without the hard part of my story, I’m just a person with a life that has “worked out.”

So I’ve been diving in, deeper and deeper, trying to remember that part of my life—how it felt, what it looked like, what I longed for and what lies I told myself to distract from the longings. When I emerge, a few hours later, I don’t have my land legs or lungs. It’s as if I’ve forgotten what solid ground here, in the present, feels like; I’ve forgotten how to fill my lungs with new air after releasing the old. Each time, finding the courage to dive back in feels harder, not easier.

I’m hoping this book writing process won’t impact my blog too much, but the two suddenly don’t feel as naturally harmonious as I’d like them to be. Not all stories belong on blogs.

Here’s one I can share with you, though. I wrote it earlier this week for my friend Suzannah Paul’s month-long series about peace—something I need extra doses of right now. I’ll start the post here, then you can head to Suzannah’s to finish reading it (and to read some of the other wonderful pieces of writing she shares there).

Peace to you all as we head into the weekend. Thank you for being the kind of community I can share these unresolved struggles with.

*************

Our family has a rule: In this house, we don’t blame. Your sister did not make you late. Your mom did not make you grumpy. Your friend is not responsible for your bad choice.

As one of the adults in the house, and therefore a so-called leader-by-example, I’ve had no choice but to work hard at not blaming individuals for my moods and failures. But boy, do I love to blame circumstances—especially when it comes to those responsible for shattering my peace.

The traffic was horrific. My house is a mess. The evening news was disheartening. My blood sugar is low. Any combination of less-than-perfect external factors, it seems, can throw me. It’s almost as if I am holding peace in my hand, like a fragile ornament ready to be knocked to the ground by any edge of the real world that bumps a bit too harshly up against me.

As soon as the peace shatters, I’m quick to surrender to whatever has come to take its place. What else can I do? It’s out of my control, after all, and in the hands of bad traffic/dirty dishes/frustrating politics. I am at the mercy of what comes to steal my peace.

Read the rest of the post here!

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  • http://jenniferluitwieler.com/ Jennifer Luitwieler

    I will refrain here from advice, and only say all this stuff bubbling up is normal. Memory can be a real kick in the teeth. And you are wise enough, strong enough, smart enough and enough enough. You will work hard and you will feel tired and you will focus on your single solitary audience, and you will write. Get it, girl

    • kt_writes

      I like thinking about being enough enough, because sometimes when you’re in the middle of it, you’re not even sure what it is you need to be more of. (Sounds like you’re speaking from your experience as a doula, and a general female force to be reckoned with. :)

  • http://www.fromtwotoone.com/ from two to one

    You can do this! Think of it, as @Jenluit:disqus can attest to, as well, as training for a marathon. When you’re doing those long, lonely runs for hours at a time, you feel drained in every way possible. But then you get to refuel! Here’s to a weekend of refueling for you :)

    • kt_writes

      Thank you, friend! The refueling is important, and the breakthroughs when you’re in the midst of the long hauls are also amazingly energizing. I had one of those Friday afternoon, which made me feel like I could wrap up my work for the weekend and focus on other types of work and fun.

  • http://twitter.com/EstherEmery Esther Emery

    I’m writing a redemption story, too, and also struggle with how to be in that head space and also write a blog. I am so grateful to hear you say that some stories don’t belong on blogs. I don’t always know how to articulate which ones are which. I love blogs and have always loved blogs, but I also think it is worth it to go deep into the other structure, too, even if it does feel like a parallel dimension after a day of twitter and chronos. Good luck.

    • kt_writes

      I’m glad to know this blog vs. book divide makes sense to someone else. It IS like existing in parallel dimensions, isn’t it? Thanks for reading and commenting. (Btw, what is your Twitter handle?)

      • http://twitter.com/EstherEmery Esther Emery

        @EstherEmery. I follow you, that’s how I usually get here on any given day. :)

  • Margaret

    what an awesome program! I have never heard of Media Bistro before–can’t wait to hear how your book turns out!

  • Pingback: Is all writing right for blogs?

  • Barbara L.W. Myers

    We’re also big on properly placing blame over here, and recognizing that we are in control of ourselves, captains of our own ships, etc. And I have the hardest time leading by example, but it is such an important lesson to learn. I know the earlier my kids’ grasp it, the less their lives will be battered by the Fates.

    • kt_writes

      I think you’re exactly right about why this is an important thing for our kids to learn and practice young. While I think it’s human nature to not want to take responsibility for things that don’t work out, I also think it’s a bigger problem now than its ever been. I’ve heard many teachers complain about how adept their students are at redirecting the blame for every failure. Maybe we all need to start by being more accepting of failure—seeing it as a learning process and not expecting perfection from ourselves and others?