Recently I read a blog on NPR (read it here) about how some psychologists are having people rewrite their own stories as part of therapy. Great results were coming out of these short interventions that had lasting effects years later.
I realized that I do this to a certain extent when I blog. And let me tell you, it is a beautiful thing. Don’t get me wrong – I am not changing details or events but somehow I use voice and other writing conventions to filter harsh things, to soften rough edges, and to connect and make meaning out of my life.
Let me take you back to the fateful months of November/December. Pressure was at an all time high. My work felt like a full time job rather than a part time job. My father was calling every hour or so with strange demands once he could no longer drive. Kids activities ate away all of my evenings. My priority in life, homeschooling my kids, almost got crowded out completely and created terrible feelings of guilt within me. One day, I could not even get out of bed. I know people who suffer from clinical depression – but I was never really able to understand it. I tend towards optimism and rarely feel anything close to hopelessness in my life. Let me tell you – I got there – it’s been a very rough year. I remember lying there thinking that life was pointless, I was pointless, nothing would change, I hated life, and so on. It was bad enough that my husband called in sick and came home to take care of me that day.
I didn’t know what to do, my old coping mechanisms weren’t cutting it anymore. So I started to write my next blog post. Sometimes I get these great ideas for posts but I find I can only write about what is on my mind the most. Sometimes I don’t want to write them. I know I didn’t want to write this post (The Care and Feeding of Fathers) at that time. When I write things like that I am aware of how vulnerable I have to make myself to share all of my dark spots publicly and that is a bit frightening. But, I march forward and do it anyways.
And this is where the story starts to change. In an effort to not sound like a victim – in an effort to lighten some of these situations I inadvertently start to apply filters to my blogs. I am not changing the story; I am really changing the way I am talking about my story – which tends to change the way I think about my own story. I have the filter where I change the villain into a co-partner. Filters where I make problems suddenly have obvious solutions. I have the filter where events take on larger meanings and become part of the journey rather than speed bumps. And the soft focus filter, where harsh words and feelings soften and even begin to look beautiful.
When I actively sit down to write about my life, I firmly get placed in the author seat. It is easier to see that I always have control – not over events but I have control over how I think about them and I have control over how those events change me. It’s messy. It can be hard too. But, I can embrace the mess, apply a soft filter, and call it beautiful. In the end, I own my story. I give it value. I can choose to love it. Happy writing!