Tag Archives: Emotional Growth

What Are Your Writing Triggers?

7 Apr

As I’ve said in previous writing posts, I’m a firm believer in “writing triggers,” or certain objects/locations/pictures/people who remind me of certain memories. Throughout writing my book, I’ve had to look for things to trigger certain memories of my childhood….or more specifically, the memories associated with physical therapy, Shriner’s, my CP, and just the different obstacles I’ve had to overcome.

Most people would naturally assume that my childhood home would be a pretty big trigger, but it’s not. Except for maybe the fearful times of attempted to get into the bathtub after my first surgery in 2003 and being terrified of my legs bending. See, I had just gotten out of wearing long-legs casts for eight weeks, and when your legs have been straight for that long, even minor movements could be painful. Anyway, my childhood home isn’t much of a writing trigger. I feel like most of my writing triggers have come from unlikely places…like seeing my knee immobilizers for the first time in years…driving past the places I’ve had physical therapy over the years…simply saying the word botox…or seeing Grace, an 11-year-old girl I know with CP, during her physical therapy sessions.

Over the past month, I have gone back and forth as to whether I want to go visit Shriner’s again, where I had all of my surgeries and intense physical therapy, and where I spent some solid chunks of my childhood. I haven’t been back in a number of years, and I remember how when we used to drive up to Shriner’s I used to get really nervous when we would take the White Horse Road exit, and then I’d get even more nervous when we were about 20 minutes away from the hospital. Knots would form in my stomach, and I’d look out the window and notice as much as I could….knowing that for the next few months my views would be confined to the walls of the hospital, despite the large amount of windows that didn’t give much of an “earthy view.”

Even though I think walking into the main lobby of Shriner’s wouldn’t have too much of an impact on me, I know that things would change when I’d go up to the second floor, and especially more so when I’d sit outside of the therapy room….realizing just how much pain a single room could hold. Part of me is thinking of waiting to visit Shriner’s until I’ve written the majority of my book because then I won’t have as much emotion aching to be released. I will have already released all of the really intense emotions. However, I am thinking of visiting once I finish my book to see if I could maybe give some type of talk to the kids there or try to sell my book to some of the families there.

I guess part of this writing process for me is channeling my pain and fear into something that can help others. I wish I would’ve had someone like me now to guide me as I was growing up…to show me that I was not alone…that what I was facing was painful and scary, but being reminded of the little things. Like how good it felt the first time I walked on my own, or what it felt like when I found my passion through writing, or the day that I realized I didn’t have to be defined solely by my Cerebral Palsy.

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Burning Bridges.

2 Apr

“The hardest thing in life is figuring out which bridges to build and which bridges to burn.”

Throughout my life, my mom has warned me about the concept of burning bridges, pointing out that I should think before I burn something that I may want later. The concept of burning bridges for me has come up a lot with past friendships. Up until recently, I was very clingy with friends and often became upset when they didn’t want to always hang out with me. I wanted to spend a lot of time with them, so I didn’t understand why they didn’t want the same thing.

My first best friend Lauren (who is still one of my best friends) taught me what it meant to be a true friend. She became my best friend in 7th grade, and until that time, I wasn’t really aware of what true friendship was. Through my friendship with Lauren, I learned that there’s nothing wrong with caring fiercely about others, while also realizing that it is possible to be truly happy. From 7th grade until 10th grade, Lauren and I were incredibly close. We talked about boys, high schools, fears, dreams and everything in between. She was one of the first people I felt like I could count on no matter what.

During the summer after 10th grade, things began to change. I was going to be leaving for boarding school at the end of that summer, and I needed someone to turn to for support and advice. When that person wasn’t Lauren, I panicked. I had no idea what I would do without her friendship, but most of all I was confused as to why she was hardly talking to me. In the middle of that summer, I got a call from Lauren in which she asked if she could drop something off. I hadn’t heard from her in a month or so, so I was hesitant, but finally said okay. About 15 minutes after that phone call, Lauren showed up with a cardboard box full of things. She handed it to me without saying a word and left. I looked in the box to find pictures, things I had given her, memories….all that was left of our friendship. It was in my hands….broken…and already far away from the person who would be able to mend it. That afternoon, I got all the things together that reminded me of Lauren (pictures, movie ticket stubs, things she gave me, t-shirts from concerts that we went to together, and put it all in the same box that held the things she had given me. I also went onto my computer and deleted every picture of us that I could find. I then placed the box in the back of my closet and willed myself to not pull it out again. A month or so later, when I was packing for boarding school, my mom came across the box and asked me what I wanted her to do with it. Without even thinking, I told her to throw everything away.

When I came home from Salem over Christmas Break, Lauren called me. I didn’t answer. She then called my house phone, so there was no getting out of speaking to her. She asked if she could come over, and I said okay even though the rest of me was screaming no. When I hung up the phone, the color had gone out of my face. I had shallow breaths, and I was pacing and crying hysterically, asking my mom what I should do. When Lauren came over, it was awkward at first. I was cold towards her because I was scared to imagine letting a friend hurt me again like she had done. Without even saying anything, I started crying, and she hugged me, telling me that it was okay. Lauren then said that she was unsure of what had happened between us and that she was sorry. I knew right then that if I was able to forgive her that we would be able to get through anything.

I later realized that the reason Lauren reacted the way she did that summer and the months until Christmas Break was because being angry was the only way she could handle my leaving. If she allowed herself to feel anything but anger towards me, she’d fall apart. Today, Lauren is one of three people who I call my best friends. No matter how much time has passed, we’re always able to pick up right where we left off, and I know that she’ll be there for me through anything. However, every day I regret getting rid of all the pictures and memories of the early days of our friendship. I hate that I can’t look back at those pictures and remark on how I wouldn’t have gotten through those 3 years of high school without her. In the case of the box of “Lauren Memories,” I burned a bridge that I shouldn’t have. Though it breaks my heart that I can’t ever see those pictures again, it also taught me a lesson of what to do with friendships in the future. Now, if I have a fallout with a friend, I do make “friend boxes” and put them in my closet, but I always remember to not throw anything out. If I hate the stuff that moment, I can put it in a box in my closet so that I don’t have to be reminded of the memories every day, but burning the memories…..watching moments catch flame and turn to ash….it’s as if the memories never even happened. And who would want to completely erase parts of themselves? Every single moment makes us who we are.

A New Blog Look And My Writing Journey.

31 Mar

“Everything you’re ashamed of, all the parts of yourself that you keep secret, everything you want to change about yourself – it’s who you are. That’s your power. Deny it and you’re nothing.”-Fame

Last night after I watched Fame (the 2003 version…sorry to disappoint), I was messing around on WordPress and decided to change the look of my blog, while also adding a few widgets (or the various things located along my sidebar). I added a countdown to Ireland. As many of you know, I’m studying abroad in Ireland this summer, and I just had to have a countdown. I’ve also got one on my computer that’s broken down in days (it’s 87 days, by the way). That seems so crazy. 87 days until I’m in Galway, Ireland. WHAT?! Ah, so so cool.

Anyway, I’m happy for a new look on here, and I hope you all enjoy it as well. I figured it was time for some change, especially since it’s Spring. Also, in terms of change, I feel like I have changed a lot since beginning this blog back in November. As crazy as it seems, I began this blog 5 months ago. I’ve blogged every single day for the past 5 months. How cool! However, I owe it to all of my amazing followers who’ve given me nothing but support and encouragement. Really, all of you are so awesome!

I feel like I’m a very different person than I was back in November. When I began this blog, I didn’t really know where it would lead. At the time, I didn’t know that in 5 short months I would have established “Tuesday’s Tunes,” “Photo Fridays,” and above all, the beginning of my first novel, a memoir of sorts. I was thinking today about the journey my writing has taken. I haven’t ever been in touch with my own writing as I have since beginning my novel at the end of January. Though I’ve always had a love of writing (despite a 2 year hiatus when I was trying to figure out what I wanted out of life…which I still don’t quite know the answer to), it hasn’t always been this raw, this natural, this true. A lot of what I wrote growing up was fiction: mostly short stories and some poetry too. There were a few times I attempted writing about my own struggles when I was younger, but back then, I didn’t fully understand everything. I still had so many more questions to answer and tons of obstacles to work through. Also, I wasn’t mature enough yet to attempt to understand the reasoning behind my own emotions that I felt as I was going through all my surgeries and physical therapy sessions. However, that doesn’t mean that I’ve got it all figured out now. I definitely don’t. Writing this book is a journey. A journey filled with pain, fear, love, hope, and dreams. And it’s a journey I finally want to take (which has not always been the case).

It’s exciting to know that I’ve reached this point. Yes, the entire process of writing this book will have its ups and downs, but right now, during one of the high points, I’m finding happiness in the fact that I’ve finally found my voice. I’ve found my voice in the sense of finally knowing how I want to share my story. Through writing, yes. But for a while I didn’t know what I wanted my voice to sound like for future readers. However, I’ve begun to understand that there’s only one thing I want my voice to be: authentic. If I’m writing about a memory that’s sad or emotionally hard, I’ll cry through it. If I’m writing about a memory that makes me angry, I’ll be angry. The only way my readers are going to be able to feel all the emotions I went through is if I shed every tear and let out the anger right along with them.