By Rachel Bolin.
Writing has always been relatively easy for me. I usually did pretty well in my English classes, and glided through my creative writing class in high school. I can usually just B.S. something, and often it’s just enough to get by. It’s always been easy with homework or any fictional writing I’ve done. Because it’s not personal. Maybe there is a bit of something personal that slipped through the cracks into a character or to a sentence, but it has never been a whole thing of my bleeding heart pumping my emotions out onto a page. I have never been brave enough to do it. I just recently admitted how terrified and nervous it makes me. I even think about it, and I can feel a crippling panic attack coming on. Which I do find kind of funny since I’ve been in therapy for about half my life, it’s not an inability to articulate the feelings, but it seems like even sitting in a session I feel like I’m approaching it all with detached clinical attitude rather than feeling it flow through my veins. It’s pretty bad when even your therapist calls you out on that. When she asks how you feel about things rather than being able to see it on your face.
The funny thing is, I have people who have managed to slip past these walls I have. I always picture them being 10 feet high with barbed wire at the top surrounded by a moat with alligators, piranhas, and for some reason hippos and lions are in there. Those animals I alway thought were so fierce and scary as a kid, have slipped into the mental picture of protection I have for myself. Sometimes people get to see in, and if they don’t run away screaming, they stay and become people I can truly rely on. Most of the time though, I don’t even let people have a sneak peek. That has been my control and safety net. I always thought if I could do that, then everything would be ok. Which as I grow older and experience more situations through life, I realize that I can’t control things like that.
I realize how much I use the word Hate. I hate this, I hate that, I hate this feeling, that movie, that song. But I’m not afraid to use it in this instance. I HATE being like that. I HATE that I have those stupid walls, and feeling the need to protect my heart so heavily. I’ve let that hurt and that pain dictate too much of my life. I was angry for so long, and turned it inwards. I truly despised myself for so long, based on something I couldn’t control and didn’t decide. I felt like I paid the consequences for other people’s choices. I had established this weird protect/punish dynamic with myself. Where I would keep the outside world out of my mind, which was probably an attempt to keep myself from getting hurt even further, only to turn around and mentally beat myself to a pulp. So I tried to protect myself, which only lead to me hurting myself mentally with the thoughts of self-hatred. At some point, I started the slow process of shaking that off. It will take a very long time, and I’m prepared for that. The fear and self-hatred made a home within every fiber of my being that sometimes it feels like it has enveloped my DNA. Sometimes I think that I’ll have to take a sledge hammer to it, in order to loosen it. It will be hard work, but nothing in life worth having is easy. Everything worth while is hard work, and this is definitely worth while.
I read this article in Psychology Today a few months back. It was called, “What happy people do differently.” I remember looking at the cover, and laughing to myself thinking ‘Of course they do something differently! They’re HAPPY!’ I thought the idea of having an article talking about happy people was just silly. Upon reading the article, I found that it wasn’t just some list of rules you should follow to be happy, but that they ended up saying that people who are happiest in life tend to do things that make them anxious and uncomfortable. They take risks and they take the time to feel those horrible feelings so that when they do feel good it’s that much sweeter. That we can’t appreciate the light until we’ve been shrouded in darkness. I have to admit I have found this to be completely true. I do have more light days, and feel better for longer chunks of time than I did before, and when I feel good it feels GOOD. Like seeing your favorite band play your favorite song live. Sand between your toes, having a really good glass of wine, or standing in a forest and feeling connected with nature. You feel almost peaceful. I know it’s not possible to feel that way all the time, and even if we did, it wouldn’t be as sweet. I think having those moments of pure joy or bliss are what make them so powerful. They may be fleeting, but they are powerful. Just as those dark moments are. They are balance in our lives, at some point we find a medium between the two. That balance seems elusive most of the time, and I think the majority of people will spend their entire lives trying to find something that fits for them. We never have it all completely figured out, and if we did, what would the point of this journey through life be? We learn and we feel pain, joy and everything in between so that we can collect more pieces for our puzzles we call lives.
My puzzle is far from being done. I have more pieces than I thought I would, but most of them don’t fit together yet. I wouldn’t expect them to. Life is not a race, and I’m just really beginning my journey. The first major thing to do though is to take a sledge hammer to those walls, take a risk to feel open and bare. To find ways to connect with people, and to find love, and beauty in life. To be ok with that personal stuff, and to realize that it’s ok to give my heart to people and sometimes I might get hurt, but sometimes I won’t and it will be so worth it.
Rachel Bolin hails from the not so frozen tundra of Minneapolis, MN. She has spent her life using writing as a guiding light through the darkness, and a way to help capture those lighter moments in life. She is an advocate for therapy, as it has been a lifeboat for her. She has attended the School of Art Institute of Chicago for Photography and Painting (for a whole 6 weeks!), Minneapolis Media Institute for Music Production and Berklee College of Music for Music Business and Technology. She is currently a freelance writer, mainly focusing on Music and the Music Industry. She self-published her first collection of short stories through Amazon in December 2012, and is working on a full length novel adaptations of those short stories. She maintains a personal blog filled with writings and links to her music articles published this year, the crown jewel being an interview with one of her favorite musicians Troy Stewart of The Windsor Player and Tired Pony. Her blog can be found at rachelbolin.blogspot.com.
She is a rabid music fan, netflix junkie, avid reader and has a strong obsession with all things British, Doctor Who and Batman. She has 2 dogs, and a Niece and a Nephew who she loves more than anything on this big blue planet. She’s still working on the puzzle she calls life, one piece at a time.