Kara's Column > Can't You Get Over It?
Wow. When I read the above quote and the entire essay "Being An Embarrassment" by C. S. Lewis, I knew what he meant immediately. And I knew that many of my readers would understand him as well. We fight so many demons after the death of a child or spouse or after suffering abuse at the hands of a parent or teacher. There are so many different kinds of tragedy that put us on a path to healing. There are so many different ways to go on that path. One of those ways is to write, write, and write some more.
As I read Lewis' words, I began to remember things that I've heard along the way. Well meaning grandparents saying things like, "You need to move on from this writing and consider a real job." Or well meaning friends saying things like, "I'll let you write and talk about this death for a year or so, but if we hit three years and you are still going on about it, well, then we'll need to talk." Or well meaning strangers who hear that your baby was stillborn saying things like, "Good thing you're young. You can have another one right away."
These kinds of statements put the bereaved or hurt person immediately into a closet. They shut up about their pain. They stop sharing their writings. They are now properly embarrass, and relieved loved ones and friends no longer have to put up with listening to that uncomfortable subject of death or abuse recovery or whatever it is that drives them to make those LUDICROUS statements in the first place!!!!
Poetry Therapy or an expressive art therapy is about retelling the story over and over in a million different ways, from a million different perspectives until we can get a handle on it and then wrestle it into the Garden of Grace where we can kick it around a little in the tall grass and then finally sit down in some comfy porch swing with a cold glass of lemonade-- lemonade that's been made out of the lemons of the hurt and grief that set us on this path in the first place!!!! But you don't get lemonade that tastes really good until you've walked a long way, played really hard, wrestled a lot, sweated, screamed and half torn your own heart out of it's cavity. It only tastes good after you are good and thirsty from all that work. And even then, there is still a bitter edge.
And the hard work of grief doesn't happen in a closet away from family and friends who don't want to think about it, deal with it, or face it because it makes them uncomfortable or uneasy or embarrassed.
So I suggest this exercise. It isn't exactly a poetry exercise, but it will help you to write with a clearer head and heart. It was taught to me by Dr. Nancy Talley who has the biggest heart in the world when it comes to being tender AND truthful at the same time. Here goes:
Find yourself a rock. A stone. Not too big, but something that feels good to hold in the palm of your hand. Something that you like running your fingers over, and make sure it fits in your pocket. Maybe it's polished and shiny. Maybe you can paint a word on it like "believe" or "hold on" or "miracles". Just make sure it really belongs to you.
Then keep it with you at all times. In your pocket. In your purse. Wherever. Just make sure you ALWAYS have it.
Now, when someone comes along and complains that you are "STILL writing about THAT" or when someone looks uneasy because you just mentioned your dead kid AGAIN-- and when at that moment, you begin to feel embarrassed and start to head for the closet-- THEN, JUST THEN take out your rock. Look at it. KNOW that your rock belongs to you AND whatever that weirdness was that the other person just tried to hand to you-- THAT was NOT your rock. That weirdness belongs entirely and completely to THEM!
You even have my permission to do something Poetic like show the person your rock and say to them, "You just tried to hand me your issues, but those are your rocks and yours alone. I know this because see here, THIS is my rock." Put it back in your pocket and walk away. RUN if necessary but get out of there.
So if reading isn't "strong enough" to help with wherever you are in your grieving, then write and talk till your heart's a tiny bit mended. Then write and talk some more. And more. And more. And keep that rock close at hand. I wish I could have known C. S. Lewis. I would have liked to have gone rock hunting with him.
Miracles to you!
Kara L.C. Jones is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where she honed her poetic craft under the mentorship of Jim Daniels. Her poetic and non-fiction works have been included in publications such as New Works Review, PoetsWest, Real Henna, Shared Heart Foundation's "Meant To Be", LightHearts Publication's "Soul Trek", MISSing Angels Newsletter, American Tanka, Mother Tongue Ink's We'Moon, Honored Babies, Cup of Comfort series, and more. Because she refused to give her grief writing over to the control of outside editors and publishers after the death of her son, she and her husband Hawk founded KotaPress in 1999 as a creative outlet for their expressive artworks. She has been facilitating online and in-person workshops for over 10 year, including sessions offered at the International MISS Conferences, WA State Poets Association Burning Word festivals, and Course Bridge.