Claudia Osmond ~ Reader, Writer, and Ruminator

Posts Tagged ‘Scars’

Show Up. Be Seen.

In a peek inside my head, ruminating on April 7, 2017 at 10:13 am

I’m an internal processor. This means it usually takes me several days to process stuff like a new concept, a conversation, what’s going on in my life – pretty much anything. Whereas some people can talk through these things to figure out where they stand, I need to climb inside my own head to figure it out – taking into account everything that’s said by the external processors – before I’ll even have the words to use to express anything remotely related to the topic.

Just the other day I had a conversation with my husband that started like this: “Hey. I need to talk to you about something. I think I have the words for it now.” It was about something that happened three days before.

Now before you go and think “Wow, is she ever in tune with herself, has she ever got her shtick figured out!” let me tell you that that’s the very first time I’ve ever used those words. It’s taken lots of intentionality, self-talk, and therapy to get me to the point where I actually got myself to say that the other day. My usual routine is that by the time three days have passed and I’ve had enough time to process what I think, I start believing that whatever it was that happened is no longer a big deal because everyone else has moved on and so there’s no use in bringing it up again. So I stuff it. And try to move on, too.

Well, maybe that gig works for the external processors because they’ve already voiced what they think, but it doesn’t work for me. I might have had the time to process my thoughts, but I haven’t had the chance to verbalize them. Even internal processors need to verbalize externally at some point or the fear/stress/worry/hurt/jealousy/anger/misunderstanding/sadness/confusion… will start to eat them alive from the inside out.

A brief aside to the external processors: Please give acknowledgement, space, time, and value to the internal processors in your life. Realize they don’t operate in the same way and at the same pace you do. This does not give you the upper hand, nor does it in anyway indicate they don’t care about something as much as you do. Often they don’t say anything in the moment because they literally don’t have the words to string together. But be patient. Give them the time they need to formulate those sentences, and let them know you’re there for them when they do. And help them know their thoughts are just as valid days later as they would have been if they’d been able to verbalize them in the moment. Deeply valid, in fact, because they’ve taken the time to think things through before saying them. Know this: Internal processors are serious about their words and rarely speak off the cuff. And they will often offer perspectives on things that others don’t see.

I’ve had some time to think lately. I mean, as an internal processor I’m always thinking, but I’m talking about real, quality, silent time. And this is what I’ve been thinking about: We (I) need to be careful our life doesn’t become one giant internal process, with no external expression: Where we face difficult things and don’t let anyone know. Where we struggle in silence and try to carry on like nothing’s wrong. Where we choose to smile because telling the truth is too hard.

Maybe we don’t have the words. Maybe we’re afraid of what peoples’ reactions will be. Maybe we feel we can’t express what’s going on until we have a better handle on it or we’ll risk appearing out of control or weak. Maybe we feel like everyone else has moved on and we don’t want to be a bother and bring it up again. Or maybe we just don’t want anyone to know. Period. So we stuff it.

But if there’s one thing we can be certain about in this life, one thing that every single one of us has in common, it’s that we all will fall.

We all

will fall

It’s not a matter of if but when. And how many times.

Every. Single. One of us.

In her book, RISING STRONG, Brene Brown talks about “being in the arena” and lying flat on your face, covered in dust and sweat and tears. She talks about how you get to that place (by being brave, by risking vulnerability, by showing up and being seen when you have no control over the outcome) and she talks about being selective with whose feedback you let in while you’re there: “If you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, (too) I’m not interested in your feedback.”

In the arena

Risking vulnerability

Showing up

Being seen

Not having control of the outcome.

She also says, in the same book, We’ve all fallen, and we have the skinned knees and bruised hearts to prove it. But scars are easier to talk about than they are to show; with all the remembered feelings laid bare. And rarely do we see wounds that are in the process of healing. I’m not sure if it’s because we feel too much shame to let anyone see a process as intimate as overcoming hurt, or if it’s because even when we muster the courage to share our still incomplete healing, people reflexively look away.

We so desperately want to control the outcome, don’t we? So we’ve created a culture where lives are very carefully curated in public spaces. To make people look at, not look away.

Scars are easier to talk about than they are to show.

Rarely do we see wounds that are in the process of healing.

But we all will fall. Every single one of us. So why do we continue to pretend that we won’t? Or that we don’t? Or that we haven’t? Why do we continue to highlight our happy side, when all that does is underscore the feeling we all have that we need to keep our scars hidden? To process alone and in silence? Do we really believe we’re the only one?

Well, I’m here to say that I’m in the arena. Getting my ass kicked.

This is my arena: My doctor has put me on a short medical leave – circumstances of the past few years in my life, both emotional and physical, have led up to this desperate need for rest; desperate need to step back and disconnect. To heal. Those who know me have seen the gradual decline, the slow creep away from “me” towards … something else. Somewhere else. Neither who nor where I want to be.

Kind hands on the shoulder, out-of-the-blue texts, concerned glances that catch my eye:

“How are you?” “You alright?”

“Eh, I’ll be okay.”

But I’m not. I’m lying face-down, dusty and sweaty and teary-eyed.

I’ve been internally processing, which is totally fine, but I’ve not been intentional (or brave) enough to risk external expression. To risk vulnerability. To show up and be seen. To work towards finding words to express what’s happening in my body internally, externally. I’ve been stuffing it. Because I want control of the outcome.

Until now.

Sure. I mean I do still want control of the outcome. And I’m not particularly sure I actually want people to see my intimate process of healing – my internal processing. But I am sure that I’m not alone. I am sure that if I risk showing up and being seen, someone will be able to relate; someone will be grateful there is another person lying face-down in the arena with them, both of us dusty and sweaty and trying to string words together to make sense of what we’re going through. And I’m also sure that level of showing up can only happen now. Not after. Not “there was this time when …”

Even internal processors need to verbalize externally at some point, most of us generally preferring to write over speaking. So I’m not suggesting I’m going to suddenly become an extrovert and share my healing scars over coffee with everyone I meet. But what I am suggesting is that I will write posts about my process. I will commit my thoughts to paper.

I won’t promise that my posts will be consistent, because I’m not the consistent type.

I won’t promise that my posts will always make complete sense, because I’m in the middle of processing.

I won’t promise that my posts will inspire you. I haven’t the energy for that.

But I will promise that when I’m here I will show up and be seen. Even though I have no control of the outcome. I’m choosing to show my scars while they’re healing so those of you who are healing, too, will know you have someone in the arena with you.

I want to Rise Strong. This time.

I want to learn how to Rise Strong for next time.

And I want to share my experiences so you, my brothers and sisters who are in the arena with me, will know you have someone by your side who will lock arms and Rise Strong with you.

Toronto Tuesdays: Interview with Cheryl Rainfield

In Toronto Tuesdays on May 4, 2010 at 8:30 am

Have I ever told you that I’m part of an amazing Toronto YA/MG writer’s group? Oh, I have? Well, have I mentioned that the writers in this group are totally talented and so much fun to be around? Oh. I’ve told you that, too? Okay, how about this: Have I spilled that I’m starting a new blog segment called Toronto Tuesdays where I’m going to interview one #torkidlit author every Tuesday from now until I’ve interviewed everyone in the group who wants to be interviewed? No? I haven’t? Well, now I have.

So, for my very first Toronto Tuesdays segment, I’ve interviewed Cheryl Rainfield; Reviewer, Book-a-holic, and YA author of the newly released SCARS  (March 1, 2010 Westside Books)

Click to buy

I met Cheryl at our first #torkidlit tweetup back in October, 2009. Cheryl is sweet and positive and always has a smile on her face. (And I’ve learned that she loves hot chocolate! :)) Cheryl is a very authentic person who has a heart to reach out to hurting people. Read on to discover her thoughts about writing, the writing community, and the importance of using what you have to help make this world a better place.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I love to read, to write, to create art. I love spending time with good friends, and with my little dog and cat. I enjoy word games, doing crafts. Sometimes I like to cook or bake, but usually I’d rather be reading.

I love good movies, too-ones that make me feel good. I  don’t like movies or shows with a lot of violence; I’ve already been through too much violence in my life to want to see any. I don’t watch the news for that reason. I love finding new books and authors I love to read—and re-reading all my old favourites. There’s something delicious about reading a favourite book.

I really enjoy being online–the web has so much to offer, and it’s a great way to connect with other people. I’m probably online a bit too much—I need to find more balance. I also usually work myself too hard and for too long, and then crash for a bit, need long breaks. I am trying to find my way back to more fun and relaxation, and to find more balance overall in my life.

Tell us how it came to be that you are a writer.

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved to read—and to write. Books were a part of my soul food and of my survival, and writing, too, nourishes me, and feels as necessary as speech. I *need* to write. Writing used to be my way of speaking when I could not, and of talking about things I wasn’t allowed to talk about.

English was my favourite subject it school; I always got good grades in it, and teachers would praise my stories. As a child and teen, I wrote short stories, poetry, letters to friends, and kept a diary; all those forms of writing helped me survive and cope with the abuse I endured. (I also used art.) I tried to get some pieces published over the years, and had a few articles and poems published. But it wasn’t until I started to study technique—to take courses on editing, to read books on writing technique, to analyze books I read, and to get my own work critiqued by other writers—that I really started to get serious about novels and getting my work published.

I was lucky to join a good children’s writer critique group that encouraged me over the years, and to have and to build strong good children’s writing communities, such as attending CANSCAIP, as well as online writing communities. And once I got serious, I didn’t give up submitting my work, even though sometimes, with the rejection letters and time it took, I wanted to. But I need to write–and need to share it with others.

Well, there are many readers who are glad you didn’t give up! And now you’ve actually come to the point where you’ve taken on sort of a new career experiment: full-time writer. Tell us a bit about that. 

I’ve only just begun writing full-time (and doing writing-related work, such as freelance editing, presentations, etc). I don’t know yet if I can make enough to live on doing this. I think most writers don’t make enough from their writing alone to live on. But of course many of us hope to.

Can you give us an idea of what your perspective of the writing life is? 

The writing life—for me, it is following my dream. It is doing what I need to do, on a deep level. It is what I feel most right doing. I know I don’t feel good if I’m not writing, or doing some form of art. Expressing myself creatively, and tapping into my wisdom, my inner self. My voice, and the things I need to say–to others and to myself.

Being a writer often means long hours alone. If you’re not careful, it can mean not seeing or talking to anyone else for days, aside from family, if you live with one. I like having time alone; as a creative and sensitive person, I need it. But I can also have too much time alone.

I think it’s important to make sure that you have some good human contact, that you talk with friends, with other writers. The internet is one incredible way to accomplish that—you can talk to so many more writers than you could otherwise, and to writers that you might not have been able to talk to otherwise. But I also think it’s important to have face-to-face contact with others. Hugs, laughter, body language—they’re all important.

The internet offers so much for writers. Community, research and answers, articles and information on writing technique, the writing life, book promotion, and more. It’s wonderful! But it can also be a huge distraction from writing, so it’s a good idea to find a way to limit it a little, or to create a balance. It’s important, too, to remember to take breaks, to have fun, to enjoy your life. To live your life.

You are very involved in the writing community. Do you have any insights that you could share with us?

I think the children’s writing community is incredible—especially supportive and encouraging of each other. Another writer can really understand what it feels like to get a rejection letter—or an acceptance phone call! I think it’s so important to be a part of that community. So going to your local writers’ meetings or conferences and critique groups—and, of course, finding community online—are all important parts of being a writer, and of knowing you’re not alone. Getting good feedback on your writing, finding out about resources you might not otherwise have known about, hearing about experiences, good and bad, with publishers, editors, agents, publicists who you might be interested in—all those are some of the things the writing community can offer. And the encouragement, understanding, and support are invaluable.

I agree 🙂 I’ll be asking you about SCARS in just a moment, but first, had you written anything before SCARS?

I’ve written many manuscripts before—and during—the process of Scars. I have about 10 manuscripts written, but I need to edit or rewrite most of them. I also have a fantasy for children or for reluctant teen readers that came out Sept 2009—Dragon Speaker: The Last Dragon, and a shapeshifter book from the same publisher (HIP Books), Walking Both Sides, coming out in 2011.

Now, can you tell us a bit about SCARS?

Fifteen-year-old Kendra can’t remember who abused her as a child–she was threatened with death if she talked. Now someone is watching and following her, leaving her threats that they will kill her if she tells, and Kendra is sure it’s her abuser. Kendra uses her art to express her feelings, which helps, and talks to her caring therapist and her friends. But when things get too hard, she cuts; sometimes it’s the only thing that helps. As Kendra gains support from Carolyn, her therapist; from a gay mentor, Sandy; and from Meghan, a friend and classmate who she has a crush on. As the truth about Kendra’s abuser gets closer and closer to the surface, the danger—and her healing—intensifies.

What is your greatest wish for SCARS? Is there anything specific that you hope to accomplish through the book?

I hope that readers will come away with more compassion for and a greater understanding of self-harm and the effects of severe trauma (and also of sexual abuse survivors, and for lesbian/gay love if they didn’t before they read Scars. But especially self-harm—because it is so often misunderstood.) I hope, too, that readers will come away with a sense of hope—that they’ll see that healing and happiness are possible, and that there can be great strength and courage in survivors.

There’s no quick answer to this, but what’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who has experienced, or is experiencing, abuse? What has been most helpful for you?

I’m not very good at giving only one piece of advice. But…I’ll try. Get yourself safe if you’re not already. Find someone you can trust and really talk to. Surround yourself with loving, supportive people–and if you can’t find them right away in person, try online. You can also find good support in books–both in fiction and non-fiction. Know that you’re not alone–other people have gone through what you’re going through. Be gentle with yourself, take care of yourself as much as you can. If you can, seek out a therapist who fully supports you; a good therapist can be invaluable in getting real support and caring, and in boosting your healing process. Get the pain and memories out in safe ways–through art, writing, dance, running–anything that helps. And believe and trust yourself and your own process; usually you’ll know better than anyone else what you need.

That’s fantastic advice, Cheryl. Straight from someone who knows. Thank you so much for being so real, so transparent, and for doing this interview. I’m positive that SCARS will accomplish what you intended it to.