The Letter Project

August 20, 2012

Special Delivery (357)

Filed under: Letters,Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 12:51 am
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11 August 2012

Dear Theresa, 

It was so much fun to make the mailart! I’m glad you loved it. Yep, I definitely need downtime. And so far I’m enjoying it.

There are times when I feel guilty for not writing. But I know I’m doing something I can write about later. Plus I think there is a misconception about writers. They sit at their desk writing for hours. This may be true for some, but it is not so for me. Sometimes I write at my desk, in the living room or on my bed with my lap desk, at the kitchen table, in the breakroom at work, in the park on the grass, in a café, at the library, and the list goes on. Even if I don’t have pen/pencil and paper in hand, I am usually thinking about writing.  

Any emotions are hard to master, esp. when we’re writing. I have to confront my emotions when I write. It’s painful sometimes, but I know it is worth it. There are things I haven’t written yet because they are too painful for me to face. It’s good to hear that it’s normal to feel guilt, helplessness when facing trauma. I don’t think I’ve fully realized the impact of my life’s trauma. And I feel like I haven’t fully scratched the surface. I found this book called “Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds and Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem” by Kimberlee Roth and Freda B. Friedman, Ph.D., LCSW. I haven’t finished the book yet, but from what I’ve read so far, a lot of it is striking home. If I underlined what applied to my life, there wouldn’t be much left untouched. I have actually cried from passages and thought back of what happened when the response of the child seemed familiar. I am elated to discover that my responses and behaviors are not CRAZY, just a side effect of living with a borderline parent. There’s a lot of work ahead, but I want to deal with it and make the journey, because I’m curious to see what best work will come out of it.

I’m happy your novel is going back up the hill. It’s good to know the roller coaster is normal. Whew. 

It seems like the way for you to move on after the surgery was to write those stories. Losing her only copy of her manuscript is one of my worst fears, and a reminder of “Misery” by Stephen King. I’ve only seen the film, and it still had an impact on me.

Thank you for the link to the Andy Warhol documentary. Repression was one of my coping mechanisms. Sometimes it is difficult to identify what emotions I am feeling. And when I react to someone else or examine my withheld reaction later, I ask myself why I’m upset about it. I had lunch with Christine the other day and we were talking about mental illness. She said I have a depressive personality and will have to deal with depression for the rest of my life. I was mad but didn’t admit it to myself. I do not consider myself depressed. For a long time I was repressed because of my upbringing. I’m an introvert who is also an artist. There are natural dips in life, sure, but depression is larger than that. Mary described it as a cloud hanging over your head constantly. She asked if that was so for me. No, it’s mostly sunny in my world. I think it will all work out in the end, and I tend to be more positive than negative, but I don’t believe that means I have a depressive personality. Sure I have setbacks to deal with because of my upbringing and I’m attempting to deal with it. I did go to therapy because Staci made me promise. They talked to me and decided group would help. So I went to group therapy. It helped and hurt but it never felt like I belonged there. I stopping going the second semester because I didn’t feel like the group therapy was helping me progress as much as writing, plus the scheduling didn’t mesh with mine. I tried therapy and I refuse to take pills. Yes, I was depressed (consciously) for about 4 years, maybe longer. But once I became aware, I changed my behavior. Write more. Explore the world. Try new things. Socialize. Eat right. Exercise. Sleep well. Create. I feel like a better person because of this experience. I refuse to identify myself as depressed because it is simply not the truth. It was a chapter in my life, but one I refuse to become permanent. 

Reading the book is already uncovering the memories and emotions.

Detachment is also key because it allows distance and time to analyze the situation. Sometimes I am so detached people think I’m cold, reserved, and snooty. It’s hard to get close to people because I’ve learned you’ll get hurt if you become vulnerable.  

Thank you so much for the Warhol quotes! I esp. loved “being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery.” And “everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it” makes me think of my habit of looking at technology, searching for the beauty of an object I don’t truly understand.

Living my life is what gives fuel to my artist’s life. To separate them is to stop feeding my artist. I count writing a letter as writing. A letter can do so much, let alone the envelope and other small things included. 

“I never fall apart, because I never fall together.”

(arrow) I’ll never be perfect, I’m never so awful that I don’t deserve to be here, I make mistakes too, how about we all just live our lives?

One of the Unity concepts is that we are already whole, so we don’t need to put ourselves together. We are exactly where we’re supposed to be. Being receptive is important. Hearing the messages and our experiences shape our decisions and actions. 

The spaghetti factory is pretty awesome. It’s my favorite place to eat spaghetti besides Martini’s in Columbus.

As a writer, reading Roethke’s journals was crucial for me, as well as Robert Frost’s letters. We need to study not only the works of writers but their journals, diaries, drafts, letters, any other documents available. It paints them as a person, not just a revered artist. Our work expresses our self, but only certain aspects of it. 

That’s great news about the teacher’s stories about being young.

Love,  

Suzy

P.S. Yesterday I thought of “Tiger Force” about Vietnam told through documents, letters, and interviews. I think interviews might be the form for my memoir. It would be a way to organize my life. 

P.P.S. I made this card in junior high when we were studying Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

Suzy’s handmade card

Suzy’s handmade card (back)

 

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2 Comments »

  1. Suzy,
    This letter is amazing. I didn’t realize it was you until the signature, since I was scrolling through The Letter Project.

    I was thinking as I read: Wow! This woman really knows herself, is intelligent enough to know when not to trust specific advice and therapies, yet continues the search for answers and healing. Most of all, she is not willing to accept a diagnosis that doesn’t fit, smart enough to know there are more answers without rejecting the concept of therapy. Art as therapy? Yes!

    I am a believer in psychotherapy as well. But sometimes it goes wrong. Last night I watched a segment on a television newsmagazine about a transgender child. She was on seventeen different drugs from age three, diagnosed with bipolar, ADHD, depression and other labels. By six, her parents realized she felt like a girl on the inside, but was being denied a girl’s life. (She was originally “Joey”). After her parents allowed her to be a girl, she stopped having tantrums, exhibited normal behavior, drug free.

    So kudos to you, your art, your introspection, your intelligence, your joy. I think of you as Suzy Sunshine.
    Sally

    PS: You studied Warhol in high school and created that art? I am envious.

    Comment by sagewriter — August 21, 2012 @ 9:03 am | Reply

  2. […] latest letter to Theresa. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

    Pingback by The Letter Project–Letter to Theresa « Suzanna and Writing — August 22, 2012 @ 5:53 pm | Reply


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