Author: Jenni Wilson (page 1 of 11)

Chapter one of something new

It had been fifteen years since they said I do, and sometimes, just when Geena thought everything was going well and that they were going to make it, really make it, something would happen that would cause her to doubt. Mostly, though, she thought they were doing all right—paying bills and grocery shopping and going to work and putting kids to bed as life made its slow march across their faces, leaving faint lines of crow’s feet around their eyes and worry lines between their brows.

The day her marriage ended was not particularly ominous. The sun rose, bright and hot, and traversed the summer sky methodically, as it had every day before, baking the pavement and sending waves of heat up from the Alabama asphalt. The boys were out of school and spent their days bickering and playing games and wrestling like bear cubs from sunup to sundown. She loved having them home, but sometimes, it was difficult.

Like on this day, when she told her husband that they needed to talk. The boys were complaining of the heat, but as soon as they jumped in the pool the arguing commenced, causing her to step outside the back door innumerable times to tell them to hush, that the whole neighborhood didn’t need to hear them.

On this day, of all days, she and Max needed privacy. So she ordered the kids out of the pool, left them in charge of a babysitter, and went to a nearby restaurant to talk things out. She had a vague notion that if they were among strangers, they might be able to control the seething piles of emotion that lay just under the surface of their words.

It wasn’t true, of course. The emotions spilled over the tops of their words and came tumbling out of their eyes until they were sitting in the car, sobbing and trying to make sense of everything. It wasn’t that either one of them wanted to get divorced, it was just that nothing seemed to be working. Even therapy couldn’t provide them with the healing words that they needed. It only served to highlight their differences and dichotomies until neither one could look at them anymore without feeling deep despair.

It was there, then, in the car on that hot summer’s day, that Max and Geena decided to throw in the towel.

When Max was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer just four weeks later, however, the process of divorcing came to a stop even before it could even get started. Everything changed, and the next six months were an agony of watching the man she thought she’d grow old with slowly crumble apart and die.

“You’re beautiful to me,” he breathed faintly one day toward the end, as she sat by his bedside and gave him sips of ice water. The morphine pump chugged nearby, its steady release of medication alleviating but never completely resolving his pain. He was thin then, a mere shadow of the hearty man he had been before, and his body beneath the sheet moved spasmodically. “I just want you to know that.”

“Okay, Max,” she said in what she hoped was a reassuring tone. “I hear you.”

“No,” he said, turning his head to fix her with his bright green eyes. “I mean it. I love you. I’m sorry we couldn’t make it work.”

“But we have, haven’t we?” she said in consternation. “I mean, here we are.”

“Are we, though?” he sighed and closed his eyes and the conversation was over. Geena bent her head to her chest and wept. Though they were here, occupying the spaces around one another, they were not together. And they hadn’t been for a long time.

Why “Don’t Worry” Doesn’t Work For the Anxious Heart

Most of us have seen them. They’re ubiquitous on Pinterest, Facebook, and elsewhere on the internet. If you claim to be spiritual, they’re aimed at you: those “encouraging” mantras like “Give it to God and Go to Sleep!” and “Let Go and Let God!” Some people take it a step further and assert that worrying is a form of arrogance, since it seems to assume that we know better than God how to run our lives.
The real question is, do these kinds of comments help? How many of us who struggle with anxiety and depression have felt uplifted after reading such soundbites? If I can use myself as a gauge, I can say with certainty: not many. In fact, they usually cause the opposite result, making me more anxious than ever before. Now I’m worried about how much I’m worrying! I’m not a good Christian, obviously, and I am offending God every time I stress out about anything.
The fact is, the worrier is not doing anything wrong in worrying. The depressive is not doing anything wrong in being depressed. Rather, an imbalance of chemicals in the brain is almost always to blame. Implying that they are committing a sin every time they feel anxious of depressed or worried is useless at best and downright cruel at worst.
Instead of pointing fingers and exhorting those who are struggling to simply cease and desist, how about we come alongside to comfort and console? How about we offer to pray with them when they are at a loss for words? How about we ask “What can I do to help?” instead of browbeating them for not being a strong spiritual example?
Next time you feel tempted to post an “encouraging” exhortation to the anxious/depressed community, ask yourself “Is this truly beneficial?” and if in doubt, don’t. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and remember that there is no magical “switch” that people can flip to change their brain chemistry. If you are lucky enough to never struggle with anxiety or depression, don’t preach. Say no to platitudes. Rather, be proactive and reach out with real concern. Your struggling friend(s) will thank you.

Book Signing

On Saturday, the 18th, I will be at Brace Books & More in Ponca City, Oklahoma, signing Skip to the End and Noah Knows from 1-3 in the afternoon. If you’re nearby, be sure to stop in! Brace is a grand little bookstore, packed to the gills with books and gifts; you’re sure to find something you like.

To Be Found Writing

I labored a long time today on something new. It felt like work–every word–but at least my muse will find me working when he/she decides to show up. Steven King (and other writing sages) says to just write; it doesn’t have to be inspired.  The point is to be found writing, and to make a habit of it. After squeezing myself dry with that project, I decided to do a little freeform exercise. I was asthmatic as a child, and so I called to my mind all the memories of struggling to breathe and the intendant terror that accompanies a full-blown asthma attack, and then took it a step further. Here it is:

She awoke in the inky darkness of the room, panic rising like a phantom up from the cold sepulcher where it slept during the day. Gasping for air, she wheezed instead, defective alveoli hanging in her lungs like so many withered grapes on the vine, constricted and useless in the transportation of oxygen to the millions of blood cells clamoring and dying for it with every second that ticked by. She groped for the rescue inhaler she kept on the bedside table. But where was it?

Commanding herself to stay calm (for she knew that symptoms would only get worse if the fear that twisted in her gut took full control), she snapped on the bedside lamp and threw back the covers. The inhaler was not on her bedside table where she knew—absolutely knew—she had left it. She fell heavily to her knees and peered under the table, under the bed, and all around the floor as her breathing grew more and more labored.

Standing once more, she clutched the lace around the neckline of her nightgown as tears squeezed out from under her eyelids and tiny lights began to spin lazily before her eyes. Staggering forward, she reached her hand out for the doorknob, intending to go to the kitchen for the spare inhaler she kept in the silverware drawer, just in case. Before she could turn the knob, however, it was wrenched out of her grasp, and the door flew open, throwing her backwards against the wall.

Standing before her was Rick, a cruel smile stretched across his wicked, handsome face as he carelessly leaned against the jamb and held her inhaler outstretched.

“Looking for this?” he said.

She knew in that moment what it was to die a thousand times and yet still live, trapped in her mutinous body, at the mercy of the one man she knew would like nothing more than to watch her die.

Who knows? Perhaps a short story will come of it. For now, it goes into my ever-growing Documents file.

New Poetry Book Cover

Here’s the cover for the new poetry book, Cover Me:

Let me know what you think!

New Poetry Book

Stay tuned for a new release!

Cover Me will be my fourth book of poetry, but its focus is a bit different. Whereas my previous books we concentrated on what I would call the soul, this one focuses on the spirit, and is centered around the Almighty and my relationship with such.

I hope that the new book encourages and uplifts. It will be released within the next few days.  Here is a sample of one of the poems:

Benevolent universe
infinite light
hold me together
keep me aright

help me to trust thee
teach me to live
walk me in wholeness
and wholly forgive

all of my frailty
my anger and fear
as I also pardon
the ones far and near

who cause me to stumble
and shake me within
open my lips now
to once more begin

to sing of your praises
unknowable worth
spark yet within me
a holy rebirth.

 

Noah Knows Cover

So the Kindle version of Noah Knows got a shiny new facelift…

I’m pretty excited about it because I feel it captures the soul of the book a LOT better than the original did. Am working on getting the paperback cover changed as well, so stay tuned.

 

 

Lament

Where have you gone, O Lord, and why
have you enclosed yourself with sky?
My prayers go up as score on score
but heaven’s shut like iron door
and silence greets my every wail
where once was succor without fail
My tears fall down, my heart in shards,
and yet Your countenance is hard
Forget me not, nor all my deeds
I worked for You, the many seeds
I sowed in ground you gave me here
Your promises I thought were clear
and yet I have not seen them come
to pass, no not a single one,
and so I sit in ash and dust
and cling to you wherein I trust
that though the darkness is yet vast
there will be time when it has passed
then I will see your hand so clear
and know things aren’t as they appear
my soul is wrung, my strength is gone
I’m weary of the hanging on
please send me comfort, word of life,
and help me see You in the strife
I only ask for crusts of bread,
sustain me here, I’m nearly dead
from worry, disappointment too,
oh come to me, I’m begging You
give ears to hear and eyes to see
that You have not abandoned me
and I will sing your praises loud
with hands aloft and my head bowed
until you come and lift my chin
and tell me I’m Your child again.

Melancholy

What do Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Allen Poe, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Mozart, Michelangelo, Hans Christian Anderson, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, Paul Gauguin, Emily Dickinson, Leo Tolstoy and Ernest Hemingway all have in common?

These are people who literally changed the world, who blasted the status quo apart with works of art or music or writing or political acumen. Their contributions stand today as some of the most progressive, startling, and beautiful on earth, and the list above is far from complete.

But there’s something else that unites them, can you guess?

They were all severely depressed through most of their lives.

Some of the greatest artists, writers, musicians and leaders became great not in spite of but because of their ability to plumb the darkest depths of the human soul and emerge with fists full of fodder for their art.

Are you sanguine, happy-go-lucky, and generally cheerful? You may think depressed people are real bummers, but let me tell you something: you need us. The world needs the melancholic, the depressive, the dark thinker. And why? We keep you honest. We keep you grounded. When you want to skip through the daisies and click your heels together, we remind you that life is finite, that mortality is certain, and that death is a guarantee. We open your eyes to the knowledge that you are merely a vapor’s breath upon this earth, and thus you are urged to act accordingly.

The sanguine who has no melancholy friend to balance them lacks substance and runs the risk of being indifferent to human suffering. One study showed that happy people tend to be less able to empathize with others than sad people are. I maintain that this is because perpetually happy people live in a protective bubble of happiness; a bubble that sad people do not have, and a bubble that tends to keep one from seeing clearly.

Most happy people seem to believe that hanging on to a depressed friend is an act of generosity towards that person, but the truth is, that sad friend has much to offer. Their gloom may make you uncomfortable, but discomfort is often what is needed for growth to occur.

Stick around the depressive for long enough, and you may find yourself gaining valuable perspective that you did not have before. You may find, in the end, that you need your depressed friend even more than they need you.

A Glimpse

Sometimes, this weird thing happens in my heart, and it feels like the machine, which heretofore was chugging along the rails clickity-clack, just flies completely off the track.

Sometimes it’s going through a tunnel when it just stops with a groan and leaves me there, suspended in the black.

Joy flees. Hope evaporates. The truth dies down to a whisper; the doubts and fears shriek and gibber.

Inside my head, it’s a tornado of thoughts. They fly back and forth faster than I can even process them. I find it hard to move; like my limbs have weights attached. Just getting into the shower requires monumental effort.

Everybody thinks I’m stupid. I am stupid. People are sick and tired of my bullshit. I’m sick and tired of my bullshit. Nobody cares, nobody understands. Nobody wants to get close. Nobody should get close. It’s dark in here. Really, really dark. People prefer the light. I have none to offer.

I grasp for medication. Not just the bottles of pills that are prescribed, but other, illicit, unapproved medication. I wish I had access to LSD to stop the blackness, even just temporarily, from consuming. I would do it if I could. I would do a lot of things. Instead, I punch walls, punch myself, sleep, retreat, pull away, dream about ropes and knives and the sleep that never ends in miserable awakening.

Despair.

I want to run away. Far, far away, so I stop hurting the people I love. They would be better off without me, this is the truth.

This is my truth.

This is life in my head.

 

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