Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Thursday's Children Blog Hop: I Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest


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“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” -Carl Jung

There's a reason I choose to write about tough, damaged people: it's a subject I am intimately familiar with.

When I was fifteen, I was diagnosed with depression, among other things.  I was sent to a lock-down residential treatment center in the middle of a Utah cow pasture, where I lived for a year.  I met a lot of tough, damaged people, some of whom are probably still fighting their demons today. 

I won't detail the whole long, arduous journey back.  Not because I don't want to, but because I can't.  I'm still not really sure what happened.  It just suddenly hit me one day that the only person who was going to change my life was me.  So I did, and I've never looked back.

Still, it's a funny thing, a place like that.  You feel like you're never going to get out when you're there, but then one day you're suddenly sitting in a coffee shop, thinking back on the whole experience, marveling that it's over.  You spend a lot of time wondering if it actually is.

Institutionalization is a powerful thing.

You're not quite "normal" for a while.  It took me a full six months to be able to pee without asking permission.  And even once you get back to "normal", you're never quite the same.

You learn things that change you.  You can't bullshit a bullshitter.  Art forged from despair is the most powerful voodoo there is.  The best lie is the one that fools the liar.  No one can sabotage you better than you can sabotage yourself.  And sometimes in life, you have to find a place to stand.

But perhaps the most useful lesson I learned was how to read people.  Once you know the language of pain, you can recognize it anywhere, no matter what guise it takes.  This is a skill I've learned to temper in my daily interactions, but it's something I use constantly in my writing.

Everyone has a little of the darkness in them.  I explore mine more or less regularly.  I've learned to channel it now, but I remember when I couldn't, and it's made me a more empathetic writer.  When my characters are dealing with their own darkness, I know exactly where they live.

I also know they're going to come out of it.  After all, I did.

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29 comments:

  1. You have NO idea how many points in your post relate to what's already happened/been written in my WIP. Positively freaky...and a great post I might add.

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    1. Thank you! I always suspected we had some kind of Borg-like hive mind going on...

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  2. I think you write about interesting, real people. I admire your courage and your candor. I bet a lot of readers will relate to your characters.

    http://www.miaceleste.com/?p=274

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  3. You. Are. So. Beautiful.

    Seriously.

    This post took my breath away. I can relate, and that's all I'm going to say. But I admire your incredible strength and your darkness. <3

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  4. Oh wow, what a powerful post. If your fiction is anything like your blogging, you write stuff that I want to read. So glad to have met you through #ThursdaysChildren!

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    1. Aw, thank you! I hope it is! It's great to have met you too!

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  5. Laura, thank you for sharing this. When you said, "No one can sabotage you better than you can sabotage yourself. And sometimes in life, you have to find a place to stand." that really resonated with me and probably to lots of other readers out there.

    I hope you keep writing forever because I have a feeling that the honesty of your work is going to help a lot of people for the better, myself included. You're an amazing writer!

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    1. Thank you, Paula! It warms my heart to hear that- like, seriously, you have no idea. Thanks for reading!

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  6. Wonderful post. And I agree with Paula--"No one can sabotage..." is so true in life and especially writing. I think it's touchstones like this which not only put energy and truth into stories, but also into a writer having the strength to endure and succeed in a tough profession. I'm glad you found your strength.

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  7. I love this post, Laura. Absolutely love it. And can definitely relate. And this - No one can sabotage you better than you can sabotage yourself. - is so very true.

    I'm so glad you found your way back. *Hugs*

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  8. Oh, God. And being sent to Utah would've been enough, by itself. Totally feel your pain.

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    1. Yeah, Utah certainly left an impression ;-)

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  9. Thank you for this post. I think it is unbelievable you are so open and I think that a lot of the phrases you used here are really relatable(the blog is saying this isn't a word? Man do I suck at spelling). This post is excellent and great message to never give up. Thank you :)

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    1. Thanks Jess! Openness is a good policy; it means there's nothing that can be used for blackmail later ;-) Thanks for the kind words!

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  10. That was incredible. I won't backtrack on everyone else's praise, but they are all right. When I got to your blog, the thing that struck me first was your smile. Anyone who can go through what you did, and smile like you do, is absolutely amazing. You're lovely and your writing will penetrate deep, but your smile will bring the light to the darkness.

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    1. Thank you for that! Really, truly touched.

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  11. You have such a beautiful smile. I can't believe all that you had to go through to find it. But I'm glad you did.
    (((Hugs)))

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  12. Powerful, Laura. I think this is why one can never write well until one has experienced. Period. Thank you for sharing.

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  13. Wow, thanks for sharing this experience. I feel like you went to your own Underworld for a year, met some other lost souls, and then found it in yourself to make your way out. But it's changed you forever.

    (This is the writer in me being inspired, LOL).

    Have you ever thought of sharing your journey, especially life "in the middle of an Utah cow pasture", in fictionalized form?

    It could be very powerful.

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    1. I've played with the idea on and off, but haven't been able to think of anything that wouldn't read like an unholy combo of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Girl, Interrupted :-)

      I love that "journey to the underworld" thought. Makes me sound like freaking Hercules, or something!

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  14. Love this and was so what I needed to read for several reasons. Thanks for this post Laura...

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    1. Thanks for reading, Jessika! Always glad when I can help :-)

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