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Gut-wrenching Reading and Writing

sad woman sitting on beach with knees drawn up and a hand and elbow on knee

The Artist’s Way, anyone? Wow. For those, who are unfamiliar, it’s a book by Julia Cameron for artists of every stripe to get in touch with the artist within. And it can get very intense. More so, still, when you pair it with a book that has you working through your grief with writing assignments. Worst of all, I’m reading Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series right in the middle of all of this grief work. Comic relief might have been a better choice, but I’m on book three, and I don’t want to have to start over later, because I’ve forgotten too much of the story.

On the plus side, it all comes at a time when I’m writing a book on grief. These books will help to tease out memories and life lessons, which will end up in the book. Some days it’s a plus side. Some days, I think I’m a masochistic idiot for doing all of this at once.

I also have plenty of present-day grief coming at me almost faster than I can process. Right after I started this book, I lost a dear friend. Another friend has ALS, and a third is severely underinsured and skirts death on a regular basis, and is in constant, horrendous pain. I’m trying to help these friends get help, by using the power of my pen, while also trying to stick to a writing schedule for my book. All on top of my full-time job.

Hi, my name is Ann. I’m a chronic volunteerer.

And I’m sad. I am grateful, however, so grateful, to all of my friends, who know the journey I’m on, know where I’ve been, and provide an ear, a shoulder, or an encouraging word. Most especially, my husband, who is embarking on a long-delayed music career and reading The Artist’s Way with me.

I’m going to try to chronicle some of my journey here. So, if you’re very brave, you might discover my insights helpful.

The book I’m writing is about women, who have lost their fathers as teenagers. That’s a very specific type of grief. I lived with the knowledge that my dad was terminal from the time I was eight years old. He died when I was 16. Right when you’re meant to be making so many life decisions. You know that meme that goes around asking what you would tell your teenage self? I never really had an answer till now.

I would tell my tender, teenage self many things. Things like:

  • Grief takes time. Give yourself permission to sit with it.
  • Find someone who understands.
  • Make no decisions right now.
  • You’re not alone.
  • Don’t try to fill the hole with broken men.
  • When you’re ready, you will find a loving man and a relationship that is pleasure, not struggle.

Of course, she was a teenager, so she probably wouldn’t have listened.

It took decades of struggles for her to find the answers, and I’m still finding them. I hope my book will help other women heal from their father loss sooner, and find radical self-forgiveness and peace.