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Posts from the ‘Ellie’ Category

Ellie: Writing Has the Power to Heal

For many years, I kept a journal. Almost daily, I would write and write about everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. I kept these journals for nearly 12 years. Recently, I was looking back over them, and it hit me: I stopped writing at just about the same time that my life began to unravel.

I’m a recovering alcoholic, and those pages chronicled a journey I didn’t even know I was on: a slow, spiraling descent into alcoholism. I stopped writing when I didn’t want to tell myself the truth anymore, when the words on the page were too ugly and stark. I didn’t want to face my burgeoning problem, so I simply stopped writing. It wasn’t as if I was writing about drinking—quite the contrary, in fact. The evidence appeared on the page nonetheless, though, in the form of tear stained pages, illegible handwriting, and rants about things I couldn’t remember doing the next day.

There is one entry, though, that hit me like a punch in the gut. I wrote it in 1997, 10 full years before I stopped drinking. It said: “I feel like I’m standing on the edge of something dark and powerful. If I’m not careful it will swallow me whole.” I knew at the time I was writing about drinking, but something about actually writing the words—I think I have a problem with alcohol—breathed life into my problem, turned it into something real. Shortly after this entry I stopped writing completely.

I find myself now, over two and a half years sober, writing to breathe life back into me.

I started a personal blog last May, with the intention of promoting my little handmade jewelry business. I envisioned a few quippy entries about Life in the Craft Lane … that sort of thing. I had no idea it would morph into reflections about life, recovery, addiction. All I knew is that once I started writing about it, the words poured out—writing brought emotions to the surface I didn’t know I was having until I saw them there on the page. I was healing, and I was inviting the world along for the ride.

This sparked an idea I made a reality about two weeks ago. I launched a new blog, called Crying Out Now. I wanted a platform that could bring writing and recovery together. My first thought was a book, a compilation of stories by women, mothers, who struggled with addiction and who were now sober. But a problem remained: how on Earth do you get people to tell you their story? How do you get them to trust you enough? And then there was the very real problem of identity. Most people in recovery aren’t open about it. The whole process is shrouded in secrecy and anonymity, and for good reason. Very few people want the world to know about their struggles with addiction, particularly women, and most particularly mothers.

But what about a blog? A place where women can come dump their struggles and triumphs—on the internet, where you can hide behind a digital identity of your choosing. I had no idea if it would work, but I thought it was worth a shot. I created the blog, tweeted about it, facebooked about it, blogged about it. Through the power of social media the response was immediate, and overwhelming—in a good way. It turns out people were aching to tell their stories—sometimes to metabolize struggles, sometimes to trumpet victories. A place where they can feel the healing power of writing, as well as receive the immediate gratification of hearing peoples’ responses right away.

I was clear about the rules: you don’t need to be a writer to contribute. You can create an anonymous e-mail account and submit your story without fear of discovery. You don’t even need to be sober. You just need to tell your truth. Just write it down. Make it real.

Many of the stories are beautifully written. Some are not. It doesn’t matter. People who have never, ever spoken to another person about some of the darkest, life changing moments of their lives are writing about it. Most send e-mails to me afterwards, telling me they feel cleansed, validated, loved.

We are healing together.

Stop on by, if you’d like:

Ellie: WANTED: One Hobgoblin. No Navels, Please.

[Crossposted from my personal blog.]

Want to know what happens when you Google “writer’s block”? I’ll tell you: a whole lot of nothing.

Wikipedia provides this definition: “Writer’s block may have many causes. A writer may run out of inspiration. The writer may be greatly distracted and feel they may have something that needs to be done before hand.”

I always feel greatly distracted, and I always have something that needs to be done beforehand. So far laundry and the need to pay some attention to my children, on occasion, hasn’t prevented me from being able to write.

Is it the other option? Have I run out of inspiration?

Here’s what normally happens: I’m going about my day, minding my own business, when ZING! a little germ of a thought, or idea, just pops into my head. It doesn’t particularly matter if it is a good idea or not. What matters is what it does to me: I turn it over and over, around and around, it takes on a life of its own and I can’t not write about it. Once I’ve written about it, gotten it out of me, then I decide if it is worth putting out there for general consumption. Since I’m terrible at figuring out what is good, and what isn’t, I generally just put it all out there. Lucky you.

Having nothing to say, no little germ of an idea or thought to be found anywhere in the vast wasteland that is my brain, is new to me. It appears the little hobgoblin in my head that produces things to write about has gone on to better endeavors, like navel gazing. It is too generous to call what I have a Muse — Muses are surrounded in light with long flowing white robes and bestow wonderful ideas upon people….. mine kind of snortles around looking for acorns and occasionally chucks me one.

The kids, my other source of seemingly endless material, aren’t cooperating. They have been sick and haven’t been up to their usual shenanigans. Unless, of course, I were to talk about the half hour conversation I had with my son yesterday about his boy parts, and even my hobgoblin knows that isn’t a good idea.

I don’t think I appreciated how much writing, for me, is a kind of self-therapy; I am inspired to write when I’m churning with some problem, anxiety or hurdle. And you know what? I’m feeling pretty good these days. Last week was awful — to be sure. Someone has been throwing up in my house for the past seven days (now it’s my husband, even the dog had a turn). We’ve been house-bound, bored and rundown for a long time. But I’m okay. I kept my cool, took care of my kids, let myself off the hook with the housework, and we’re getting through it.


So I guess I’ll kick back, relax and wait for my hobgoblin to stop looking at her navel. Or for someone to pee in the DVD player, or something.

In desperation, I even Googled “I have nothing to say.” You know what I found? A whole bunch of people writing about how they have nothing to write about.

Hmmmmm…there’s an idea.

Ellie: One Crafty Mother

I’m Ellie, mother to two kids aged 7 and 4. I’m a jewelry designer, blogger and I love writing. I sell my jewelry on Etsy, which has worked well for me. When I’m not chasing my kids around, making jewelry, or writing, I love to read. I have been designing and selling jewelry for the past two years, specializing in wire wrapping. I started a blog last May, thinking I would just dabble in it, and it I love the creative process of writing a few times a week. I am also a woman in recovery from alcoholism — sober over two years now — and my writing and jewelry making is a HUGE part of my recovery. It helps me stay in touch with my creative muse and gives me peace of mind. I love this community, and I’m looking forward to learning more about everyone!

[Editor’s note: You can follow Ellie at Twitter via @onecraftyellie!]

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