Writing is Love by guest @LorenKleinman

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Originally posted on BG Bowers blog > http://bit.ly/1eZw5xd. Reposted with permission. Please welcome author Loren Kleinman as she shares her story and two beautiful poems from her latest book. 

I’m happy at 32. In fact I’m at the happiest place I’ve been in years. In the past, I’ve struggled with chronic depression, which made it hard to experience any sort of pleasure. It was as if I was wading in a very rough river, the water forcing me under to the dirt. The river kept me under for years. In fact, I was suicidal at one point. I could envision the world without me. And it wasn’t so scary.

Depression runs in my family, and it wasn’t long before I realized that this wasn’t seasonal. This wasn’t a phase I was going to come out of. This was chemical. Many years went by before I did anything. Two years ago was my lowest point. I wasn’t writing, I was gaining weight, no exercise. I hated everything and my social life existed in this perpetual state of zero gravity. I was tired of being tired. I was tired of letting an illness control me, define my life. I’d put off going to see a doctor for a long time now because I was scared to be confirmed as someone with a mental illness. But, would you not go to the doctor if you had the flu? So I forced myself to go to the doctor. “I’m ashamed I’m not strong enough,” I said to the doctor. The burden of resistance was on my back. I cried throughout the exchange.

Getting to the point, awareness is the first step to betterment. I’ve been on a regimen of weekly therapy, medication, and exercise. I forced myself, I encouraged myself to get better. I researched depression and worked with my doctor to get on a path to recovery. I never miss a therapy session. I never miss a dosage of my medication. It’s about self-care. I learned that while I might not ever kick depression, that I could manage it. That I could keep disciplined and dedicated to my recovery.

FINAL BOOK COVERAnd so my life has changed drastically. I’ve published two books, The Dark Cave Between My Ribs and Indie Authors Naked. Secret: I’m writing two more. I started my author blog on my personal site and on The Huffington Post. I also started writing a column with IndieReader.com. I traveled to London to read from my poetry collection. I published more poems, wrote more, freelanced and mentored new writers.

I made a promise to myself: I come first. Always. That if I’m not taking care of myself,  that if I’m not making a daily commitment to love myself and to remain committed to wellness that nothing will change. I can’t go backwards because I’m unavailable to go backwards. I’m not ashamed that I have a mental illness. And I don’t believe it defines who I am. It’s one part of me that showed me I’m strong. It showed me how much I love myself. It takes work (like everything that matters in life).

I want to live. I want to love. I pushed myself even during the days when I stayed in the dark, under the sheets, crying for hours in shame and loss of my spirit.

See, here’s the secret: It’s one thing to write, and it’s another to be in a place to write. The writing becomes the translation of your salvation, of your life told by someone else, like Alicia Ostriker says, “years later.”

And at the end of the story all that’s left is love.

LorenKleinman_FlatforeBooksTwo poems from The Dark Cave Between My Ribs:

The Window I Sleep By

The night opens up my chest:
poems come out
of the dark cave
between my ribs.

I can’t see what is written,
maybe I’m too scared to face it,
I’m too scared.

I close my eyes,
and see a mountain
in the doorway.

I’ve never felt more alone
in a world that tells me
you’re not alone.

I’m silent
and the room becomes
the small window I sleep by.

When I can’t sleep,
I look out the window
and imagine I’m loved.

If I had love,
I would name it an infinite name.

If I had love
I would speak its language.

If I were only mine,
I’d be floating in space, glittering
and disfigured.

If only I could tell you my past,
but I’m humiliated to say
I only listen.

Suppose my past did this to me:
made me afraid of love.

Why can’t I cry?

I don’t know,
says the body.

Only Human

Try being human
he said,

and figure out what
you want to say.

Get it half-written,
and type as if you had your hands
for one more hour,

as if they would be sold
across towns and labyrinths
and you never see your hands again.

Think about what you’d write
in the last hour you had your hands.

Write about losing your hands to writing,
then regaining them
in a battle for your hands,

the fight
to take back your hands,
to make them yours again,
and fold them together.

Hold your hand
in your other hand,
then point to yourself.

Hold your hands to your head
in the shape of a gun.

Hold yourself with your hands,
and lean on your hands.

keep the hands moving
in the same direction,

hold,
hug,
and fight back.

Write the story
for your hands
by your hands,

and sit up,

let the hands
wipe away the tears,

and lift
the body up.

Then wipe the palm clean,
start something new,
the truth.

Think
what it would be like

to write something new
with these hands,

all the words in the right order.

Loren Kleinman HeadShotAbout Loren Kleinman:
Loren Kleinman’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Nimrod, Wilderness House Literary Review, Paterson Literary Review, Narrative Northeast and New Jersey Poets. Her interviews appeared in IndieReader, USA Today and The Huffington Post. She is the author of Flamenco Sketches and Indie Authors Naked, which was an Amazon Top 100 bestseller in Journalism in the UK and USA. Her second poetry collection The Dark Cave Between My Ribs released March 2014 (Winter Goose Publishing). Kleinman is currently working on a literary romance novel, This Way to Forever and her third collection of poetry Breakable Things. She runs an author interview series on The Huffington Post Books community blogs vertical.

About Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson is the author of the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Rachel is the creator and founder of #MondayBlogs and #SexAbuseChat and an advocate for sexual abuse survivors. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Comments

  1. Your poetry is lovely. Depression dogs me. This weekend I gave myself permission to make some changes in my life. We’ll see what happens. You are absolutely right that you have to take care of yourself, but it isn’t a matter of not being strong enough. You’re very strong.

    Love,
    Janie

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