The Passion Spectrum

Good morning, folks!

I recently announced on my private Facebook page that I am moving back up to Los Angeles this summer. For those readers who don’t know me personally, Southern California has been my home for the last few years, and while I live close to LA now, it’s not close enough. I moved out of LA for a job, and now that the job (and treatment) is over, I’m ready to head back. Which, of course, means looking for a new job.

Which brings me to the subject of this post! What happens when your career is part of your identity, but you realize you want to switch careers? I’m currently figuring that out.

Theatre has always been a part of my identity; it’s the only passion and love I’ve ever really had. But lately, I’ve come to the realization that it’s been a long time since I’ve felt fulfilled by theatre. Particularly in a creative way. I think my time in San Diego and in treatment gave me the perfect opportunity to take a step back and take a look at what I truly want to be doing. And right now, as shocking as this realization was to me, that thing is not theatre.

A good friend of mine runs a blog called “Tipsy Theatre Traveler.” A few weeks ago she wrote this post regarding theatre and how it’s often tied to identity, and the relationship between dreams and our idea of failure. Her post really spoke to me because I definitely believe theatre is a part of what makes me me, and that has what made it so difficult to begin pursuing other career options. All my life, I have worked towards a career in theatre. I was a theatre major, I moved to Los Angeles to work in theatre, I moved to San Diego to work in theatre; this will be the first time I won’t be chasing the theatre dream. And I gotta say, it feels incredibly strange.

I don’t know what comes next for me. The last few months have been incredibly overwhelming because I haven’t known where to turn or how to begin searching for a new dream or passion. Theatre feels like all that I am. Recently, I have been starting to formulate a new career goal- which has been exciting- and yet it still feels very foreign and unlike me. Honestly, not feeling fulfilled by theatre feels very unlike me. All because it has been all that I am for most of my life. When people think of me, that’s what they see. And now that I want to change that, it feels disappointing; almost as if I’m letting myself and others down.

As I am discovering other skills and fleshing those skills out into careers that interest me, I am excited for the future. And I am flippin’ terrified. But I am a different person than I was before treatment. Now that I am not so focused on my health, it’s time for me to allow myself permission to explore other careers in a non-perfectionistic way. I am not a failure because I’m shifting gears away from what I know best. Theatre is not all that I am. My dreams are allowed to change.

 

 

 

 

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i’m scared to say it
but if i can’t say it here
then where?
did i ever love you?
did you love me?
i swear by each star in the sky
every night as the moon finds
her place in the sky
that i will never stop loving you
but how do i know how to identify love
i am as unfamiliar with love as i am
with quantum physics
so how could i know
if what i swear each evening
is true?
if you were to tell me
you love me as i claim to love you
would i be able to stomach it?
i haven’t heard the words escape your lips
in all the times we spent
inches apart
there was never a whisper
an accidental breath that said
the word love
until i hear the words
i will never know
i’ll just have to trust the feeling
just as i trust the moon
to rise in the inky sky

when you put down the rope

Good afternoon, readers. Happy Saturday!

So, do you remember when I told you why I named this blog “Putting Down the Rope”? (No shame, if not. Read it here.)

Well, since treatment ended I’ve been feeling much more like myself. I’m sure recovery and the right cocktail of meds is doing the trick, but it’s so relieving to feel more productive, creative, etc. It feels like I’m putting down the rope.

Last night I had the opportunity to attend an art installation at my friends’ art co-op, Holy Unlikely. It was a gathering of some really amazing people, both extremely talented and exceedingly kind. I brought some of my photographs/poems to display in the visual art/gallery-style portion of the evening; something I would have never done a month ago. But now, I wanted to display it. My self-doubt was no longer shrouding my consciousness and I was proud to display the more vulnerable parts of myself. (Recognize the work?)

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My unnamed collection, which I plan on expanding into a series. Keep your eyes peeled.

Later on we arrived at the performance portion of the evening– open mic style–  where anyone and everyone were encouraged to sign up to share music, performance art, poetry, random thoughts, etc. I already knew I was going to abstain from participating in this part of the show; I was perfectly content being invisible in the audience. The last time I said I was going to do an open mic night, I ended up hiding in the bathroom when it was my turn. (I still can’t apologize enough to my friend who took the time to learn the song I planned on singing that night…I owe you one, Skyler.)

But last night was different. I felt safe. I felt comfortable. And I was surrounded by people who were baring their souls, just like I wanted to.

You see, art got me through some of the worst times. If it weren’t for this blog, I don’t know if I would be this far along on the road to recovery. It carries me when I can’t lift a leg to walk, it flies me into the clouds when I’m elated.

The memory of this feeling is what made me decide to share the art that got me through some of the hardest times of my life with a group of mostly strangers. I read three of my poems. I didn’t stutter, choke on nothing, or shake so badly it looked like I was having a seizure. And, most importantly, I didn’t hide in the bathroom when they called my name. I told everyone I have an eating disorder, and got applause when I mentioned I discharged from treatment. I read the poem that helped me realize the staff at clinic knew what they were doing even if I thought they didn’t. I read about love, I read about feeling invisible. You can’t take that away from me. Neither can Sasha.

Afterwards, the strangers, who I suppose weren’t strangers after all, came up to me to thank me or share their opinion. One person came up to me and told me they were proud of me and gave me a hug.

The thing is, I feel like shit most days. I’m warring with that rope most days, unable to believe what I have to say or create makes any difference in the world. But yesterday was not most days.

Yesterday I stood up in front of a crowd and delivered three poems into a microphone. My first public performance.

When you put down the rope you can live your life worth living.

Art is subjective, it’s meant to be shared. Art helps me exist in the world. My wise mind knew this enough to allow me to put down the rope, and walk to the microphone- raw hands and all.

 

 

 

there is a healing in nature

when i struggled
people watched me drown
instead of helping me,
and shouted demands and instructions
that i could not follow
as my hands flailed beneath
the deeps;
i think sharks would have
more empathy
than these people—
i struggled
frightened and alone,
angry and miserable,
morose and full of tears;
but no one would
hear me
they all believed the lie of my smile
perhaps because it was more
convenient
than asking me something deeper than
a question about the weather—
the weeping willows and soft needled pines
always whispered to me kindness,
the fields always gave me flowers and butterflies to
kiss away my sorrows;
the clouds always gave me worlds to escape to,
winds sang to me myths and truths
of old and new,
the sun gave me warmth and the rain washed away
my pain,
and rainbows always spoke to me of compassion;
there is a healing in nature
people just could not give me.

– linda m. crate

 

 

*If you are interested in submitting work, please email puttingdowntherope@gmail.com.

Call for Submissions

Calling all artists, writers, designers, poets, musicians, creators, humans!

I am developing a potential project, and I would love your help! I am currently asking for submissions of any medium for the blog!

I am exploring art and mental health and how integral they seem to be with one another. Especially following the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I really want to create a space that is a safe and healthy outlet for artists who struggle with mental health.

Your submissions can be anonymous or not, it’s completely up to you. I ask that when you submit you please specify whether or not you would like to remain anonymous, otherwise I will leave your name off of the piece. Also, please include any trigger warning at the top of your post, if needed.

To submit, please email puttingdowntherope@gmail.com 

I’m not looking for anything profound. I’m just looking for you. Bring me the work you love the most, hate the most, and everything in between. I am accepting art in any medium, whether that be visual art, poetry, music/songs, short stories, narrative essays, etc.

I cannot pay you for your submissions, but your work will be published and you can advertise it as such. I will moderate which pieces I will publish, though I will do my best to post them all.

Mental health issues are incredibly difficult to live with. Art makes them a little easier to bear. When it feels like too much, PLEASE reach out. If you are uncomfortable calling a hotline, reach out to friends or family. Even me. As someone who struggles with self harm and suicide ideation, I am here to remind you that you are special and loved, even when you don’t believe it yourself.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. It provides free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people in suicidal crisis or distress.

You can also call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone about how you can help a person in crisis.

Call 1-866-488-7386 for the TrevorLifeline, a suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community.

Text HOME to 741741 to have a confidential text conversation with a trained crisis counselor from Crisis Text Line.

Online, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a confidential chat window, with counselors available 24/7: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/…/LifelineChat.aspx

For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

For more resources, please visit CNN for more information about how to reach out for help for either you or someone you know.

 

If you have any questions, please email puttingdowntherope@gmail.com.

some dope music n’ things

do you ever discover a new band
and realize the lead singer/guitarist
just spent two years living out of a van
and driving across the country
to experiment with songwriting
aka he drove across the country
to write songs on the road
and as you listen to their music
you can’t believe how you lived
without it for so long
and also you feel more creatively fulfilled
than you have in a long time
and also you wish you had a quarter
of the talent and passion that dude has

 
me either

 

on the other hand
i’ve never been more artistically inspired

Self-Harm vs. Authenticity

*Trigger warning: Self-harm*

 

 

Well, it’s time for me to out myself. I’ll do it AA style: Hello, my name is ____ and I am a self-harmer.

And I am working on recovery.

It’s difficult to admit to the f*cked up things I’ve felt or thought in my life. But I know now that hurting myself will not make things better for me. Maybe in the short term, but after that, people will just go back to living their own lives.

After a recent journey of self-discovery, I came to the realization that I hurt myself because I deeply want someone to notice me. Most of the time, I feel invisible. Unwanted, boring, the last person someone calls when they are looking for a good time. In my depressed mind, I convince myself that if I have a broken foot or a bruised and bloodied hand or a scar on my face, I will be more beautiful and, ultimately, more seen. To those of you who don’t struggle with mental health, I know you don’t understand. It’s a difficult thing to understand. Hell, sometimes I don’t even understand it. But my head does a great job of twisting the truth into lies that are nearly impossible to recognize. If it acts like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it must be a f*cking duck, right? Not in my head. I’m still learning that just because there’s a part of me that wants to beat myself senseless, doesn’t mean doing that is actually effective. Which is why I decided to write this post.

Earlier today, someone asked me if there was something that I’ve been wanting to blog about but have been too scared to write. Well, yes. There always is. But this one in particular is a big one. And I need to out Sasha. Because posting this will last a hell of a lot longer than any bruise or cut I could give myself. And maybe this way, I can stop being afraid and start being more authentic.

I don’t know if I’ll ever know or believe what it’s like to feel needed or wanted. Hopefully I will. But what I do know is that hurting myself will not get me the attention I desire. It won’t give me the love and connection I crave.

Earlier tonight I was having a tough time. We went on a meal outing in program, and I came really close to not showing up at all. I sat in the parking lot of the restaurant for a long time, crying, not understanding why I couldn’t just get up and go inside. Eventually, with the help of my therapist, I wiped my tears, pulled my hair up, and got out of my car. As soon as I walked in the restaurant I wished I had gone home. I felt all eyes on me. But I sat down at the end of table with everyone and stared at my hands, forcing my tears to retract back into my eyes. Within a few minutes I had a meal sitting in front of me, and I still hadn’t looked up from my lap. The conversation continued as it had before I was there, and I sat waiting for it to be over. But then, something happened.

I saw my friend stand up from her seat on the opposite end of the table and make her way towards me. I wondered if she was going to walk out the door like I wanted to, but she didn’t. She pulled out the chair across from me and sat down. I had been isolating myself. As much as I want people to see me, I want them to see the me that I want to present. Not the snotty, pale, broken me. And yet, here she was. Looking me in the eye. Asking me if I was ok. Willing to make that connection. And suddenly, I knew I could share myself with her, pain and all.

You see, even if I hate admitting it, I recognize that the attention I seek comes with authenticity. I can’t expect people to see me if I hide the parts of myself that I don’t like or am uncomfortable with. So, instead of creating the wrong kind of attraction by hurting myself, I’m publishing this post.

I don’t want this post to be misconstrued. I’m not looking for your pity, and I am certainly not begging for attention. What I crave isn’t superficial. I long for deep human connection. And I know that some of you reading this don’t know me very well, and I don’t want you to feel obligated to reach out to me. I’m doing fine. Just ask my therapist.