On Writing…(and integration).

WritingThough I’ve “kept up” with my writing in other forms – in pieces and paragraphs here and there – I haven’t written a “blog” in while. Something I’ve always known about myself, though maybe never explicitly identified, is my desire and drive to write. During my awkward, growing-into-myself-teenage years, I remember battling this draw to art; to the artist/poet/musician – to those that “created” – coupled with a belief that I was not, nor could I be “that.” I was smart. I studied a lot. I was a good swimmer and a decent runner. But I didn’t think I would “fit in” in a creative writing class, because I didn’t think I had anything creative-enough to contribute. In college, this morphed some, and my ideas of who and I am what I could “be,” “do,” or “make” expanded a bit. I declared writing as my minor and finally did take some creative writing and poetry classes. Later in college I took guitar lessons (though, my fingers creaked and cringed just to make a “C” chord), and even a painting class. I used to like to rip up pictures from magazines and paste them together, using pastels with my fingers to smear it all together. But I didn’t think it was art. And a decade and a half after graduating from college, my thoughts on all of this – this idea of making/creating/crafting continue to evolve. But even still, there remained limitations and questions in my understanding. What is “art?” Who can be considered an “artist?” And what about “craft?” I’ve often heard writing referenced as a “craft,” and certainly as a “hobby.” Who are the people compelled to be “artists,” or “makers” – and could I finally be one? There are so many nourishing ways to make and create: to make a meal; to sow and reap food from the ground; to move one’s body making “shapes” in the form of dance, or yoga, or other movements. And as a new mother, something I continue to sit with in humility and grace is the profundity of perhaps the most surreal “making” of them all: creating a life that was not there before. The miracle of that exchange is something that still leaves me in awe…and perhaps is food for another “blog.”

But back to writing. I stumbled across this offering, which presented the question of whether or not writing was an “art” or a “craft” – “A writer who is an artist is one who not only creates something from nothing, but creates something unique from nothing. But…a writer cannot accomplish this without…having learned the craft.” I tend to gravitate toward Moira’s thoughts on this, honoring writing as an art form. And as a psychotherapist, though “body-based” in training and approach, I believe there is something profoundly important in the ability to name things – to make our best efforts with the limited capacity of the English language to bring awareness, meaning, and power to the thoughts and feelings we possess, and to our understanding and interpretations of concepts and beliefs. There is also ownership, legitimacy, empowerment, and connection in declaring such thoughts and understandings as “truths” (knowing of course that truths evolve, morph, and expand) – but to be able to say: “This happened to me,” or “Oh really? That happened to me too,” or “I’m a writer,” an “artist,” a “trauma survivor.” When we name things, or declare them to be true – they are then given permission to exist. And with permission, a myriad of effects ripple from that declaration and identification. Perhaps, “simply,” in just giving oneself allowance to feel something, most especially something uncomfortable or distressing. To truly grant oneself permission to feel all of it, without judgment or shame, frees up space for that thought or feeling to go – space for it to move, away perhaps, or to linger if more processing time is needed – but space, at minimum, for it to exist – separate from you – so that it can be looked at with honor and legitimacy. Pushing that thought or feeling down, keeping it in, holding it back, repressing it in some way, doesn’t make it go away or even allow it to dissipate, but rather, gives it the roots to burrow and fester. And nothing good comes from that. More on “space” and what that means/feels/looks like at another time. Today’s offering is one of choice, declaration, and integration – and all that comes from those actions.

A beautiful writer I was recently drawn to again, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, eloquently professes a desire to “be at peace with myself.” She speaks about the “shape” of her life: having a family, and a “craft” – writing, that are of utmost importance to her, as well as wanting “to give and take from family; to share with friends and community; to carry out my obligations to man and to the world, as a woman, as an artist, as a citizen.”   She goes onto say that she wants a “singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can.” She speaks of wanting to “live in grace” – not in a theological sense – but rather, “an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony;” seeking what Socrates said: “May the outward and inward man be at one.” To me, a simple but powerful word that summarizes these intentions is: integration.

When I chose the name of my practice, Integrative Wellness Therapies, the word integrative held a few different meanings. At its most basic, it suggests an integration of treatment approaches: of psychotherapy and body-based services. But a deeper look holds a fundamental core intention that many of us desire: to live an integrated life – one that offers balance to work, relationships, and social dynamics and responsibilities; as well as, but possibility not identified as readily: to be an integrated person – piecing and bridging together all of our “parts” – our past and present, our triumphs and sorrows. The most basic definition of “integrate” is to:

  • “combine one thing with another so that they become a whole; come into equal participation.”

The definition of “integration” offers even more for us to consider:

  • “the action or process of integrating; the intermixing of people or groups previously segregated; [medically]: the coordination of processes in the nervous system, including diverse sensory information and motor impulses; [psychologically]: the process by which a well-balanced psyche becomes whole as the developing ego organizes itself, and the state that results, or that treatment seeks to create or restore, counters the fragmenting effect of defense mechanisms.”

Now, there’s a lot here – and perhaps, material for yet another “blog” (I’ve got my work cut out now!). But it’s core message is simple: to bring together.

As I venture to “bring together” all that I have learned personally and clinically to present offerings to be read and considered – to merge and meld different ways of thinking and ideas that different people have had; the desire to write – to tap into my “craft” – my “art,” even – feels more significant than it ever has before.   And perhaps, writing is the “art of bringing things together.”  And in honor of the significance in “naming things,” I would like to name and give voice to my calling, not only as a healer and helper, but also, as a writer – as an artist.

Something I look forward to breathing and writing into more.

Thank you, in advance, for taking the time to read and sift through some of these thoughts with me. Without a reader, words don’t hold as much meaning.

With humble gratitude,

Emily

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