Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Owning My Story

After my diet change, I intended to write a post about what I could and couldn't eat.  I was going to take pictures, make comparisons between my old stand-bys and my new fill-ins, joke about my wine and sugar addictions and my subsequent withdrawal symptoms... you know, the works.

One small problem:  I don't really find it that interesting.

I think that I'm at that phase of my blog journey when I feel the need to define this blog and its purpose.  "This is a health blog," I told myself.  "This is where I blog about my health and all my screwy symptoms and my many doctors.  This is where I find other patients who get it and we talk about how our lives have been changed by health."

But really, I didn't start this blog to talk about my health, or lack thereof.  I started this blog to talk about everything that was affected by my health.  MY LIFE! 

I went to church this past Sunday for Easter and the pastor said a really great thing in prayer that stuck with me.  He told us to thank God for our story, no matter how hard that may seem sometimes.  And just like that, I was able to see my life a little more clearly.  This isn't the end, and it's not the beginning, but it's part of the story, and that's okay.  If God is the author of my story, then I know it will be beautiful.  I just have to trust Him and live my life and own my story!

I've been slowly going through the diaries of Anais Nin, a French author who died in the 1970s, because I just love the way she uses words.  She croons her life story to you.  Anyway, she's training under a psychoanalyst in New York City named Dr. Otto Rank, and she's describing his patients' troubles:

The sick came endlessly, each one who was cured brought father, mother, sister, brother, friend.  They multiplied in an alarming degree.  Was this a new illness, born of our own times?  No time for love, no time for friendship, no time for confidences.

Rank touches all things with the magic of meaning.  Those who come to him are like the blind, the dumb, the deaf.  When he discovers the "plot" of their life, they become interested.  This interest saves them.  This plot created by the unconscious slowly reveals itself to be more interesting than any detective story.  Rank uncovers the links, webs, patterns.  It is endlessly interesting, full of surprises.

Then, after Anais begins to see her own patients, she makes the following remarks:

Analysis accelerates growth, maturity, but changes come more slowly than insight.  The patterns have deep roots and take time to change.

I avoid all clinical language because as a writer I believe language has power.  I also take much trouble to describe each character, each motivation as unique, not to give the patients the feeling of being classified.

Science may heal, but it is the poetic illumination of life which makes my patients fall in love with life, which makes them recover their appetite for it.

This is what the blog is really about for me: falling back in love with my life.  Accepting my story and starting to do a bit of the writing of it myself.  Extracting the meaning from my days so that this time of my life will not have been in vain.

What about you?   If your life story had a genre, what would it be and why?  What would it take for you to fall back in love with your life?

All photos from WeHeartIt.


  1. What a great question.

    I haven't exactly lost interest in my story. What would it take to respark the passion? To be the hero of it again. Or at least the protagonist.

  2. What a great post! I've always been vaguely aware of Anaïs Nin but had never read anything other than the well known one sentence quotes one comes across.

    I haven't read much about the early psychoanalysts, but it always kind of seemed they were taking literary analysis and applying it to life. Making life like a novel. I guess that's exactly what Rank was doing. Which can be cool in some ways, but gets dangerous when you talk about illness. In stories, illness is always a metaphor, in life, not so much.

    I think there's no denying right now that I'm still in the "coming of age genre" for my story. But it's winding down and needs a new genre. No idea what that is going to be yet. If I decide to get a stem cell transfusion, which I've been considering, it will start to veer towards science fiction! Otherwise I don't know. Maybe it will be a western!

  3. What an amazing post. I actually really love reading blog posts about blogging... if that makes sense. I think its amazing to watch yourself as you grow in your writing, however informal that medium may be.

    I'm having a bit of a struggle with my illness as well. I still cry before I have to inject myself. But I know that this is actually a blessing because 'living for the moment' and 'making the most of everyday' are no longer simply words. I actually feel them. I know them. And its a powerful reminder of what's important.

    I'm sure that this is an amazing opportunity for you, as it is for me, if we use it properly.


  4. I LOVE this post.

    I try to treat my blog the same way. It is a mainly health blog but really it's my life. And that's what is important.

    I hope you are feeling better on this new diet Robyn!

  5. Thanks for your comment! hope you have a great weekend! x

  6. I think this is a really great post and so very true. It's hard to figure out your own voice and how you want to tell your story; it's something I haven't quite figured out at my lesser level of "issues," but thanks for the great reminder and I really love the way you write; keep it up, girl. I think you're really inspiring. :-)

  7. Robyn -

    What a beautifully written, inspiring, and thought-provoking post! And I loved the pictures you chose to go along with it, too.

    You included that quote about patients recovering their appetite for life. I saw a psychologist who specialized in chronic illness for 5 years (her own grown son has CFS) and she often said that was the difference between patients who were chronically ill and those who were depressed: the ill patients had long lists of things they WANTED to do, things they yearned to do but couldn't. That's how I feel - full of life and wanting to do everything but not always able to.

    Great topic!


  8. Excuse me while I go hunt down those Anais Nin diaries. LOVE.



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