Mining the Past

I just got off the phone with my dad, who recently turned a very young seventy-three. He's been a font of wisdom for the book I'm working on now, even though some of the questions I ask are super strange. But I don't try to explain things, especially about this book, because the only way anyone could follow my train of thought on it is by listening to me talk about it for a solid hour, or two, or reading it. Which means I need to write it.

I digress.

At the end of our conversation, he told me that he and my mom had watched the video post I put up about my worst New Year's ever, and he was worried because he thought I sounded sad still, after all these years.

First of all, collective AWWWWW! because that is one of the sweetest things I've ever heard.

Secondly, it kicked off a conversation about the things I share publicly, and why.

I'm as authentic as I can be, in person and online. Authenticity is important to me. I don't just want to show you the happy shiny things that happen in my life, I want to share the not so awesome things as well. Sometimes, because professionalism is also important to me, I can't or won't share those things. But other times, like when I'm talking about that boy that dumped me when I was nineteen? I can share ALL THE THINGS.

Flashback. It was just a really terrible time. My heart was broken. I was already skinny, but every time I saw him, even from far off, I had to throw up. I got down to about 85 pounds. I also had this zit that MOVED IN on my right cheek and didn't want to go away. I had a little scar there for years. (It's gone now, and is the one case in which gravity has treated me kindly.)

I don't know if it was a result of the break up, or just the beginning of a lifelong (so far) battle, but it was around this time I had my first serious depressive episode. That's back when people didn't talk about those things, but my roommate and friends knew something was wrong. Even my teachers knew something was wrong. I was in a (don't laugh) Human Sexuality class that semester (okay laugh) that was given by one of the psych teachers, and one day he asked if he could talk to me privately.

He'd noticed the weight loss, and the bags under my eyes, and probably the fact that my sassy mouth had taken a vacation. A looooooong vacation. He recommended me to the school psychologist.

I guess part of me should have been horrified that my sadness was so apparent, but y'all, I just remember being so relieved. I saw the counselor, and the main thing I learned from him is that I'm not responsible for other people's emotions and reactions. I'm responsible for MINE. It took a while, but things got better.

It was a break up. Not that big of a deal in hindsight. But at the time, for ME, it was the most catastrophic thing that could've happened.

Flashforward to my convo with my dad. I explained to him that since I write about teens, I mine from my own teen experiences. My life worked out exactly the way it was supposed to, and I have a husband I love and two boys I adore and a career I used to dream about. It's all good up in here.

But if I can take an experience, remember the sadness and brokenness, and look at the process that got me through, and then LAUGH about it? Or better yet, make YOU laugh about it? Then I truly believe I am doing what I was created to do.

It doesn't matter what you're going through, or how it compares to things others around you are going through, it's your experience. It shapes you. For me, that experience gave my depression a name, and a way to cope with it. It gave me the tools I needed to see it coming when it happened again.

It also let me know that I could most certainly come out swinging, and laughing, on the other side of a bad experience.

And you know what? So can you.


  1. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. And thank you for talking about being depressed: so many people still feel like they can't.

  2. YAY. I loved this post. I had mild depression a few months ago and I blogged about it, and I got so many emails from people who felt the same way but were afraid to speak up. This will help someone!

  3. Myra, I always feel the need to hug you after I read your posts--which is probably pretty creepy since you don't actually know me. ANYWAY, thanks for sharing this. I love when people share the real side of life on their blogs. It's always such a great reminder that we're all just people, and we're all going through something. I actually just saw a doctor last month and finally have a name for my issues--panic attacks. Who knew? It definitely feels better to laugh about it though. Hugs!

  4. This is a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. This ''I'm not responsible for other people's emotions and reactions. I'm responsible for MINE.'' is the one thing I learned from my brief time in therapy four years ago. I'm actually thinking about going back as life is throwing crap at me from every angle. This time I'm going to give it a proper go and hopefully even get a diagnosis. I was too scared the last time.
    Again, lovely post. :-)

  5. Thank you for sharing with us, Myra. I always appreciate when authors share not only the good but the struggles. It makes them more idolizing because they are human. And as someone who suffered from an eating disorder for 98% of her life (I was born at 1lb and then dropped to 13 ounces a few days later), thank you for being honest about that.
    I really enjoy your book (looking forward to TIME PIECE!!!) and I hope you know that I picked them up originally because of A-the beautiful cover and B-your funny "in the fort" interviews.

  6. I think this was the most beautifully written post I have ever come across. Thank you. Just thank you for being your wonderful, awesome, cool as heck self.

  7. Great post! I've had similar experiences with my parents. One story in particular—a piece I wrote for HER Nashville last spring about "donating" (read: "selling") eggs to a couple who couldn't conceive—really seemed to upset my mother. It was all about my wrong-motivations for doing it, my insecurities and fears, and it made her incredibly uncomfortable. "This should be a celebration of you!" she said. "Nobody wants to read about all that insecurity stuff." Of course, she was wrong about that. People DO want to read about our most foolish moments, our bad choices and worst instincts, if well and honestly told. What people *don't* want is some ridiculous, self-aggrandizing story of who we wish to be, which is what "a celebration of me" would have been. Imperfection is soooo much more interesting.

    Of course, Mom and Dad mean well...but they're not always right.

    I'm looking forward to hearing you speak at Parnassus in a few weeks! Best wishes. -Kim G

  8. Wanted to visit your blog since you kindly visited mine. Like we're blog neighbors now. : )
    Really good word. The teen and college-age years can be ROUGH. So cool a teacher/prof reached out to you. And while you were losing that stress-weight in college, I was finding it. . .


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