Self Expression Magazine


Posted on the 22 September 2013 by Kcsaling009 @kcsaling

Old Memories (c) KC Saling, 2013

Good morning, dear friends, and thanks for stopping by. If you’re looking for the Sunday Currently, you’ll find it over on Betsy Transatlantically, where I’m blogging with Betsy today. I’m honored to be one of her September sponsors because I’ve got to tell you, Betsy’s blog has been a major source of inspiration. She’s just recently taken us through her adventures as an expat and her wedding to her fine British boy, and while I love those, one of the things I love most about her blog is the genuine and wonderful conversations she has with her readers. Seriously, if you want a good conversation about everything from British and Washington D.C. life to wedding and fashion to current events and women’s issues, grab a cuppa joe or a cuppa tea and stop by Betsy Transatlantically.

And if you feel like coming back over here when you’re done with your cuppa, I’m about to get a little introspective over here as well. While I’m talking about facing down challenges and the things that drive me over on Betsy’s blog, I’m exploring a very different angle on them over here lately.

Sometimes, the hardest challenges we face are the ones that come from within.

Facing down inner challenges like doubt, depression, fear, and a host of other dark things that live inside us is what prompted last week’s ”Reality Check” and “Second Love” posts. And I have to thank you, my readers, for the wonderful response. I haven’t received so many uplifting comments, emails, and tweets as I did when those posts went up. A lot of it has to do with 1) writing from the heart and finding my voice, as Belinda’s been encouraging us all to do with her Blogging Compass series, and 2) confronting some long needed emotional housecleaning.

We all have stuff we need to clean out of our emotional attic. We’ve all had emotional experiences, sometimes painful ones, and those leave a mark on us. A mark you can’t even see, a mark you may not even know is there, something captured in a chest in the back of your mind’s attic, draped in mental cobwebs. And then you stumble upon them one day, and the sight and feel and scent is enough to stir up a whole host of emotions, things you thought you were done feeling.  It’s no use asking yourself, “What the f— is this doing here?” or proclaiming “I cleaned all of this stuff out!” because you didn’t. You quite honestly forgot about it.


Writing Letters (c) KC Saling, 2013

Even the most emotionally resilient people, even people who in most things have their act together, still stumble over old and painful memories from time to time, triggered by the most innocuous things.

In the case of my first marriage, it could be anything as obvious as meeting an old friend who somehow hadn’t heard that my ex-husband and I were divorced or as subtle as smelling a favorite cologne or thinking back to “remember that time when we?” stories that were impossible to tell completely without his inclusion. Or finding little things around the house that I’d always kept but had forgotten were mementos from trips we’d taken together. Little things, covered in cobwebs and dust, that suddenly had different meaning.

My combat experience wasn’t too different, and I’d stumble over someone asking about a friend or one of my soldiers who had been killed, or thinking that a person would really enjoy that story and almost getting to the point where I was ready to pick up the phone and call them, only to remember that they weren’t there anymore. Or going to an assignment that everyone thinks is “safe,” like teaching at West Point, only to hear that a friend and mentor who just departed there for a new assignment was killed in Afghanistan, and being on the other side this time, the home side, watching his family struggle to come to grips with their new reality.


The Notebook (c) KC Saling, 2013

I don’t know whether or not you can make these feelings ever go away completely. I don’t even know if that’s important, though. What’s important is something completely different.

We experience pain, and that’s okay.

The hard part is when we think we’ve locked it all in the attic and it just sits there, growing mental cobwebs, letting all the little memories get tangled up inside just for us to stumble into. We can feel that pain, because we’re human. But we can still do something to keep the cobwebs from building up beyond our ability to control, and catching all the stuff we’d really rather not keep rattling around in our heads and ruminating on.

We can keep control of our lives.

We can do some mental and emotional housecleaning.

This, also, can be the most innocuous thing.

Talking to my husband and family is my housecleaning. Running and letting my mind drift as I run is my housecleaning. Blogging is my housecleaning. Watching the sun rise on a new day and being grateful that I’m there to enjoy it is my housecleaning.

When I do all of these things, I feel refreshed. I feel like I’m letting the sunlight back into my mind and airing out all the dust and debris so that I can keep ahead of it, keep it under control, and keep positive. Because in the end, it’s my choice to take back my house and my life from the cobwebs.

What about you? Do you have anything rattling around your mental attic that you’d like to share? How do you do your mental housecleaning?

Wishing everyone a reenergizing weekend - 


P.S. The pictures in this post come from my visit to Appomattox this July. There’s just something haunting and a little sad about them and that made them perfect for this post.

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