by Nancy Casey
Begin by taking some time to think about all the different times that people have helped you. While you do that you could take a walk, do a task that doesn’t involve words, or just sit somewhere pleasant.
Help comes in many ways.
Sometimes help can literally save a person’s life. Someone can be bleeding, physically or emotionally. Someone else comes along and does something to make the bleeding stop.
Help also comes along when disasters aren’t happening. Someone listens to you or shares good advice. Someone does the dishes or moves a couch. Help makes life easier and more pleasant.
Sometimes one person asks another to do something. They do it. That’s help.
Help comes indirectly and by accident, too. Someone can say something casually and 10 years later someone else still notices how profoundly they were affected by it. People who feel like they are just living a life can inspire friends or strangers with their example.
If somebody hurts you and you learn a lot from it, that’s not help. That’s something else entirely. If those kinds of things keep popping into your mind as you remember how you have been helped, set them aside for another time. Save them for a day when you want to write about how you have overcome adversity.
After thinking about it for a while, begin to write about times you’ve gotten help. But don’t explain anything about what you needed and what it was like to get the help. Don’t identify anyone by name. Just write a line or two. Find some good details you can put in without giving away the story.
For example, if your dad always gave you good advice and his favorite chair was green, you could write, “What the man in the green chair said.” If you watched children on a playground and understood something new and important about yourself or others, you could write, “Listening to the argument that two short people had in the park.” If you were being taken away in an ambulance and a person sat beside you saying calm, reassuring things, you could call it, “A soothing voice in a strange car.”
You will end up writing a page full of things that sound interesting enough. But only you will know what they really, really mean.
When you have finished, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too.
Then go back and look at your page. Hold it out at arms’ length and squint so it just looks like writing and white space. Then do something to fill up the white space. More words, doodles, drawings. It doesn’t matter, just give the page the squint-test and keep adding things until it looks full.
While you do this, if you get an idea for a different title, put it underneath the first one. If you don’t, no worries.
Here is an example of what a person could write.
Share what you have written! Post it as a comment below. You can type in your work. Or post a picture of it.
Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. Sometimes she teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center. You can find more of her work here. She offers (free!) writing help to anyone in recovery. This can be for any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.