I’ve been stuck lately. Sickness and chronic pain and anxiety and assorted bullshit.  But today I felt human.  Enough to take a shower and leave the house and go write in this tumble-down shack I love…where I can feel like I’ve left the house without actually leaving a house.

There’s something about this broken building that speaks.  It’s filled with wasp nests and rusty nails but it’s still beautiful and unique.  Every time I visit it there’s another hole in the floor and the walls lean a bit more.  The wind sings strange songs through the walls and the rain and sun come inside, creating glorious damage and fascinating scars.  It’s dangerously flammable and more than slightly unstable but it still works.  Much like me.  And I always find myself (and leave myself) in it.

Don’t be fooled.  It may look like it’s falling apart but it’s so much stronger than you think.

So am I.

So are you.

192 thoughts on “Escape

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Needed this today. Maybe it’s the Blue Red Super Moon with a twist of lemon that’s throwing me off, but I find myself looking for brownies and repeating the phrase “What the Hell?!” in abundance. In reality, I’m FINE. But I feel like I’ve been standing in the eye of a hurricane…and the eye is smaller today. Thank you for reading.

  2. This was a beautiful post. You are so funny that sometimes I forget the power of your writing comes from your insight and ability to speak for those of us who are sometimes broken but still standing. You can write since forever.

  3. … and you just made me feel strong! Wonky, but strong! Thank you. And I am proud of you.

  4. You are such a wonder. I don’t know how I found your writing, but I’m incredibly grateful I did. Thank you.

  5. Wow did I need this today. I have no idea how you always post when I need it most, but thank you.

  6. The building is an apt metaphor for you – buffeted on all sides by illness and pain but still standing and still writing. We are all very glad to still be reading. Watch out for those wasps, though.

  7. When I was a kid, my father built an apartment for my grandmother in our attic. He put a staircase in her bedroom closet that led to our 2nd floor porch – as a fire escape. It never got used, except by me. It was dark and quiet, and I used to sit there when I needed to be alone. I wish I could sit there now.

  8. Love this! The photos are beautiful. I have a longing for the dilapidated, and find comfort there.

  9. My anxiety and depression have come home to roost with a vengeance the last couple of days, I’ve been crawling through f feeling all the while like I’m trapped in a Bubble and not really part of the world. Reading this post doesn’t take any of those feelings away, but reminds me that they never stay for ever. I’m in a ditch right now, but sooner or later I’ll get out, the bubble will thin and maybe even vanish for a while and I’ll be as furiously happy as I can be when that happens. Thanks as always for your words Jenny

  10. I feel like ever since the new year started its just one thing after another knocking me down. The temptation to stay down is strong but I know that’s not really an option. Just taking it one day at a time….

  11. I’ve been feeling shitty lately, too, but today I went to the gym and took a shower. It’s a step and your posts always remind me that I’m not the only one who feels this way sometimes.

  12. This is beautiful. I love visiting tumbledown old buildings, wondering what their past lives must have looked like, and forgetting myself for a while.

  13. Thank you for this. I have been feeling like I’m losing parts of my well-being lately. A dear friend’s 34 year old daughter is dying from Stage 4 breast cancer. She has a five year old and a one year old. I am beyond heartbroken for the whole family. I have a 34 year old daughter too. I can’t imagine what I would do if she died. I have been reading your books and posts for a few years now and your strength and refusal to let the depression win inspires me. You just keep on doing what you’re doing, and we will follow you.

  14. This hasn’t been an easy week for me. Last night, I got out You are Here to help me get through the night…one day at a time…right?!?

  15. I hear you, Jenny. Been feeling kind of stuck myself. And last week I had a full-bore episode of the old blues. You know, the Chicken of Depression. Followed by way too much vodka for a couple of days. Fixed that by just not going to the liquor store for more. I have so many things I need to be focusing on, and I keep focusing on the wrong ones. You hang in there and I’ll try to do the same.

  16. Thank you f o r putting into words what I feel, but don’t know how to say…

  17. My husband’s grandparents owned a farm with a lot of acreage and 2 broken-down barns. They are so haunting and beautiful. There are tractors parked off to the side that haven’t run for half-a-century, and cars that were brand new that same era. Don’t believe the chick on NPR today. There is a whole different feel and culture in these rural Appalachian communities.

    I’m glad you’ve got a happy place. We all need one of those.

  18. As someone who loves several people with depression and/or anxiety, thank you for being their voice. You have no idea how much your words help them and help the rest of us understand!

  19. Thank you, this is so beautiful and so very true. There are moments when it’s hard not to wish for the boards to finally just break all the way and crash with a final sigh. But, that rustic beauty seems to peak through just often enough to leave me thinking, “Okay, I’d still like to linger here a while.” <3

  20. So great to see you out and about. I absolutely love your posts about that dilapidated structure. That house definitely speaks to me.

    I’m running on very little sleep taking care of mama and pups this week. Mama’s been waking up every couple of hours to take care of the babies and I’ve been getting up to take care of her and help with the pups. They’re a week old today — and HUGE. 🙂

  21. I’d like to write a funny comment, but all I can say is I appreciate your spirit and writing. Your descriptions here are stunning. Thanks. 👍

  22. Thank you. I needed this today. I have been doing many hard things. Today I got overwhelmed by it. Then I read this.
    Thank you.

  23. When I was a little girl I was obsessed with this book about adventurers and heroines. The kind of women who dragged themselves from homestead to town with a brutal rattlesnake bite on their calf. Or who explored the Arctic and made it back to some place warmer.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure some of those women were in Texas, and I’m almost sure one of them was you. Or should have been. What you fight through, the life you live and the beauty you create – it keeps so many people going. You are a definite heroine, especially there in your writing retreat.

    So glad you have a place that sustains you.

  24. Thank you for this post. I’ve been depressed lately. I’ve been trying to write a new blog post for months, but lack the energy. My husband often doesn’t get home until past 8:00 pm, and I’m left in the house with my two dogs all day because I find it hard to leave my house for anything. Then, I feel guilty that I can’t even find the motivation to walk them. Thank God we have a fenced in backyard. But it’s gotta get boring for them. You remind me that things will get better, even if only for awhile. One of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling human is to go online shopping and stay up all night and all day the next day. The trouble with that is I feel like your broken house the day after I’ve been up for two days. Everything hurts and I have a 2 day crash afterwards.. Thanks for reminding me that the foundation is strong like I am strong at my core.. This too shall pass.

  25. How did you get two of you in the second shot? I love it.

    (I videotaped myself with my phone and then did screenshots and then used clone to combine the pictures. ~ Jenny)

  26. There is something magical about writing without technology, without a net, without furnishings, without a lot of things we take for granted. Sometimes that puts me into that fever where I’m running so hot that I must get words out of me. It is also usually when I write my weirdest stuff but it’s fun.

  27. I love places like that! I’m glad you got to get out today. Currently reading your first book and actually laughing out loud. That is rare territory for me with a book. 😉

  28. Thank you, Jenny. I had a nasty, rotten fight over boundaries with my mother on Friday, and I really needed to hear this.

  29. Thanks for the reminder. The last few days have been awful and I am barely holding it together. Came home early from work today and I’m not sure I’m ready to go back tomorrow. PTSD nightmares just leave me empty. Hope to catch a ray of that sunshine soon ❤️

  30. A shower??? Bravo bloggess. Bravo. I put my hair in a ponytail. Felt like that was enough for today.

  31. Beautiful message. Thank you for sharing your word with us. I’m more the pile of rubble after a demolition, but reading your words lets a little light back in.

  32. Do you have any idea how simply beautiful you are? I can’t get over it.
    Thank you

  33. Thank you. I’ve been dealing with chronic pain myself. It does my head in. Sometimes it’s difficult to climb out of the pit of despair. But this helps <3

  34. Needed this today… as it appears so did everyone else in the comment stream. Missed you … somehow I even stopped reading your blog. Im going to do better

  35. How is it you know exactly what’s going on in my life and exactly what I need to read to wake up another day and say “yes, I’ll get up and find the happy in today”? Are you stalking me? Am I the only one who feels this way? (PS I’m not upset by the stalking. Stalk away! I’ll try to make things more interesting soon).

  36. Once again I’m in awe of your writing and your way with words. This is so beautiful and really resonates with me, as I’ve been dealing with some chronic health issues recently, too.

  37. Thank you for your final words. I have been doing nothing but crying all day, at the end of my rope but trying to hold on and climb back up. Trying not to let the world’s pressures overtake me for good. It helps to know that there are people who are/have been in the same spot but have made it out of the dark. Thanks for your blog and books.

  38. Now THAT is beautiful! I’ve been fighting for days–weeks–I don’t know how long, actually, but holding on some days by my fingernails, and that is simply beautiful. Thank you.

  39. I was feeling very off today as well but this has made my day. I forget how actually stronger I am when I tend to think I’m weak in most situations. This makes me feel a little better now knowing that I am stronger than I think and that our brains are always lying to us.

  40. I was feeling off today as well but this has made my day. I tend to think that I’m weak when actually I am a lot stronger than I think. My brain seems to always be lying so I’m trying to learn to think that I am more stronger. 🙂

  41. Today was a difficult day for me and I needed to read this. ❤ I see myself as a mildewed cottage with peeling white paint, by a moss-covered pond. 🤪

  42. Thank you so much for this. I wish I one day have the strength to battle my lying and deceiving brain and can start to give myself some credit, like you do. You are strong and loved. And I guess, so am I.

  43. It’a cool that you’re the kind of person that notices new holes in the floor of a shack. You have an empathetic soul.

    Also, please don’t work on your pyrokinesis while you’re there.

  44. Not long ago (and still on occasion) I was very proud of myself for taking a shower and even more so if I also left the house. More power to you. ❤️

  45. My daughter is grown now, but never lost the love she has for exploring abandoned houses I gave her when she was yoiung. Any time we saw a house that was obviously empty, we would break in regardless of the condition of the house. However, the old delapidated ones were the best.

    I live in China now, so I’m nervous to try it here, but I can live through the pictures my daughter posts of her trespassing adventures.

  46. I’m glad you’ve had a moment of peace & clarity. I’m trying to get there, but it feels absolutely insurmountable these past few months.

  47. Thank you, I really needed to read this today. Anxiety and panic stricken all day, almost had to leave work because I could barely function. Trying to keep it together for the little one growing inside me and already feeling like a failure because I can’t stay calm. Just have to remember I am stronger than I think.

  48. Amazing Jenny! Today in Canada is something called Bell Let’s Talk Day. Our national phone company, Bell, will make donations to mental health initiatives for every tweet or repost that uses #BellLetsTalk. I always feel better after reading your blog…. because I know that I’m not alone.

  49. As many have said, thank you Jenny.

    I have just switched from Zoloft to Wellbutrin and it’s not going well. The terrible withdrawal has stopped but something is still not right. Why is it so hard for doctors to understand that? Still. Not. Right. I am not difficult, I just want to feel some semblance of normal. I am fighting for myself – why won’t they fight for me too?

    Anyway, thank you for speaking out. You help more than you’ll ever know.

  50. Thank you for this, Jenny. I’m still stuck myself in illness, depression, and anxiety, but your words and your strength help remind me that, first off I’m not alone, and secondly, even if it passes like a kidney stone, this too shall pass.

  51. Second picture: The bad-ass you daring anyone to f*** with the vulnerable you. Gorgeous photography. Love you, Jenny.

  52. This gave me chills. You feel like your body is falling apart, and I feel like my life is, or has, so your message and metaphor is as magical and timely as it is poignant.
    I literally just wrote something to the same effect (shameless self-plug, but it’s relevant for sure “Searching for Words, Finding Hope”:
    Shit starts to fall apart and we get turned upside down- lose our stride, our voice, and often our words. This is what happened to me, anyway, and what tends to be the beginning of a vicious cycle that sends me free-falling…and down the rabbit hole I go…
    All to say, you inspire me to keep writing through it, even when it’s the last thing I want to do. You ARE incredibly strong and keep forging ahead, sharing your words, even when you are hallucinating from fever and hobbling around with imaginary tape stuck to the bottom of your feet. (the hallucination part I’d be down with, but the tape thing sounds maddening.)
    So thank you.
    I will end with this because this is writing at its best:
    “The wind sings strange songs through the walls and the rain and sun come inside, creating glorious damage and fascinating scars. It’s dangerously flammable and more than slightly unstable but it still works. Much like me.”

  53. Jenny, I love you. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read in this period of transition in my life. YOU are my hero. I need you in my good days and bad. You’re a phenomenal woman whom I’ve introduced to many of my friends. Your humor, your view of the world, and your strength help us to get by. Thank you for being our voice.

  54. You know, I am older than the house I live in. Sometimes I think about that. Yours is a good insight into the matter. I’ve been through hell and back again many times and about to go in again. Everyone says I look really good for my age which apparently negates all that hell. What it gets me is “Oh you’re strong!” Diagnosed and dismissed in one fell swoop. You know this old house has stories to tell and secrets to reveal. But what the heck…it’s just some old house. New, pretty houses are so much easier to live in. You are right that I can go to this old house and find myself and leave myself there. It is good to know I am not the only one.

  55. Thx for this… all day/week/month I’ve been feeling like a wasp filled splintery useless pathetic loser and you reminded me there is beauty as well…

  56. Thank you for being you and sharing you with the world. You have helped more people than I’m sure you will ever know……I am one of them.

  57. Thank you for being you and sharing your authentic self with the world. You have helped more people than you will ever know…..I am one of them.

  58. I’m glad you’re better. I’m glad there’s a better to be. Today for the first time in a long time a thought keeps repeating: I don’t have to be alive. I’m glad there’s a better. I’m glad you posted this. Thank you.

  59. The only thing better than a safe and cozy place in your mind, is one in your back yard. And scars are beautiful because they are the medals of honor from your battles. Soldier on, Jenny. :o)

  60. Beautiful! Thank you for supporting Canada’s Bell Let’s Talk Day for mental health.

  61. We are all stronger than we think!! Something to brighten your day- my 13 year old son spent the last year listening to Furiously Happy over and over again, because I told him we were going to be furiously happy when we found out 14months ago that he needed a heart transplant. Regardless of the outcome we would enjoy life together. He got a heart last week! He is doing well and your words, your voice was one of the things that helped him get through it.

  62. I love pics like these. I always wonder- what does it smell like, in these places. When the wind blows what loose old nails creak in the boards. What birds are singing, or squirrels rustling the leaves. Imagining the answers lets me enjoy the space too.

  63. Like so many others have said already, thank you for sharing this. Thank you for the reminder that we are beautiful the way we are and because of the scars we’ve collected along the way. They tell our story. Thank you for reminding me it’s what makes me interesting, and strong, and beautiful, and not something I have to hide. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone.

  64. Reading this made me tear up. I was going to say “And I didn’t even need to hear it today,” but that’s not true. We all need to hear it every day. You don’t have to be having a bad day to need the reminder that you’re stronger than you look, stronger than you think, stronger than you feel, and you will get through this if you don’t give up.

    So thank you for a more eloquent reminder of this than I could ever hope to manage for myself.

  65. Thanks for sharing. Being stuck is not where I like being but it’s good to know I’m stronger than that situation.

  66. From the moment I started to read your blog posts, I just fell in love with the way you write. Thank you for sharing this. You’re amazing!

  67. I can’t tell you how relevant this is for me. I had my thyroid removed 10 years ago and no one understands how sick that can make you when your meds aren’t exactly right. Currently there’s a national shortage of said meds and I’ve taken to my bed until we can figure out a reasonable substitute. The severe hypothyroidism triggers my vasculitis pain and turns my brain into a fog. Most people don’t understand invisible illnesses so they just avoid me until it’s over because they don’t know what to say or do. You always knew what to say because you live with it too. Never stop writing. It makes all of us feel so much less alone. I know it does the same for you.

  68. I always enjoy reading your blogs and have nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Not sure if this is something you participate in, but hope you’ll have a blast if you do.

  69. Love this! I’m so glad to be back in the blogosphere and reading your work again. You and I share a common blogger friend from back in the early days of blogging…Gwendomama. I lived near her, she taught my son music, and we became good friends. I miss her dearly. She was another woman who was for sure stronger than you’d think. Anyway…thank you.

  70. I have been feeling so off lately. Increased depressive episodes. Anxiety through the roof.

    Even the most damaged things are still beautiful. As we all are.

  71. This week has been Hell on wheels for me…seriously bad on all fronts. I blame the moon, but I don’t know if that really has anything to do with it. I have been wanting to build a blanket fort and hide all week, but I have forced myself out into the workplace to enter the fray once again each day. It is helpful to me to know I am not alone and be reminded that I am stronger than I believe in times lime this. Thank you, Jenny.

  72. How can I let you know that this post today just made me wipe my eyes with both hands and breathe free and deep for the first time since Monday. I am stronger than I think: I keep forgetting this even though every day proves that I am. Every day I am here and doing the work as best as I know how in that moment, but oh I forget. I am stronger than I know, and I will not forget that. *Thank you forever from the very corners of my heart. *

  73. Thank you. As I near the first anniversary of my husband’s death, I feel broken and ready to fall apart…..but I haven’t. And I won’t. I continue to fight to find joy in the new life I am building for myself and my kids….even as I sometimes cannot breathe for the pain and fear. Thank you for the words to remind me I won’t break. I will keep standing strong. But sometimes, I might lean a bit. Because pain. Or wine.

  74. Lovely post. There are so many people with invisible conditions and comorbidities (I love this word; it sounds as if it should describe a person who collects Fiji mermaids AND mouse spines AND bezoars AND gravedirt), and the internet is a good place to connect and realize we’re all in the struggle together. I wonder if beautiful but also partly broken people are drawn to beautiful and broken places and things. I like how you wrote damage and scars as glorious and fascinating. Interesting thoughts.

  75. I just love that you wear dresses – another way you bring beauty into the world.

  76. Ha…yesterday I sat in a lukewarm bath listening to Leon Bridges “River” on repeat for approximately 831 hours crying and I didn’t have enough spoons to get out.

    This is who I am now.

  77. Thank you so much for posts like this. I know you get that a lot, but it’s made me brave enough to start my own blog and to actually comment on yours. I’ve been reading for years and reading your books, but something like leaving a comment has terrified me. I’d doing it now to live up to this post.

  78. You are an awesome person. I hope you have more days like this one. When you can do whatever you want. Stay strong.

  79. I just want to say thank you for letting me know that it’s ok to feel depressed and that I am not alone when it comes being around people. For the last week I have been drowning in my depression and I don’t see my way out yet but I know it’s there thanks to you.

  80. This is really really eerie for me. I could swear that house, and something akin to those words, showed up in a dream I had like 8 months ago. Including the wasp nests and the broken wooden walls. Thank you. I always love your work <3

  81. Crazy beautiful photos, fills my heart with a yearning to be there. Where are you that you can wear a dress alone in February? It’s freezing, though sunny, in England today.

  82. Thanks so much for this.
    I am always reminding myself that I am stronger than…fill in the blank. Stronger than the depression, the anxiety, the fibromyalgia, etc.
    But to have you tell me that…..well, it’s as if a good friend just gave me a hug and told me that in person. I don’t think anyone but you would have that effect on me with the written word.
    Thank you so much for being there.

  83. Such a great place, I can see why you are drawn to it and thanks so much for sharing it. You are one of my heroes. I identify with so much of your ideas, maladies and inspirations

    The link above goes to a CBC Ideas podcast by Heather O’Neill- it’s a lecture at U of Alberta on life lessons her father, a petty criminal and janitor, taught her. It’s funny, wonderful and moving. Well worth pouring a glass of wine, sitting and listening

  85. Way to be here. Way to show up and keep being you. Some days, it doesn’t feel like enough, but it always is. Always.

  86. Would love to be able to view a mobile version of your post within the reader part of the WP app.

    I can relate a lot to your posts, as I suffer from severe anxiety, and I go into your post via the Reader, but it’s not all there and links to an outside site – so I press on that and the page is huge and I have to scroll up and down and back and forth to see it all properly, which ruins the flow of the post (which I really appreciate, especially since I find your posts humorous, even if stressful times were had in the situation) – and I don’t want to have to click again to open it in my browser, because that means leaving the WP app, which is the whole point of having it.

    I really dislike when a post is just a snippet and ‘more’ leads to a different place altogether, which is a shame, as I’m sure I miss out on a lot of great content from not clicking further – but, yours are the posts I always wish to read and enjoy; just, all the clicks to get to a easy readable version of content stresses me out and makes my anxiety worse, then your post brings my anxiety down, buy not down further than what it originally was before I began, which is a shame, for me any way.

  87. I love your special place, just as you are special. We’re all borken and falling down, but still, we can create and BE. Love you

  88. My own anxiety has been Hell lately, and I really needed this today. In times like these, I find myself wondering “What would Jenny do?” and come here and always find hope and humor. ❤

  89. beautiful as always. “Faulkner” was the first thing that popped in my head when i saw the photos. i used to gravity survey along the Mississippi in the early eighties in Tennessee and Missouri, sometimes in wheat fields, always back roads, and sometimes in boats, with snakes dripping out of the trees, and the old farm houses with high water flood marks on the walls, and peach Ne-hi. very evocative.

  90. My perfect and beautiful 5 month old daughter died suddenly and unexpectedly and terrifyingly last night. I cling to your words for what small comfort they give me. I am broken, i am falling apart, but I hope I am stronger than I seem, for my husband, for our older daughter, and for myself.

    (I am sending you so much love and light. I can’t even imagine what you’re going through. ~ Jenny)

  91. Hard to breathe, relationship mourning, anxiety higher than unusual, bad place again, doing stuff to help/distract, I feel unmoored. Thank-you, we are all stronger than we think we are💕🌸💕

  92. Jenny, So glad you’re feeling human again — though, when I read your beautiful post, I got a shiver and realized this may end up being your ghost home — like a million years from now — hope I’m not being too morbid! What a lovely place to haunt, though, for humans and ghosts alike!

  93. Thank you! I really connected with this post, I’m going through a very rough patch and reading this made me smile. Whenever I’m feeling down I just open your blog and read a bit and I find myself laughing. Keep up the great work!

  94. Sometimes it takes Jenny to make me understand broken can be beautiful. I’m horribly broken to the point of feeling completely useless and a waste of space. I have problems seeing my beautiful parts. I forget broken can be beautiful and sometimes even loved. Add in all the people who seem to like to kick us when we are down and it makes me feel so much worse. I really needed this today. Thank you Jenny <3

  95. I felt the depression coming on strong today. First time reading your blog… any blog really, but have read Furiously Happy and am now reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened… I am so grateful I knew you were out here creating this community and place where I could reach out from underneath my blanket of impending doom to try to pull out of the nose dive before I crash. I’m already feeling better. I may even try doing something other than sleep today…

  96. Even broken crayons still color. Thank you for sharing this story, Jenny. Thank you for being alive.

  97. “Don’t be fooled. It may look like it’s falling apart but it’s so much stronger than you think. So am I.” – Thank you for this line. Thank you for everything you write about. I have been stuck lately as well. I injured my foot badly 2 weeks ago and I am still waiting to see a doc due to the wonderful world of insurance. I can’t walk, drive, or basically ever be alone. And my anxiety is constantly telling me I am going to die and that people are always staring at me. I am an independent introvert but I have been forced to depend on others for rides to work and tell my story to snoopy coworkers over and over. It is exhausting in so many ways. And I have broken down so many times out of frustration at my body.

    I. am. emotionally. drained. But I tell myself I am strong. I will make it. I’ve got this. And so do you.

  98. “Don’t be fooled. It may look like it’s falling apart but it’s so much stronger than you think.” As I wait for yet another surgery, to try to fix something else that has gone awry, this nicely describes me and my life. I have two sisters and I seem to have been given all the medical $#!+ to deal with. There is a laundry list of oddities and aweful’s as I like to think I’d them) that I have had to deal with. They always say ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ I don’t either. I just do. The other option is not appealing at all & I’m on my own here so I have to get through the aweful &#!+ to get to the good things that happen. After this, the next one better be not just good but f***ing amazing!

Leave a Reply