I had just started therapy. The chance to talk about myself, and only myself was relishing. I loved being able to sit in the chair and have someone listen to me. There were a few questions, but very few. Yet somehow, a thing began to open up in me, a tenderness and an honesty. Really it was a sadness. A deep sadness and grief. I felt like a failure. I’d poured years of my life into my job and my family and my husband and my church and my activism and my looks and all these things. But the one thing, the only thing I’d ever wanted to do, was missing.
I realized it while driving down the road. My thoughts opened up like a firefly from the bottle where he’s been housed by a small child. All I wanted, was to write. I knew, as I’d always known, that if I didn’t get myself to write and tell my story, I would carry this sadness the rest of my life. Suddenly the make-up of success and perfection melted off me. I was left grey and plain and alone. But not so alone, because the honest confession that I was missing all that I really cared about, was my new companion. To write. I believe it, felt like a distant dream. Like knowing myself, in some future state, the ability to know who I really am. The ability to accept myself and be free to feel, fully. It wasn’t just the dream of success, the dream of being published and known by the identity of writer. It was the realization that I could only be alive if I was writing.
From that moment on I was changed. I knew writing was all that mattered. I was still so far away from being able to do it, but at least I’d changed my course. I’d admitted to myself that I’d been led astray. I think perhaps my fear of failure led me away in the beginning. Then my mind did that thing where you have to justify the choice you made by continuing to make choices that lead you down that same path. Never having to admit wrong doing. That was what was important to me.
These moments of honesty, they are so powerful, but so fleeting. I am so good at lying to myself, pretending that everything is fine. Numbing myself with business and duty. I love the positive feedback of doing what I’m supposed to do and someone tells me they “don’t know how I do it.
But all those choices at the end of the day have nothing to do with who I am and what I want. I don’t want to admit that I gave that all up a long time ago, but as the years tick on, the realization that I don’t have forever is getting the better of my fears. To have to write is my seed. When I pursue that life, the life where I need to write, and where I have a purpose, and writing helps me get there, that is when I feel most alive. I don’t know why I ran away from it for so long. I had an idea of writing, and it looked like a quirky short story, or a fully developed novel. My idea of writing always looked peculiarly like someone else. I hadn’t yet accepted that the story I needed to tell had to be wholey mine, and that I might not like it.
After my divorce, that voice inside my head grew a little louder. It was only a little louder, but loud enough to hear, all the time. I began to write until the goosebumps rose on my arms. Writing became like orgasming. I think it was myself coming out of a dark shell that had finally, permanently cracked. I was feeling what it was like to be me, in many ways for the first time ever. Writing became my identity. Not because I was known to the world as a writer, but because I was known to myself as a writer, I was writing. Writing it down in bursts of pieces of feelings and images. Honesty about the world and the pain that lives inside me could start to come out. It would take years to actually be comfortable writing anything, everything, writing freely and fluidly. The voice inside is loud now, the voice inside is my voice, the one I speak out into the world and the one I write with. I have been and always will be, a writer, I know this, but slowly, surely and each day a little more, I am this.