Sunday, 5:00 PM. I get home from a day spent on yoga, brunching and shopping with a friend. Busy and fun and productive–pretty typical of a pre-holiday weekend day. The whole evening stretches out in front of me. I only have a few essentials on the agenda: Homeland (obv), laundry, writing, maybe starting a new book. I find the early showing of Homeland, and get the laundry going so by 8:00 I’m ready to sit at my computer and let the words of a new blog post come flowing out.
And….nothing. I cannot think of anything I want to write. No pithy little anecdotes, no profound revelations, no small lessons learned. Nothing is happening.
I turn on a movie. Flip through a magazine. Check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram before returning to a blank screen. Still nothing. When I get up and start cleaning the kitchen (shudder), I know I’m officially and actively avoiding writing.
It’s not just the writing that is suffering. My body knows I am carrying around things that are too heavy but I refuse to release, like an overstuffed backpack whose seams gradually start to pull away from each other, threads ripping one by one until they finally threaten to dislodge. I can feel it in my head, which has been in a constant state of dull headaches over the past week. Me, who never gets headaches, complaining about this tightness that just won’t loosen. My back, always the first to alert me to my state of affairs, is clenched. A massage doesn’t help, yoga doesn’t help, God, even wine doesn’t help. It stays stuck.
I think I know why.
I’ve been writing this blog for two months now. I have opened up more in those two months than I had in the previous two decades. It has been scary, amazing, cathartic, eye-opening and affirming. I have heard from strangers, and friends, and family. The people I needed to hear from most, and the ones I never in a million years thought would read, much less care. Loving messages of compassion and support. I have worked very hard to, as the name of the website suggests, “confess” to the many and varied imperfections in my life. Ultimately freeing myself of the pressure to seem perfect (not that anyone ever thought I was; but still, I continued to peddle that story).
There are the deep, dark truths that have not been examined yet; truths I have barely revealed to myself, buried far, far below the surface, below even the memory. That have been acknowledged and then glossed over as quickly at they were unearthed. That still eat away at me daily. That I hold onto, out of some misguided fear that they are who I am and how can I possibly live without them.
I NEED TO WRITE THEM. And I don’t want to.
Or rather, part of me doesn’t want to. I have been waking up at night, unsure of where I am or why I’m awake, but reaching for my computer to jot down a few lines. I am stuck in traffic and feel compelled to pick up a scrap of paper, a gum wrapper, anything I can write on, so I don’t forget the thoughts or words that are struggling to release themselves. My mind, always racing, is screaming for this release. My hands, sometimes compliant, sometimes defiant, are so fickle in their loyalties.
Writing these truths means reliving them. I can’t rely on what I think happened. My memory, always spotty at best, plagued with holes. I mostly remember things through the storytelling rather than my own recollections. How my sister always had a wad of grape bubble gum in her mouth, almost before she could talk. And how she talked, and talked, and talked. How I stood on the stage and sang Annie songs at my nursery school–in the middle of the day, by myself, not in a school play (nor requested). How I would climb into bed with my grandparents in the mornings when they visited, and play “I spy, with my little eye” from the pullout couch in the guest room. How my mom sang “You Are My Sunshine” and “My Funny Valentine” with me, and read “Are You My Mother” and “Goodnight Moon”. It all feels so familiar, and yet, do I really remember any of it? Or am I just repeating back stories long told in our family about the good old days.
But no one has told me the story of THESE truths. They’re not shared at family gatherings. They don’t come up at the high school reunions. My friends don’t talk about them on our annual Miami trip. So I must go back and re-live them, one by one, in order to expose them. I start and I stop. I shut down. I hibernate. I’m comfortable there.
And then I go back to the keyboard and try again.
It may take me a while. It may take me forever. But I know I need to share these truths. So that I’m not a fraud who feigns at opening up but never really gets down to the core. So that I can work through what is holding me back. So that I can break through the poorly constructed scabs, cut out the scar tissue, and sew up the wounds properly. There may be scars, they may not be pretty, but what’s underneath will be clean, strong…and healed.