Last month I took an incredible writing workshop with Sonya Spillman called Writing With Purpose. For our first assignment, she asked us to submit a page of our writing and recommended that we start with the prompt(s): writing is… or Why I’m here. I grappled with it. Nothing felt right. I couldn’t decide if I was being a perfectionist or just holding on too tight? Finally, I decided it was some of both. I walked around repeating the two starting points and then tried to loosen the reigns. Then I sat down with my journal and started writing.
This is what I came up with.
Writing is connection. As a young child I had an imaginary friend named Sweepy. I don’t remember this but my mother tells a story about it – how once she took me to a friends house and, pulling me in tow across the threshold by my small hand, I let out a blood-curdling scream as the heavy wooden door closed behind us. Startled and panicked that I may have gotten a finger smashed, she knelt to frantically examine me as I continued to wail. As I regained my composure, I was able to tell her between sobs “you shut Sweepy in the door!” I talked and played with Sweepy for hours as a toddler – he was my first friend. And then one day, he disappeared. Life as an only child can be lonely, I remember that much as true.
I have a hard time letting go.
I just now threw away a bag of kidney-diet cat food that I have had since my favorite cat died of kidney failure over a year ago. Why hadn’t I done that before? As I walked back downstairs I wondered if part of the challenge in writing for me is in the letting go of words. I wonder how much of the breaking open, spilling out process is about control. Fear of release – of letting go. The stories of my heart are so neatly kept under the surface.
What does it look like to crack it all open? How do I even do that? Am I afraid the words will hurt me? Is there pain here? Or are words the outlet – the processing opportunity? I love writing, and yet how often it mocks me. I come to write and words turn their back on me. Do I feel betrayed by them or am I the betrayer? Why am I here? To unlock some secret door or solve the puzzle? There is no depth in those cheesy answers – neither thing is a truth. That is not my heart. Those are not my words.
Writing has held me. Wrapped words around me like strong comforting arms when my heart is heavy, when I’m afraid of my own ghosts. Writing has been companionship – the one who listens to me, cares for what is on my heart, holds so much space for me. Writing makes me feel heard when sometimes the world around me doesn’t know I exist.
Reading other people’s words has offered me empathy, solidarity that has helped me feel less alone in my life. Books and poetry have offered so much solace. A space for me to feel a resounding “me too” deep within my soul. A place to not feel so “only.”
Words connect me to my past.
To my feelings, the darkest parts of myself, and the deepest fears. To the page, that anchors me. Holds space for me. And when I don’t have them – it’s like I’m being smothered. Like my fire has simply ceased. Energy pulses under the surface of my skin and threatens to burst into flames. I feel it. It wants out. It wants connection. Companionship. It wants to be heard and seen and honored and mourned and validated and shared. It wants to heal. It’s as though a bandage has been placed over a wound that needs to be ripped off so it can breathe and the words are the air that fuels the regrowth.
Back in February, I shared a post about starting a mini-series on writing. In that post I mentioned that I had been taking various writing courses through the Exhale creativity community and Writing With Purpose was another workshop offered through Exhale. In January of this year I wrote that one of the things I’m still learning, is that I want to share what I write from a work in progress place. Raw and vulnerable and off the cuff. Work in progress, just like me in real life.
So here I am again. Still writing and reaching out to share with you – because I believe that we can all benefit by sharing our stories with each other.
Thanks for being here with me.