Hello there. It's been a while.
I only intended to be off of my blog and Facebook for 40 days, and that 40 days ended over a week ago. When the time came for me to come back and tell you all something about my time off, I found I didn't really have anything to say. I wrote blog posts and discarded them because they were trying to hard to prove something. So I waited some more, becoming increasingly concerned that inspiration had not struck.
Inspiration still has not found me, so I guess I'll go ahead and just give it a go.
I don't have any deep thoughts for you. Time out of the internet social network was the same as time in it, except quieter. I honestly expected that I would have some kind of spiritual epiphany, as if I had gone up into a cave for a month and waited for God to speak. That didn't happen. Sure, I had several useful thought-processes and made what I think of as some discoveries, but I remain very much as I was.
More so, in fact. I find that fact a little embarrassing.
Right now—as I am writing—something in this house has gone terribly bad. I can smell it every time I inhale through my nose. It is, judging by the odor, either some very rotten milk or a dead cat. I have searched for the source of the smell in vain for several days and I can't find it, so instead of looking, I am boiling orange peels and cinnamon on my stove.
And this sort of sums up everything.
The things about myself that I don't like just keep on stinking up the place. I am insecure, self-involved, and prone to fits of anger and depression. Still. I wonder, all the time, if I am hiding this well enough, underneath the smell of cinnamon, and if it smells as bad to you as it does to me. I have frequent moments of peace and I think I have found The Answer, but, once the water boils away, the smell still lingers on the air.
I am stuck with it. And I think it might be fear.
Writing a memoir is very unsettling. Or, at least it was for me. I don't regret having done it, but it hasn't been easy to do. Taking the intimate truth of my humanity and putting it down for others to read takes something like courage, and I am not sure yet if it's a courage that I want. I'm not sure yet if I am ready to be criticized—not just for how I write but for who I am. I am not sure I am ready to read internet reviews that make me feel like all the cinnamon and citrus in the world cannot hide the odor of my truth.
This fear is not unreasonable. The internet can be a bit cruel, don't you think?
In my book, I wrote a chapter about middle school. (Remember middle school?) It is called "Forsaken," and it is about feeling that no place in the world was safe, that everything about me—even my trying to be different and better—was fuel for others to torment me. It is about losing my faith in a world that loved and wanted me. Perhaps it's about losing God. When I was twelve and thirteen, there really was nowhere safe for me to turn to. There was no real respite from the pain. It lingered on me, festering, until I learned how to treat myself with alcohol and drugs and then later with the 12 steps.
This is relevant, because I find that the social media world often feels a great deal like middle school to me.
In dealing with this, I have focused entirely on the notion of courage, on boldness, on shameless truth-telling. I believe in all those things. I truly believe that there is nothing in that memoir I need be ashamed of and that it contains a great many things to which others will relate. So, I have plunged forward, over what felt like a quietly mounting hysteria, and prepared to give it to the world. I have thought about selling it, about revising it, about making it the best version of me that it can be. I have buckled down and striven to do my best.
It occurs for me only now that this may not be very healthy.
I find that the person who wrote that memoir needs a safe place she can turn. Before she opens herself up to the universe, inviting anyone—no matter their intention—to take a look, she deserves for her feelings to be known. There needs to be a spirituality that can hold her, a circle of friendship that can sustain her, and a real choice to go forward.
She needs permission to turn back.
I find it's easier to empathize with my own needs when I think of myself as a daughter, someone whom I love unconditionally and whose feelings, no matter how large, remain important to me. And if I had a daughter and she was scared and vulnerable and hoping for courage she wasn't sure she had, I'd give her permission. I'd give her space.
So, I am doing that.
I am waiting and I am learning whether I can be with myself, whether I can see all of I have written, and all I think, as the story that is and not as the one true case about life. I am not going to send it out into the world until I can sit with myself in silence and be comfortable with what I find. I think I owe that to myself.
So, thanks for being patient with me. Right now, my work as a writer requires more mediation and less courage, more quiet, and less of my own commentary.
I need to divest myself of my fear-based desire for acceptance and popularity.
I wonder if any of you can relate. I wonder if anyone else is learning to have self-compassion and sit still. If you are, and you are willing to share about it, I'd love to hear from you.
I have other things I want to share with you, but, for now, I will just say: I missed you. Drop by and say hello.