I shut the Writing Department inside me down about three years ago. I’ll go into that another day.
I’ve known for at least two of those three years that I need to open it up again.
A few weeks ago, I was reading a book that made my WHY more clear for me; set another person free. It’s just something the author said in regards to telling the truth, but it settled into a huge empty space I’d been lost in until now.
I’ve known I want to help people, and I’ve known that telling one’s story is so important. I’m not sure how in touch I’ve been with the truth that a huge aspect of how we help others get free of their chains is to be open with them about our struggles with those same chains and others.
But where to start?
Nathan Englander said, “Write what you know.”
I know marriage, parenting, miscarriage, coming from a broken home, PTSD, chronic pain, rape and abuse, having a child with a chronic illness, pregnancy struggles, financial hardship, abuse in ministry, bankruptcy, betrayal, struggles with weight, worthlessness, some physical things I’m not ready to name here on one of our first few dates, low FODMAP, faith journey, crises of faith, bulimia nervosa, eating disorder recovery, (working with) homelessness, IBS, fear, estrangement, panic attacks, anxiety, Empty Nest, parenting young adults, homeschooling …
I also know, in a different context of “know,” that my charge going forward in life is to be as authentic as I can be. That means, then, as vulnerable and transparent as I can be, because I cannot be authentically me if I am not being honest about who I am and how I got Here, and if I am not willing to present that person. I’m not talking about full disclosure from the moment I bump into someone in line at Trader Joe’s, but rather a readiness to bring all of me to the table at any point.
This is truly TERRIFYING. Like, long strand of swear words and this-is-why-some-people-drink-too-much terrifying.
For one, no offense, but you out there can be so mean. The scariest place in the world is a comment thread. DEAR GOD. I’m sure “present company excluded,” although I’ve seen some of your posts and comments, too, and secretly thanked God I wasn’t the one you were mad at or fed up with or in disagreement with. I also found myself frantically scanning for the map of How to NOT End Up There.
But, then, how is that being authentically me?
Secondly – (or what actually follows “For one.” For two? I never know. #conflict) I don’t know that I’m at peace yet with all of me.
Okay actually, full disclosure: I’m not. I am not yet at peace with all of me, which means giving anyone else a chance to have an opinion about me or what goes on in my heart …. well ….. it’s frightening. The last thing I need right now is Monday morning quarterbacks feeding my unsaid narrative.
But, I have tried to avoid The Critics and The Judgers – real or perceived – all of my life, which has basically just reinforced my archaic inner dialogue that I am less than others. I’m realizing, as seems to happen for some when our egg factories dry up and our kids ditch the coop, that there will be people who criticize and judge me no matter what I do in life, so I may as well actually do ME instead of other people’s Preferred Me. If you don’t love me for who I am, you don’t really see Me anyway – so why, for the love of all that is chocolate or caffeinated, would I take to heart what you say about me?
Truth is, I’m not there yet. But I need to be done with being afraid of the disapproval from the cheap seats. I need to just do ME, and let the chips fall where they may. I’m not responsible for the chips, only for being fully and unashamedly me. Tall order, but stranger things have happened.
So, take it for what it is. Or, rather, take me for who I am.
I will write what I know, and you are free to skip over it, consider it, embrace it, and even to judge and troll (though I sure wish you wouldn’t). But if that’s who you are, well …. (*insert sound of chips falling*) (Whatever that sounds like?)
Stay tuned ……..