Last night I sat in a room, surrounded by other damaged people; a support group of sorts. The moderator posed a question for us to consider. Where is your healing place? While my comrades seemed to ponder their answers with a twinge of uncertainty, I knew my answer without hesitation. Writing. Writing is where I bleed and where I heal. I have other healing places, such as the beach, rain, trees, creative projects and solitude, but writing is where my real medicine is.
I think this may be the reason for my long bouts of literary silence. Sometimes I can’t find words. Other times, I don’t want to. I don’t want to spill my soul out. It’s a mess that I rarely feel I have the time or the fortitude to deal with. Reliving my thoughts, penning (or typing) them down, means I have to think them. I have to give them life.
It’s foolish for me to think they don’t have a life already, regardless of my acknowledgement. Those wounds exist with or without my permission. But, what if I can’t contain the emotional deluge that inevitably accompanies their exposure? If I start; if I unlock those gates, I might just fall to pieces. Truly. So, I leave the space. The void. The blinking cursor on the empty screen.
Time passes, and the blankness remains, and I function. I do the stuff of life. Kids to school. Dinner. Bath-time, diapers, dogs, toilets, mail. I write my nutrition papers – the ones that pay the bills. I watch my shows, and laugh, and cry. But, when you’re a writer, you’re always writing. It’s there in your head. ALWAYS. Words float around and bump about, occasionally forming clarity, but usually they tease. It’s an internal conversation that persists regardless of the stuff.
A good portion of the time, writers are introverts. We live in our heads. We relish our solitude, despite a very clear need for social interaction, support, and friendship. We prefer to present ourselves from a distance; from behind our pens. Those who know me well, know that I struggle with social interaction, even talking on the phone. I’d much rather text, email, or write snail-mail. It’s a quirk, and I’m aware that it alienates me more than I want it to. It’s a social anxiety, I’m sure. It just is.
So, when a writer doesn’t write, the words can become overwhelming. And that’s when the fear of writing them down becomes real. And their release, necessary. Like letting the steam out of a pressure cooker. In her song, 'Breathe', Anna Nalick has a line that describes this experience well:
“2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer
Inside of me threatening the life it belongs to”
It is a torturous and honest… and beautiful necessity. It is medicine. When I let them out, my words, my closest companions; the pain seeps out with them. I am suddenly aware of my heart pulsing; my cheeks are wet with tears; my soul exposed. It is the truth inside of me, and it is rarely pretty; but it is my truth. And as the pain filters out, the space that remains begins to expand. And, in that space, I heal.