Writing well and true doesn’t always leave me feeling well and true, or happy.
This knowledge came home to me yesterday.
I had two days of writing draft for my book. I knew what I needed to work on. A bridge was necessary between the book’s opening pieces and the first moment when I discover a process that eventually heals me completely.
I knew the writing must focus on the shift I experienced, moving from desperation and grief into the first flash of a kind of hope. I knew I was capable of writing this. I also knew I would have to dive into intense memories and feelings to find the words, and dive out again to get the words onto the page.
All my life I’ve been a master at hiding my feelings from myself. I learned this while growing up.
Now I have to do the exact opposite.
I have to open to all I feel, and feel it deeply enough inwards, to capture and express it outwards.
This is exactly when I question what I am doing, writing what I’m writing. A story which requires me to be wildly vulnerable, not only to myself but to my readers.
Yet here I am, open and writing as I intended.
I finish the draft. It needs a few more bits here and there, but the bridge is mostly built. Good for me. Well done, Cat.
Except I don’t feel well-done and good-for-me feelings. Instead I feel frustrated and, if I be honest, angry.
I have enough experience by now to set aside both feelings and writing once I am done for the day. I know how to move myself to other things. Yet I continue frustrated and angry through the afternoon and evening.
Distractions. Things I love, that move me towards joy. I read a good book. I play with a new crossword puzzle. I make an awesome, tasty dinner. I water the garden while the dinner cooks, and let the scents of water, earth, and new roses surround me. My husband and I go for a walk through the neighbourhood. I watch episodes three and four of a fantasy series I am greatly enjoying.
Now I’m in bed. The frustration has dissipated, but the anger remains.
I look at my day—it was a good one. I am mystified at my mood. Since I am nowhere near sleep, I decided to pick apart the anger.
I spent two days writing emotional pain. Two days writing memories, seeing and feeling clearly what I had not allowed myself to see or feel at the time. It was pure survival, years ago, pushing my life to be bearable.
Bearable. Here is a word with edges, sharp with anger and heat.
Here is why I am angry.
Why should I have had to live a life, back then, that I could only describe as bearable?
Should I not have had a life that was joy and play, wonder and beauty and love?
Should I not have been able to love my life?
I couldn’t say that during the fibromyalgia years. There were some things I loved about my life. There were some things that gave me joy, things that allowed me to bear what the other side of my life held. There were things I found that could carry me through what I would not think about, would not let myself look at or feel.
I survived. That’s the best this anger will allow me to say. And with that, to my surprise and relief, anger drops away. I am left feeling a blessed, quiet emptiness.
I have seen and felt and understood.
I have acknowledged what was there, and said yes, that was true.
That was true, and now this is true—I no longer have to use ‘bearable’ to describe my life. I can use the words I was desperate for, back then. Joy, play, wonder, beauty, and love.
Here, on this side of the bridge I’ve written, I have a life I love, and I can feel it. Well, true, and happy.