Sunday, June 23, 2013
I advised a writer friend recently that he was writing from his head, that he was an observer of his own life, that even his most painful life events were logically analyzed and carefully scripted. Real writing, I shared, comes from the heart. Real writing is raw and hurts and leaves the reader wanting to hold the author, to comfort, to console. I find it interesting that I would tell him this, as I have never once written like this myself.
I pretend I have. I pretend my writing leaves me exposed, vulnerable, in need of a good hiding place and an alias or two. I haven’t even come close.
I choose every sentence; craft every word. Even my most emotional essays have been penned in a very dramatic, “this is how they do it in the movies,” sort of way. This is how THEY do it. How do I do it? If I am not analyzing my words, I am analyzing the writing process. I can’t do anything from my heart. I can’t because, and just being honest here, I am not much a fan of emotion. I am not a fan of messy or inappropriate or vulnerable. That’s for saps and those women who cry at dog food commercials.
I cried at my dad’s funeral. I cry when nobody’s looking. I made a mistake once and cried in class.
There was no place for emotion in my family. Buck up and deal. You’re okay; get over it. Don’t be such a crybaby. A child hears that often enough and things get shoved to the back. Things get shoved to the far back. A little girl knows that when she asks for food and can’t have any because it’s just not there that there’s no use crying, no matter how much her belly hurts, no matter how long it’s been since she last ate. Crying isn’t going to make food magically appear. A little girl knows when she’s different from the others. She knows when she’s made fun of and ridiculed for what she doesn’t have. She WANTS to cry, but crying won’t make it better. Instead, her mother teaches her words like gratitude and appreciation and making do with what you have. It’s a cover, all of this. Her mother’s efforts at clever distraction. Nothing more than a bunch of SHIT. But what can you do?
Emotion has gotten me nowhere in my life.
It was not emotion that helped me break a cycle of poverty, hunger, teen pregnancy, and alcohol and drug abuse. This was the world in which I grew up and, by all means, the same one in which I should have died. It was not the life I saw for myself. Strategy, perseverance, clawing my way through each day, that’s what got me out. Neither was emotion what got me to college or what helped me to graduate despite every goddamned obstacle that could possibly be put in my path. (I never use that swear word. You should know that because it shows how very strongly I feel.) It was also not emotion that saw me through my children’s early years with a husband who was on the road more than not, at the office longer than I would have liked, and not always mentally present even though physically he was. Buck up and deal. You’re okay; get over it. Don’t be such a crybaby. Crying won’t make it any better.
I think I am tired of chasing life. I am tired of working so hard. I am tired of MAKING life happen.
I am ready, for once, for life to come to me. Don’t get me wrong. I look around me and have much for which to be thankful, but contrary to what some of you think, none of this has simply appeared in front of me. I have not been handed it. I have worked my ASS off for everything I have. I have made choices and sacrifices some of you would find confusing or inconvenient. I have made these sacrifices with the sole purpose of getting to where I am. And I find myself in the interesting position once again of being ridiculed, being judged, for who I am and what I have. Regardless, I have earned a rest.
I am ready now for less strategy and more serendipity. I am ready to cry, to laugh, to smile, and not just from my head but also from my heart. I am ready to let you in, to write raw and real, ready to go in search of that which long ago I shoved to the back. I am ready, ready to ride the waters of life, to feel the sun on my shoulders, the wind in my hair, to ride those waters and see where they might take me. I am ready, ready again to feel.