We greet the day together
In this season of good will, reflection on past transgressions, and giving thanks, I awake this morning thinking about so many things. The frost crisp under foot as I fill the bird feeder, trees now bare, and that close-to-winter chill in the air. How I love this time of the year! Ada calls me from the porch while I am out beyond the fenced area and I smile to myself. Her soft cry is welcoming for me. Each morning, we greet the day together. Ada and my blog. For the past almost two years this blog has been a constant presence in my life. And still, I am not sure why I blog. Sure, it helps to write things down, and encouragement from other bloggers has been a surprise benefit that I was not expecting when I started out. I went through phases of guilt when I did not manage a post every day, or self recrimination when my writing was bad or few people commented on this or that post.
Lately, I write for myself. I simply enjoy the act of writing. Putting the words down, reading back, editing to acquire a tone I feel comfortable with, and over and over again being amazed with what lies within me. Because at times I start out with one idea and as the writing progresses other things come out. Often I am surprised at what I had been thinking. Yes indeed, I surprise myself! I am not good at small-talk and usually feel uncomfortable speaking on the phone for too long. However, when I write I give myself permission to express thoughts or ideas I have been acquiring and developing as I observe, listen and journey through life. It is, in fact, the safest form of self-expression I know.
And yet, while it feels safe for me to express myself in this way, my writing has often caused others pain or discomfort. Partly because I spend so much time outwardly trying to please everyone so that they will love or acknowledge me, when I finally get to say what I really feel it is a terrible shock and surprise for those closest to me. I watch, amazed, as they feel betrayed, as if I have been lying to them all the while. I, on the other hand, am always shocked that they were unaware I was feeling all those things in the first place. But how on earth could they know, if I never told them? If I smiled or giggled when all the while I was hurting inside? How would they know?
Telling my story, writing it down, these are ways that I am able to share myself outwardly. When I hold within my most intimate feelings, I withdraw or keep myself from others. One of the most important aspects about loving is being able to share those intimate pieces of myself, good or bad. And so while I could talk all I liked about the virtues of loving another, I was unable to give or receive love if I withheld myself so completely. And, of course, one of the reasons I withheld myself for so long was the fear of rejection. Giving away who I really was felt risky. What an understatement! It was more like I felt I would die from such exposure.
Sharing myself through writing, whether in blog-posts, letters, articles, or books, has become a release for me. The more I opened up those uncomfortable spaces in my psyche and exposed them for others to see, the more vulnerable I became for rejection. Indeed, I experienced rejection from some people, even as I expected. And, it was awful. Even excruciating. However, as long as I did not allow those few to become a confirmation for past expectations, or generalizable, transferable to everybody else, I discovered that I survived! Oh no, let me be clear. Much more than survived. In fact, I became free. Withholding myself was a terrible burden. Not only did I feel weighed down, lonely and sad, I was completely unsure of myself and my worth. Now, I find that the more I am able to share and give of myself, the more open I am to love. The more able to forgive others and myself, and thus, stronger in my self worth. And, I become more authentic.
There is no happy ending. It is a process of back and forth, development and regression, complex and painful, messy and wondrous all at the same time. But I do feel more present, in the now of living and experiencing real feelings. Not as numb or blocked out as I used to be, and certainly not as lonely or unsure of myself.
And so, while I feel genuinely sorry that my writing might have caused others pain, I am extremely grateful for it as well. For without self-expression I would still be locked away, on the outside looking in, yearning to belong, aching for love that eludes me over and over again.