Recently, a friend pointed out my creative absence. “It’s been a while since you posted a blog. Like…a good long while.”
I’ve been quiet for quite some time. Not to say that I don’t have stories. Oooooh honey, do I have stories. This past year has been a doozy. If it were a fragrance, it’d be called WTF. Then again, it feels like each year hosts its own version of a doozy. It’s like the Academy Awards, it’s an annual occurrence but the categories are different. Sometimes it’s the same shit in different styles. The memoir is going to be very rich and compelling and thicker than Gone with the Wind and the one-woman-show is going to be longer than subsequent film. Oh yes, I have stories. Trouble is, I can’t quite seem to get them out of my head and onto the page.
I literally just wrote that last sentence, got up out of my chair, and wandered around the house for 20 minutes. I’m listening to a lot of Adele this afternoon, which always puts a lot of heat on a heavy heart. I’m sharing stories in safe, face to face scenarios…but I struggle to say it out loud. Why? Oh, I don’t know….death by exposure?
Partly it’s because the experiences I’ve endured are tangled up in the lives of others. Even if it’s connected, even if it’s at a significant crossroads in a major life intersection, is their story mine to tell? I believe that the writing process and outward expression of my trauma could act as some-kind-of medically induced catharsis. And yet, while I am in a place where I can’t hide or pretend, I feel unable to express myself articulately.
I mask my anxiety when it’s firing at all cylinders within me. (Or think I am.) I slap a smile on my sadness. (Or think I do).
The other day I ran into someone who asked how I was.
Yup. Just okay.
Okay is not bad.
Considering the political climate and the fact that British Columbia is on fire…okay is okay. Seriously though. Is anyone fine? Is anyone okay? Sometimes, I feel as though I’m not okay. There are some dark moments where my heart is genuinely heavy; my mind is foggy with the intense cloud cover of depression, my insides abuzz with nervousness and angst. As an artist, I want to spin each agonizing anecdote into a comedic morsel, the flat tire of a human being within me doesn’t have the energy to endure whatever reaction comes from the work. Anywhere between a backlash or ambivalence unnerves me.
When I first started blogging, I wrote confessional pieces every. single. day. It poured out of me. Vulnerable. Ugly. Raw. Imperfect. Now, there’s something that stops me cold. What am I afraid of? Um, only everything. That I’d be unlovable if I reveal my truth. The trolls lurking within the comments section, the threat of minimization, the paralyzing shame of imperfection…the whole thing makes me so damn tired.
While I’ve been reflective of my choices, my weaknesses, my injustices – writing authentically about personal wellness, fitness, weight loss, mental health, addiction and #metoo moments feels like an impossibility. And yet, these are conversations that I am having with so many beautiful individuals who are grappling with their own painful configurations. Everyone is burnt out, blue, broke and busted. We discuss these details as if sharing secrets under makeshift, homemade tents made out second-hand sheets. I am not alone in these low moments – and it truly hurts me not to do more to help them. I wish that I could love them better. I want to open their troubled minds like a child’s doll house and move the furniture around.
Honestly, I wish I could do that for myself.
I often fear that that trauma has manifested itself within me – calcifying and toxifying over time. Still, I kiss every painful narrative goodnight with a punchline. If I can make it funny, I can survive it.
As part of my mental health care plan, I explored Body Talk to readjust some energy. During one session, the practitioner – her hands on my body, her eyes closed – she said, “There is so much sadness here.” The mournful tone of her voice forced a lump to blossom in my throat, with hot liquid draining from my eyes. Although, on some level, the validation of that moment very nearly pushed me upright to shriek “I KNOW RIIIIIIGHT??”
I’ve been afraid. I’ve felt unsafe. I’ve had experiences sink its claws into me. I’m powerless to help others. I’ve glimpsed into the vortex of loss. I have crashed into anger, fear, anguish and self-loathing. I’ve been in danger of losing humour and hope. Which to me, is the scariest place of all.
There are many brave social media posts regarding struggles to exist in the world. We commend it, like it, share it, and comment accordingly. And yet, we are still whispering about our secret sore spots. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m ashamed that I’ve failed. That at times I lose my way, and I don’t know how to get home. I’m afraid to write that all down. I’m scared to share my narrative for fear of exposure, judgment, and misinterpretation.
Trying to lovingly expel that anger is like forcing yourself to vomit to cure nausea. An abundant overshare does open doors to speculation and gossip.
“I hear she carries an uncontainable sadness.”
“Yeah, I see she’s got a fat ass.”
Exposure be damned. It’s my truth. It’s my context. There are some days that I can’t climb over that wall. I can’t step outside of my own thoughts. Is this kind of honesty acceptable? Necessary? Essential? Sheesh, I certainly hope so. There’s no way to gift wrap this, and there’s no closure in sight. It’s a work in progress. It’s hard work. And I don’t know how to do things any other way.
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