I think that it’s time to come back to the blog.
I had intended to wait until the blog challenge of April A-Z was finished, but I’ve written this post, been sitting on it for some time, edited, revised, tossed it, re-written it…and now it is what it is so I’ve decided to post it today. I don’t think that I will be back until May with another true post. The challenge can just run its course, but I will have these words out in the open because it’s time.
I would love to tell all of you that this break produced astounding results, both in writing and in personal struggles.
I truly don’t think that it did either.
Let me try to explain, taking the writing struggles first.
I’ve mentioned here before that I want to write. Yes, I have those grandiose ideas that I want to be a well-known author with legions who sit anxiously waiting for the next book to be published under my hand. I want to write words that tell amazing stories, that mean something, that touch someone with emotion or anger or both, and that let my inner self fly without reserve.
The problem: I can, and do, talk myself out of this path very, very easily. I consistently put aside any and all topics, telling myself that no one wants to read another common, overdone story, no one cares about a creation centered on a semi-fictionalized childhood, no one wants to hear a rant about ‘real’ social issues, and, the biggest talk down of all: I have nothing to say because I live a boring, untraveled, uninvolved, uneventful life and can’t imagine enough good stuff to interest anyone in reading anything I write.
I am so good at the talking out of aspect of writing that I can’t even bring myself to begin anything that isn’t a blog post. I don’t have secret notebooks filled with story ideas, or random paragraphs just waiting to be turned into novels worthy of a Pulitzer. I have a few poems, and a very short story, written just weeks ago in a futile attempt to spill my emotional guts onto a page or two. I wrote for 4 days, nonstop, then found I had nothing left to say. I said what I wanted and then I was done. I put the words and emotions and anger out there then found myself spent. Even I realize that you can’t establish success as an author with that sort of inaction.
I’ve taken creative writing classes. I’ve read advice about writing – all the ‘just write’ crap that everyone tells you works, as well as ‘write what you know’ – because someday you will find your voice and you will fly. I think that I’m tired of trying to find this mysterious writer within, and of expecting this blog to lead me to that person; the person that defines herself as someone more than a casual blogger journaling life. I think that some people are meant to WRITE and other people are meant to write. I think that I need to put aside the first option and just be the writer that I am. If more is meant to be then so be it, and if not, then it is time to just accept that what is, and what I have with all of you who read this blog, is enough.
And, that connection that I do have with all of you is what kept me going during this time away. I had to stay connected to all of you. My virtual friendships are what sustain me and I cannot imagine breaking from any of your words.
It was a welcome break, to leave the pressure of writing behind. Those pressures were self-induced, but also it seemed as if every place I looked on WordPress shouted out to me to advance as a WRITER. It seemed as if every blog I found as a suggested new blog centered on an author who was published, or working on a novel or book of poetry, or writing essays and articles for large magazines, or was using their blog for promotion. I let myself buy into the idea that I wasn’t writer material because I didn’t have a gazillion followers, or 100+ comments per day, or a book deal in the works, or pages of poems.
But the reality is that most of the time I like what I write here. What you read is true and without a doubt, my voice. I write the way I speak. I am often long-winded (!) and perhaps spend too much time in details and explanations because I want my thoughts to be clear to all of you. I recently admitted to Alice, in a discussion about my place as a poet, (not) that I am incredibly happy to write tons of extraneous words for all of you to read. I’ve decided that I enjoy seeing my words on a page, and hearing those words (in my imagination) being read by others. If more comes, great…if not then that has to be great as well.
So, when I write from this point on, just know that you will not be seeing any new revolutionary pieces. I will not be announcing that I have begun a novel. There will not be poetry…okay perhaps a bit. I most likely won’t be continuing any scheduled feminist related posts, although I will still rant if the mood strikes me. I will continue this blog in the manner that it was originally intended. The words will be random, although I want them to be substantive. The words will reflect what happens in my life, and what events influence my personal world. I may complain, although I would rather not.
…and on to the personal struggles…
I had begun to feel that the only thing coming from my keyboard, or the only thing that I wanted to present here, was negative and whiny and a complaint. Complaining seems to be an easy thing to get hooked on, especially when life isn’t all roses and happiness. Those not so rosy aspects are what constitute reason #2 behind my recent need to step away. I want to be honest when I sit down to speak with all of you. I’ve come close, maybe 95% there, but fear has always held me back. I had this notion that until I dealt with this fear and finally let it go, let it just be out there, that I couldn’t write. I had this notion that some magical, cathartic moment would happen if I put these words down for others to read. Even if the words weren’t widely read, I just knew that I couldn’t speak as a writer without putting them out there.
So, I wrote, and I put them out there. I actually started a second blog under a completely different name during this break. I set it to public. I wrote. I wrote about all the things that seem so wrong with my life right now. People read, and liked those words, but not the people who mattered. The words needed to be written, but the results were cold and impersonal, and I didn’t want to write them anymore.
I also found that I was wrong about a magical outcome. Writing the words that have circled over and over in my head didn’t change the fact that, at least for right now, I am living a life that I’m not happy with. Simply putting words, and the emotions that accompany them, into print doesn’t instill change. That was wishful thinking on my part, and just one more way that I hoped to avoid doing something active.
This return post has been long already, but I feel that I need to finish in one setting. I need to complete these thoughts and then just move on and let this blog be what it will be while I figure the rest out. If you’re tired, stop for now. Come back tomorrow or next week and finish reading please, because you are the people who mattered. You are all the ones that I feel I owe these words. This final part may seem abrupt in style, somewhat cryptic, and even disjointed, but I am allowing the words to simply come out because if I stop I may not have the courage to begin again.
The fears holding me hostage can all be discussed individually, but the reality is that they are all intertwined, and when they combine they keep me from being 100% transparent here. So…
I made specific decisions in my early twenties when I met a man who I thought was the love of my life. I put aside parts of myself, set aside beliefs and ideals because I thought it was the right thing to do. I raised three amazing children who always came first, even before my spouse, definitely before myself. I brought baggage to my marriage that I have written about here on the blog. My spouse brought his own baggage and the combined forces of our past, coupled with a career in the military, was destructive. Neither of us knew ourselves well enough to really know how to be partners in a marriage. He was gone, flying around the world, more than being at home, and I raised the children virtually alone. When his military career was over he was a stranger to me and to our children. I used a word recently, in a letter to a family member, that barely begins to describe the relationship between us.
The chasm surrounding that disconnect has grown through the years. I have not written much about my spouse in this blog because I cannot share daily conversations, happy moments, travel and fun and loving comments and companionship that one might expect as we move into later life. I don’t remember the last time any of those things were a part of our relationship.
And now there is so much more. Resentment. Frustration. Sadness. Hopelessness. It has been almost 32 years. We live under the same roof, but live as individuals without emotion. We live as if alone. His reasons to stay are his own. Articulating even the briefest suggestion as to why he stays, or really almost everything else, seems impossible for him. Conversations, unless unavoidable, are few and far between.
I, however, seem to have long-held to the old standard status quo ‘for the sake of the children.’ So foolish, so not the person I once believed I was, and now – soon perhaps, the last child is moving on. I stay now vacillating between fear and routine.
Fear lies within the changes needed to move on. Admitting that my hopes and dreams have failed. Admitting that I have failed, that we have failed.
Fear stands directly next to the fact that simple tasks which would allow me to work and be self-supportive are increasingly made difficult, painful and unsafe due to advancing joint damage throughout my body. Moving forward without stability is fucking terrifying and age related body changes crop up in new forms without much warning.
Fear plays with the knowledge that I have two careers that physically I cannot participate in anymore, and a degree that may hold promise, but is held by a 55-year-old woman who can only list ‘childcare’ under recent work experience. The future holds hard decisions about how and when I proceed to attempt to re-enter a “real” job.
Fear is deeply seated in the possible division of 32 years of financial gains, with questions of what will be left. Gains that are the result of two incomes and gains that will never be used for their intended purpose: a retirement of travel and sharing.
Fear even sits near the selfish realization that to tolerate another 30 years marks some stability at this point in life, and stability still often outweighs upheaval and change, and maybe even happiness and freedom.
Fear has long motivated silence, never wanting to release the “D” word because I do not want to be someone who chose wrong, who could not find a way to make marriage right, who had to look at her adult children and say it might be over.
Fear stands beside embarrassment. This self-proclaimed feminist, afraid to stand up, to go it alone, to be strong, to claim her identity and that my proud feminist card will be revoked, or that perhaps I am not the person that I thought I was.
Fear still, at the moment of this writing, keeps me from taking a final step.
One small step though, one victory in the battle with fear has just been tallied in the win column. I have finally written the words. Here. Out loud, so to speak, for others to read. I’m glad to have written the words, but what remains are still the decisions. Choices and outcomes stand in front of me unanswered and the silence is deafening. For this moment though, this is how things will remain.
So, the magic break didn’t produce a great writer, and I was never truly naive enough to believe that it would accomplish miracles. I do think that I understand more about what I don’t want this blog to be, and that my writing future sits mysteriously waiting in limbo.
The break from blogging here and the anonymous writing of my regrets and pain also did not force me to decide what will be next in life. It did give me a clearer focus, and made me stop hiding and avoiding, but it also reinforced my indecisiveness as well.
So readers, if you stayed to this end I applaud you. You are all champs and I must say thank you all for reading this post, and for standing alongside me. Your own words, read every morning to start my day, are gifts to me and I am exceedingly grateful to be a part of this community.