In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t written here in my little corner of the internet in almost 14 months. It’s been hard. And I’m going to share the story, but I’m just not ready to share it all now. Like much of my life, the story will spill out in pieces here and there. I’m not good at writing it all out in chronological order. In much of the past few years, my life has changed. It’s been one change after another. Exploring beliefs, examining ideology, evaluating constructs and conclusions. It’s hard work discovering and accepting yourself. I know it’s been a challenge keeping up with the evolution of Mandi. Just imagine being inside of my head.
As usual, motherhood speaks to me. My children teach me so much about myself. Their struggles are my struggles. I’m just 42 years old and able to process through a wider range of emotions with more success (usually, but not always).
Today, I’m staring at my computer, trying to write, but really I was just scrolling through social media because writer’s block, of course!
My son runs into the room, “Mom, I’m going next door.” And then he runs out of the room. I hear the door open and shut. And surprisingly, I immediately hear his footsteps back in my creative corner of the front room. “Mom, there’s a yellow jacket in the garage. And two wasps just outside the garage door. And well, they are probably everywhere.” He almost seems embarrassed to be fearful.
I sigh. I have this same conversation at the beginning of every warm, Spring season with at least one, if not all of my children.
“Hey, J, it’s okay. They are just minding their own business and aren’t going to sting you.”
He looks at me dubiously.
“Seriously, buddy, just walk past them and you’ll be okay. They don’t just randomly attack you. It’s not like they are going to sting you just for walking past them. Your big sister just went next door and she’s fine. You’ll be fine, too.”
He hems and haws; I see the fear behind his eyes.
“Hon, we have this talk every Spring. You can’t hide inside all the time because of the very small chance you might be stung. Walk out of the house, heck, run past them if you have to, but please just don’t stay hidden inside because your of your fear. Go out. Once you’re out, it’ll be easier going out the next time. You’ll be fine.”
I get up from my pink office chair (hey, chairs can be fun colors, right?) and walk him to the door. I open it cautiously and show him the flying objects of his fear have flown away. “See, go… it’ll be okay.” He looks at me with a small smile and sprints across the front yard to the house next door. No stings. He made it without a problem.
But it was that first step, the first coming out that was hard for him. He wasn’t entirely sure how it would go and he needed my encouragement and superbly wise words (I jest) to strengthen him.
I went and sat down, ready to hit the scroll button on my Facebook feed and it hit me.
I’m scared of being stung.
See, I’ve been dealing with all sort of personal angst and such the past year or more. Anger and processing some betrayal and personal hurt squelched my voice. Other than getting 1/3rd of the way through my novel and writing one chapter of a second novel, I haven’t been able to write. And for a while it was okay. I dove into my fictional world and it was all good.
But now it’s Spring… not just the season of the actual calendar year, but a symbolic Spring. The long winter of my discontent is over. My inner writing voices have been begging to stretch themselves for a while. The fog of what I went through during most of 2017 is clearing. And now it’s time to learn and grow and process where I am today.
Yet, I’ve sat staring at my computer for too many weeks. My creativity has been awakened, but I felt unable to voice what I want to say. Because of fear.
I’m afraid. Afraid of venturing out and possibly getting stung. Just like my son.
See, my writing process is reflective of my personality. As I write, there’s an audience in my head that I’m talking to… an implied reader. Although I’ve shifted and deconstructed and reconstructed who I am and what I believe, my old audience is in my head. And I’m afraid if I say something deemed too controversial, something too outside the accepted norm, I’ll get stung. Push-back, judgment, loss of relationships… those all sting. It’s happened before and sometimes I still nurse those wounds.
Likewise, as I write, I have different voices for what I want to say (no, I’m not crazy… writer’s have voices). In my novels, those voices are my characters. I can have a character that sounds like me or a character that is so different than me, no one would know if they say anything I might genuinely believe. But when I’m writing prose or blogging or doing whatever the hell I’m doing here, my audience knows it’s my voice… my voices are aspects of my personality. I’m a writer, a mother, a daughter, a wife, a feminist, a person of faith… well, that’s just a smattering of my voices. And yet, I have some voices that are essential parts of who I am, but I’m afraid to express it. In essence, I end up telling that voice to be quiet and sit in her room. Hide away. Don’t come out.
Honestly, that is a slow death knell to my creativity. I believe in integration… integrity. See, the root of those two words is the same. All of me should be integrated into my writing. Otherwise, I feel as if I’m in pieces, a lack of integrity (both of the truthiness kind and the structural kind… integrity has slowly become my word for the year).
I gave advice to my son, good advice: don’t hide inside, don’t be afraid to go out, don’t let the fear of the possible sting stop you from enjoying life. That advice, well, it up and smacked me in the face this afternoon.
And so, like my son, I’m going to open the door, check for any immediate danger, and venture out. He ran across the yard. I’ll probably slowly walk, listening for buzzing and scanning for flying threats. That’s just my style. But hiding inside isn’t going to cut it anymore. I want to walk openly in the sunshine and feel the warmth of the breeze. It’s spring. There is an awakening. And I’m not cut out for hiding inside anymore.