Late last night, I was perusing dog eared pages with rounded, scrawly letters inscribed in blue, black, iridescent pink and in some cases, penciled markings that reflected the mind of a 20 something young woman in college and grad school. The initial one was given to me by my first college boyfriend, Jamie. Across the front is the title The Nothing Book, with the subheading- Wanna Make Something of It? He had inscribed a message “Take this empty book and fill it with the creations of your mind. Writing is beautiful, expressions, descriptions, impressions, fiction and the unreal bring the mind to think and wonder. You have a gentle flair for writing. Fill and enjoy.”
Thus the seeds were planted for what you are reading now. I had begun journaling somewhere around age 12 with more of a ‘Dear Diary’ flavor and then I would go on to describe my daily activities. It wasn’t until later teens/early 2o’s that I allowed myself to dive deep into emotional swamps, kicking at the seaweed and doing my best to avoid drowning.
Even in my far more svelte days (itsy bitsy size 5-7) with long flowing hair, I was still critical of my appearance. I wished for “certain areas of my body to be rounder and others to be flatter,” and for my nose to be shorter. I did like (and still do), my dimples inherited from my dad. I described my inner landscape in this way “I can be internally pretty when I help a friend through a problem, or make a person’s day by saying a kind word. My insides turn less beautiful, even ugly when my patience is frazzled like a nylon rope supporting more weight than it was meant to hold.” Hmmm…back then, I had a growing awareness of my co-dependent tendencies.
A few pages later, I described the death of my beloved Aunt Kate 12/28/78. I knew when it happened, as I was on my way home from college and a sense of her passing from this world, moved through me. When I got home, my mother confirmed it. She was a lively, lovely presence. Playful and childlike with us. My insights about her impact on my life carry through to this day. I described her funeral which was led by a rabbi who didn’t know her and it felt distinctly uncomfortable to hear him ramble on about her. Now, as an interfaith minister myself, I create far more personal services.
I wrote about cleaning my room, excavating treasure troves of beloved objects and memories attached to them- including the faded bouquet of flowers given to me by my HS boyfriend at his prom which heralded the ending of our romantic connection. I ponder the perilous and precious path of relationship I have traversed in the past 30 years. Truly a long and winding road, with serial monogamy, stretches of single-hood, polyamory, overlapping interactions with friends and lovers, committed partners. I treasure each and every soul who has entered my life, even as I wish for less of the pain and more of the pleasure. Lessons were wrapped in all of those packages.
At 55; widowed in 1998 following a tumultuous and paradoxical nearly 12 year marriage, I pick apart the threads of my relationship patterns, like one would untie a knotted piece of yarn and am amazed that in some areas, not much has changed. The desire for control of my feelings, to be loved best of all, my impatience with myself, my craving both independence and connection, sometimes second guessing my choices, my co-dependent need to be essential and indispensable and yet exhausted when people depend on me too much, carry through the last three decades.
I was shocked when I read some of the entries that revealed emotions that I had forgotten that I had experienced and choices that I almost made and am grateful that I hadn’t. Shadow thoughts that belied the sunny persona I wear. As I read ‘her’ words, I felt immense compassion for this younger version of myself who felt lost and adrift. I take her under my wing and reminded her how very far we have come. I had an aha- so-that’s-why-you did…… awareness. Standing emotionally naked, stripped bare of façade; the Empress has no clothes.
This forum allowed me to do something that I rarely do now which is writing just for me. These days, most of my words are meant for public consumption. Edited, polished, easily digestible little tidbits of information, enlightenment and entertainment are what I offer on line and on paper. The truth is, I need both venues; the first to nourish my own soul and the second to live my passion and purpose.
And so I continue to WRITE ON!