What it's Like Writing Something So Personal
Hey Lovelies –
It's been a tough week—distress and fear were raging like pre-teen hormones throughout the house, and me and the kids felt them. It happens. Being human can be hard. Feeling the feelings can be hard.
Mental and emotional health have been a hot topic because I didn’t want my kiddos to feel solo in the dark woods of being human. We talked the heavy-hearted prison of depression, the hot burn of anxiety and the shame that can wrap both of these in silence. Feeling depressed or anxious hurts, but the silence is a second arrow to the heart. The silence is what can take us down.
So, we’ve been talking—me and the kids.
Because it’s important and it’s tricky and it’s essential.
Part of what we talked about this weekend was how crucial it is to not be alone with these feelings, how important it is to give them air, to give them space to move, to share these emotions with someone or something. This could mean talking with a friend. It could mean confiding everything to a journal, which is how I ended up being a writer. (I had a lot of alone as a kid and my journal became a guide back to the deepest, kindest part of myself.) Not being alone could mean writing a song or praying to the God with whom you feel connected. I told my daughter, You need to let something else help you hold these big feelings. Don’t cling to them alone. You don’t have to. You’re not meant to.
I often think of the poet Walt Whitman’s musing that “every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.” We’re not separate selves, but continuous territories of aliveness made all the more alive and more continuous by love. We’re connected and need to let ourselves stay connected somehow, especially with our griefs and darknesses.
It’s a practice.
I think of this when people ask me what it feels like to have written a book that’s so personal. I’ve asked myself the same thing innumerable times. I mean, a memoir? Really?
And yeah. A memoir.
Blood Orange Night.
Because the stuff that happened in my world from 2010 to 2014 felt so big, I needed to write it all. Writing it was a big laugh and cry fest because A) I’d survived and because B) the whole thing still feels so damn vulnerable. A child with special needs? Insomnia that breaks you? Benzodiazepine dependence and the kind of withdrawal you only hear about in the tabloids or a William Burroughs novel?
Yeah, all that.
I wrote all the MOST TENDER stuff because it was a way of not being alone with it. I also wrote it because I know other people are out there struggling the way I struggled. I wanted to reach my hand out and open that door, so they’d have the chance to feel less alone.
So, whatever is burning your heart right now—find a way to not be alone with it. Writing happens to be my path. Find yours. Find that place that’s bigger than you, find that field or that song or that God and put your feelings there. Let something bigger than you help you hold it. Because it will.
With so much heart,
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