When I started this blog it was a gift to myself. I’ve always dreamed of being a writer and have thought about starting a blog pretty much since they existed. Maybe even before they existed. I’ve always had to work through my feelings by writing them out. A journal helped some, but it’s the sending them into the world that really helps me process. Whether it’s giving an emotional toast, reading a letter aloud to someone or posting my inner most thoughts to social media, I’ve always felt this sort of ritual in putting words to paper, reciting them over and over in my head until they were just so. Then saying them into the world to be kind of etched in time. Then, later, as I need a safe place with those feelings, I recite them in my head as sort of a prayer or mantra to go back to. Word for word, never changing them.
Not just for negative things, but for the happiest and best moments as well. I’ve been married nearly 16 years. At my wedding I gave a toast to my husband. At the time standing up in front of 200+ people with a microphone was the most terrifying thing I could imagine. But, to this day, I’m so glad I did it. I could still recite that toast verbatim today. On happy married days I sometimes say bits of it to myself with a wistful smile. On harder married days I say it to myself and remember that feeling, and that our life together is founded on love and hard days are just days in a life full of wonderful.
I’ve made toasts at my husband’s 40th, my grandmother’s 90th. When I went off to college I wrote a letter to each member of my immediate family. Then I made them all sit around the dinner table and I read each of them aloud through tears. A marking of a milestone in our lives, and a thank you to each of them for what they taught me. As you can imagine they were wordy and overwrought with emotion.
I’m a pretty even person, by which I mean not outwardly emotional. I like to think the people I love know I love them. But, I’m not a person of grand gestures and lots of hugging (in fact, very little hugging unless you’re my kid). I’m not so good at capturing my feelings through dialogue in the moment. I need to wrestle the words into just the right order. Write, read, rewrite. Tweak until it flows through my brain effortlessly, like words off the tongue. I think I would’ve done well in the days of lengthy letter writing. Except for my terrible penmanship, and the fact that those quill pens don’t have an easy backspace for all the editing I require.
I’ve had this on my mind for the last couple weeks as we muscle through life and its new normals. I haven’t been writing. And, I haven’t been putting my feelings in the world. For three reasons really. First, there’s so many massive emotions, but there are also so many tiny ones. But, the tiny ones seem too tiny to be worth addressing, and the massive ones too daunting to tackle. So, limbo. Second, when I started this blog I promised myself I’d write about me. My issues, my thoughts, my feelings, my reactions. Not my family’s. Not my friend’s. It’s not my place to share someone else’s story. But, this. It’s so messy and tangled up and belongs to all of us.
And, lastly, I just don’t want everything I do and say to be heavy and about loss and difficulty and grief. Because that isn’t my life. There’s pain, but there’s still joy. There’s loss, but there’s more love than ever. There are tears, but there’s so much laughter. Somehow it feels like when I posted to Instagram about the loss of my father-in-law, I drew a line for myself. By using that little square photo and caption to capture what was easily the most devastating day of my life, of my family’s life, it somehow shifted that place for me. The idea of posting caftans and weavings and glitter and nonsense seems wrong. But I’m finding I need it. I need the catharsis of putting my feelings out there (sad, silly, sarcastic, all my feelings), the normalcy of being in that community. I need to get lost in scrolling through my feed, giving support with emoji high fives and showing my love with color coordinated little hearts. The escape of looking at beautiful things with kind and wonderful people.
When massive things happen you want the whole world to pause. But it doesn’t. Life doesn’t stop or even slow down. I’ve stopped writing. And, as such, I’ve stopped sharing, and delayed healing. But I need to start again.