When I started this blog, I intended to write for myself. I needed to figure out a way to wrap my brain around living this new reality of mine, and I needed to get the seemingly endless barrage of thoughts out of my head. I had hoped that I could maybe help others along the way, too, if only to give them a place to say, “Yes…this. These thoughts could be mine. These words could be mine.” I still wasn’t ready to talk to anyone in a professional capacity about the hell I was going through, but I knew that the thoughts that occupied my mind and that I was obsessing over had to go somewhere. Writing, and by extension blogging, just made sense; plus my handwriting is utter crap, so keeping an actual journal was out of the question. So better out than in, right? Even I, as skeptical as I’ve been with regard to therapy and embracing the couch, so to speak, knew that something had to give. I had to find a release, a way to vent what I was thinking and feeling, or suffer the mental and emotional consequences.
But the well dried up. I had boopkas. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Oh, I still had the random thoughts at random times of the day and night, but I no longer had any focus, not that I had much to begin with! I had no real way to rein in those thoughts. Worse yet, I suddenly had a wicked case of apathetic procrastination with regard to writing. I wanted to write, but when it became a bit more difficult to do than it had been in the past, I just said, “meh. Whatev. I’ll do it tomorrow.” Well, tomorrow took five weeks to get here.
Even though I didn’t start this blog until this past June, I had started writing a few months before then. I knew the blog was an eventuality, not just a pipe dream or an idea, so I wrote knowing that the essays would have a home here whenever I got around to creating “here.” I wrote at a time in my grieving process when I still didn’t want to be social. Not only did I not want to be social, but I really went out of my way to avoid human interaction. I avoided forced social situations with others, whether at my boys’ school, our church, the hockey rink, etc. At the time, writing was as social as I wanted to be and blogging was as much interaction as I could tolerate.
I think I’ve always given the appearance of an extrovert, even though I consider myself a closet introvert. I can be loud, funny, and boisterous within the confines of a group of friends with whom I’m comfortable, but I’d really prefer to be at home sitting on my sofa wearing comfy pants while reading a book or crocheting a scarf. If I do go out for fun, I often prefer to be with only a few friends at any given time to save myself from becoming overwhelmed. When Ella died, my closet introvert came out of the closet only to run back in and hide. It took a very long time for me to feel somewhat normal in public, to feel like it was ok to be a smartass on Facebook again, and to feel like I could be me without also feeling like I was wearing my brokenness on my sleeve.
When I was writing a little more regularly, I was giving an outlet to the pseudo-extrovert in me from the safety and introvert-ish comfort of my own home. Writing was my new way of being social. It was my way of connecting with people without having to actually connect. But now that I am making my way back to a more normal, even slightly pre-Ella version of me – the me that hangs out with friends at the park, that not only goes to the hockey rink and the soccer field but cheers obnoxiously LOUDLY for my boys and their teams, and that truly enjoys coming up with whacky, snarky things to share on Facebook – I’m struggling with putting words to paper. It’s not as though my time with friends is spent pouring out every thought that would have been written or hashing out the emotional demons I wrestle on a daily basis. I’m not sure why, but I think just having the option – or rather, being open to the option that’s always been there - of spending time in the real world with real people means that the drive to spend time writing has diminished. But man, I hadn’t realized how much I would miss having easy access the writing outlet!
A friend of mine dropped me a line the other day, saying, “Not to sound like a caseworker or anything, but you're sounding about 1000% better these days. I think it's awesome.” It was nice to read that because there are so many days when I still feel like such a poseur, when I feel like the smile on my face is a fake one and the snarky sarcasm and wit are just fronts to hide what I’m still feeling so much of the time. I found it a bit ironic that his note came the day after I stood in the kitchen sobbing in my husband’s arms for missing Ella so much, the day after a song on the radio made me cry while driving because I couldn't hear it without thinking of and missing my girl. I’m awesome and getting back to normal…except when I’m not. And when I’m not, I’m really not because it comes out of nowhere and hits me like a ton of freaking bricks, giving me no time to brace myself for it. But I couldn’t help but wonder if the fact that I was finally inching my way back to “normal” went hand-in-hand with not being able to write. Crazy thought process, I know, but could it be that I can only write when I'm teetering on the edge of mental and emotional stability?
So I missed writing, but I figured that instead of trying to force it, perhaps a small break was in order. When the drive to write sputtered to a complete halt, though, I didn’t really know what to do to get it back. Then it dawned on me: to be a writer, one has to actually try to write. To be a writer, one has to actually sit down in front of the computer or pick up a pen and physically try to write. Brilliant, no? Profound, yes? I’m so deep. ;)
While I was walking the other morning, I recalled a scene from Sister Act 2 in which Sister Mary Clarence says to one of her students, “If, when you wake up in the morning, you can think of nothing but writing, then you are a writer." That line was actually taken from Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, but these days I’ll take my inspiration where I can get it, even if it’s delivered by Whoopi Goldberg in a really cheesy movie.
It took several wordy words to get here, but the point is this: I like writing, I think about writing a lot, and I want to write more. I want to honor Ella’s memory with my writing, but I also want to be able to use my writing as a way to explore this still unfamiliar territory of being a saint’s mom. I believe I’ve got more to say and more to share. I’ve just got to actually physically do it now.
This writer's got to write.