As I move forward in this new blog space, I’m taking time to go back to old writing. I found this piece, nearly finished, as a draft on my previous blog and was struck by how much it still applies and how recently I’ve been transported to new understandings by the power of words.
When I write in my own notebook, I am often writing beside or inspired by the words of authors whose words remind me that I have things to say, thoughts to wrestle with, ideas that need to get out of my head and be given space to breathe. So when I came to the passage below in The Book of Peach by Penelope J. Stokes, I HAD to write. The lines immediately called to me…
Her main character, Peach, writes in her own journal, as she reflects on her past, her difficult relationship with her mother, and the possibilities her future might include. She says, “Now I realize: The anger is the pain. Anger is nothing more than a smoke screen for hurt and fear. It keeps the pain at bay, keeps the fear pushed down. But at the end of the tunnel, there it is again. If I stay good and mad, I don’t have to admit my vulnerabilities. I don’t have to face the truth that I’m afraid and wounded and that those wounds have never really healed.
And how could they heal? They’ve never been exposed to light and air. They’ve been bandaged up, scabbed, grafted over. But the poison remains, festering below the surface, oozing, spreading its tentacles into other relationships.” (254)
Sit with those words for a few minutes, and then, like I did, write. See where the words take you.
When I originally started this post, the book had me, much like its main character, mining a lot of detail about my childhood and my own difficult relationship with my mother, and the entry I was writing in my notebook almost went that way too. But instead, maybe because I was at the end of the long journey that distance learning and the spring of 2020 gave us, the words transported me to a different place. A new perspective. An outlook I did not expect.
And just last night, when I took some much-needed time to sit with my notebook again, I found myself thinking about anger and pain. I needed to give light and air to my feelings about a complicated and difficult situation I’m struggling through right now. I began with a rant. I gave space to of all of the negative emotions I’ve been feeling: the fear, the worry, the anxiety, the doubt, the frustration, and yes, the anger.
But that’s not where my words stayed, even though, this time, I actually wanted them to. I wanted to let myself be angry. I wanted (and needed) space to rage. I wanted it to be messy (it was…and still is), and I wanted the solution to be that someone else is wrong and I am right.
While that is partially true, it isn’t the whole story. It was part of the story I had been telling myself. It was my band aid.
I would not have reached that place of new understanding had I not allowed myself to go where my words needed to take me.
And that’s the gift of writing, really. It’s an opportunity to rip off the scabs and the bandaids, the scars and the grafts. It’s a chance to let ourselves be messy and angry. It’s an act that allows us to get lost and be found.
That’s what writing did for me that Spring day when I started this post, and it’s what writing did for me again last night. It’s what writing always does for me.
When I let the words lead the way, they always take me exactly where I need to go.