I have to confess that my passions have pretty much been fueled by anger since my tumultuous adolescence. Anger about gender inequity in general. Anger about horrible, awful, violent, terrible things that men have done to me in the past. Anger about how men treat women in general. Anger about motherhood discrimination in the workplace. Anger about the cultural consumption of girls. Anger about all the millions of legitimately awful things there are to be angry about in the world.
Then I realized there really was no end in sight. I realized that horrible, awful things kept happening despite my being angry about them. I realized that my anger was, in fact, having no. impact. at. all. Terrible things were going to continue whether I was furious and incensed or not.
The real impact was on me. The anger was exhausting me. It was taking a toll on my mind, body and soul. This is the shit that eventually gives you cancer. It was impacting my personal relationships. It was having a serious impact on my personal growth as a human being. One can’t expect to run on fumes and anger forever and still expect their heart and soul to expand. Not if they ever want to achieve some sort of happiness, peace of mind and spiritual growth anyway.
So, I worked on letting it go.
Sounds easier than it is. It’s really kind of hard. Takes a lot of practice. Takes a lot of telling the “ego” to shut up. Takes a lot of sucking it up where previously you would have put your dukes up and opened your mouth.
Then a funny thing happened. The anger faded and what I found in its place was a lot of pain. Some really dark, ugly, excruciating pain that all that anger had been covering up. Pain that had been undealt with. I tried a lot of things to make the pain go away for my own sake. Who wants to feel all that pain? No wonder I had adopted all that lovely, wonderful, beautiful, delicious anger. It felt a hell of a lot better than the deep dark never-ending pit of pain and a vast amount of sheer terror to boot.
I saw therapists and holistic healers and psychiatrists and spiritual healers and had Mormon Missionaries come give me a laying on of hands blessing and tried EMDR and Neuro-Emotional Technique and several medications and started smoking again and drank too much beer to try to stop that awful fucking pain and quell the ever-expanding terror. It was mental and emotion and so physical that I wanted to unzip my body and set my soul free.
Then all the right people showed up here and there to help me figure out how to heal the pain and let it go. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a place like this, but I was on my knees telling God that I would accept whatever help he sent me in whatever form it came in. And he did. And I did. It came in the form of my Mothers, other members of my family and people from various episodes of my past messaging me on Facebook and strangers reaching out to me over the vast Internet, relating their own struggles, texts from dear friends, prayers from many near and far, neighbors checking in on me and dragging me out of the house for walks and forcing myself to get up everyday put one foot in front of the other, go to the gym, do some work, going on vacations and telling myself, “this too shall pass.” (Thank you to everyone, I am so grateful!)
Finally, the pain started to ebb, I let it go.
The strangest things have taken the pain and terror’s place. An odd sort of blank slate, an empty page. Unpredictable emotions. Where before I would have been able to predict with some accuracy how a situation might make me feel, now I am surprised by out-of-the-blue, unexpected emotions. Some good. Some bad. Surprising. Where before I thought I knew with some clarity, “This is what I want and I know this will make me happy.” Now I’m sort of wondering, “What will make me happy? What exactly do I want now, as I pass into this new phase of my life as my youngest child goes off to school?”
A blank page is an interesting thing, it’s a mixed bag. It’s intimidating because all the work is ahead of you, and as a writer, there is always a little insecurity whispering in the back of your mind, “what if it’s terrible?” It’s hard to describe how vulnerable a writer is, we put our whole self into our work and then we put it out there for anyone and everyone to love or hate, criticize, critique, form an opinion about. It’s like being naked in the Junior High Cafeteria during lunch time. Yet, something inexplicably beautiful and awful still compels us to do it anyway. Then there are the questions: What do I want to say? Where should this go? How should I begin? What is my lede? What will grab the reader? How will I meet my word count? Can I get it done before the kids get out of school? Will anyone care enough to read it? How should I structure it? Do I really want to put myself out there like this? Do I have the nerve to say this?
My life feels like a blank page right now. Will I continue on this path that I have been plugging away at for five years? Despite the frustration I have felt about it? Despite the odds against it? Will I keep putting my new, more vulnerable self out there? Will I have the guts to do it without the anger as my protective shield? Or will I veer right or left and take an entirely new path? One that’s been waiting for me the whole time, but I never would have seen it had I not let it go?
I don’t know. For now, it feels right to sit in front of the blank page and get in the place of quiet creativity and try to feel that gift of inspiration, for lack of a better word, that inner silence before the surge of knowing that comes right before my fingers start flying and I know, I just know, what word, what sentence, what paragraph comes next.