If you ask me why and how I began writing, I’d have to say, I did it to release the pain. I began with a small diary given to me by an older woman who knew of my sorrow as a child, yet was unable to afford me any relief other than to gift me the escape of pages upon which to pour my heartache. “This is for you to write down all your feelings, so that you have a safe space to be yourself and to grow. One day you’ll look back and read all that you’ve accomplished, and you’ll be surprised.”
She wasn’t wrong. More than 33 years later I still have diaries with my handwritten contemplations and concerns. The words of an 11 year old spilling upon the pages like rain dropping in all directions with seemingly no sense of order or cohesion…only one purpose…release. Writing was a freedom space…where I could not be bound by what I saw at the time as the restrictions of an overprotective father, and rigidly structured faith guidelines. A safe haven, where I could speak my mind, rebuff the verbal attacks of school bullies, and re-imagine the reality of my tortured days. A private stage where I could finally say all the things I wish I had the courage to say out loud.
As the years passed, my writing became a source of inspiration for action. No longer were the lined pages cages to a heart that feared expression. Instead they had become a testing ground for perfecting my verbal acumen. Like the line of a bow, the tension propelled me to speak a word straight to the heart of what ever matter plagued me. Through writing, I was able to reflect upon my thoughts and perfect them before baring them to the world.
As a teen, my writing became a confirmation of my own excellence. (Something that I was slow to acknowledge.) Yet the confirmations kept tumbling out before me: essay contest winner, honors English student and an ability to write a compelling ten page research paper during a single night’s cramming session! Ok, so maybe the last point is not the best example of excellence, but it sure came in handy!
What I learned over time is the magnitude and power of words. How they can hurt and heal…cut and caress…demand and submit. It was a love affair that blossoms to this day. One that started as a small seed, and now stands mighty and strong, offering me shade and a place to rest in comfort and tranquility. A space all my own, where the judgment of others matters little; the sweet echo of my soul’s affirmation is enough.