Updated: Feb 17
Today, I knew I had to write. It has been an ache I have been feeling. I wanted to let you in on how I got myself up to the task today. I sat down at my screen and this is the first paragraph that I wrote -- unedited, raw, and the honest truth. Here she is....
Writing is like being exposed to my weaknesses, my inability to face the screen, is an inability to face myself. The screen is like a mirror and what I am shown is not always something I want to see or that I'm willing to embrace. Interesting. I didn't know that that is where I was going to go. Thank you writing. You did it again.
I decided to explore this idea of the screen being a mirror. I think there is something to uncover here. Geez. Could it be -- a fear of blankness? Of being without value or worth? I fear being exposed, my faults and inadequacies staring back at me? The written word is a reflection of my inner world, my thoughts, my judgements, my utterly useless misgivings. Here they are. See them? Now what?!
Actually I feel relief. It feels like putting down a load, a weight, the torment of striving. What if these words appeared in a way that expressed the depth of the human condition? Perhaps when you read these words, a likeness is revealed. Maybe an understanding, a nod, an appreciation, a forgiveness that is felt by the reader and digested as food of recognition to then be used in action of thought and behavior. Isn't that what we are doing when we read both non-fiction and fiction? We empathize with characters that were imagined by an author, we read the lines of a poem and are struck by the emotions that have been evoked, and when we read a summary of our doctor's visit - on the page we see ourselves displayed in numbers and depictions of "normal" or "abnormal". All of these are mirrors. We look at them, we see ourselves looking back at us.
There is mystery and intrigue in getting to know the self better. Whether we feel up to the task or not, we are reminded daily that our own perceptions, our own experiences, and our own beliefs are being ricocheted off of everything we see because we see it as only we can. The internal has become external. Each of us is walking around, moving through life, witnessing the self, our own self, reflected in a myriad of ways back at us. This is why positive psychology has purported to help our psyches by way of affirming our self to our self. Writing positive affirmations on post-it notes and placing them on our refrigerators, bathroom mirrors, daily planners, etc. as a way to remind us to be positive and how we feel is ultimately of our own doing. Ah, sure. I do not discount that this can be helpful, just like Mel Robbins' high-five challenge might be the pat on the back or gentle nudge you need in your routine to get yourself through the next obstacle or motivated on the road to seeing things in a more positive light, but do they go deep enough? To the root? I am reminded of the V8 commercials of my childhood. Surely you won't be able to walk straight or even stay awake for your daily work if you haven't had your vegetable drink! If you have no idea what V8 is or if this metaphor is lost on you, no worries, my memories are on display here and if they don't hit you, that's okay. Your mirror has something different to show you.
I am currently reading the book Bittersweet: How Sorrow And Longing Make Us Whole by Sarah Cain. I highly recommend it. She shares a lot of her own life in the book and how as a writer she felt compelled to research being able to experience both joy and sorrow at the same time. Her research weaved into her own life experiences has been a helpful way for me to share in the bittersweet. While our lives are very different and outside of being women, having husbands, children, embracing music in a minor scale and adoration for Leonard Cohen (the first dance my husband and I danced to at our wedding was Hallelujah), we have certainly had different life experiences. However, I can relate. I can relate to the relationship she describes having with her mother, and the suffering she has felt deep within her soul when she has not been authentic, honest, and truthful to herself. This is why writing can be so powerful. I have kept a journal since the 8th grade. I have seen myself on paper and over time, years, decades, I have witnessed myself evolve. Writing allows me to relieve myself of thoughts, emotions, and find peace.
You don't even have to read what you've written, although doing so could be quite helpful as well, but ultimately it is the act itself that will provide you a release and a reflection that can soothe wounds and gift yourself with grace and understanding. I even dare say that in time, you can love yourself. You are able to recognize, maybe even appreciate that you are indeed a human sharing in humanity and that which makes you cringe or groan when you look in the mirror or look at a an empty document waiting for your mark is also a way to befriend the bittersweet.
My writing has felt cathartic and sometimes like art. I don't necessarily reach for paint or brushes, I reach for the journal, notebook, colored pens, and relish in words. They comfort me, they hold me accountable, and ultimately I am awoken to a part of me that I am meeting for the first time (again). What draws you out of yourself? What do you do to see your self?
You are remarkable, but that means nothing coming from me. You'll need to discover that on your own, in the ways that give you meaning, so that when you look in the mirror, draw, paint, dance, wander, write out your wandering thoughts, you see yourself a little more clearly and smile because you are the only one that can see you the way you do :)