There have been very few moments in my life when someone has looked me in the eye, and I know that they know exactly how I’m feeling in a moment of despair. Seeing and knowing in the spiritual sense is powerful for the object of that seeing and knowing.
I had one of those moments recently. It was powerful, brought me to my knees, and made me realize that no matter how much I have overcome, that I’m still human, vulnerable and need, just as much as anyone else, to feel like someone, somewhere has my back.
Memories come quickly sometimes from places in my past that I thought had long ago been dozed, graded re-forested and landscaped in a fabulously bohemian way.
Lately it’s been a grand parade across a never-ending stage instead of a dreamy oceanside stroll. Images, words, and scents evoke my white-blonde-pig-tailed, tear-streaked-cheek childhood as I stir dinner at the stove, rinse my face at the bathroom sink, and even pour a beer after a long day.
My story is being played out again even though I didn’t clap for the encore, and I’m rewriting it all in my head as I’m held hostage to it all.
For the folks out there who have not had the pleasure of experiencing crisis, trauma or what it’s like getting by one day to the next without knowing when it will ever end, trust me, it’s a wild ride darlings.
Wild as in it is a teacher of the most grand kind who takes you through a crash course on self-awareness while you’re still not quite awake to the world and barely dressed. It can make you tough, and it can make you so damn tired that all you have the energy to hope for is to feel numb. It can harden you so you lack empathy or compassion, or it can rip open your heart so you bleed life and love and kindness all over your world.
As a writers we can write out our suffering in the lives of our characters. We can re-write those sights, scents and sounds that evoke so many memories and what-if’s. The brilliant part is that we are able to create something which expresses the bittersweetness of life out of something dark and painful. Laughter usually follows deep and cool on the heels of human folly.
But it takes guts to go there. It takes time, space, and friends who tolerate the depth of crazy that it takes to keep diving into and crawling out of our character’s heads. Because they’re our pretty little heads, our jumbled thoughts, our answer’s to all of the what-if’s that have ever kept anyone awake at night.
Going back to where I started with this post, when my friend looked me in the eye and I knew that they knew what I was going through, it was the closest I came to feeling like it was ok to sink into my characters and writing like slipping into a deep, warm bath.
I knew that I had to do something or I would drown in this endless ocean of memory. Please toss me a pool noodle and whip me up a gin and tonic. This is going to take some time, and I’ve worked up quite a thirst.