Saturday, May 14, 2011

On writing

In high school I lived in an apartment in downtown Minneapolis.  I had the biggest crush on this guy who was my roommate.  I was so afraid of the attraction and vulnerability that I felt for him that I did everything I could to hide the truth of who I was.  Just be funny.  Just be cool.  Make him believe that nothing bothers me--except the important stuff that bothers him (of course).  I was suffocating myself for some false hope of protection--If you don't know me you can't hurt me.

What I remember most about that brief time in my life is the memory of a single moment.  One day, I had the feeling that there were words inside me screaming to get out.  I was too afraid to talk (if you know me that probably seems hard to believe).  I needed to be heard so I got out a piece of paper and wrote a sentence in all capital letters.  I left the paper out on a bookshelf.  I don't remember what it said--I am sure it was clever twisted language, words that were trying to say something that was really important to me.  It probably made no sense.  I know now that what I wanted it to say was, "Notice me!"  

I have a picture perfect memory of the moment he saw the note--I was lying in my bed (minding my own business, ho-hum), he asked me about it, and. . . I denied writing it.  I had a desperate need to name and claim myself--so desperate that I wrote it down and left it out like a treasure map that I hoped would be discovered and understood.  Turns out, denying it made it a treasure map to nowhere.  That memory has popped in my head a hundred times.  Many of my stories contain a thread of protection and denial of my truth. 

I want to be done with the protection.  It has not saved me. I have worked to strip myself of the masks that do not serve me and this writing is another healing part of that process. 

In my work, I am an investigator and technical writer.  I write, edit, re-edit.  I put my work down and come back days later only to find, sometimes, it is pretty crappy.  One of the consequences of my hippie 1970s education was that I never learned grammar or spelling.  What comes natural for many takes practice for me.  So a writing project like this comes with fear and shame about my limitations.  I fear what others may think or notice about me and my writing. 

I am trying to heal the person who denied my truth.  I am trying to help the words in me find their space in this universe.  I still have something inside of me asking to be named.  So, I am going to use my poor spelling and bad grammar to help me find myself.  Writing in itself is a humbling experience for me.  Someday I may write things that I want to edit and re-edit but for now I will rant my words just to spit them out.

Sometimes I wonder what that roommate thought of me.  I wonder what glimpses of authentic me he might have seen.  I'm pretty sure that he saw what took me years to see--a soul too scared of exposure to tell the truth.  I'm done with that.  What a blessing truth telling is.

1 comment:

  1. This really hit home for me. And your spelling and grammar are just fine!