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.