For as long as I can remember, words and stories have been my safe haven. My escape. I remember, way back when I was in grade school—I couldn’t have been more than 9 or 10 at the time—I had this teacher who moved me from my seat in the back of the class—which happened to be near the windows—simply because she grew tired of constantly catching me staring out those windows and “daydreaming”—as she put it. While the seat change may have put a damper on my window-watching that year, it did nothing to hinder my imagination. I remember that it was there that some of my first stories came about. Sitting there in that little desk, my Lisa Frank pencil flying across the pages of loose leaf whilst the teacher wasn’t looking, my little mind racing faster than my fingers could even write at times. To say that writing has always been my first love, while true, is also a bit of an understatement. I didn’t find writing. I didn’t seek it out. It found me. It’s been there, all along…like an obsession, or an addiction…or a disease. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I hate it. At times, it’s like having schizophrenia…like there’s this voice inside of me—only it’s all these words and these stories just floating around—and there’s no rest to be had until I’ve written it down, until it’s out. And then there’s this cathartic peace to be had. It’s like a climber reaching the summit of Everest—that dizzying rush you get when you look around and see all your hard work has finally paid off.
Sometimes, it’s about more than the rush. Sometimes, it’s about having all these words and emotions inside of you and just needing a release…of sorts. To let it all out. Before it consumes you. That’s what writing became for me. An outlet. A release—for when that sweet, innocent little girl with an obsession for Lisa Frank everything grew up into a teenager and everything that was once bright and cheerful turned dark and colorless, seemingly overnight. I started writing poetry…a lot of it. There was no rhyme or reason to a good majority of it…just a way for me to put to paper the thoughts that were racing through my mind at the time. There was a lot of anger in those poems. A lot of confusion, sadness, grief, despair…you name the emotion, chances are it was in there. It became my therapy, of sorts. And it helped—a least for those few brief moments when the words were finally out—it did. I remember it was my English teacher in Junior High that was really supportive of my poetry writing—and the first one to really encourage me to find my “inner poet” and to play around with that type of prose. I remember her telling me how much she liked my poems, and how honest and insightful they were for someone my age. One memory in particular that I haven’t forgotten is of an exchange we had one day; she happened to ask me why I chose to write sad poems instead of happy ones and I remember simply just shrugging and saying “…because it’s not realistic… life isn’t all rainbows…” I can still picture the look on her face when I said it—that typical initial look of surprise that’s all too quickly followed by that inquisitive stare-down that’s intended to make you break down and “talk it out”. Yeah…that didn’t happen. I stopped writing poems after that. Or at least—I should say—that’s the lie I told her weeks later when she cornered me after class one day and asked me how things were and if I had any new poems to show her. The truth is, I’d had plenty of poems I could have shown her…but I wasn’t going to. It was bad enough that she looked at and treated me like I was broken or something whenever I was in anywhere in her vicinity. I certainly wasn’t going to encourage her curiosity or confirm/deny whatever inferences she’d made from my poems. I mean, granted there were some pretty messed up things going on at the time and sure, some of what she’d gathered from the subtext wasn’t all wrong…but then, what teenager doesn’t have issues? And while I realize she might have had good intentions and meant well—the fact that she was my teacher didn’t earn her my automatic trust. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for the teaching profession—my own sister is a teacher—and I realize they’re mandated by law to report certain things and whatnot…but that doesn’t mean I have to like it or agree with it. And I’m sorry, but it’s a little hard to trust a person who isn’t capable of keeping your confidence—and it’s even more of a betrayal when they break that confidence and then have the audacity to tell you they did it “for your own well-being.” Right. Because turning someone’s world inside-out and making the situation ten times worse is sooo much better for their well-being. Riiighhht. And teachers, for all their good intentions, aren’t really there for the aftermath. It’d be one thing if they were, but they aren’t. You can’t just get involved, mess with someone’s life, then hand off the responsibility as if to say “well, I got the ball rolling, my job here is done.”. I’m sorry, but no. Just no.
Anyways, that was really the last time I voluntarily showed my poems to anyone…at least during my teenage years. I started keeping a journal when I was about 14 or so…right around the time I developed a couple of not-so-healthy, self-destructive-type habits…aka my less-than-lovely eating disorder and even less-than-lovelier self-harm problem. Before then, I’d always looked at the whole “keeping a diary” thing as kind of cheesy and childish…but after a few entries, I found it hard to stop. And it didn’t seem so cheesy or childish so long as I referred to it as a “journal” and not a “diary”. Gotta love the illogical silly semantics of a teenager. Anyhow, I would write nearly every day in that hard-covered book…and not just a paragraph or two—we’re talking more like pages. And looking back—I can honestly say that journal was my saving grace on more than a few occasions during those years. It literally held my heart and soul within those pages…all my hopes and dreams and fears. All the secrets and scars I kept hidden from the rest of the world. It was my lifeline to sanity. Without that outlet—without it—I’d have gone crazy, for sure. Or worse. I still have them actually. All 14 of them—yes, 14!—I guess I figure it’ll be cool to keep and look back at them years and years from now and see what’s changed and how much I’ve changed. Maybe I’ll use them to write my memoirs someday when I’m old…maybe. If I get that far.
Since I’ve started this blog–about 5 years ago now–I’ve gotten a bit lax on my journal writing. I’ll write here and there, but definitely not as much or as often as I used to. I think that’s going to be one of my EARLY New Year’s resolutions…to disconnect a bit and do a little more re-connecting with some things of old. I kind of miss my down-time journal writing. Just curling up on my comfy couch in my PJ’s and a blanket, a glass of wine or two at the ready (though I admit, it’s more like coffee these days than alcohol anything) … just me, my ultra-fine point pen (is it weird that I refuse to use pens that have anything bigger than a fine point on them?? err, oh well) my journal, and all my darkest, deepest, most personal thoughts. Yeah, I really do miss those writing sessions.
So…where exactly was I going with this post? I’m not entirely sure. (*Not surprising, I know. Lol) Anyhow, it started off as an ode of sorts to writing and I guess that’s where I’ll end it. It’s funny how things haven’t changed all that much from those grade school, day-dreaming days…even though I still have my days and those moments when I have to wonder if that girl is even still in there—in here—somewhere, after everything that’s happened and everything I’ve seen. I’d like to think that she is…that I haven’t become that jaded that I’ve lost her completely. And maybe it was me, maybe I saved myself…but a lot of it was the writing, too. It’s really always been there for me as a crutch when I needed it. A harbor in even the most intense, darkest of storms that I’ve encountered over the years…and trust me, I’ve encountered plenty. For some people its music, or dance, or another hobby they’re passionate about. But for me…it’s the words. It’s the story. And whether it’s those stories or poems or blogging or journals…it’s all the same. Writing…it’s my saving grace. The one thing no one can take from me. It’s mine. All mine.