I haven’t been writing. Not at all. Not one word for myself. I have given all my words elsewhere. I have painfully typed up the same words, the same call to actions, the same sentence structures for my office job. Used the same inbred sales vocabulary. Stunted my texts at the same length. I performed plastic surgery on the same thought. Over and over and over.
Hey, I wanted this.
This is what I repeated to myself for more than a year when exhaustion first settled in my mind and spread until sleep didn’t cut it. I said a lot of things to myself, including:
- Hey, I made it. This is my dream. Getting paid for writing.
- Dude, I moved out on. I wrote myself out of a life I feared, still fear, I’ll lead until I die.
- I’m learning a new trade.
Secret promises were made when I thought I had had enough.
- I’ll write when I come home.
- I’ll start this project when Monday comes.
- I’ll start this project when the weekend comes.
- I’ll start this project when this big project at work passes.
- I’ll start this project when I can actually stay awake.
- I’ll start this project when my eyes don’t hurt from staring into the screen.
Instead, I buried my words in my head and an episode of this and that. Little by little, winter and all the plans I laid into lists and spreadsheets had melted and faded away. Out of sight is truly out of mind. Deadlines, university projects, graduation stacked each other on top a full time job and a new job description with more work and responsibility. Something I desired and fought for.
As days grew hotter, I felt as if the world weighed me down. Denial and my masochistic quest to find more work, just stay busy, had turned my life into survival. I didn’t realize this then. You’d think someone who’s barely holding their head above the water will grasp the situation they’re in but not me.
I don’t remember summer. Not really. I recall feeling tired and old. Heart and mind worn out.
I remember the worried conversations I had with my sister about what’s happening at home. The sheer panic at how irresponsible my mother’s spending has become. I can remember how each of my stomach muscles coiled. The helplessness. The absence of power. The night terrors after and the bitterness when being asked to not get into a fight and make matters worse. The shame this is really happening just after reclaiming control over life after the big divorce and debts we had to pay off.
I didn’t speak; I didn’t write until the words became foreign to my fingers. So foreign that when I did come back to writing, the intimacy I shared with the page and language had grown cold and I had nowhere to go. The pain came in tiny pricks until I could not exercise my lips.
Meanwhile, things boiled in me. They still do. They’ve fermented and mutated.
I return to my narratives. I attempt to heal, but I’m afraid I’ve lost the words to give these things shape, but more importantly give them peace. I’m so afraid I’ve lost the words permanently. But I’m also afraid of what will happen when the words do come. And so I keep asking myself…
What do you do when you’re afraid of the words?
What one always does. What I should have been doing all this time.