What Lies Beneath

I’m still getting over some ick which decided to come settle in on me Easter morning (Thank you, Easter Bunny!) – a lovely little sinus infection which still has me horking phlegm from somewhere around my occipital lobe. Dead sexy, I know. Welcome to South Texas in the springtime! We’ve got bluebonnets and snot as far as the eye can see! Today’s post is primarily my attempt to get back in the saddle after this particularly sneezy vicissitude made brain stupid and no thinky. AKA: This post may completely suck, so be forewarned. Then again, it could be just exactly what you needed to hear today; what do I know?

There’s an expression that goes, “Life doesn’t stop just because you got sober,” meaning there is no pause or reset button here. Stuff keeps happening while you’re focused on getting your head straight. Everyone keeps on living their lives like they do because they are not the ones who had some sudden moment of clarity and realized that they have to do a complete 180. People will continue to treat you as if you are the same old person you’ve always been because they are not the ones who have had a spiritual awakening. There’s this WHOLE BIG WORLD out there that has absolutely NOTHING to do with you. Shocking, I know. I still find it hard to believe at times.

Junior year in high school, I wrote a poem talking about feeling very overwhelmed and wanting everything to just STOP for a minute so I could catch my breath. It was an excellent piece and probably one of the best things I’ve ever written (not tooting my own horn here, just bear with me, you’ll see). Poetry was an amazing outlet for me when I was younger because it was a way to acknowledge and give voice to emotions that were bigger than just one word could describe. Anyone who has journaled for recovery purposes knows that once we put things down on paper, they are no longer bouncing around in our heads, trying to kill us.

At the time I wrote this poem, I was nearing the end of my first year at a residential honors school where I generally felt very much like the stupid kid at the smart kid school. Finals were fast approaching and after doing exceptionally horrid at the semester break, I wasn’t so sure how I’d fare for year end. I was soon going to have to face not being able to see my boyfriend and the rest of my classmates over the summer, and many of the most amazing people I had ever met would soon be scattered across the globe and I would probably never see them again after graduation. On top of that, we were leaving that evening for an extended weekend and I did not want to deal with my family. Needless to say, I was experiencing some very heavy, stressful, negative emotions.

All this pressure kept bubbling up inside me to the point that I was almost crying, so, sitting in chemistry class, I put pen to paper and spilled out all that angst. Once I finished, I read back over what I had written and recognized the pressure described there as if I were empathizing with someone else. It no longer belonged to me. Yes, the piece was dark and tormented in the way only a 16-year-old girl can write, but the emotions described there were no longer suffocating me. I showed the poem to my lab partner who was one of my dearest friends, then folded it up, put it in my pocket & went about the rest of my day feeling a little blue, but a whole heckuva lot better than before.

Fast forward a day or two. I was back home with the family, probably being a bratty, pouty teenager annoyed with being forced to deal with the ‘rents, watching TV or playing on the computer or whatever – completely over whatever had been bothering me the other day. Dad called me into the kitchen where he produced the poem Mom had retrieved from my pants pocket while doing laundry. Now, I can understand the concern here to a certain extent. I mean, the poem did conclude by devolving into a dark version of a children’s rhyme much in the same way that a certain Korn song did a couple of years later. The overreaction to this thing, though, was TREMENDOUS! My dad wanted to lock me up in a psych ward. I’m not saying that I couldn’t have used a little therapy at the time, but I’m not a mental case. The poem was not a cry for help or a sign that I was losing it. Quite to the contrary, keeping those emotions bottled up inside WOULD have driven me over the edge.

I tried to explain this to my dad, but he would have none of it. He was adamant that my only two options were destroy the poem or get locked up in a padded cell. I’m not sure how destroying the poem would’ve proven that I wasn’t crazy, but I guess if you don’t see something, you can pretend it never existed. The “discussion” got very heated and with my face red with big, ugly tears, I finally tore up this beautiful thing I had written which so accurately described a huge, unnameable emotion that it nearly got me committed. I have looked back, thinking I should have submitted to a 24-72 hour hold so that I could have salvaged my work, wondering what kind of difference it would have made. Either way, though, there was no way I was ever getting that poem back.

And so it was that I learned that writing was bad. In the year that followed, I studied the works of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton in my poetry class. I identified too strongly with their writing and would not suffer their same fate, even if it killed me (yeah, I just did that), so this was essentially the end of my poetry career. I never made a conscious decision to stop writing, but somewhere deep inside me a lie was spoken and it destroyed the conduit which allowed emotion to flow from brain to pen.


This is completely NOT what I had set out to write today, but I suppose it’s what I needed to say. I have a lot of anxiety about writing and I believe most of it stems from this one event. Consciously, I understand how ridiculous the whole thing is. Moreover, I can see how I quite possibly am simply using it as an excuse to not write. The simple fact is, there is obviously something broken in this moment that I have to rectify before I can move forward because any time I am encouraged to write more, the anxiety comes and this memory is never far behind.

The world ain’t gonna stop just because I’ve got a little anxiety, though. The longer I put off addressing the issue, the longer I keep living in fear. So what’s it going to be, Laurie? Are you ready to confront the demons that live in this memory yet or do you want to keep on hiding behind them for a while longer? Are you willing to tear away the lie to find the truth that so scares you lying underneath?

I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

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8 responses to “What Lies Beneath”

  1. Maggie Wilson says :

    This has me in tears. I want to clobber your parents. Wow. What a choice! And autocorrect said what a voice.

    • Laurie G.F. says :

      Thank you. I sometimes feel I am too hard on them in my writing and I don’t mean to be. In extricating the truth about myself, though, I have to expose the lies wherever they come from. In the larger scheme of life, this is such a minor event, but it obviously imprinted me heavily and I have to deal with it somehow.

  2. Maggie Wilson says :

    Hi Laurie. Wow, muses, eh? You had no idea you’d write that, and I have no idea where my reaction comes from. Well, that’s not true, of course I do. Stuff my dad did. And the still rippling effects.
    To address your comment: I don’t see you as being “hard” on your parents. To me, your words read as straightforward reporting of the facts.
    You are so right. In the cosmic scheme of things, even tsunamis and extinction causing meteorite strikes are minor events that are healed over in due time. That does not mean that the teeny tiny episodes played out in you kitchen are any less catastrophic, nor has the reverberation faded.
    I wish you well.

  3. carrythemessage says :

    When I was growing up, I used to read up on the Spanish Inquisition. I read that people were asked to denounce God or get lit up like an efigy doll. I used to think “why not just denounce God? It’s easy – it’s just words…and you get to keep your life”. I thought it easy to just release and lie and then move on. Well, that my M.O. But looking at things now…well, what would I do now? I thought of this (for some weird) reason as I read your tale. Rip up the poem, or go to the mental ward? Well hey, ripping up a piece of paper should be easy, right? Hell no. I see that now. I feel the pain from that experience. Tearing up a piece of you, of your healing process, of your essence at that point in your life. That’s tragic in many ways…so I understand that block.

    This is the kind of thing that we hope to seek clarity on…and that is where willingness comes in. This is where I pray for the willingness to be willing (like for unfinished amends…yikes!) We talk a lot about unearthing things, peeling back the onion, etc…as if it’s like getting the mail or washing the car. But it’s hard. I can bet you dollars to donuts that I have a few things that I am not even aware of, let alone deciding whether to go ahead with the unveiling.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing this…it goes to show that no matter how far along the road we are, there are still things that can trip us up. But it’s how we react to them that shows us where we are.


    • Laurie G.F. says :

      After I wrote this, I read Fern’s post about shame and immediately recognized the lie that was spoken in this moment. I was told that what I had done was so shameful that I had to be hidden away from the rest of the world. It’s no wonder that I whenever someone suggests I write more, I start to feel a sort of claustrophobic anxiety! Consciously, I see the lie for what it is, but that 16-year-old girl is still in here and she is powerless over her life. She still thinks she’ll be violently rejected and labelled an outcast if she picks up that pen again.

      In recovery, we are taught how to recondition ourselves through practicing new behaviors. There are these fears, that can be handled this way, but it feels like rape to force behavior which is already feared. We have to find a way to love ourselves around that block… like we do when we chose a God of our own understanding instead of blindly following a religious dogma which equates to nothing but hypocrisy in our mind’s eye.

      Recovery is an interesting business. And you’re exactly right, peeling away the layers of the onion is as painful as ripping our own flesh off our bones at times. In retrospect, though, we see that the only pain came from hanging on to old beliefs so long. I think that’s how we can speak so easily about it – to encourage ourselves & others that the relief that comes far outweighs any pain we may experience in the shedding of our old skin.

  4. Zachary @zacharykreid says :

    Wow powerful story, thanks for sharing!! I know I got through some of my hardest years around 17 – 18 through writing hip hop songs, which is another form of poetry, just a little more rigid having to adhere to a certain bpm, but it does allow you to sing it as you want. I know i definitely made it through some very hard moments by sitting with my pad and my pen. These days, I try to use my writing to inspire others. Yours did to me, I haven’t written a song in a while, sounds nice to do. Thanks!! 🙂
    – Zachary from http://quickmeups.com

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