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.