Recently, I decided that I needed to start writing again. So, using the New Year as an excuse, a little over a week ago I threw together a web site on my Macbook, gave myself a publishing schedule, and vowed to find myself again through the written word. What I’ve found in the past week, however, is so much more than I expected.
I started writing when I was around 12. While I was in junior high and high school I wrote dark, brooding poems about nuclear annihilation and social unrest, and then in college I composed pointedly cruel diatribes about disingenuous boys, prose that I am certain would have made Alanis Morissette proud. My girlfriend Kerry and I filled spiral notebook upon spiral notebook with a handwritten soap opera story, the idea for which originally came to me in a dream. After earning my MS in Professional Writing, I worked as a technical writer for State Farm and then later as a scientific writer and editor for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. But my most regular writing was done in journals, which I religiously kept from 1981 until 2001 when our son Joe was born.
I stopped writing, I suppose, when I finally felt that I had nothing to say. I hadn’t really planned to become a stay-at-home mom, and the struggle to accept who I was because of my choice was brutal for me. I was awkward in my new role and, aside from feeling rather unimportant, I was either I was too tired or too bored with myself to write. What was I going to journal about, anyway? Sleep deprivation? Dirty diapers? The latest round of “Guess What Substance Is Stuck To The Wall”? It was dizzying how dull I had become in such a short amount of time.
Then, as my boys grew, I robotically assumed the socially correct mantle of Suburban Super Mom. I hosted play dates. I cooked healthy meals. I decorated the house. I scrapbooked and crafted. I volunteered in the neighborhood and at the boys‘ school. I was doing everything “right,” but I wasn’t really happy and I wasn’t really myself. I reasoned that I no longer wrote simply because I was too busy. The truth was, however, that I could not possibly have expressed much about a life I was sleepwalking through while wearing someone else’s shoes.
And, now that I am writing again, I sadly find myself at a total loss for words to express how it is affecting me. I can only liken it to the times when, while living in other states and returning to Colorado, I would cross the state border and upon seeing the Welcome-To-Colorful-Colorado sign suddenly feel as if my heart, shrunken upon departure, had reinflated to its proper size. If I had realized ten years ago that putting aside writing would mean putting a core part of my being in cold storage, I might have found a way to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) more often.
The biggest and most pleasant surprise this past week, though, is the way I feel when someone tells me how a few words that I wrote summed up how they have been feeling too. I started writing this blog mainly for me, just as I kept a journal. And, while I hope no one ever reads my journals…EVER (seriously….no one needs to know just how incredibly immature, insane, and inane my comments were for two entire decades), I’m glad to know that something I am saying on this site now is relatable to someone else. So, thank you for reading whatever it is I’m writing as I try to sort through my scattered and yet incredibly hopeful and optimistic warehouse of thoughts. And, thank you even more for commenting, sharing my posts, and proving that I was correct in assuming that I was not alone in feeing lost and disenchanted, nor am I alone in wanting more for myself than what I chose for myself. I suddenly feel as if I am in great company.