I never in my wildest dreams, and believe me I have some odd dreams, imagined what mountains could be moved simply from writing. I grew up the prized princess of a cozy little family- the kind of family who cant fathom a wedding guest list smaller than 500- the kind of family where the term “family” is used with such reckless abandon that a running joke between my friends was that I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a ‘cousin’- the kind of family where you run a marathon and every single one of them is asking for pictures, updates, how they can support you, and what it was like in the end. I also had all the friends in the world. There was a span of about 6 years during my childhood where I legitimately claimed to possess 20 best friends and about 50 almost best friends. Of those, 10 I had known and grown up with since I was a baby and the rest I picked up along the way, wrapped my arms around, and never let go.
I was Daddy’s little girl, and there’s no doubt I still am. But what I was never able to do was speak. I had so much to say, so much to opinionate, so many words left stifled & unspoken under the pressure of being a good daughter, but most of all, of being understood in a certain way by everyone around me. I fit the mold that my family, my world had cut out for me, and although I could push the boundaries- sneak out late at night & go on dates & listen to Jewel- it was not acceptable for me to be entirely one from the crowd. Don’t get me wrong, this was neither parental enforcement nor societal, but my own internal pressures and standards I set for myself that forced me into the mold and kept me from bursting at the sides.
It’s like that scene in Titanic when Rose gets all heated about how she looks to fit the type on the outside, but on “the inside, I’m screaming!” But screaming what? Screaming at whom exactly? You realize, once your voice dies and your throat dries up, that you were actually screaming at yourself. You hated that you had to fit in, that even though you wanted out, it was the fear of the unknown, the worry of never fitting back in, that kept you from moving one millimeter from where you currently stand, in the center of the party with a big beautiful smile on your face jiving to all the right beats at all the right moments.
And then I moved. And moved a bit more. And a bit more. And I started writing. I wrote for myself, I thought, but in the end, I wrote for them. I wrote to explain, to bridge the gap, to soften the sting of taking a step out of the ring, knowing the fire would burn like all hell, but hoping their support, and their understanding would pour droplets of aloe on the burns.
It takes time to come around for someone you love- when their ideas of life and happiness differ so greatly from your own. It’s not simple because you force yourself to truly get it- you refuse to give in just because they appear happy on the outside- as you’ve seen that face before and apparently it wasn’t enough then. But that give, that millisecond of questioning, of effort, of interest, is all it takes. That ability to let your guard down and let a realization spill over into your brain and heart is the most difficult and the most rewarding of all abilities.
I was a fighter. I was a faux-feminist and I was headstrong. But until I started writing, I never actually spoke what was on my mind. I simply decided you either got me or you didn’t. You were either on my team or against it. And if you were against it, you weren’t worth my time. My guard went from a little white picket fence to the great wall of China. I found I was always defending myself and trying to legitimize my choices- but never simply letting people’s opinions in and mulling them over- thinking about them enough to help me understand them and them understand me.
But when you write, and especially when you write to no one at all but everyone in the world, you get this amazing, unique chance to express yourself and your thoughts, entirely shed of defense. You get to just talk to whomever will listen and those who listen get to listen invisibly. They get to hear your voice without having to respond right away- or ever. But those words have now pierced their balloon of perceptions. They have skedaddled their way from scattered words on the scrabble board to meaningful epiphanies in the minds of people who matter- and sometimes those who didn’t matter at all.
The outcome has been intense: I find myself on new planes of kinship with people I have always known but never gotten to know. I find our ability to connect and relate and debate so much richer. I find such beauty in the electric waves that flow between us that I cant help but snicker at how hard I made it all for myself- how angry I was at myself and how happy I now am just being who I am and letting everything and everyone else fall in place.
It’s so much simpler this way- isn’t it? So…write. Write with reckless abandon. It could change everything.