Alicia Suskin Ostriker
My friend Laura called me Sunday night.
“Oh, something happened tonight. I don’t know what to do with it,” she told me. “All I know is I feel like absolute garbage and I have managed to become paralyzed. I can’t think, I can’t move, I have a bunch of tasks to take care of before I go to bed but all I can do is obsess about what happened.”
Like me, Laura is a writer. Like me, she sometimes hesitates to use the most significant weapons in her arsenal to combat the unhappiness and dread she was feeling.
She had forgotten she could pick up her pen and put it to the page and begin the process of feeling better. All it takes is moving the pencil, tapping on the keyboard, letting the ink drip off the end of the pen and things move from stagnant to doing something.
It took me a long time to have the courage to write about my son’s autism. While we were going through the transition period from not knowing he was on the spectrum to accepting the reality of what that meant and how to embrace his uniqueness fully, I filled notebooks with stream of consciousness writing.
I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it with friends and I had a difficult time finding other parents with children who had autism so I forged my feeling better, my healing, through writing what felt endless about my process.
I didn’t blog the process endlessly, I free wrote. I didn’t write a single poem about it as it was happening, I free wrote. I wrote stream of consciousness style so that my feelings, my emotions, my heart and my spirit would continue to flow without the restrictions of fear and self-consciousness engulfing me.
Laura and I talked a bit more about her “what happened”: she went to an event and came face-to-face with a man who had hurt her badly fifteen-years in the past. She had not seen him in eleven years and now they were sitting with a group of people who had no context of their history and both of them sat there, together in that group, for two hours. When Laura left, there was no further content.
She felt drenched in unfinished business.
She called me last night to let me know how much writing allowed her space to roam about her thoughts without concern of anyone else’s judgment. That judgment, she realized, included her own self judgment and lack of compassion.
Writing helped her begin to feel better.
What are you afraid to write about? What are you afraid to speak aloud?
To begin your process of feeling better, begin a list of subjects you haven’t yet given yourself permission to talk about either on paper or to someone else or perhaps even to yourself.
Take out a notebook or open a document and simply move your pencil or pen, move your fingers along the keyboard. I guarantee once you begin, you will also start to feel better.
Mary Shelley wrote, “The beginning is always today.”
Sarah Dresser wrote, “Like a blinking cursor on an empty page, it was just the first thing. The beginning of the beginning. But at least it was done.”
Remember Alicia Stuskin Ostriker’s words that started these thoughts? “I try to stretch my own envelope, to write what I’m afraid to write.”
Start with asking yourself the question: “What am I afraid to write?”
Begin to love the question into a life now facing your healing by living the question and making the beginnings of your list, starting with “I am afraid to write….”
You’ve got this.
You will feel better.
And now, you write. Now you begin. Now you’ll start to feel better.
Julie Jordan Scott inspires people to experience artistic rebirth via her programs, playshops, books, performances and simply being herself out in the world. She is a writer, creative life coach, speaker, performance poet, Mommy-extraordinaire and mixed-media artist whose Writing Camps and Writing Playgrounds permanently transform people's creative lives. Watch for the announcement of new programs coming in Fall, 2016 and beyond.
To contact Julie to schedule a Writing or Creative Life Coaching Session, call or text her at 661.444.2735.
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