But that wasn’t even the worst part.
The worst part was the censorship.
If I ever tried to write, he stood behind me, a suspicious presense, to watch my every word. Even now, as I think about it, I feel the anxiety raise up in my chest, feel my breath come tighter as the words from my soul are squeezed, strangled and blue, murdered by asphyxiation. I feel the ghost of his tall, lanky self behind me even now, like some sort of artistic PTSD. It almost peels me away from the keyboard, almost makes me want to stop.
When the words start to come, they must come, or I die. Not physically, of course, but inside, the panic and frustration and the intensity of the art simply has to manifest, to voice itself, to allow itself to be. The act of this sort of creation is a requirement, not a luxury.
Of course I journal. But that’s an entirely different thing. That is an act of psychology. It is an act of selfishness. And it’s certainly no art, believe me. It is simply the spillage of my extra words onto paper, the thoughts in my head moving out onto the page just to organize themselves.
But sometimes, the words are given to me, and they roll around sounding like poetry in my head, and while yes they speak of my soul, they are not meant for my soul alone. When this happens, it is not of me. I mean it seriously and for true when I say: the words are given to me. And like Christ, that is a gift for all.
Not that I am comparing myself to the Messiah.
But rather the idea of the gift of creation. Of a new thing. It’s not meant for private journaling. Some things are meant for the world to see the beauty, or to reveal the pain, or to shine lights on the ugly. Sometimes a soul tapped is another soul’s healing.
And it’s not that I’m saying I’m all that as a writer. There are so many writers who are so much better than I (read Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz if you want to read one of the most beautiful creations of art EVER. Check out his blog here). I’m saying that there are sometimes the things my soul is working in private are the things it wants to create art from, and those things need to be shared so that, perhaps, someone else who has the same damn mess can create her own art in her own time, too.
There are some funny things about these waves of writing that come over me like the ocean. First: I can’t control them. They have left for years at a time and come back with an manic vengance. If I even attempt to treat them with a “Heel. Sit. Stay,” mentality, they run for the hills, shut me down, leave me wordless and mute. This is why I can not even consider a career as a writer; the second I attempt to discipline my words they rebel like James Dean.
Second, they usually end up sounding melancholy, making me sound like I’m in some serious need of medication, when really, I laugh a lot. But the serious side of me is the one that works out the heavy stuff through my writing. I guess you’ll have to check out my Facebook statuses for the levity.
Recently, some people I love and respect deeply suggested that I might not want to be posting about things I’ve been posting about recently — all this dark and twisty stuff I’ve been sucking up out of me like dirty oil from a neglected car. As usual, my original response was a swift and harsh one (even though I kept it to myself, which is the reason I kept it to myself). They have my best interests at heart. They are concerned for me and are afraid that my posts will hurt my business, cause questions, create worry.
I appreciate more than they know their concern. But it smacks of the censorship I simply can’t tolerate. I am fully aware that what I have been posting is deeply personal, but I also have come to learn that when we bring these deep, dark secrets out into the open it loosens their power over us. I post nothing unless I am willing to talk about it. In fact, I invite people to speak to me, especially if it helps slay the demons in their own heads. Because that is the gift of the words. To open up the soul like a Tiger Lilly in sunlight, to reveal the dark places and shine bright, orange-y warm light on them, make them toasty and safe, to soothe the soul’s pain like the hug I should have gotten as a child.
There must be certain priorities. And the freedom of my soul must be paramount among them. I am at a place — and perhaps this will change someday — where the healing process must be allowed to happen unfettered. Any business or job, sense of propriety or false self-righteousness, fear or embarrassment must fall into a solid second place when it comes to this. Because all the fighting I’ve ever done in my life has come from this soul-censorship, this place of frustrating the words, of not letting them be. It’s time to open up like that bright orange lilly, release myself to the day, to bend with the breeze and reachfor the sky.