Saturday, February 4, 2012

Consequential Truths

I need to get into writing regularly.  So many times, I have something happen, or I think of something, or I pass something that makes me think, "OH!  Oh, THAT.  THAT is something I could write about.  That is a poem, or a story, or an essay or a blog post or a word waiting for me to write it."

And then I get to the end of the day and I think, "hey, I should write."  So I sit down with my computer, or my journal, or my pad of paper, and I wait.  "There was that one thing I saw that I thought I could write about, but...that's just too self-absorbed.  Nobody wants to read about that.  Nobody cares if that happened.  That's not exciting.  It's one of those 'you had to have been there for it to make sense' things."  This, my friends, is the way nothing gets written.
If I was writing regularly, I think I would be able to bypass those thoughts.  I would be able to skip the self-doubt, the thoughts of it not being worth it, the tendency to forget, the ability to throw away thoughts like they are just somebody else's trash blown into my yard.  It's easier falling into this pattern of not writing.  It's easier to dismiss those thoughts as unworthy of finding their way to the light than it is to actually put them on paper. 

But those thoughts hang around, whether I want them to or not.  Then, I'm stuck with the dilemma of wanting to write about so many things, I can't pick just one, and I can't organize my thoughts because there are so damn many of them and so many things that just aren't worth writing about, I can't pick one.  Writing regularly, or even semi-regularly, would take care of that, I think.  It would unclutter the list of "things to write about" in my mind, perhaps making it shorter, perhaps just organizing it a bit. 

I've read many books on writing, and they all say essentially the same thing: just write.  Pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, however you do it, just do it.  It's that easy, and also that difficult.  The bigger problem, I think, is that writing for me is therapeutic.  I use it to understand my internal and external world, and I use it to explain my internal world to the outside world that seems to so rarely understand.  I don't want to write about the big issues affecting the world; I have nothing to add to these discussions.  I don't want to write fluff.  I want to write about how I noticed the sun setting on the way home from work for the first time in months.  I want to write about the joy I get from loving the kids I work with, and I want to write about the pain of never being good enough.  I want to write my truth, however inconsequential, and I want it to mean something when I put the words to the paper.  I want me, my story, my work, my heart to mean something. 


There's this girl I've been working with intensively for the past several weeks.  She is aggressive.  She is unpredictable.  She has the strangest conglomeration of behaviors you can imagine.  She screams and laughs hysterically for no reason we can name.  She throws herself against walls, chairs, people, doors, and the floor.  She barks at mirrors, at light fixtures, and at door hinges.  She says the same thing over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.  This girl broke my glasses, pulled chunks of hair from my scalp, left me with bruises on my arms and legs, and she exhausted me, day after day.

She called me "babygirl," and as we walked and walked and walked, and worked and worked and worked, she would periodically ask, "are you my babygirl?  Are you my best babygirl?"  I have never seen a child so loving towards others - we would pass children in the hallway and she would exclaim, "look at her!  Isn't she so beautiful?  She has blonde hair and pink shoes, and she's the most beautiful babygirl I've ever seen.  Wasn't she a beautiful babygirl?"

On the last day of her admission, her mother took me aside, crying.  "Thank you," she said.  "We don't want to go.  We want you to keep working with our daughter."

I took the mother's hand.  "I have loved working with your family, " I said, looking into her eyes.

"No," she said, "you don't understand.  For 12 years, people have treated us, have treated her, like she is crazy.  Thank you for not treating my daughter like she is crazy.  Thank you for liking her.  Thank you for getting her, for getting us, for taking the time to see her."  She hugged me, crying on my shoulder, in the middle of the hallway with the nurses and doctors and therapists and administrators walking by. 

"Thank you, " she said again, "thank you for liking my daughter."


Why did this story need to be written here?  Why now?  There is metaphor here, although I am having a hard time connecting the dots in my head.  Rather, the dots are connected, but the words are not coming as easily as I would like. 

In spite of the fact that I have always been a writer, I have also always believed that my words and my work are unimportant.  My thoughts, my words, my heart, are easily cast aside as unimportant.  Lately, I find myself believing there must be something wrong.  There must be something broken internally.  Something fundamental to my existence as a normal, social, living breathing loving human being must be broken.  Crazy.  My truth is that I feel unworthy of being anyone's "babygirl," most of all my own.  It's an unwillingness to take the time to be gentle, to tell myself I'm not crazy in this crazy-making world.  This does not mean anything in the larger scheme of the world, but this inconsequential truth makes it easier and easier to dismiss my words and thoughts, and makes it so much harder to write anything I can deem "worthy" of page space.

What I want from my writing is for me to take the time to see me as unbroken, and that, perhaps, is the hardest thing to do.  I want my writing to tell my truth in a way that touches the hearts of others and makes them feel seen and unbroken.  I want to tell truth in such a way that others can feel as though their truth might also be worth some space on the page, worth the spoken words, the artistic rendering, the place in their heart.  I want my writing to form a place for even just one person to believe that, maybe, their truth is as I see it: whole and consequential.