Just Write. That’s the challenge. Some days the words pour through me uncontrollably as though a plug was pulled, and my soul is draining with each keystroke. They come fast and furious, one right after another, stories and memories and characters and plots all weaving together seamlessly as my fingers fly.
Other days the words hide from me, almost scared of the light, and I must coax them and pull them gently and tenderly from inside me. And then I spring them forth and out into the universe for you to see, and I cringe a little for their awkwardness and hope you read them without rejection or scorn.
Some days the words are so tightly wound within me that I am scared to release them, lest they rush forward in a torrent with no thought or consideration of whom they may scar along the way. Their pressure, their force, and their poison builds within me, threatening to erupt in self-destruction and hurtful tirades.
When it is happy writing, the typing–the releasing–can be a joy. It can make me smile and fill me with hope that when you read the words, you’ll smile too, and we’ll share a moment together of laughter and common ground. We’ll connect, we’ll get each other, and some small piece of the day will be brighter.
When it is gut-wrenching writing, I type and erase and backspace and delete and chew my lip as I tug and pull at my very core to get the words released. On those days, sometimes I just stop and allow them to slink away back into their depths. I prefer the happy words, the ones that make you laugh. Luckily, there are many of those. I am blessed with happy thoughts, happy life, happy stories.
I am thankful for my words. I am thankful for the ability to pull my emotions, my thoughts, my feelings, my hurts, my outrage and channel it all into a vessel that allows others to see me and know me and understand me better.
But with that comes a vulnerability, and an ever-present question of….is it okay? Is it good enough? Did you like it? It’s me, laid bare and open. Sharing with you. Am I okay? Am I good enough? And I think no matter how confident we are in ourselves, there is always a part of us that is vulnerable and seeking to know if we’re okay.
And so it is with love. We can only truly love with vulnerability. The act of loving another gives them the power to hurt us. To betray us. To let us down. Disappoint us. Break our hearts and our hopes and our trust and our faith.
We cannot share ourselves, open ourselves up to others, without giving them access to the part of us that they can hurt.
It is amid that vulnerability, that willingness to risk, that openness despite fear, that love blossoms and grows. And sometimes it may wither and die. Sometimes it is chopped brutally and left to bleed out. And other times it is overpruned and overplucked until it can no longer bear its surroundings. And sometimes, blessing of all blessings, it is nurtured and fed and it can grow and fill us so completely that our souls soar.
I feel blessed to have known love in my life. Friends, family, children, spouse. I have known much love and great love. It’s worth it. I believe that. I tell myself that. I tell you that. It has to be better to love and experience love and give love, even with the pain that comes with it, than to live a life without love. Doesn’t it?
A life without love? Blech. It’s not a life lived.
I met someone long ago who told me that he had married young, before the age of 20, and she left him when he was 23. He had never gone out with another woman, and he said he never would. He said he would never again give anyone the ability to hurt him the way she did. So he had spent the last 32 years of his life closed off from vulnerability. Closed off from love.
I suppose that in some way I understand his decision to close his heart and safeguard it. Who among us has not felt the burning, stabbing, crippling pain that love can bring? The loss of love, the betrayal of love, the disappointment of love. How can any of us say that we do not know its sting? A friend turns on you and leaves a dagger in your back, a family member hides something from you and leaves you shaken and unsure, a spouse lies and shatters your trust.
When you hurt me, I bleed words. Words that are sorrow-tinged teardrops like regret, disappointment, hurt, disillusionment, revenge, and anger. And they hit the page in splashes of shattered hope, broken bonds, disfigured dreams, and splintered pieces of a heart that will heal with tiny traces of scars that spell out your name.
To borrow words from one of my favorite musicals: “The Greatest Thing You’ll Ever Learn Is To Love And Be Loved In Return.”
But hidden deep within the curve of those letters and the lure of those words is the dark-shadowed truth that there is pain in that learning. They are hidden in the darkness because they cannot overpower the light of love. But they are there nonetheless.