I have noticed recently that I have been much more active with Facebook posts than I have with this blog. It has prompted me to check out with myself why I write and where.
Many folks believe that Facebook is a terrible thing and the last place you would want to talk about anything personal…. a breach of one’s own privacy, too much vulnerability, dangerous, etc.
This has not been the case for me. Perhaps because I live alone, my writing serves me well by creating a community in a town that is new to me. It has helped me find new friends and people who accept my eccentricities.
If I am really honest …. writing breaks down my isolation and the sense of loneliness that I have so intensely experienced during this pandemic. I can have conversations with others where I capture my own thoughts and develop them more completely. I get feedback that sometimes is affirming and sometimes critical. Meaningful discussions can occur. Ultimately, I am offered an alternative perspective and a personal connection. I have been lucky in that there has been only one time, a couple years ago, when a response felt totally evil-spirited. I was fearful about it and it stopped my writing for awhile. With time, I felt ready to go again.
One reason I am willing to experience the vulnerability and potential for strength in writing came a number of years back from a man named Ryan. He taught me a lot. A friend of my son, he was a young family man. Ryan chose to express himself on Facebook as he faced an aggressive form of cancer. He shared his tears, the uncertainties, his faith, his role as a father and a partner, the innumerable choices, gearing up for Battle, developing a team, facing health system challenges and inequities, the strengths and weaknesses he discovered in the course of painful treatments, the devastating outcomes, his hopes for legacy and the eventual realities of dying. He was a force to reckon with embodying both ferocity and tenderness. He kept on telling his story. Ryan intimately shared the grit of his life with a multitude of friends and mere acquaintances and offered hope to the newly diagnosed as well as those winning and losing. His was a gift to everyone. I learned about the power of writing and connecting in spirit as well as what a life well-lived means. Words truly matter.
I have found that writing is a home remedy for my PTSD. Anyone who endures this challenge knows that things can go south in a flash. Do you know what a jiggler valve is? It is the thing that sits atop an old-fashioned pressure cooker that regulates the steam that can build rapidly or more slowly to overwhelming levels. It averts the danger of explosions. I think this is the way writing works for me as it tempers the tensions inherent with my illness. It doesn’t hurt either that writing is expressive and it seems like the creativity involved somehow morphs the bad into something positive or useful!
It seems my blurbs in Facebook capture a moment in time. They are mostly my current thinking or a passing thought or observation. I actually feel more vulnerable with these than I do with the blog. Sometimes I reword ad nauseam.
My blog posts seems to be more about my commitment to kairos living….usually more substantial. I have found that often these capture or touch my spiritual beliefs and are often about honoring. Not surprising to me these are often easier to write – and they are longer. The blog posts typically flow easily and I am rarely tempted to revise! I try not to do any planning and I seek no feedback. I often feel more of a conduit to something bigger and I try to stay out of the way.
One other thing I know about why I write is that it makes me feel good.
Many years ago when I was not very self-aware, I felt at the mercy of unknown internal forces – emotions, reactions and prescribed thoughts. My first attempt to grow up came when I joined a women’s group and started considering the messages I had received as a child and how they were automatically affecting my moods and sense of personal effectiveness. Two of the overarching messages pertain to why I write. The first was gender specific …. A woman was to primarily take care of others to the point of exhaustion and self-sacrifice. The second was about stoicism….never express your emotions and soldier on. The group allowed me to name these early teachings and to evaluate whether they were helpful to me and promoting my health. Warning! This kind of self-evaluation can be quite painful as well as freeing. The bottom line was that I learned words can define my outlook; they can be incredibly empowering; and that I am the author of my reality. Naming itself has a force of its own. Heady stuff.
I am happy to say I have learned that confidence, mastery and dealing with obstacles comes with discovering my strengths, weaknesses and uniqueness. Writing is a fast track and one that I trust. It is a method that works for me and keeps my life adventurous.
So my conclusion to date is that I write to savor my life, increase my self-awareness and to better hear what I have to say!