It has been over two months since I’ve sat down at my computer with the intention of writing. Two months since I‘ve tried to put words to that which most often goes unspoken in my life. Two months since I have last invited my creativity to come out and play, to reboot from its idle status, to come up for air and fill its lungs with life-giving oxygen. The keyboard feels foreign under my awkward fingertips. Two months is a long time.
I’ve forgotten how to balance my laptop on one knee from my perch on the couch in the living room. I’ve forgotten how it was that I used to look at the world when I was writing regularly. I’ve forgotten that it is necessary to barricade the cat in another room when planning a creative endeavor. Will it all come back to me? Will it have the opportunity?
More importantly, will I allow it?
The excuses for not writing are numerous. I have young children. I have a career. I have a hang nail. I need to get through my email. I need to deal with the kitchen. I need to eat my way through the kitchen. I need to pick up the slack that my husband used to pick up in his pre-graduate school days. I need to slack off after too much picking up the slack. They all hit the floor with a hollow “ping,” bouncing and scattering into dusty, dark corners, unable to be retrieved. As with most excuses, they don’t have much weight to them.
The truth is, I could find the time to write if I really wanted to. I would make the time to write if I really wanted to. And I would really want to, if I weren’t so damn scared by the whole thing.
I’m beyond caring what other people think of my writing. That boogey man doesn’t scare me anymore—I’ve written enough and grown enough and read enough in the last few years of writing to know that I do alright, and I’ll find an audience as long as there are other women out there who struggle with mommy guilt and spiritual angst and an addiction to chocolate chip cookies. I’m not afraid to put it out there.
I’m afraid, I believe, to look at what’s in there. That’s why I’m writing tonight about not writing—because it’s safer than writing about the fact that I lost ten pounds and gained it all right back within a month because my appetite is insatiable for all things sweet and high in carbohydrates. It is safer than writing about learning to unentangle myself emotionally from my daughter so as to avoid being the primary topic of therapy in her twenties. And it is safer than writing about the low-lying gray cloud that settled in over our house about a month before my husband started graduate school and hasn’t budged an inch in almost a full year.
When I sit down to write, I typically open up the junk drawer that is my life and rustle around inside until I determine which item to pull out and put away. Usually it’s a little angst-gadget here, a little ball of neuroticism there, and a humor-ma-bobbie or two thrown in for good measure. But not lately. Lately, my life feels less like a junk drawer and more like the proverbial monsters-lurking-within closet. Vices and habits and hang-ups and heart-breaks loom larger-than-life, and, to be frank, I don’t want to open the door.
Of course, opening the door is what I need to do. Of course. I am a counselor. I know this. I tell lots of other people, in my smug, confident, counselor-voice, “My dear, you need to open that door.” They nod, “Yes, Lorie. I need to open that door. I will open that door.” And miraculously, some of them even go off and do it. Truly. And I am forever in awe.
I have opened doors. I have closed doors. I have purged closets and junk drawers alike, and have worked to have a place for everything and everything in its place. But sometimes I get tired, just as I do within my home, of continually re-straightening that with which I thought I was already done. And so I avoid closets like the plague, and refuse to sit down at my computer, turning instead to inane tasks or pleasurable reads, trying to take my mind off that which my mind will not be taken off of.
Tonight, if only for a moment, the running stops. I have closed the bedroom door behind me, and for the next two hours, it’s just me and whatever is lurking behind that door. And after I’ve wrestled a while, if I have any bravery and energy left, I’ll write about it.
In about two more months…