POST 18: I Wanna Hurl

Sometimes I really let my mind wander back. I take a deep breath and close my eyes and give myself timid permission to drift back - back to Carolina, back to the trailer. I walk up the splintered wooden front steps and through the front door. I inhale the thick air, foul from cigarette smoke and nastiness. My eyes glance at the dirty floor, the stained bedsheets stapled to the walls to cover the windows, the layers of dust that cake every Dollar Store figurine, the place in the kitchen covered with black smut, evidence of a cooking fire that was never cleaned or fixed. I walk in my old bedroom and sit on the mattress, but I'm not brave enough to lay on it - not yet. I notice the grooves in the faux wood wall paneling. I run my fingers over my Rainbow Brite toy bank and pick up the scattered limbs and heads of the Barbies that once helped give pleasure to my young imagination. And I listen, just listen. Memories flash through my mind at high speed, like standing in the middle of I-95 watching cars just whiz by me, muscles tense with fear not knowing which one might hit me and take my breath away. It can be a dark place, my mind sometimes. Going back is exhausting, but I know it has to be done. I make myself do it. Just like I made myself get out of there. Just like I made myself go to counseling. Just like I made myself tell it all out loud that first time. Just like I am making myself finish this blog.

Finish. It's a nice thought. One day I will make the last post of this blog. I'll look at the blog screen and it will all be done - the story told, no more to say. I'll write a note to my kids, toast myself to the glow of the computer screen, and breathe a satisfying sigh of relief. My husband has asked me on more than one occasion, "How will you know when it will be done?" It's a worthy question and one that I have thought about so much. How do you end a story that's still going? I'm not sure, but like so many other things in life, I'll just know when I know.

Yesterday I got my first (vocalized) criticism of my writing. It only stung a little - my friends have been so loving, so supportive, so overly gracious and kind that they had already softened the blow before it came. But I knew it would come. I knew at some point someone would say something that would hurt. If I let myself think about the fact that people are reading all my personal thoughts and fears and experiences, I want to throw up. No really. Like, I want to go in the bathroom and just vomit. It makes me nauseated every time I make a post. I think about it all night and into the next day and then I second guess every word I've written. I doubt every entry. I gulp every time I click "Publish Post." It's frightening but I can't stop now. This is my journal. This is the story that one day (I really hope) my kids and my grand kids will read and know me better and by comparison, know themselves better too. Because although these experiences are mine, the story is shared. This story is Caleb's and Corrie's too. I keep this journal online instead of secretly in my own private files because it keeps me accountable. I am accountable to finish the story and I am accountable to finish the race. If I just typed all of this into a Word document that no one else would ever read, I would have quit 19 posts ago.

I think about the other people who are reading this and how now I get to finish it for them too. And that's just awesome. It is just blow-me-away awesome. I get to encourage other survivors. I get to shed some light on some dark things. I get to poke fun at things. I get to hear people say, "I felt the same way." I get to have people confide things in me they haven't shared with anyone before. I get to have my friends and family say nice things to me and give encouragement. I get to give a figurative cosmic finger at my past and those things that could have so easily sent me to another place. And the absolute best part? The BEST part? Watching other people do the same.

It took me a long time and a lot of hard work, but I've learned that I don't need other people to validate my hurts or say its okay for me to be angry/sad or grant me approval to share. I can feel the way I feel and write the way I write and say what I want to say and the world will still go on and I can still be me. You be you, and I'll be me. Acknowledging your hurts doesn't take away from mine and mine don't take away from yours. No one can be a harder critic than I am on myself. The worst thing you have thought about these posts cannot be as bad as the ones I have had. I think my writing is too fluffy sometimes. I worry that I exaggerate. I think my posts are sometimes too long. I think my writing is amateurish. The picture of myself on the blog page is too big, but I can't figure out how to make it smaller. My sentence structure and grammar are appalling. I fear people just read it so they can use it to hurt me later. I am afraid I'll be rejected. I am afraid I will hurt someone. I am afraid I am saying too much when secretly know I am saying too little. But mostly I am afraid that people will think the ending is not as good as the beginning, that the saving isn't as good as the hurting - like how Nascar is only interesting if someone crashes.

I take a break every now and then from writing about "the usual" and include something a little lighter. It gives my brain and my emotions a well-deserved break for a day or two, though it doesn't take long before I always feel that tug to dive right back in. So on I am to the next post.