Still, having written recently about avoiding writing, I have done a great job at avoiding.
Perhaps this is because I am aware of how flawed I am. Not to say I’m an awful writer or something, but that I am a flawed human being. How can I write of beauty when I am certainly tainted? How can I write of love and vulnerability when I have been unable to give love and be vulnerable, when I have recklessly run away with someone else’s heart only to cast it into a gutter, thinking only of the swiftest path away from their humanity and pain, selfishly hoarding and protecting my defenses like children?
On Christmas Eve, I celebrate with family and feel these stains melt away. I have taken their love for granted, have betrayed them, and yet they still open their hearts, constantly open their hearts, despite my past transgressions. That’s what family is about. And perhaps one day I can be a more like them.
I walk into the study where rows and rows of my books line up, books that I couldn’t take with me but couldn’t let go of. Stories full to the belly with pain, forgiveness. And my journals from the past 24 years, various sizes, pile in a box on the top shelf. I know each one like an intimate friend or stronghold—bearing both the beautiful and painful moments I could never maneuver around or deny. Can this be what remains in the home that is not my home? What does it amount to–if I was to lie down in dirt tomorrow, how would my character sketch out?
My whole life I’ve given myself over to words. And in them, I love bravely even with my sins blotting out the insides. Even with the harshest, hardened areas within me, something always softens, gives a little under the weight of curves and lines. But as I continue, I can’t help but feel a fool and a liar for not then taking this practice and living by my OWN words. Where’s the line one must cross between discipline and forgiveness?
I have this fear, you see, of sounding smug. I have this fear of not being truthful, of coming across selfish and self-involved. Are writers, by nature, selfish? Can they craft something out of their own bones? And if my words have hurt others in the past, how to rinse them? Where do I stop at punishing myself? How long is too long looking into the interrogating mirror? To refuse self-forgiveness—is this dancing on the same line of selfish intentions?
Perhaps the best I can do is never fear displaying my very real scars. If my humanity is visible only through them, perhaps to stay true to them is to stay true to what’s real, honest.
But, still, there are times I sit before my past—the books, the diaries, and put my head in my hands, knowing all the childish words stare back, defiant, in denial, arms crossed, stamping the feet. I try and reason with them, but they have sliced their ears, slowly, day after day—so that now they are almost solid walls.
To swallow all of them, take them into me when no one in their right mind would want to claim them, my most dishonorable deeds—both against the self and others.
How can I ever ask another to love a lonely library, broken hearted and arrogant?
It keeps me up at night, sometimes, at my writing desk. It’s like trying to love and create a craft with the very instruments that were once weapons.
But still, I try to gather them all up in my arms, to spread them out on the floor and make a map of them—coordinate the mistakes to make reminders of their bodies. And in their most vulnerable state, my mistakes shine, together, imperfect and harsh—a flash among darkness, and in that moment, I could almost see a future pattern on which they depend. And in this pattern hides who I have the capacity to become. It’s only a flash, only a glimpse. And I think perhaps the photons of faith vibrate there when I let go of self-deprecation, which is, in its most basic form, fear.
I have hurt myself and others. I have allowed pride and fear to build walls and dangerous combinations of words. But I have also torn down quite a few, have rinsed whole city-streets clean.
But how do I ever write again what was once so innocently written, but serrated. How do I lovingly and carefully smooth their bodies? I don’t know. I don’t have the answers.