On writing the hard thing- I can sing.

As I sit down to write this, I am shaking from the fear of telling you this.  It seems silly to me (and probably to you as well) but I don’t know how else to get this out but in a letter to you.  You see, I have a part of me that I am hiding from you; a part of me that I am terrified to share because I am afraid of the response you will give me.  But dear friend, it’s time for me to share.  Please sit with me, as I try to explain the best I can.

I can sing.

Not “I like to sing in the shower” sing, but I was trained as a singer when I was a child.  And admitting that to you fills me with so much fear.  But it wasn’t always that way.  I can remember the first time I stood on the stage behind a microphone and I felt free as everything else melted away around me.  I sang everywhere: in line at the grocery store, during school, when I was alone, and even when I was surrounded by people.  It was the thing that brought me joy.

But I stopped singing when I was eight.

You see, my voice was taken from me.  Living a childhood of chaos and violence, I quickly learned the best way to be safe is to be quiet.  Between that and being forced to sing by my father as his “trophy daughter,” my voice no longer felt like my own.  So one night, curled up in a ball, I decided that my voice no longer mattered and I vowed not to sing for myself ever again.  There were times when I sang because as a rule follower, when asked I didn’t know how to say no, but my soul was never filled with music again.

A part of me died.

Eighteen years later, something happened.  I can’t remember when it first started, but one day I caught myself singing in the car very quietly.  It surprised me and I quickly stopped, but not until after I flashed a quick smile.  As days turned into weeks, the singing in the car increased until I could sing an entire song while alone.  One song turned into two, which multiplied into a dozen and my voice was becoming mine again.

But it doesn’t mean my voice is completely back.  There are times when I try to sing in the safety of my car or apartment, and no words come out.  And the thought of someone asking me to sing terrifies me to the core, but my voice is slowly coming back.  I’m reclaiming it as mine.  And I’m smiling as I do it.

I can sing.

I might not be able to let you hear me sing (although a couple of trusted souls have heard me), I’m starting this path.  I’m walking down this dirt road tripping and stumbling through holes and mountains, but I’m singing while doing it.  So bear with me, and maybe one day my voice will return completely.

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Breaking the rules.

I have a part of me that is very good at following the rules. I show up places at least 10 minutes early, I say please and call everyone sir and ma’am. Breaking the rules may not give me hives, but my anxiety flares up so badly that I find myself wanting to throw up when I am not following the rules. Rules are supposed to keep us safe, to be a standard in which we live by, but I’m learning that maybe rules are meant to be broken.

This week was supposed to be a week of silence for the story101 course I am taking, but by Wednesday I started to notice that not only was I quiet from social media, I was retreating into myself and ignoring other people in favor of being alone. The chaos in my head got louder and soon I was unable to tell the difference between the thoughts, as lies swarmed around threatening to sting me at their next opportunity. And in the middle of spin class, I kept having the thought just reach out, but I didn’t want to fail so I stayed quiet for a while longer until some old and scary lies came back to the forefront of my mind. So with my head bowed in shame, I posted on our course page that I needed to end the silence. The grace that surrounded my admission was amazing but more than grace were these words from Jamie:

Is it a stretch to wonder if instead of the silence teaching you quietness, it’s urging you to recognize that sometimes we have to get loud to survive? Don’t be ashamed of drawing an unconventional answer.

Sometimes we have to get loud to survive. Get. Loud. from the time I was a child, I was taught that silence and rule following is how you survive. But now I’m seeing that for what it is: LIES. it’s time I find my voice. It’s time I start singing again. It’s time I break the rules. It’s time I found out who I am. And so I’m taking a deep breath and letting out a quiet squeak, practicing using this voice of mine until it becomes a roar.

I have a voice

I hear the judgment behind your questions and comments, the word abortion spitting from your mouth liker cancer, and I sit quietly.

You say you strive to show grace to everyone, but “some things I’ll never understand,” you sneer over your bible and I sit quietly.

I sit quietly and I resent myself for sitting quietly. I resent you and your comments. Your comments that reduce my pain to nothingness. Your comments that add to my shame. Your comments that minimize the loss I feel over my daughter. {click here to read more}

 

I wrote a guest post for Caleigh’s “I have a voice” series and I would love if you would go to her site and comment.

100 things

Thanks to the lovely alece’s challenge. here is my list of 100 things about me:

1. i snort when i laugh
2. i tend to listen to the same song constantly for a week
3. then i start on a new one
4. i have one blue and one green eye
5. my eyes turn grey when it rains
6. grey should always be spelled with an “e” never an “a”
7. i got a 90 on a spelling test because of this in 2nd grade
8. i drive a blue pt cruiser named styx
9. after the river in greek mythology
10. not the band
11. i adore the look of lower case letters
12. and the sibilant sound of subtle alliteration
13. i have many scars ask where they come from and i want to know about yours
14. I believe scars have stories that shape our souls
15. i adore my record player
16. and i would love frank sinatra to serenade me
17. i believe we are called to be rescuers to hold our palms over the gaping wounds of broken people
18. i prefer the weather to be over 70°
19. so i can drive with my windows down
20. the sound of waves crashing along the shore reminds me of angels
21. thunderstorms with lightning calm my troubled soul
22. i believe eyes speak
23. and hearts are made to be broken but they learn to love again
24. i believe god does not endorse tv evangelists
25. i believe love should be bigger than intolerance
26. and trust in the wonder of being barefoot
27. i believe children always talk to angels
28. and adults have simply forgotten how
29. but a child’s laugh can heal a broken heart
30. i don’t like my food to touch
31. and two foods of the same color can’t be next to each other
32. i also rotate my plate counterclockwise to eat each food separately
33. saving my favorite for last
34. i write in my books
35. and i dog-ear pages
36. if you borrow a book of mine, i ask you to do the same
37. it’s how the author and i speak to each other
38. i organize my books by color
39. going from white to black
40. i love sending hand written letters
41. but i’m horrible at sending thank you cards
42. sandwiches should be cut into four triangles
43. and eaten from the inside out.
44. i was born in columbia, sc
45. but my heart belongs to the ocean
46. my favorite colors are blue and green
47. my first kiss was in 6th grade
48. we were sniffing paint thinner in the art room
49. i adore musicals
50. and wish everyone would randomly burst into song instead of speaking
51. the word moist makes my skin crawl
52. sequins are made by the devil
53. baking is how i relieve stress
54. it’s nothing for me to bake 20 loaves of bread in a night
55. i don’t have a sweet tooth
56. but bread is my weakness
57. water calms me down
58. i find peace in the rain
59. i don’t like talking on the phone
60. i would rather text
61. but i am slowly falling in love with voxer
62. spring and summer are my favorite seasons
63. but i love to wear sweaters and boots
64. i have recently come to love yoga
65. especially yin classes
66. it’s one of the only times my head is quiet
67. i’ve never been able to do a cartwheel
68. i don’t make my bed every day
69. i don’t understand the point
70. especially since i’ll mess it up again at night
71. but my closet is organized by color
72. and type of clothing
73. my feet have to be out from under the covers when i sleep
74. my favorite animal is a hippo
75. i like to paint
76. although more paint ends up on my legs than the canvas
77. i’ve been sober since may 31, 2011
78. i was a mean drunk
79. and life is so much better sober
80. i’ve never had a cigarette
81. i’m running out of things to say
82. but i’m a perfectionist and have to finish
83. i think sleeping in a hammock is the best thing ever
84. i’m a full time nanny
85. kids are drawn to me
86. i look down and they are surrounding my feet
87. usually asking for me to read them a story
88. jumping in puddles is soul soothing
89. i love to waterski
90. and hate to snow ski
91. i love waking up early
92. especially if i get to watch the sunrise
93. with the sound of the ocean waves crashing in front of me
94. i used to have hot pink hair
95. and i wore all black
96. i loathe organized religion
97. but i call god Papa
98. we are working on our relationship
99. i believe love is stronger than religion
100. i have five tattoos and want more

I am a writer

I’m really good at the starting. The coming up with wild ideas, the gathering of supplies, the starting. It’s the continuing and the doubt which says “I’m not good enough,” that plague my heart with fear.

From the time I was a young girl, I have been told that I am a writer; that words flow from my fingertips as naturally as breath escapes from my lips. And it’s true. I have never written because I like the way writing makes me feel; I write because I have to write. I write because the words that live behind my eyelids have to get out somehow and most of the time the easiest path for them to escape is through my fingers. And after hearing about story101 for a long time, I finally took the plunge despite my fears.

And my fears are in high gear right now:
I’m not good enough. I don’t have an audience. I’m too vulnerable. I’m not vulnerable enough. I don’t have a voice. They pound against my ears threatening to freeze my hands into silence. And when the fear that maybe I was wrong and I’m not a writer again gets loud- I hope to remember. Writing is how my heart breathes. And for that reason alone, I am a writer. And I can do this.

becoming a butterfly

“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked pensively.

“You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”

“You mean to die?” asked Yellow, remembering the three who fell out of the sky.

“Yes and no.” he answered. “What looks like you will die but what’s really you will still live. Life is changed, not taken away. Isn’t that different from those who die without ever becoming butterflies?”

“And if I decide to become a butter,” said Yellow hesitantly “what do I do?”

“Watch me. I’m making a cocoon. It looks like I’m hiding, I know, but a cocoon is no escape. It’s an in-between house where the change takes place. It’s a big step since you can never return to caterpillar life. During the change, it seem to you or to anyone who might peel that nothing is happening– but the butterfly is already becoming. It just takes time.”

{hope for the flowers}