In my 8th grade English class, I was assigned to write a character sketch. I forgot to do my homework, so I quickly scribbled a poem down before the bell rang and class started. I decided to write about my neighbor, who was definitely a character. I had some interesting stories about her and had noticed that she made up outrageous stories. Some highlights of the poem included that she reminded me of a banana with legs, and that she was wrinkled like pants stuffed in a drawer. I then went on to talk about some of her unbelievable stories and how she wasn’t truthful. It wasn’t very nice, but I didn’t have time to think about it. I just wrote my perspective down and didn’t think much of it. I turned in the character sketch, relieved that I got it done in time.
My teacher LOVED my poem. She loved it so much that she submitted it to the school literature magazine that was to be published a few weeks later. I was quite mortified when I found out she had submitted my poem because my neighbor had a son that could easily purchase the magazine. The title of the poem was my neighbor’s name, so it was obvious who the poem was about. I was a shy teenager, and I was afraid to talk to my teacher about it (which I’m sure would have helped me avoid what happened). I just crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t get caught in an awkward situation.
My worst nightmare came true when my neighbor called my mom, upset about the poem. I felt terrible. I hadn’t meant for my writing to go farther than my teacher, and I never meant to hurt my neighbor. I bravely went to my neighbor’s house to discuss the poem and to apologize. It was a very scary thing to do, and of course, our relationship was never the same.
The neighbor also called the principal, upset that the poem was allowed to go in the school magazine without my consent. The principal called my dad and me into his office and seemed secretly amused by the situation. With a twinkle in his eye, he told me to keep writing, and left it at that. I didn’t really keep writing. From that point on, I only wrote for myself or for assignments until starting this blog. I have never really considered myself a real writer. I just like to write, and I have found that others like to read the things I write.
I learned a very important lesson from this experience. Writing about others can hurt them, and it can hurt me. It needs to be done with caution. However, writing about my experiences can also be powerful, and sometimes those experiences include other people. It is never my intention to hurt or offend others, and I always strive to be respectful to others and to keep others out of my writing.
I have found that through my vulnerability, others are made vulnerable too. A lot of my recent writing is about my relationship with Greg, and I recognize that that it can be difficult for those who love him to read it. I try to focus on my own experience as much as possible, and I always do my best to be respectful. I hope that my love for him shows through my writing, even though I have plenty of anger towards him as well. I love Greg, and that will never change, but I have some things to work through. Love is complicated, and it isn’t black and white. I will continue to protect him, as I have for years. I will never intentionally hurt him or anyone else. I will also continue to be truthful, and possibly say more than others are comfortable with because my perspective is valid. My truth is my truth, and I have been silenced long enough.
I have felt torn about writing openly, as I want to write about things that are sensitive and tender to me and that may also be uncomfortable for others to read. I have considered stopping writing on this blog. I worry about hurting my kids and inadvertently hurting those who are important to me and Greg. I have resolved to quit writing several times, but I obviously haven’t stopped. It is possible I will decide to quit writing down the road, but for now, I feel that I am supposed to do this. I am supposed to share my honest feelings, with care and respect to others. I am supposed to put myself out there. Through my writing, I have realized that even though we all go through different things in life, we can relate to each other. Sharing difficult stories and emotions helps us all feel less alone.
I think we all feel like we’re alone sometimes, even though we’re surrounded by people. I know I do. I want to feel less alone, and I want to dare to write about things that help others feel less alone as well. So, for now, I will keep writing.