Friday, April 11, 2014

On what I've really been afraid of, after all

Today, I have a rough draft of the first section of my book. 68 pages. My shoulders press down and I breathe out. Years of hiding and pushing away memory sit on a screen, right in front of me. The narrative goes from the night Daddy had a seizure until his funeral several weeks later.

I decided to write from the child’s point of view. The most difficult challenge is that these memories are things I hid for so long, when I revisit them, I risk feeling (and often do feel) pieces of what I felt at the time they happened.

February 1987 is the month that formed the path my life took more than any other. Throughout this process, I desperately wanted to hold the child telling the story. I didn't want to tell her she’d be fine, because she won’t. Not really. Her life will unfold and be wonderful, but the hurt she feels will continue to manifest itself in countless ways.

Many times, when I tried to name the feeling I remembered, I couldn’t. Instead, the feelings took on a life of their own as foggy smoke-like substances floating in and around me. They were black, grey, and red. Even then, as a child, I contained the fog, hid it, made it small and compact.

Some days, I succeeded. Others, the tiny kernel of condensed fog expanded inside me. The fog’s outward pressure on my mind and my body frightened me. I fought for twenty-five years to keep it inside me, to control it, and to keep the world from seeing it. All that time, I grew more and more terrified of it. I let it have power that it didn’t deserve.

The greatest fear in my life is fear of self. This fog, this kernel of pain sitting under my ribs, this is who I am. Everything I’ve ever done or become flows through and arises out of that fog. This fog that scares me is a part of me. How does anyone live life afraid of who and what they are?
It’s not easy. Most of your time is spent waiting. We have to realize that we’re waiting for ourselves to stop being afraid. Bravery has played a great role in my life. Until now, I never knew what it was. Bravery is facing the kernel of deepest hurt inside you, letting it expand and inhabit your world. Now the fog and I live together. It still haunts me but it does not scare me into inaction. 

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