Vacant, Staring Eyes, I Know the Look

No longer do I desire to shut uninvited feelings down, at last I am beginning to understand,  all emotions do in fact, serve a purpose. So today I am letting the melancholy come. I am viewing sadness like a delicate flower in the palm of my hand, staring at the soft petals, discovering the tinges of a mild bruise here and there, and along the curled edges, I can see the beginnings of death where color has turned to brown in stringy narrow lines, whispery to the touch like thin paper.

I am that delicate flower in the palm of my own hand. On this quiet morning melancholy has tip-toed in and she is making me think.

In my last post I confessed to harboring remnant feelings of low self-worth, as if having such feelings is something to be ashamed of. Shame, she who refuses to die.

I have had occasion to truly hate being a writer, seeing it as a curse for its vague, mysterious potential as a vocation. Hate hate hated it. Last Fall, I challenged God in a prayer, saying, Why?! Why give me this as a passion, as some supposed gift when it so often feels as if I can put it to little use? Why?

But I have continued writing. I know it’s what I’m meant to do, know it more nowadays than I have ever known anything else in this life. Even as I keep hitting walls that I must find my way around and hurdles that I am dragging shins against in graceless leaps, I rally and gather the resolve to continue writing.

Thinking back on days when my lips were moving, forcing air and sounds through that hole in my face, the mask I wore, offering guidance as someone’s supervisor; or when I sat at some computer tapping letters and numbers into charts for a required report; or when I stood in front of a crowd sharing acquired work knowledge,  considered among the corporates as intellectual property– through it all I was a writer, lying in wait for her writing life to begin.

And now that I am here, I am pushing through a constant struggle, the kind of which there would have been no preparation for, no book or pamphlet to get me ready for what I would have to do, what I could expect. Acting as if. Acting as if I am just another creative, a writer along her strangely different, yet admiringly artsy way, chasing her dream, sacrificing her mainstream prerogative to cater to art which the world may receive or reject on their whim.

Meanwhile ….

I have looked into the eyes of men released from prison and men who returned from war, all having seen things they wished they could unsee, trying to forget what they had to do to survive, whilst attempting to reenter and acclimate into daily life once again as a civilian. I hate that I recognize their look, I hate its familiarity, hate that I have so little inclination to turn away, that I want to stare into those empty looking eyes, scoop up their souls and swallow for my own hungry understanding, because it reminds me of who I became along my own journey.

No matter how I have suited up for office work, no matter which church pew I have sat in, crossing my very non-virgin legs, no matter how I smiled politely— if ever I looked into the eyes of an ex-con or a soldier who served on the front lines of battle, I was reminded of all that I saw and can never unsee. My own prison and battleground morphed from helpless childhood into an adulthood of alienation, spending my everyday among people who not only chose against seeing ex-prisoners and traumatized soldiers, because they can hardly relate, failing repeatedly in knowing how to help them, but also— with my help— chose not to see me either. Having dedicated my life to pretending to be all that I was not, hiding in plain view. Saying, fear not, I am just like you, I wouldn’t want you inconvenienced by any discomfort caused by my company.

And now, nearly every time I choose to write, because now I am choosing to be seen, it is an uphill fuckin struggle of mammoth proportions. I go in search of something that I could expand on in prose about myself, an experience that might offer a story, lend a bit of insight, layered and textured for observation and regularly, I come up empty. I get zip zilch nada.

So I read. I read to draw courage from the “real” writers of the world, writers who seem to already know who they are, seem (to me anyway) more loved and therefore more confident in their own writing voice and their right to share words with the world.

As for me …. well, here I am. If I allow the imperfection of feelings, their occasional messiness, their unpredictable rawness, if I let myself be truthful, I get to produce what I love— words, beautiful words on the page.