Not very long ago, I was embarrassed by this blog, even while I loved it, and it loved me, even while it tenderly and firmly massaged into existence, some of my best prose.
In my writing research, because I was new to the writing world, I needed a way to show my work so that those whom I probed for their insight and probed for their unique experiences would have a reference point in deciding to take me seriously as a writing professional.
This blog was all I had.
I could have waited. I could have gone a more traditional route. I could have slogged through soliciting magazine editors, writing stories and/or articles on subjects of shared interests (the magazine’s, primarily). I could have queried. Ugh. The query. That life.
But I didn’t. I could not allow myself down that road so soon after doing time in the nine-to-five. I had already served seven years in an office, my last place of work, barely escaping with my mind intact. And before that, I was in prison in offices elsewhere for fuckin decades. I couldn’t do the query thing. It would have been for me, like walking out of one jail, skipping down the street to the bars of a next jail, and asking, You got any room in there? This freedom thing is overrated. Please let me in so I can shrivel up and die in a sunless corner of your establishment.
So I dug my heels in here and I blogged. I wrote much of my heart onto these pages. And I swear I didn’t want to, not at first. At first I balked at how deep I seemed willing to go with soul-baring. But I knew it could not be helped, my heart kept speaking and I had to trust it. Besides, I had already gone the writing route of hiding in plain view. I had done the reporter thing, done the technical writer as a business professional thing, kept up the required postures, professional nods, the courteous smiles and followed industry standards with good-girl behavior.
But then ….
Middle-age cornered me, demanded to know if this was really how I wanted to keep living. This fuckin life, honey? Really?! And when the blog idea exploded in my heart, seeing me hesitate, Middle-age then said, This is it, Maria. No more fuckin around. Either show up truthfully or go back to your safe, miserable existence.
I chose to trust my heart. I chose to blog with my entire soul.
I was right to trust my heart. I love it here. I have thrived here. I am still thriving, thriving in a way I have never been able to thrive elsewhere. I created and cultivated a new and beautiful world for myself here.
I was exhausted thirty-six months ago. Very fuckin tired, indeed. A year before I quit, I had been vacillating sharply between silent, seething rage and helpless, strangling depression. There were tears on both sides of those seemingly emotionally opposed equations. Some mornings, while en route to work, I would pull over, roadside, to bawl like a baby. My heart was no longer into being there, I was forcing myself to keep showing up. On other mornings I would sit in the office parking lot with one foot propped up on the dashboard, while angry rap music screamed from my speakers, gearing up for another day inside the daymare of my fake American dream (Rihanna and Kanye’s song, FourFiveSeconds was on that playlist). And then I would walk into the building, smiling like an anaconda seeking prey: Good morning.
The interesting thing about office workers tolerating each other for a salary is, most of us would rather be elsewhere. And yet, the agreed upon sentiment seems to be: How’s about a couple of us torture the fuck out of one another for sport while we’re here. Let’s bring out the worst in each other. It’ll be fun! Not my playbook. But once you’re in the game, only the strong survive and no one keeps a fair or balanced record of the scores, especially if you’re in the class, gender or racial minority. Want fairness? Stay in bed and keep sleeping, otherwise shut the fuck up and play.
On that last day of work in July 2016, we all smiled awkwardly over room-temperature pizza, the obligatory good-bye/good-luck card, with hasty signatures and straight-jacketed sentiments written therein. I was almost dead inside by then. I would use the initial months of newfound freedom to resuscitate myself via Netflix marathons, frequent inhalation of sugary foods, and naps. Oh! And screaming. Yeah, I screamed a lot. They were delicious, euphoric, high-pitched, delirious screams of joy. I did those at least twice a week for the first few months after I quit. It was energizing!
And then ….
Once I had had my fill of the frat-boy-failing-at-life existence —farts and belches, yes, alcohol and illegal drugs, no— I shook it all off like a wet dog, just in from the rain and began to studiously get my shit together for a new kind of work life.
So I started this blog. For the first time, here was a place to come and be my entirely real, entirely truthful and entirely authentic self. Like so much of the populace, especially among us, women, I had been so fuckin polite for so fuckin long. Ugh! I had buried parts of me for no other reason than to be embraced by “polite” society, like those fuckers never farted out loud or took a shit or scratched their pubes or scratched their nipples or masturbated in life. We are all supposed to be good-girls, turned good-women under the male and female gazes of the enforced patriarchy.
Phffft! It was time to be the real me.
Politeness took more energy than I had left in me to give. And the returns on politeness were underwhelming, to say the least. So the blog would be my own little world, where Pretense and Shame were no longer welcome. I needed this blog to be my Love-place, a place where I could work under the steam of abiding love no matter what. Without Self-Love, without a perpetually loving place for my writing needs, I would have already given up with being a full-time writer.
Self-Love has been under attack for centuries, especially when it comes to womanhood and the feminine. Long before I was born, before I came into her life, my mother had been steeped in her own self-loathing for so many years, she confusedly mistook any acts self-love for selfishness and arrogance. Having hated herself for so long, my mother had no idea how to show me a healthy mother’s love. And the story should have ended there. I should have died, really. Death by self-neglect via alcohol, drugs, suicide or homicide. I wasn’t supposed to make it this far.
(And yet, here I still am, being a thorn in the side of the patriarchy. Hoo-rah fuckers!)
And so, now here I am, writing on my humble little blog. It is risky business writing here, I know. But it is also a risk I am willing to take because the return on investment through this kind of blogging has (so far) paid off supremely— the benefits, unlike anything I have ever invested myself in before.
I am THRIVING in a workplace for the first time in my life. Honestly? I could die happy tomorrow knowing, I finally found a place which infuses me with so much life. I can see now why Self-Love has so much progandistic bullshit guarding its beautiful walls, warning us against breeching it. Its moat, a sea of repellant words: narcissistic, hubris, selfishness, conceit, etc.
I am happy to report I have scaled those mighty walls and I am feeling quite fine. I have found the fountain of beatific living and it is known as Self-Love.
Of course, additional payoffs for writing here, remain yet to be seen. However, based on what I’ve seen so far, I have no doubt that further rewards for this kind of blogging are careening in my direction, even as I type.
We were not born to be mimics and poor copies of one another. We are meant to shine! We are meant to share our gifts, to share with each other all the wonderful things we so truly love, all that makes us radiate, and all which brings each of us to life.
So if anyone reads what I have blogged about so far and judges me negatively for it, then so be it. I would rather be booed, jeered and ostracized for doing what makes my heart sing, than be lauded and rewarded for doing the thing which murders my soul. For the first time since I was born, I am living life as a FREE woman.
This blog, it is a gift and a curse, I think. In my heyday, I have been the giver and receiver of both of these things, gift and curse. What I have found is this: contrary to popular opinion, gift and curse tend to be two sides of the exact same coin, and neither are always what they appear to be. Sometimes they surprise us.
Thanks for reading. Love you much!
I wrote this post yesterday and decided to sleep on it before hitting the publish button. When I woke up this morning, I was about ninety-nine percent sure that this post would go into my unpublished archives. However, once my work day started, once I sat down and re-read this essay, I firmly decided that this post needed to be published. I know for a fact, based on what my heart tells me, someone out there needed to read this post today. So I have published this just for YOU.
Why do I write? I write because, in my heart, I am still a little girl, beholding a world where so many of us seem to be hiding in plain view of one another, and she is startled repeatedly by this fact. I write because I think, given the choice, most of us would choose being seen over being hidden. I write the things I would love to read. Truth. I relish reading, feeling and living the Truth. I write because I enjoy other writers’ versions of stories which depict the raw truth of how life really gets done. I enjoy other people’s secrets, so why not share my own.
Finally, I write because I refuse to let Fear govern over me. I respect Fear, she protects me, and she is my ride-or-die, I-will-fuck-you-up chick. But Fear belongs solely in the passenger seat of my life. Heart is the real soldier and colonel in my army. Heart is my hero.