Where Am I?

Posted On: 04.14.16

sneaks

Where am I? I’m sitting at my kitchen island in my red and white heart pajamas. Drinking my umpteenth cup of coffee. Listening to The Lumineers. Feeling wildly, wonderfully stuck. Yes, I said it. Stuck. But not stuck in a bad way. I swear. Stuck in a sludgy, human, this-is-life way. I’ve been staring at a blank screen, typing words and erasing them. This isn’t like me.

Or maybe it is.

The now me.

The new me.

It’s hard to explain really, but there’s stuff going on in my life that is affecting me, shifting my perspective and my priorities, and yet I’m not at liberty to write about this stuff and this makes me feel quiet, necessarily so. This is why I’ve been less present on the blog. So, yes, stuck in a certain sense, but decidedly unstuck in another sense because here I am being truthful (if vague) and my goodness, there is something so freeing about just telling it like it is, about refusing to pretend.

I haven’t been drinking. Two-plus weeks now. And I feel a tremendous sense of calm and clarity, but I’m also feeling everything else. Because this is what happens when you remove your numbing agent of choice, you feel it all. And this has been truly incredible. There is no gauzy filter between me and the world, no sneaky hangovers, no blurring of existential edges. It’s been amazing and unsettling. Both.

Both. 

Someone told me the other day that there’s nothing so special about my drinking story. Nothing revelatory. Maybe not. Or maybe so. I don’t know yet. And I’m not sure it matters. Mine is not a story of extremes, of low bottoms. No. Mine is a subtle story of waking up, of wanting more, of deciding at the tender age of 37.5 that I want to actually see my life and feel it fully (or as fully as possible), even the harder stuff. Is it a privileged story? A blah story? Maybe.

But, my goodness, it is mine.

And maybe it’s not even a drinking story! I see this now. I think drinking has been a distraction from a bigger story, a deeper story, a story of self-discovery and identity. Maybe this is a story about a girl waking up in the middle of her life, looking around at her beautiful, imperfect world, and asking:

Who am I?

What do I want?

What does it mean to love and be loved, to gain and to lose?

What does it look like to tell the truth?

To live the truth?

I did a book event last night and this woman came up to me at the end of the evening and as I was signing her book, she said to me, sheepishly, You know. I have a story to tell. A whole book. I have been through a lot. But I’m not sure anyone would care or want to hear my story. And I looked at her and I said things, with an adamance that startled me.

It’s your story.

Do not apologize.

Write it down for YOU. 

This morning, as I sit here in my silly pajamas, I smile big and realize I wasn’t just talking to her. I was talking to me. To all of us.

We all have stories. Stories we are living and processing, facing and escaping, moving toward and moving past. Stories we are dreaming about at night and in the shuffle of our busy days. Stories of being lost and being found, of being exquisitely, fruitfully stuck and then, whoa, like magic, starting again.

Stories we can’t tell.

Stories we must tell.

Stories that go to the heart of who we are.

Who we once were.

Who we are becoming.  Because we are always, always, becoming.

That’s the most exciting part.

 

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11 Comments for: "Where Am I?"
  1. Jen

    Wow. Thank you for this. So powerful and we do all have stories. I have so many of them and they are worth thinking about and telling. A really good reminder for all of us –

  2. I’ve missed you, but totally understand the need to be quiet with so much going on. I was blog MIA for a about 6 weeks. I think sometimes its hard to write when you have too much to say. I hope whatever is going on gets resolved soon. xoxo

  3. I get this, so much, because I’ve been feeling stuck too. I’m caught in the early parenthood vortex of bottles and baths and bedtimes and rushing and have been collapsing on the couch every night, worn down and exhausted. But I made a decision this week to finally say this, to say that I’m not feeling good, that I need something more, need to make a change. And just saying the words has made me feel so much lighter, and so much more able to move forward and to make the changes that feel good to me. This post came as exactly the right time. Thand you for it.

  4. I find when I tell my stories I try to share the universal pieces of it. The things people can connect to. Things that aren’t vague ideas of we all have stuff. I try to give an example of the stuff. When I write about my mother’s Alzheimer’s I share those moments that hurt-that she doesn’t know who I am, that she is confused and scared, that my Dad is overwhelmed taking care of her. One afternoon my Mom told me “Oh, you have two daughters? I have four (she really has three and one son). My oldest daughter was very hard to raise.” That would me-her oldest daughter. But there are some things I leave out. The things my Dad has to take care of are overwhelming and difficult. They involve diapers and temper tantrums and sundowning. I leave it out because of him, because it’s not entirely my story, and it’s hard and ugly and difficult and it’s his story. But I try to tell my piece of this story openly and honestly because I know there are many of us living this tale of aging parents.

    I’m unsure what your story is. What you’re really struggling with is rather vague.There are a lot of questions and few answers. Stories can be told without revealing the nitty gritty or hurting someone else. A small piece of a story, like the day my mother sat by my sister’s side on the couch and said not a word until she held up her hands and said “these are my hands”. The reader fills in the blanks and relates to the scene and no longer feels alone.

    I share your concerns about drinking. I definitely like my wine. After a day with my Mom there can be more than two glasses. It calms me, it’s relaxing. I honestly don’t have a problem with shutting down the intensity of my feelings after a day that is full of loss and heartbreak.

    I think you are capable of writing some beautiful stories but I think you need to share more of your answers to the questions you ponder.

    I’m in the midst of another life change at the age of 59. I will be writing about it when the dust settles. In the meantime, I continue to share my innkeeping stories and my empty nest adventures and anxieties.

  5. Thank you. This really resonated with me. I like the idea that I am still becoming. It is so simple yet so huge. It gives me hope that I am on the right path….and I also feel like it gives me permission. Permission to change the rules, to take on new things, to leave other things behind. So thank you for this!

  6. Richard M Kennedy

    I especially liked your post today. You’re certainly right about your story and owning it. It is, in fact, special, special to you. Writers, I believe, often make sense of things by writing about them. As you the writer are at the center of that exercise, ideas and thoughts are well and truly revelatory. Do keep on and thank you.

  7. Glad to hear from you and I understand your hesitations. I often wonder what I can/can’t share and how it will affect others. Sometimes, I wonder if I worry too much about it and it makes me share less than I otherwise might.

    I hope that whatever you are dealing with you are doing some personal journaling/talking with people you can about it as I’m sure that helps.

    And, as for the story – I’m sure that it will come. You just have to find it. Keep writing (even if you don’t keep it) and you’ll find it soon enough.

    Have a great weekend. And thank you, as always, for sharing.

  8. Heather

    I’m interested in what you questions you need to answer for yourself before you start a book.

    This woman who approached you at your book event sounds like an amateur writer, and the encouragement to “just write it” seems like something (a totally reasonable thing) you tell amateurs. I don’t mean that as offensive to amateurs. Every professional starts out writing for free, and the process of developing chops mostly involves just doing it. But the considerations obviously change when you’re budgeting the time you put into a piece against the money you get paid for it.

    You mentioned someone who seemed to be discouraging you from writing about drinking. Obviously it’s not easy to shrug off any criticism, but it’s certainly easier when it’s a “civilian” who doesn’t understand the process — that the first thought isn’t the finished product, that an idea evolves through time and craft. But what about conversations with agents, publishers, other writers… I’m curious about who can kill or encourage an idea for you? And what are the considerations? At this point, having produced two books, is your team directing you to a particular market, or do you feel you have the freedom to write about whatever you want?

    Curious for your insight…. thanks, Aidan!

  9. Jen

    What a great post. I can relate to it so much. I have the exact same feeling that I am stuck right now. It has been that way for a short while. It everything and nothing to do with me. That is the hard part. It is so deep and personal yet nothing I can control. I am not a writer so for me I take action by journaling since these are things i have no one to share them with. For me it is the one outlet I can utilize to help me move through the stuck feeling. And as far as what you share I enjoy all your thoughts. They are thought provoking and they belong to you. I appreciate them and respect you for being honest and sharing. Thank you!

  10. It really bugs me that people feel as though for personal stories to have more relevance or meaning they have to be dramatic or life threatening. I find that there is great pride to be found in the person that can recognize that they want to change some detail, however small, in their life for the better. There are not even a lot of people that have the insight to see that they should make a change.

    Great post!

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