I’ve tried to write today’s post three times, but every word feels wrong or it sounds like a lie. It’s not, not really, but it isn’t…something. That undefinable spark that tickles my mind and gives me a buzz. When the words flow, the ideas come, and it feels like tiny bolts of lightning are shooting out the tips of my fingers? That’s when I’m energized and, dare I say, proud of myself.
I love that feeling, and chase it with a passion. It’s almost like a drug or an addiction. Not to make light of substance abuse, addiction, or mental illness. As someone who struggles with my mental health, I know the seriousness of these issues. The people involved deserve compassion and understanding.
It’s just, in this cerebral context, it’s the closest comparison I can muster. What’s that song? I’m hooked on a feeling. Sure, they weren’t singing about the writer’s life or other creative pursuits. Well, not directly, but any creative person knows the feeling I’m describing. The highest of highs. The lowest of lows. The rollercoaster of emotions. Love mixes with hate, and too often, the question is asked, why am I like this?
Why do I live and cry by the words coming out of me on any given day? Why do I need to do this with the same urgency as, I don’t know, outrunning a grizzly bear? While I’ve never done it, I assume that, should I find myself in a high-speed pursuit with a bear, I’d feel compelled to move as fast as I can. Well, at least faster than the person I’m with (jokes).
I feel the same way about writing. I need to get as many words out of me as I possibly can. It’s imperative to my existence. Eat, sleep, breathe, outrun wild animals, and put words on a page.
My fingers fly across the keyboard, but my brain moves faster. The words keep coming, and my fingers trip over themselves to keep up. If you saw how many red lines there are on every first draft, you’d assume that I never had a spelling lesson or a class in grammar. I have, but I can’t write as fast as I can think.
Whoever invented grammar/spell check was a genius that should get a Noble Prize or something more prestigious.
Thoughts and words bounce around my head so loudly that I find them distracting. I miss chunks of conversations because a thread appeared, and had to tug on it. I know I should resist, but it’s too shiny and loud. It screams at me until I let it lead me down a rabbit hole, and then I sigh in relief. It’s finally quiet, and I can tune back into what you’re saying.
It’s incredibly rude, and it’s not my best quality. Then again, I’m naturally quiet and introverted so, I don’t know if anyone notices. I’ve been told that I’m a good listener. Do I tell them the truth or let their assumptions ride? If it’s rude to mentally check out? I’m assuming it’s worse to tell them why.
I was following a thought down a hole, and it was far more interesting than what you were saying? Wow, no, that’s not cool at all. And, it’s not accurate. What you’re saying is important, valid, and you deserve to be heard. The failing is mine. I’m trying to do it less and not at all.
I’m nothing if not a work in progress. Learning, growing, and working to improve my many failings. It’s a cliche, but it really is me and not you. I need to let those thoughts run down the dark holes without me.
Is that what’s happening today? They ran off without me. Angry because I ignored them for too long. Pouting until I apologize. Maybe there was a cave-in, and the thoughts got stuck inside the rabbit hole?
Or, I’ve hit a dead-end, and I’ve lost my way.
Today is one of those days. I’m sitting in my hole, back against the wall, and I’m staring back whence I came. I can’t breathe, I don’t want to eat or sleep, and I can’t outrun anything. These words aren’t coming easily, and my thoughts are uninspired. My heart is heavy, and while I’m not much of a crier, it seems like it would be a good idea. It would be cleansing and freeing. Maybe it would unlock something inside of me or help me dig my way out?
Or, there’s nothing in here, and I’m sitting waist-deep in a cold stream inside a dark cave. When I try to walk, I’m walking upstream, fighting a current, and stumbling through obscurity. Just when I find some solid ground, my foot slips on a rock, and I’m swept back to the dead end.
I sit there for a few minutes and try to catch my breath. Do I get up and try again? Or should I just sit here until the cave fills with water? I know which one I want to choose. It takes every ounce of strength I have to stand up and take another step.
Even here, in this flood rabbit hole, a part of me is still running from the bear. It’s searching for lightning. It’s craving that sense of accomplishment and, I’ll dare to say it again, pride in myself. Maybe it’s days like today where all of those things come together and become an incredibly peculiar cheer squad.
They’re just off to the side, whooping and hollering. They’re waving flags above their heads, jump up and down, and run alongside me. You’ve got this. Keep going. Don’t give up. It’s just one of those days and days like this pass. Come on, keep going, you’ve got this.
That’s why I’m still here after two failed attempts at writing this. Those posts weren’t horrible. It wasn’t like they didn’t have something to offer, but I wasn’t being honest or authentic. I was trying to be the cheerleader, but then I realized that I was the one who needed the pep-talk. I need someone to tell me that it’s going to be okay. Take some time to catch your breath, but then stand up and keep going.
It’s just me and my computer sitting here in the quiet of the early morning. My dog is snoring by my feet. My cup of tea sits precariously on the armrest next to me. Occasionally a bird chirps outside my window, and a distant dog barks. There’s no one here to talk me up or tell me it’s going to be okay.
Even if there was? I’m not sure I’d believe them. Correction! I know for a fact that I wouldn’t believe a word of it. Platitudes trigger my gag reflex, and my inner-realist knows that, despite all their best intentions, no one can see into the future. You don’t know it will be okay. We can hope, pray, and cross our fingers. We can kiss a black cat and throw salt over our shoulders. We can dance naked in the rain and hope it appeases the ghost of Christmas future.
But telling me, IT WILL be okay? It feels inauthentic, and it borders on a lie. I won’t go so far as to call it an outright fib. There’s a chance that you’re right, and it will be okay, but you don’t know that for sure. I don’t know that, and when I hear such sweeping declarations, I feel silenced.
Does that make sense? Probably not. I’m not sure what I mean so, let’s talk it through.
When I tell someone that I’m really struggling, and their response is, don’t worry, it’ll be okay; I don’t know how to respond to that. You don’t know that, and even if it is? Even if my life’s about to turn around for the best next week or next month? It doesn’t change my current situation. I’m struggling, life is hard, and I’m feeling all of the emotions that come with it.
As much as I want you to tell me it’s going to be okay— and I really need to hear it— it’s a brush-off that doesn’t actually help. It’s the kind of thing we say when we don’t know what else to say. We say it when the emotions are too difficult for us to handle. It’s going to be okay is an easy out and a quick fix. It’s a patch over a balding tire that stops a complete deflation, but it doesn’t fix the problem.
I think what I really need right now is a someone who’ll sit next to me and not say a word. If they say something, it’s an acknowledgement that today is just one of those days. Sometimes I need a reminder that I’ve been through this before and gotten out of it. I can do it again, and I just need to hold on for a little bit longer.
For me, there are few things more powerful than having someone sit with me in that cave filling with water. They don’t try to fix the unfixable or say the right thing. They are there for me, and that’s it. When I’m ready to get up and give it another try? They offer their hand and walk with me.
Having someone do that for me? That means more than a squad of cheerleaders screaming, it’s going to be okay. It’s the quiet presence that’s consistent, unwavering, and willing to get dirty right along with me. It’s not an empty platitude but rather an act of love.
And you know what they say, right? Actions speak louder than the deafening silence of a flooding cave. Or something to that effect. I might be mixing up my metaphors. What can I say? I’m having one of those days.