new skin

I feel like I’m boiling over.

Like this morning, when I woke from a dream where we hid from people who turned into spiders — their bodies slowly morphing into pinchers and knobby eyes. At one point, we knew our location was under attack. We needed to hide, and fast. I hid under the covers of a nearby bed. I felt like this was sufficient, that the covers were bulky enough to hide me, but my phone was beside me and playing music out of its speaker. I wanted to turn it off and protect myself, but I was just too tired. I even mouthed the words in my dream.

I’m just too tired.

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So I woke up this morning feeling out of sorts and remembering the obscure haze of sleep and how in this mental state, I tend to analyze my dreams as they happen.

This is what we have to deal with now, I remember thinking. Nightmares.

I’ve been having nightmares a lot lately. Aside from the spiders, I’ve been seeing my abuser in my dreams. It’s a recurring one where she shows up unannounced and uninvited and demands my attention. Normally, I hide — like with the spiders. But lately, I’ve fought back. I’ve cried and yelled and screamed and pounded on the walls and slammed the doors and pushed her out of my space every time she makes an appearance. I’ve been claiming my mental acreage. I’ve been protective over my soul.

You do not get to be here, I say. And I mean it.

Perhaps this is why I feel as if I might boil over. Perhaps this is why last week, in a state otherwise known as rage, I made a decision to finally stand up for myself. I told a friend today on the phone that it’s like I have this other Elora inside me who is done with being ignored.

“It’s like she’s telling me that whether I’m ready or not, she’s gonna speak. It’s her time,” I said.

“Girl, yes!” My friend responded. “Let her. Let her speak. You need her.”

And I know I do. I know it like I know the feeling of coming home when she takes that breath before the words fly up and out of my mouth. I know it like I know the feeling of freedom.

I know it like I know the memories that come rushing back every time I hear another excuse.

Why didn’t she report if it really happened?
Why wait so long?
She’s obviously in this for attention.
She can’t go against this person, she doesn’t have the biblically required witnesses.

I feel like I’m boiling over.

I feel like I’m breaking into new skin.

Posted on October 7, 2018 and filed under The Memoirs.

The impossibility of writing

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I want to take a nap.

Jubal is down for a few hours, and I have some time to myself in a house that gloriously quiet and I want to nap.

And some days, I let myself. I set an alarm and I curl under my blankets and I close my eyes and remind myself what rest feels like.

But today is not one of those days. Today is one for remembering something different.

Remember when you took any quiet moment as a chance to write?
Remember when you didn’t have a list of things you needed to clean?
Remember when that didn’t even matter?

It was Stephen King who once told us to not come lightly to the blank page — do you remember that quote? It was everywhere for a few years, when those of us inching our way into the online space found our voices and croaked out words for the first time.

I’ve never forgotten it, but I’m also one for melodrama. I don’t know if I come lightly to anything.

I’ve been trying to get past that. I’ve been trying to figure out what it means to just write and not worry about the sharing. I’ve been separating marketing and ROI from my words. No expectations. Just….writing.

Just me.

A few months ago, someone I respect told me to keep writing. I just love your writing style, she told me. I did the opposite. Mostly because of fear and grief.

Sometimes I still worry that I am all out of words. Like, even though I have all of these things I want to say, whatever I am dealing with is so overwhelming and I have this expectation hanging over me to “not come lightly to the blank page” and it feels like I can’t articulate these emotions swirling inside.

Like sometimes, you’ll really love your job and then suddenly you’ll hate it and then just as suddenly, you’ll love it again.
Or sometimes, you’ll begin to understand the inherent lack of respect we put up with as women.
Or sometimes, you’ll be so very done with people asking you to calm down.

Even though I coach that losing your words is impossible and sometimes you just need to take a breath, give yourself some space, let the words flow. Even though I know, intrinsically, that my words will show up when they’re ready.

When you have a thing that came so easy for you in the past, it makes sense that you begin to question that same thing when it’s not so easy anymore.

Some people are surprised when I say this — when I admit that writing can be hard and feel futile.

I don’t know. These are my confessions? I saw a friend at a book signing a few weeks ago and nearly packed everything up and quit because at one point, I coached her. And now she’s a bestselling author and I’m attached to a headset all day long and I don’t even know how many books I’ve even sold this year and the last time I published a book I wasn’t a mother so you can do the math.

Right now, writing feels impossible. And that’s okay. Because ultimately, it is impossible. We just get to experience the alchemy of pulling together impossible sentences and paragraphs and stories.

Maybe you wait for the words or maybe you pry them out of your bones whether they’re ready or not. However you do it, excavation never feels pretty.

Posted on October 1, 2018 and filed under Building Your Craft.

For Coop.

A friend died a week ago.

I got the call while I was at work, and when my body started shaking and I couldn’t look anyone in the eyes and I broke down when my boss called to check on me, I went home. As we do, my people banded together. A text thread was created for immediate needs. Russ and I went to buy groceries. Others dropped off necessities. Plans were made for the house to be clean and hosting parents and beginning the devastating process of what stays and what goes. And through it all, through every new text and offer to volunteer, I kept waiting for the grief to hit. I kept waiting for the wall of pain.

If I’m honest, I don’t know how I’m doing. When people ask me, I just shrug and say, “okay?” My voice lifting at the end because how can you quantify something like this? How can you explain dealing with someone just not…being anymore?

Most moments, I go about my day as I normally do and in some ways that’s maddening because it reminds me of a Robert Frost poem. The last thing I want to be thinking about right now is poetry and its talk of death. But it’s where my brain is going and those connections keep happening. Oh, I guess they were right, I’ll think. And then squeeze my nails into my palms and try to think of something else. Which, having a two year old makes this unnervingly easy.

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Eventually though, I knew I needed to face it. I needed to let myself go there: to whisper to my heart that I was ready to face the fact that he wasn’t coming back.

And you know what? I forgot something about grief: that wall of pain is more like a wave. It never comes at once, that’s too much for me to handle. It comes in pieces, at random moments throughout my day. It hits me when I’m driving to work and I start sobbing. Or when I think I hear a coworker say, “hey, darlin’” and I look up, expecting to see my friend’s face. It hits me when I’m standing in the kitchen and I see a box addressed to him waiting on the table, unopened. It hits me when I carry the bag with his things from his desk off the floor at work, down the elevator, and to my car.

The weight of the bag pulling me down and keeping me cognizant of its meaning.

Do not forget. This is him. This was him.

It hits me when I hand the bag of his things to his partner.

“Did you look through it?” she asks.

“No,” I respond. Knowing it wouldn’t have mattered — she wouldn’t have cared. But also knowing those things felt sacred and I wanted her to be the first to pick them up and remember.

Talismans can appear anywhere.

Like these words. My friend would often ask me if I was writing anything — how my stories were doing. I often would roll my eyes and grimace and he would laugh, a booming sound that vibrated everything around him and forced his head back.

“Sore subject?” He’d wink.

“More like no subject,” I’d whine. But then I’d process through it with him: the timing, the waiting, the believing it’s there just not ready-ness of writing. He would nod the entire time, looking me in the eyes.

“Well I know you’ll start eventually,” he’d say, another smirk on his face. “You can’t ever stay away from writing for long, can ya?”

And I’ll remember now how well my friend knew the people in his life. How he knew what to ask and how to support and sprinkle in belief in just the right measure that it always left me feeling inspired. And I’ll open my computer and pull up this screen and hem and haw for a few minutes before I write the first sentence that comes to mind that seems to stick.

A friend died a week ago.

And I’ll know.

Coop, look. You were right. I’m writing again, see?

Posted on September 30, 2018 and filed under The Memoirs.