They say “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”
I’ve always been hesitant when taking advice from the omnipotent “they,” but this little nugget of wisdom has always stayed with me. From long hauls carrying The Backpack, aka Big Red, around the world, to break ups and career challenges, to everything else that hurts just a little too much. Pain. Heather, it’s just pain. It’s temporary. Right? Now, breathe!
Pain is weakness leaving the body.
I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. I have to. Especially now. The clincher is finding an outlet for that pain. Writing is one of those outlets for me.
So…I guess I better open the proverbial door and let the pain out. Otherwise it’s going to live inside of me, rotting away.
Okay…door is opened…here we go.
Let me start by explaining why my writing all but stopped this year and answer the questions from curious minds out there. I’ve received endearing emails from friends, family and strangers around the world wondering what the hell happened? “You were on such a roll with your writing! Where did your posts go?” I never had a proper response and I’m sorry for that.
I was on a roll…
Until I wasn’t.
The past year, I stopped writing personal pieces because I couldn’t find the words anymore. The English language left me and I didn’t chase after it like I should have. It was more than just a case of the inevitable “writer’s block.” This was different. This was way deep down inside of me. My fire went out. I just…stopped…almost everything. I stopped fully understanding my emotions and where I was at mentally- something I used to pride myself on. I was no longer traveling, and felt myself falling into the stillness deeper and deeper, resulting in a complacent state.
I completely hit a wall creatively, emotionally and mentally. What changed? My relationship status, for one. In South Africa, I slipped into “marital bliss” (without a ring on my finger) and all but abandoned my plans, goals and ambition. I abandoned myself- and I’m ashamed of that, if I’m honest. It turns out I’m no better than your average Jane.
She gave it all up for love. How romantic!
On the outside, my life looked like a perfect, and cliche, romantic novel. You all told me as much, and I believed it too.
But is it really all so romantic? Falling in love at the expense of yourself? Is that really the right relationship if that’s what occurs? No. I see that clearly now.
There’s nothing romantic about the abandonment of self, and heartbreak is universally shitty. Time lost is the worst of it- time that I should have used to write…I just couldn’t.
I was on “the love drug,” distracting and detracting myself from where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing. But I don’t think I’m the first woman (or human in general) to do this- placate myself I mean. I think many of us, male and female, have big dreams or even small goals that get put off or put away for good because we get into the wrong relationships or the wrong setting. Why are we humans so willing to put our lives on hold for love?
Well, for better or for worse, when it comes to love and relationships, I’m not one to throw in the towel. Instead, I use the towel down to its last fiber cleaning up the mess that’s been made until there’s nothing left. No mess OR towel. Just nothing. I’ve done this with almost all of my relationships, romantic or otherwise. Instead of stopping and focusing on myself and my goals, I stay too long, give too much and expect too much in return. I watch the relationship die- a piece of me along with it. Aching and powerless (and this time in another country, just to complicate things further). Rinse and repeat.
In this past, as I have come out of relationships, I am so deflated and broken down emotionally, I numb myself to the pain- but not this time. This heartbreak is different. I feel everything. I’m present. I’m dealing. And I know all will be right in the world again soon. I’m fortunate enough to be home around people and places that I’ve loved my whole life, which has given me strength.
It feels good to be writing again and doing my own thing, on “my turf.” I’m no longer putting anything on hold, or holding back, and I have big plans for the rest of the year. (Watch for my third Europe trip coming up!)
Back when traveling the world was just a pipe dream, I heard a talk given by Cheryl Strayed in which she discussed a similar wall being hit creatively after her time on the Pacific Crest Trail. Something like, “Here was this perfect time for me to be writing my story, and I just wasn’t. I froze.” I thought at the time, “How could she have taken so much time after her journey and not written it all down? How could she do that to herself?”
She’s human, that’s how! Just like the rest of us- I understand now because I’ve been there. Eventually Cheryl went on to write Wild (one of my all time favorite books), which turned into a movie with Reese Witherspoon, and the rest is history. Cheryl didn’t just “bear the unbearable,” as she aptly put it, on the trail, but afterwards too.
Writing and sharing the journey you just completed is a whole other journey on its own.
Today, I am happy to say I am back at it. I’m writing posts that I will publish soon, starting a new “hub” website and am even outlining and drafting a book. Yep. A book! Anyone can be an author in today’s world, so why not me? Lord knows, I’ve got the writing material, and if no one but me (and my Mother) reads it, still I would have accomplished something to be proud of. I mean, what good is all this “living” I’ve done if not shared? And what good is pain, if you don’t let it leave your body and learn from it?
Writing has always been a form of therapy for me, and I’m finally in a place where the words are articulating themselves. As I form each sentence I feel a sting or a pinch, worried I may share too much, or that I’m not making sense. But I persist anyway. Word by word. Sentence by sentence.
It’s been emotional writing it all out. The past couple years have been the most memorable of my life (and Earth shattering), and the ride is far from over. I can only imagine what this next year is about to bring. I can feel good things coming, and I’m grateful to have this outlet with so many people that have followed me along for this crazy ride.
So, curious minds out there, I am back. I’m back to writing, back to California, back to friends and family, and back to my path. Spoiler alert: there’s some pretty bad ass stuff on my path ahead. I can almost touch it I’m so close…
Onward, Everyone, onward. —->