This morning I attempted to write an inspirational essay prompted by Emily Dickinson’s quote about the soul standing ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.
Normally this fits my passionate process quite well and I am able to flip a less constructive mood quickly. This morning, my sour mood wasn’t going anywhere. I sat in my writing corner digesting the previous night’s emotional turmoil which had turned into an emotional hangover larger than my usual.
I am a tender soul. A tender human. I am sensitive and I seem to fall down and skin my spirit like as a child I skinned my knees when I tripped and fell and skid across the playground,
I vacillate between “can’t wait for the next thing I’m doing it is the be-all-end-all and I am being magnetized toward it…” and then something happens and my face is close to the pavement, again.
Last night when my emotional skid happened it was after my son sent me a scathing text: a long one, based on one of his ongoing gripes with me about something that happened years ago.
He doesn’t tap dance around my history of fear in regards to his life. He goes for the jugular, knowing or unknowing the guilt I haven’t effectively let go yet. My response to his anger is to stand there and take it.
When he was a little boy and couldn’t put his frustration into words, I would stand still when he pummeled me with his fists. I have never forbid him to channel his anger, though now I think a boundary is overdue.
I responded to his text with something like this, like I have said and texted many times in the past:
“I did what I thought was best. I let fear guide me too many times. You are right, I could have chosen differently.”
I am wondering how much he wants to hear about his autism diagnosis and why what happened early in his educational experience caused a wall to be built between me and many educrats, teachers and administrators.
His anger at me isn’t about the totality of me, it is about how I interfered in helping him pursue his vision and continues to impact him now.
What I noted today that I hadn’t ever before is how much this guilt I continue to harbor also builds walls against my creative process. It burrows into my softness, my tender heart, my sensitive soul and I end up pushing away the keyboard.
Yes, I was almost always afraid for my son. He went through hell when he was little and then when he was not so little and even in the months before he graduated we had yet another crisis to navigate.
Sylvia Plath wrote, “It is the hate, the paralyzing fear, that gets in my way and stops me.” In Plath’s case it stopped her from writing the short literary fiction she longed to write at the time and for me, my work flow dries up. I spent much of the day in silence, not even reading or jotting notes.
I went to Toastmasters and gave a quality evaluation and then was worthless until about ninety-minutes ago.
Like my son, after taking time to process – I felt better.
Sometimes when the soul is ajar, it doesn’t go fast forward into ecstasy, as Emily Dickinson suggests. I like to think she knew her fair share of waiting for ecstasy with a side of bits of grief and struggle and “not quite ready” yet moments.
This post is a part of the Women’s History Month Writing Quotes & Prompts series from Julie JordanScott, the Creative Life Midwife, and her Word-Love Writing Community you may join for free on Facebook. During March, there will be daily discussions on the quotes and prompts we present here, too. Join the conversation and improve your writing at the same time!