I dated a boy in college who was wildly jealous, devastatingly insecure. The longer we were together, the more controlling he became. By the end, there was little I could do without repercussion, and his desire to control had chipped away at the very core of who I was, but one thing remained. I was a writer. No amount of fighting, or jealousy, or silence could keep me from writing, partly because I had to, the same as breathing, and partly because it was the one thing left that I could control, the one weapon I had left against him. I came away with my identity as a writer firmly fixed, and since then, my answer has always been to write my way through.
I wrote my undergraduate thesis for my English major on Oscar Wilde. I still remember the days I spent working on it, locked away in my tiny bedroom. Papers scattered everywhere, books balanced precariously next to my computer and stacked on the floor. Towards the end, the frantic worry that I wouldn't finish in time, and the knowledge that the only way out of it was to write. Write my way through.
The countless papers and projects and articles in grad school, culminating with my dissertation, a three year long undertaking in itself. The same scattered papers, the same precariously balanced books. The same answer: write my way through.
Now, things are different. There's no jealous boyfriend to spite, no project, no deadline, no committee waiting to judge my work. But the answer is the same: write my way through. The two people who have been my strength all my life are very ill, and I feel unmoored. I've been casting about, trying to find strength, direction, trying to cope, and in the midst of doing so, I'd forgotten the one thing that has always been my strength, even more than any one person. Writing.
The answer at this moment in my life is the same as it's always been: write my way through. Whether it's here on my blog, or in my journal, or the essays I am always telling myself I will work on and send out in the hopes that one will eventually get published, writing is the thing that will hold me together, center me, and give me the strength to get through.
I am a writer.
What is your strength? Have you ever lost touch with that strength, and if so, how did you rediscover it?
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