Monday, April 26, 2010

Remembering My Strength

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?


  1. I can remember the moment that I discovered writing. I was fourteen and my friends (and the rest of the school) were gossiping about me and I wrote a poem. And I knew. I have to write.
    This quote explains the feeling better than I:
    "We may go through our lives happy or unhappy, successful or unfulfilled, loved or unloved, without ever standing cold with the shock of recognition, without ever feeling the agony as the twisted iron in our soul unlocks itself and we slip at last into place" (It's from the book Damaged by J Hart)
    For me it is writing (and my husband).
    PS. im sorry that you were trapped in such a horrible relationship. im glad that you got out :)

  2. Funny - I wrote a similar (but not) post today about my writing, or rather, my blogging.

    I wish I was confident enough to call myself a writer, as I feel I have far to go, but I remember my nights of writing papers and days of just writing my way to understanding the people around me, as well as, and perhaps more importantly, myself.

    I rediscovered it with the birth of my baby - only because I didn't have time to scrapbook and decided to play to my strengths :)

  3. I have always loved making things, from sentences, stories and essays to things to use and things to eat. Right now, as we're slightly displaced and building our home, writing is a savior - I can do it without supplies, and the only required space is my head and my lap. I look forward to branching out again in a few months, but even then I'll stay committed to words.

  4. First, I'm so sorry to hear that your family is dealing with illness. I hope "writing your way through" brings you the comfort and peace you need (and deserve). For me, it's writing and running. I think I started my blog subconsciously when I got too pregnant to run anymore because I needed another way "through" the chaos of life. Thinking of you tonight as you cope with the chaos, too.

  5. My strength is in writing, too, but so often, I forget. Why do we forget it so easily? When I finally remember, I feel relieved, like some (not all) toxins have left my body. Writing your way through is a good idea to get yourself through this hard time. (And sorry you're having a hard time. But I am not sorry that you were an English major, which is why I think we get along so well in blogworld.)

  6. First of all, I'm so sorry things are not going well now and that you are facing this difficult time. I hope it's the sort of situation that can get better, and I'll send pryers and hugs your way.

    Writing is so important to me that I've made a career out of it. It's what I do most days professionally and then come home and do personally. I got away from it for a while, I suppose as with anything, it has its ebbs and flows, but I'm glad to be finding my voice again. And I'm glad that I get to share it with people like you. Because being a writer, is also to be a reader and I enjoy so much of what I've discovered in blogging and that includes bloggers like you.

  7. Jamie, this is a poignant and powerful post. All my best wishes as you write your way through this challenge.

    I only recently started thinking of myself as a writer. Ever since I've committed to writing daily, I've felt more grounded and more in touch with who I am and what I want. So in a way, writing - and the comfort I get from putting words on paper (or on screen) - has become a strength for me.