Sometimes, the words don’t come. I will and I will and I will myself to sit down and write the words — any words — but even the sitting down is heavy and hard.
That ‘sometimes’ can last for months; it has for almost eight months now. I’ve felt almost afraid of this space, like it’s a fighting ring where I need to show my strongest, most indefatigable side; where I need to reflect some sort of beauty or magic, if at least to myself.
But every now and then, there are (still) those days where it feels enough for me to just breathe through the day.
Those days, especially, it is impossible to write — and I don’t mean the writing you do because you have a deadline or because someone needs it or it’s, plainly, just a job. I mean the writing that is healing, writing that is brave, writing that is the truest you.
I had thought for a long time that my heart had been broken broken broken, splintered into so many pieces that I’d never find all the bits needed to put it back together. I had thought that everything I knew and held to be true had dispersed into little boxes of tricks.
But I think now that that was an easy way out. It was easy to say that it was broken. It was convenient to think of my heart as a China plate, or a flower, or a biscuit because you can’t put any of that back together once it’s snapped.
My heart wasn’t broken. It was closed and doubly, triply locked down behind a wall I built myself out of really big bricks.
And that’s probably the only thing worse than heartbreak.
It is frightening and sad and uncomfortable to want to open it up again. More than that, it is frightening and sad and uncomfortable to realise that I am the only one who can open it up again.
So I’ve kept it on lock-down for a long while, only because to open it would feel like the emotional equivalent of being a burn victim — raw, blistering, scratched open.
Then, today, I went to the theatre to see a local production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America — because if there’s ever such a thing as daring to open up hearts, theatre will do that. As you try to figure out the love, joy, anxiety, confusion of the people creating infinitesimally intricate heart-connections in front of you, you start to pry open a little of your own heart, to get in at your own love, joy, anxiety, confusion.
There in that small but magnificent space, the characters told us their stories and made ours feel all the more real — because who doesn’t know what it means to feel small? Or guilty? Or angry? Or so desperately in love that you have to leave? Or perhaps all of it, all at once.
In three hours, my heart clenched and soared, it hurt and love and feared and bubbled over in hope. I felt for those larger-than-life, not-real characters everything I hadn’t allowed myself to feel for myself in a long time.
Then I realised — for it to have felt so much, it had to have opened again. For a moment there, it felt like art was far more than just an imitation of life; it was the first thing in a long time that made life feel real again. It had given me permission to take down a few of those really big bricks around my heart, and let some air in.
So I’m back. Sort of. Let’s see how long I stay.
Deep breath, and go!
Photo via Beau Giles on Flickr Creative Commons