I'm pretty sure my kid has not inherited my propensity towards suffering.
She's tough. She's strong. She's incredibly smart. But two years in, I'm not getting the sense that she is quite as pathologically sensitive as her mother. She wants to DO things. Run and jump and swim and climb and paint and make music and say hi to strangers.
At her age, I was just as busy (if not nearly as social), but my catch phrase was Not happy, mommy. From the very start, I've gone through life like a raw nerve, each disappointment or rejection or failure reverberating a thousand times over between my ears.
Don't worry about me, though. I seem to have pulled it together... maybe too well. If my task as a teenager and young adult was to figure out how to function in the world as a goopy jiggling mass of sensitivity, my task now is to break down some of those protective walls I built.
The more I write, the more I realize that in a lot of ways, I'm holding back. I'm scared of writing poems that aren't any good. I'm scared of being rejected. More importantly, I'm scared of facing myself, of excising and examining the roots of my own pain and somehow coming out the other side with something people want to read.
In Glitter In The Blood: A Poet's Manifesto for Better, Braver Writing, Mindy Nettifee writes:
'The work' is about personal growth, about exploring the unlit recesses of yourself that may or may not yield to your research. Doing 'the work' means digging so deep you can no longer see the light. It means writing about the things that have such an emotional charge for you, you avoid thinking about them, let alone writing about them... I am challenging you to do this because this is what I challenge myself to do -- to use my writing as a tool to free myself of the boulders. To madly engage in the process of living.
This stuff is exhausting. If I thought facing a room full of writing workshop participants made me feel vulnerable, facing myself on the page is a thousand times harder. I always thought I created Nest & Story to build a safe space for other people to do this work. Turns out it was for me all along.