“Words are sacred, we must use them wisely….they are a gift of God.” – Burton Pretty-On-Top
I was introduced to this quote when I left Rehab. I was asked to pick a page from a book we read from every day, so randomly I flicked the pages, and stopped on the page that contained this quote. Little did I realize how significant and perfect this quote would become for me. I had no idea, that in a very short time, words would become the catalyst for developing my future career and for uncovering a deeper sense of self that I had forgotten even existed.
Yes I am a writer. I’ve wanted to call myself that since I was an itty bitty girl. Even when I was that itty bitty girl, I always had something to say. So I said it. Loud and proud and with passion. However, the things I said, which was my truth, didn’t always go down very well with the wider community. You become quite unpopular if your sense of justice is overly developed for a little person. Children should be seen and not heard and all that stuff. But if something was happening that I felt in my gut was just wrong I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Hence I spent a lot of my life in trouble with someone about something I said that they probably really didn’t need to hear. Usually someone in authority would be at the receiving end of my scolding. I remember tackling a teacher when I was 6 about the way she spoke to my little sister. Oh yeah! I was a fighter and an arguer. I learned pretty quick though, that I couldn’t go around spouting my outrage at all and sundry. I remember trying to hold my tongue on several occasions and I become so overwhelmed I’d start to feel sick.
Pretty extreme reactions for a tiny person don’t you think? Or perhaps not. Maybe if we listened more to the purest souls, on the planet, children, just a little bit more, it’s inhabitants wouldn’t be in such turmoil. But that’s a subject for another blog. Anyway, one day I decided that if I can’t say stuff out loud then I’d write them down. It helped hugely. It would give me a space to vent and clear my mind. Writing was how I conversed with my God as I understood him. I’d ask God questions and tell him the way things should be done. We’d reach agreements and understandings and I’d figure things out without getting my ass in trouble. I guess you could say I was doing 10th steps even before I started to drink.
Then one day-I found alcohol. One sip of that stuff and well – nothing really bothered me anymore. All the explosive emotions inside could be dampened down by this magic potion that came in different bottles and cans and I was released from my incessant caring about everything. Words stopped mattering and I stopped writing. Of course there were times where I couldn’t contain all that I held inside and it would all spew out onto some unsuspecting victim. My favourite place to have myself heard was in religion class. I’d revel in the chance to be controversial and ask really awkward questions and whip up a storm – and of course get put out of class. Eventually they stopped letting me into that class at all. I’d have to sit in the library, supposedly studying another subject, but actually seething because I had nowhere to unleash my mischief. Sometimes I’d get my angst out in an essay for English class, which I would write totally off topic, but just the fact that a teacher was going to read it and probably be offended made the detention worthwhile. But then there was always beloved drink and that would get me over the frustration.
So I continued right the way through my teens and twenties and half way through my thirties to suppress my creativity. We all know the repercussions of that particular endeavour. Throw alcoholism on top of that and you have one angry, aggressive, psychotic person. All of that active alcoholism stuff became highly unbearable. It no longer numbed anything. It just enhanced the rage and anger at the world. I didn’t want to live and I didn’t want to die. Ugh! I had no choice but to get better and find recovery.
Many of us have suppressed memories when we come into the rooms of recovery. I know I had. In fact I actually forgot that at one point I wrote a lot. My childhood wisdom of the need to express and create had been totally wiped from my consciousness as an adult. Then approximately two years into my recovery I started to remember again. I guess the true essence of myself started to surface once more. And once again, I had a lot to say.
Firstly I had a whole lot of stuff to say to myself. I started to keep journals again. Just like when I was a child they are full of my conversations with my Higher Power and the Universe. The practice of free writing became a part of my nightly routine, done with a pen and paper, not on a keyboard. Writing with pen and paper seems to come from a different place inside of me. The words don’t have to make sense, the spelling doesn’t have to be correct and the writing itself can flow in whatever shape and dimension I wish-or it wishes more to the point. I just pick up a pen and write the first thing that comes into my head and I just keep going. It’s as if a door inside has been unlocked and all these words and thoughts just come tumbling out from my head, flow down my arm through my fingers and into the pen and are deposited on the page. There is no destination or point to be made by these words. It begins and ends where it wants to. And there ladies and gentlemen, are the contents of my inner most sanctum. My truth. If there’s something bothering me and I can’t quite figure out what it is, it will be in that purge of words on the page. If there is something making me feel elated and I’m not fully aware of the source-it will also be there.
There will be times that I feel real resistance to indulge in my creative outlet and other times I will want to do it every minute of every day. When I realized that people were actually interested in reading what I wrote, it made me very fearful at first. As an alcoholic approval and acceptance was very important to me so I wanted to say the right things so the world would like me. But of course that is just compromising my truth and disrespecting my gift from God. So now I just say what I want to; and yes I do get in trouble. Big trouble sometimes. And not everyone likes me or agrees with me but the freedom of speech and thought and idea are immensely empowering processes. It’s allowed me to like myself actually, so what other people think of me doesn’t bother me so much. Honestly it kind of entertains me – just a little bit. Especially when they express their annoyance. I know – I’m a bad girl for finding pleasure in another’s pain. But it’s progress not perfection right?
We all don’t have to have a big mouth and a need to be heard like me for writing to become part of your life. The most intimate and deeply rewarding way to get to know myself was through my free writing that nobody will ever read (I hope). It has enhanced my recovery immeasurably and it has reversed the belief I had that what I thought and felt was unimportant and irrelevant. To express and create is to find freedom. To paint, to sing, to play a musical instrument, to dance, to make patterns in the sand – even if it’s all done badly in some peoples’ eyes – is your entitlement and your privilege and your gift. Playing with words is mine. Go find what brings your soul alive. You won’t regret it. I promise.