At 46, I finally feel grown up. Well, sort of. Growing up is a constant state of being. We grow until the day we die. Some of us never grow up, or choose not to, or simply cannot because of our circumstances, which force us to remain stuck in one age or another. I feel fortunate to have been born a writer---someone who absolutely must document life's details no matter how mundane or insignificant someone else may view them. Writing has provided me the space to grow, and therefore has kept me alive. That is no exaggeration.
Writing, for me, is the act of growing up. For years I have practiced the art, the ritual of unloading my ideas to remain positive, to avoid feelings of depression, to help when I’ve been officially depressed and even better, to celebrate the good things. But it’s more important that by committing something to paper I give myself permission to let go of it, to set it free and let it either die or take on a life of its own. I no longer have to hold onto it with my last brain cell for fear that I might lose it in the abyss.
As 2014 has ended and 2015 begins, I can celebrate another year of life’s lessons and experiences by taking a glimpse back to a time when I thought I might not make it to 11. It was one of those rather quick blips of time where fear takes over in a moment of physical discomfort. I woke up in the middle of the night and stood in the dark bathroom. When I realized I was thirsty, I cupped my hands and drank so much cold water so quickly that moments later, my face became a fountain. All the water I drank came pouring back out of my mouth and nose simultaneously. I didn’t know what was happening, but I was officially scared of my body and my ignorance surrounding its functions.
It’s an odd little memory that serves no purpose dancing around in my mind. There’s absolutely no need to hang on to that memory. So I don’t! There it is on paper. I don't need it anymore. I’ve created space for other things. It's like therapy, but more private.
The things I have hung onto over the years and have not written about, I realize, are the aspects of my existence that I cannot or will not let go of. That is why I feel the need to revisit moments that occurred as far back as I can remember, and push these memories out of me one by one. It is necessary. If I feel stuck somehow, I can work it out on paper, and grow in the process.
In my 20s, I wrote a song about growing. The lyric was: I know I’m growing when everything feels like the end of the world/ I know I’m growing when the seams of my skin are tearing to make room for my experience/And when the tearing hurts, I wait for the calm in my heart to kick in/I wait and wait for nothing at all to hurt me.
I never recorded the song in the studio, but I still sing that lyric in my head whenever I’ve entered some sort of pain that feels like the end of the world. The difference, at 46, is I can put the pain into perspective and enjoy the instant relief that whatever it is, it’s not the end of the world. You’re never stuck. There’s always a way to get out of a problem and into the solution. Each time we do that, we grow.