Last night, someone asked me if I've been writing. It's been months since I've tapped into that part of myself. The creative who can put fingers to a keyboard and effortlessly put thoughts down on paper. Often subconscious musings that I didn't realize were brewing inside my mind until I saw them written down. I replied, "No, I'm not writing." And I realized in that moment that I've neglected a part of myself that is essential to who I am. I see the world differently when I'm writing because, ironically, I look outward instead of inward. Writing is vital to me. Like breathing.
When I look back, I remember writing poetry as a high school student after my brother, Derek's, tragic car accident. Poems about pain, faith and grasps at figuring out what the future could possibly look like. I didn't write prose until law school when my poems morphed into free-flowing expressions of existentialism, fueled by my reading Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Nietzsche.
When I left the intellectual cocoon of Emory and started working six-hour days as a young attorney in Miami, I continued to read books by Milan Kundera, Kahlil Gibran and Daniel Quinn. But I didn't write down the thoughts inspired by them. Over time, I stopped expressing myself through words and simply absorbed those of others. I didn't know why at the time, but I now realize that writing is a catharsis for me and not simply a form of expression.
I didn't write anything of substance again until we lost our daughter, Abby. Her death sparked a need to capture her short life and I achingly did so by writing a memoir. In that memoir, I renewed my intensely vulnerable and personal expression of poetry by peppering it into the book before each chapter. In looking at it now, 10 years later, I see the chapters as filled with memories and emotions. But the poetry reveals the raw pain that simply telling the story couldn't express.
After Abby, I lost my little brother to an overdose and my mom to her battle with dementia. My novels In Search of Solomon's Wisdom and The Beauty of Grace allowed me to process and come to peace with those loses. Exhaling the pain through my fingertips.
Over the past couple of years as I've faced yet another crisis, I've neglected writing. I've blogged sporadically about other things but by not allowing myself to just sit, process and write about this crisis, I've bloated my heart with pain that keeps forcing its way to the surface. I realize that the reason I've felt lost and unrecognizable to myself is because I've been stuck. Frozen. Holding my breath.
It's time to exhale.