I love words with my whole heart. When I was in first grade I realized that I could see a word once and it would be burned into my memory in such a way that I would always know how to spell it. When it came time for the weekly spelling test in Mrs. Sutherland’s first grade class I always aced it, often after only briefly glancing at the list. My name was always on the chalkboard for getting a perfect score. Actually, that’s not true. There was one time that my name was taken off the board after receiving a perfect score because the class brown-noser had planted a slip of paper spelling the word VALENTINE in my desk, which happened to be one of the spelling words for that week. He came over to my desk after the test was over, pulled out the slip of paper and said, “Mrs. Sutherland, look what I found in her desk!” Mrs. Sutherland took the slip of paper, took Mike’s word for it, and went to the blackboard to erase my name. My immediate thought – after blushing with complete humiliation – was “Bitch, please. VALENTINE? Cheating on THAT word is an insult to my intelligence.” Nonetheless, I was reduced to losing my status as the class spelling ace (Mike’s reasoning to cheat was so he could finally beat me… I’m sure he’s a “successful” businessman by this point in his life) and I’ve hated Valentine’s Day ever since.
Anyway, back to words. I love them. I’d rather write than talk. Admittedly, that’s changed a bit in the past eight years, but for the first 1/3 of my life writing was my preferred method of communication. Everything I’ve ever wanted to say or any dream I’ve ever had was always conveyed in written form. For whatever reason my mouth could never say what my heart was screaming. I’ve technically been a writer since I was in elementary school having consistently kept a journal from a very young age. I’d give one of my toes to have those journals back today – to see what my thoughts and feelings were way back when – but I would destroy them whenever I’d have a traumatic life event. I destroyed several journals after my step-mother committed suicide because I somehow felt guilty that I’d been writing/complaining about my life when she had been clearly suffering to the point of wanting to die. I did nothing to help her. I technically know that her death wasn’t my fault but I could never get my heart to accept that. My words, whether they were written or spoken, wouldn’t have been enough.
She encouraged me to write, though. She believed in me. And when she died I just didn’t know what to do with that. All of a sudden, the person who probably believed in me the most, had taken her own life. And I’m sad to say this, but it completely invalidated me. She believed in me while she was alive and that felt wonderful. But she didn’t believe in herself. What she said to me, the encouragement she gave to me, were just words. Not actions. And suddenly, words meant nothing. All the energy I’d put into words – all backed by her encouragement – vaporized. What do I do now? My answer was to throw it away.
It didn’t take away my love of writing. I continued to write all the time. But some other life-event would happen that would hurt and I’d burn my words. Or throw them in the garbage. Or rip them to shreds. After my step-mother died, sharing them stopped being an option. So, I just kept the majority of my thoughts and feelings to myself and opted to let them flow through my journaling, which I would always end up destroying.
So, when Ben got sick, I embraced email. I could update a mass of people all at once on how my pookie-pie was doing and avoid being on the phone for hours on end. My little updates morphed into a regurgitation of feelings and emotions about how I was dealing with my son’s illness. I didn’t even realize I was sharing. It was all under the guise of just giving an “update” on Ben. But I was writing. Feverishly. Passionately. Purposefully. Publicly. And my writing was receiving a validation that I hadn’t seen since before my step-mother died. People felt like they were a part of Ben’s journey. They could hear the machines beeping. They could smell what I smelled. They felt what I felt. My words finally found a home and an appreciative audience.
Blogging has given me a “voice” – a voice that I could never seem to find in the past. I’ve found an audience. A home. I still get the urge to destroy my words once in a while but ultimately they’re out there now. There’s no taking them back. Even if someone crashes my site or threatens to shut me down – which has surprisingly happened – the fact remains that I have a handful of readers out there who have heard me and love what I have to “say”.
And even Mrs. Sutherland can’t erase that.
Christine Yankovsky, thank you for today’s word. I often can’t believe how beautifully my life has been woven together but I have to say that your part in the tapestry always shines in brilliant gold. I’m sorry you’ve been dealt the task of being a voice of reason in the chaos “lovingly” known as my brain. Thank you for the love you’ve shared with me over the years – giving me shelter from my many storms as well as a sweet place to live when I had no safe place to go. I love that you appreciate my creativity with pipe cleaners and my ability to communicate with butterflies (I still have that stamp, btw). Heck. I love that you love me. I love you, too. We will get published someday, let’s just hope it’s not posthumously. Love you, sweet friend. Words could never convey just how much.