Haven’t been here for a while, for very good reasons. But, it is time to pick up my life and go on. I came to a very real realization yesterday. There are some words I never use, never write, or even say aloud. Being a writer, that isn’t a good practice. Words are simply inanimate tools meant to further and clarify genuine communication. To limit, even to a small degree, the use of certain words, only limits my communication.
Thus, I have presented myself with a challenge. Starting today, I intend to begin to explore those words that I have avoided, steered clear of, and refused to use. There are many and varied reasons for that avoidance, the main one being fear.
There are certain words that are simply inappropriate, one doesn’t use them in polite conversation. That isn’t what I’m talking about here. However, I have watched and heard people bend themselves in all sorts of contortions to apply the same rule to inoffensive language. Take the word cancer, for instance. I know of several individuals who refuse to say the word out loud. Somehow, refusing to say the word is some sort of magical power that will keep its reality, or entrance into ones existence, at bay. And amazingly enough, more than one of those individuals was going through chemotherapy even while refusing to speak the word. That makes for very difficult communication.
Over the past month, I have been through a life-altering experience. Losing a parent, or parent figure, is always a benchmark experience. Grief is a distinct and individual process. We each do it in our own fashion, yet there are points of similarity that the process entails. Denial, blame, regret, anger, and re-entrance to life are a few of those steps in the process. But, we all handle them in our own peculiar individual manner.
Having been a teacher, one who actually taught others about the grief process on different occasions, I thought I might be a bit ahead of the game. Not so. Some of that awareness came through in the words that were used, while others were avoided.
I am a writer, therefore an observer, and although I have been grieving, that deeply ingrained part of my personality was not suspended during, or due, to the processing of the experience. I have managed to write in my journal throughout this entire past month. Every day, as is my habit. Some of the pages are half blank because I was overcome and couldn’t continue. And yet, I did, getting up the next morning and starting yet another new page.
I made sure that I left those blank spaces unmarked and void. They are an open reminder of where I have been and what I have been about. A few, only a very few, of those blank spaces were created because I was avoiding the use of certain words. I am aware of that as well, and it is the reason for this new self-challenge I have given to me.
I have long known that fear is simply not a good enough reason to stop self from moving forward. I am now entering a new phase of my life. It brings with it a brand new awareness, both of loss and of gifts to be explored. I don’t feel I can adequately reconnect with this new life unless I face off with the words I have feared in the old one. So the blank spaces are actually a list of words for me to write and speak of finally.
The blank spaces are also a gift. One I have given to myself. An opportunity in which to grow and evolve. Each word contains many things: other words associated with it, feeling states and perhaps their origins, thought process, and information about how I came to be the me that I am. And of course, hope. The hope that by confronting these particular words, I can eventually grow beyond my own fear, allowing myself to more freely move through the days ahead, with clarity and a new focus. Which in turn, will only enhance whatever more I choose to say or write.
The words I choose may not make sense to the causal observer, that’s okay because they are for me to explore and own. But, I am not putting them in my journal writing. This is a separate exercise and deserves its own unique place among all the others. I am however, mailing them off to a very good friend, whom I hope will read them and come back at me with her own words. One needs to share these things or risk the possibility that they might once again fall back into the silence that has refused them expression.
I actually started this new project yesterday afternoon, and continued on with it this morning, after writing in my journal. And by the way, there are no blank spaces in today’s journal entry. I can only hope that continues. It’s a word exercise, one I am in need of at the moment.
And must remember to remind myself that feelings are not facts. They are neither good, nor bad, and should not be used as a means of judging anyone or anything. They are simply a barometer, meant to express what the current weather conditions might entail. It’s time for me to look at the whole weather report, not just the parts I like or wish to be real and true. Wish me luck, I have a feeling that it might be needed.
Are there words that you avoid, won’t speak, and even move away from when others speak them? Do you know why those words contain such deep and abiding power? You might want to start by looking them up in the Dictionary.