My personality has always been that of an addict. Even as a child, I would hide hoards of chocolate to consume all at once in some secret hideaway. The guilt would, of course, make me feel ashamed (and a little queasy to be honest). And yet, Grandma’s “Christmas Cookie Stash” was always under attack. And her fudge. And her chocolate covered pretzels. In retrospect, I understand that I was trying to fill a void, something most addicts have in common. For me, it was the need for normality in a world that was less than welcoming to me. So much family dysfunction, and so little nurturing. I sought solace and comfort in food as a child, and later in life, sought that solace in more “adult” comforts.
My mother tells a story of me when I was 11 months old. She would sing to me, and I would sing right back to her. Music has always been a passion of mine as well; the lilting melodies and the trance of the rhythms carry me away. But even at so young an age, I was always drawn to the words. The rest can move my body, but the words have always moved my soul. I could shake my booty, or pretend I knew how to waltz. But the words told the true story, and that is where I found my newest addiction.
I’ve always been an avid reader. At 8, I read Stephen King’s “Carrie.” For some reason, words have always just come to me without needing to be explained. Perhaps it was being raised in a mostly adult world, or maybe I’ve just been blessed with a most-welcome gift. And I found that when I shared these words with others, I not only received praise but found that the void I’d been longing to fill had finally found an unending source of nourishment. It lies within my heart, grew within my mind, and manifested with pen and paper. Conveying my thoughts and feelings through writing gave me a sense of purpose in a world where otherwise I had none. I wrote short stories, speeches and benedictions for church services, and articles for newsletters, among other things. The validation I had longed for was finally mine; I finally had something I could call my own.
Then life got a little too real for me (remember the aforementioned “adult comforts?”). I forgot my gift and instead chose to fill the void with unhealthy rewards instead. I was still writing, but nothing that truly spoke “my words.” I wrote ad copy, created and wrote more newsletters, a few songs, and a lot of real estate flyers for an old boss. But then, nothing again for awhile. I was finally muted.
A few years later, I was afforded the “unfortunate” opportunity to spend some time reflecting. I picked up my notebook, and it embraced me like an old dear friend. The words came a little clunky and slow in the beginning. But they didn’t stop, and my hand could barely keep up with them as they fell from my heart and mind. (I’m so grateful for computers! I type ever so much faster than I write, and it’s a lot more legible for sure!) All of the things that had been screaming to be heard were finally having their say. It was wonderful! Invigorating! And thankfully, they’re still finding their way to new homes where they can be shared with and by whomever finds beauty within them.
So why do I write? It’s no longer for validation, although that never hurts the ego. I write because there is both pain and beauty in the world, and the idea that my words can influence either is a great responsibility and privilege. And because holding them back does not only a disservice to me, but to someone who needs to hear them. I write a blog that covers many of my personal life experiences because it’s cathartic and free therapy. And because I still and will always love Stephen King, there’s always a little something creepy bubbling in the cauldron. But mostly, I write because I’m addicted. And the only support group I really need is The Words.