Friday, October 17, 2008

An unkind reflection

When I was about 26 years old, I began to write. Between personal
journals, fan fiction (Anne McCaffrey's Pern, in case you were
wondering), and being an extremely junior contributor on projects
belonging to writer friends, there was scarcely a day that went by
without me setting fingers to a keyboard. It felt so wonderful and
liberating: I was finally writing, something I'd always wanted to do.
I knew my talents fell firmly in the realm of the mediocre, but I was
doing it instead of just dreaming about it.

Writing had always been secret fantasy ever since I was a child. I
loved reading so much that I figured the only thing that could be
better would be if I were a writer, too, and gave others the same kind
of joy I found in books. Granted, my 12-year old thoughts probably
weren't so grandiose, but that was the main gist.

So what was the problem? Fear. I had writer friends who blew me away
with the eloquence of their words, their passionate thoughts; how
could I ever come close to that level of excellence? I could barely
speak in company for fear that something stupid would come out of my
mouth, so why would I think that I could write?

I have had a life-long battle with fear, and the Big F has won more
times than I can count. I've long had a reputation for being a
careful and deliberate person, very practical and mature. But I know,
in my heart of hearts, that a good 75% of that caution is really just
fear. Yes, fear can be a healthy and appropriate response, but not
when it's simply a fear of failure. That is the particular kind of
fear I've long tried to combat. The quote over to the right, near the
top of this page? Yeah, that's not so much something I live, as much
as it is something to which I aspire.

My mid-twenties were my breaking-out point. That time period was when
I finally began to know myself, to express myself, and to stop letting
fear win all the time. I tried my hand at writing, and loved it even
if I sucked. I discovered that my voice trends heavily to the
comedic, and it's very hard for me to be serious or grim when writing
non-journal type stuff. I guess it makes sense that one of my
all-time favorite writers is Terry Pratchett.

I let people other than my showerhead (yes, my showerhead is sentient;
he says he loves me and will never think my ass is too big) hear me
singing, and became known in my group as having a good voice. That
actually led to me doing vocals for a musician friend: yep, my voice
is recorded for posterity on a record, and I've even performed it in
concert. Even though that was a short little episode of my life, it
let me relive and remember the thrill of music and performance (I was
a symphony dork in school, playing flute, various clarinets, and
Elizabethan recorder).

I got past the feeling of being the fat-girl sidekick of the hot
chick, and just let myself be ME around people (especially the
male-type people)… and I discovered that I actually can be witty and
vivacious despite carrying major poundage, and that there are
male-type people who can see more than a dress size when they look at
a woman.

I began to walk with a confidence previously unknown to me. When I
entered a room, rather than trying to slink unnoticed into a corner, I
smiled and greeted and laughed. I didn't try to be an obnoxious
center of attention, but I wasn't afraid to be seen. I finally knew
beyond a doubt that I had worth as a person, and that I merited the
air I breathed. I had finally figured out that all I had to do was
just be myself, and I would be fairly happy. It sounds really simple,
doesn't it? "Be yourself." Believe me, that tiny statement is
fraught with more danger than a stretch of land in Cambodia, but I did
an okay job for a long time.

These days, I'm not so much myself. Or at least, I'm not the "myself"
that I used to be. But then again, I'm NOT the same person. I have
experienced soul-crushing grief for the first time; an emotional wound
that, while easier to handle everyday, still brings me to tears at odd
moments. I can honestly say that not a single day has passed that I
do not think of It. Not a single day, regardless of what I may
pretend. My miscarriage was more than just the loss of a baby. It
was the loss of a family, of a love, of a self-identity, of a future.
And now I feel like I am directionless, and I just don't know how to
find my way anymore.

While I've been overweight since puberty, my weight had been fairly
stable for ages and I had long been in a place of self-acceptance and
self-love. As Chris Rock crudely expressed while speaking for
confident chubsters, "Yeah, I have a gut, and there's some goooood
pussy under that gut!" But I've put on a lot of weight since
you-know-when. For the first time in over a decade, I do not like
myself. I do not like looking in the mirror. The person I see in
there is a gross stranger, and I don't want to know her. I have no
confidence, no sass, no pizzazz.

So I haven't been writing as much lately, and now I know why. While
part of it, in truth, is because I have little to report on the TTC
front and that I feel I am very boring, it is mostly because of
everything that is messed up in my head. For me, writing is a thing
of empowerment; even when I was sad and writing was a catharsis, I was
still in a place of "I am woman, hear me roar!" But now I am more
like the mouse than the lion, having emotionally regressed over a

I try to remember how I used to be, but that person seems like a
strange fantasy. I don't quite remember how to be her, how she felt,
how she acted. What made her think she was so great, anyway? I don't
know. I just wish I could remember.