Stripes: A Ten Year War Against Me 1

Part 1: A Writer

"Write what's on your heart." These are the words circulating my mind each and every time I attempt to pick up a pen. The words repeating themselves as I search for something, anything, of value to express to the world. As a child the words flowed so freely, it was simple. So simple that I just knew I'd become an author someday.  These days it wasn't so easy. I struggled through every sentence. So much so, that at times I believe the talent I used to have couldn't have truly existed. Perhaps I was just a child being encouraged by the adults around her to chase after a dream. Right now, it seemed a truer explanation than any other.

I was sixteen years old when my mother passed.  A junior in high school suddenly going home to an empty home every afternoon. I was trying to make sense of my strong Christian faith paired with my disappointment in God. I was trying to be strong for my family, be mature like she'd always raised me to be, and accept my new reality despite never knowing what that new reality was. I was alone. Lonely before I even knew what the word really meant. Maybe this was the beginning. Or maybe it's something that started much earlier in my childhood. This event, however, seemed to be the trigger. Everything fell apart.

I fought back tears as my teacher shouted at me for not returning to school with a signed progress report. It seemed like everyone had already heard the terrible news. How could he not know? Everyone else did. He shuffled through the papers on his desk angrily and demanded I give him my home phone number so that he could talk to my mom. I couldn't say anything. My mind just wouldn't form an explanation. I couldn't tell him that no one was home. I couldn't explain that my father, who worked out-of-town during the weekdays, and partied out-of-town on the weekends wasn't going to answer the phone. I couldn't explain that my mom wasn't there. Or that she would never be able to pick up his call again. "You can't call my mom, you can call my sister." I began reciting my older sister's phone number without realizing how my statement must have come off to an overstressed, overworked, teacher. It took everything in me just to say those few words and in this case, they just weren't the right ones. I'd missed a week of school after Christmas break, my grades had plummeted and now here I was stubbornly refusing to give him my mother's phone number, suggesting he call my sister instead. He lost it. As did I. I burst into tears, squealing out whatever words I could. He stared at me in shock; half apologetic, half horrified. This wasn't the first time it had happened; the outbursts; and unbeknownst to me, it would happen many many more.

My emotions were no longer under my control. I couldn't hold a poker face anymore. I couldn't say the word 'mom', 'mommy', 'mama', or any variation of the word without tears welling up in my eyes. Sad movies made me cry, sad songs, sad thoughts, everything was a possible trigger to my explosions. I screamed out in anger over the smallest perceived slights, feeling one hundred percent justified in my hateful and disparaging remarks as I spewed them and then later drowning myself  in remorse and humiliation. I was emotionally unhinged. 

The thing is, I was old enough to have known right from wrong, but not old enough to have ever had my morality questioned.  I was innocent to the adults I encountered. A mound of clay to be molded into whatever they liked. I was a child. Something that needn't be understood, but that needed to understand. Maybe that part was true. But it had always been my belief that God made no mistakes in determining who I am. I am a writer. My thoughts and ideas actively creating life where there isn't any. My understanding of the world comes from my piecing together ideas and figuring out how they fit together as one entity.

No one could explain to me how to get my emotions back under control. My mind couldn't figure it out either. So they ran rampant. Ten years later and they still seem to do as they please. Creating fear where there should be none; sadness, anger, guilt. It makes sense that my inner voice would be affected. But even in knowing this, I still stare blankly at a page doubting myself, questioning why I can only seem to write from a place of pain. I fear that I may never be able to write from a contented perspective. My imagination forever confined to darkness while my heart begs to inspire, to give light. This is my depression. 

I am not my depression. A reminder that I keep constantly in the back of my mind. These fearful thoughts belong to an illness that will ultimately heal. How? I'm still searching for that answer. This time in an effort to tell the only story that I have to tell; mine. 

This isn't written for you, my dear reader. Whoever you may be. The purpose for this series of notes is to show myself that my voice does have use, after all. To gain victory over the idea that my experience is insignificant. And to know, in my heart, despite all reservation that I am still a writer. Still, I hope that in reading you will find a new strength in your own voice knowing that you, too, are a writer.

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Stripes: A Ten Year War Against Me 1
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