Words are my power and, sometimes, words represent my greatest weakness. There are times when I can taste my words as they linger on the tip of my tongue. My taste buds pick up on the acidic flavor of those remarks, thoughts, ideas that never make it past my lips. They linger, debating whether they should jump out but often just roll back down, pushing past my still-intact tonsils and reside so bitterly in my esophagus. The words marinate inside me, causing acid-reflux, making their voice heard while silencing mine.
I struggle to let words out of my mouth. I am afraid that they will be unrecognized for their true selves. I worry that they will reveal a part of me that is too fragile and too tender to be exposed to the air. My words hang back, waiting for a safe opening, an invitation from the prettiest girl at the dance. In my head, the words spiral around, forming thoughts, ideas, feelings, powerful messages that often never see the light of day. They remain locked behind bars, longingly waiting for someone with the right key to release them from their interminable imprisonment. My words are held hostage by me. I simply cannot speak what I feel or share the emotions that reside just one millimeter below the surface. I protect myself, ensuring that my words won’t be used against me.
Alas, I am not silent. I can talk endlessly. I simply and strategically talk around my words. I can be pleasant or funny, intelligent or insightful and, in some cases, mean and hurtful but I fail to utter the words that most need airing. I choose what I say, holding my tongue, keeping the most critical words in reserve. A wrestling match occurs – a battle to release the words, getting them past my lips. Invariably, the fight ebbs once I sit down and tap my fingers to the keys. All at once, the bars are lifted, the gates release, the tide flows out with letters forming together to make words and sentences and thoughts and feelings and images so rich, so powerful, so raw, so honest. When my fingers are in control and my mouth is closed tight, I can tell stories and share my truth in ways that would never be possible otherwise.
As a child, I lived in my own fantasy world, writing stories that depicted the life I dreamt of. I escaped to a faraway place invented by my words. I scribbled on loose leaf pages and in spiral notebooks, believing that I could run away from it all and, one day would wake up in another place – in my imagined life. My stories existed in a utopian world so far away from my own reality, thousands of miles from my own pain and I could quietly sneak off and experience some peace and contentment. Nobody knew I was gone. No search team needed to be sent out to look for me. But, sadly, one day it stopped. I no longer had the innocence to enjoy my own stories or suspend my disbelief long enough to escape. I lost confidence in myself and found my words to be trite and meaningless, unsophisticated and untalented. I was not a writer and had no business pretending I was. And, with that, I sealed myself off. No more words came out. Now I would have to navigate around my words, bottling up all the thoughts, feelings, pain, joy, insight.
Then, 99 blog posts ago, it all changed. I fooled myself into believing that I would write to share some thoughts – all intellect, no passion – to help build my career. It was purely business, helping me to become a subject-matter expert and pontificate about matters relevant to my work. I would cement my place in that conversation. My words would propel me to another level of professional success.
Unbeknownst to me, quietly, hiding out in crevices deep inside, my real words were sitting, waiting in prey, looking for an opportunity to unleash themselves. They didn’t wait too long. They didn’t hold themselves back. No censorship, no editing. Blog post #2 was quickly visited by my words – the interlopers. I could literally hear the exhale as they began to release themselves. After being silenced for decades, they grew louder until there was no room for anything but them. My words took possession of my blog and insisted on telling the story that I was unable to share in any other way. They wrestled control and ensured that my inside voice would be heard. Today, my stories are candid and honest. They are vehicles to help me move beyond. I no longer need to escape into the realm of fantasy but, instead, need to embrace my truth and own it. I need to let it soak into my pores and I need to write about it in order to make it come to life. Being honest about my life and all the complications that seem so foreign to so many yet relatable to so many others is not difficult for me. It requires no special skill. I need not find a map to figure out how to navigate my course. There is only one road, running in one direction. There is one lane and it leads me directly to my destination. No signs to read, no traffic lights to hold me up. It is an open road inviting me to travel as fast as my engine will bear. The only caveat is that my mouth is sealed. The words must come out through my hands. The story can only be told in one way. The power can only be released with one type of force. I have only one tool in my toolbox. My words have only one point of departure.
While my words flow so freely through my hands, I still struggle with speaking my truth. I can stand before you, my closest friend or my worst enemy. I can look you in the eye and hear the deafening sound of the words in my head. I may want to shower you with love and adoration, acknowledging the power you have in my life. I may want to share deep feelings or emotions that connect me to you. I may want to ask you to help me heal my hurt. I may want to cut you apart, punishing you for penetrating my safe zone. No matter what, I will likely retreat, still haunted by the words echoing in my ears, desperate for them to come out but scared to let them be heard…using my vocal chords. I contain a battle that wages on between my voice and words. I retreat to my keyboard to unleash all that is so safely harbored in my port. I set free the words that scream so loud in my head and hope that one day I will trust myself and others enough to speak my truth.
For now, I will be grateful for all that have come along for the ride, allowing me to process and share through these words. I cherish the opportunity to enlighten those who know me and support those who feel me. I am grateful that, for the 100th time, I have been able to string my words together into something meaningful that might spark a thought, a feeling, a revelation, a powerful emotion in another. I am hopeful that my words serve a purpose, have meaning, offer guidance or solace. As my words enter the sunlight, squinting to see what lies around them, I hope they are embraced and warmed rather than scorched and damaged.
Thanks to everyone who supported me through my first 100 posts and I hope you will stick around, invite your friends along and encourage you to buckle up. I have a lot more words anxiously awaiting to avail themselves of this blog. There are so many more stories, so many more words just waiting to reach you and, hopefully, teaching me how to use my words properly.