Monday, December 17, 2012

things I can't write about.

Over the past few months, I have said to myself many, many times: I want to write a blog post about x or y or z, but I can't.  I have been stopping myself. Of course, I can always write about food or running or swimming or the races I'm thinking about signing up for in the upcoming year,  but that isn't really what I've been thinking about. 

I want to write everything I have felt over the past year, but it is raw and confusing and sometimes contradictory.  Most importantly though, it is a story that is not mine alone.  I want to write about divorce and what it feels like to go through it, about visiting the courthouse to fill out forms, about using language like "plaintiff" and "defendant" and watching a huge part of your life turn into a pile of papers, stamped in red ink with loud clunking sounds that echo in the courthouse halls.  

I want to write about how, when you are divorced, when you have your kids with you (physically, that is) only half of the time, that people assume things about you as a mother.  And about how I probably assumed those same things about divorced people before.   People talk about what is best for you, or what you should have done, or what you could have done differently.   I want to write about divorce without sounding defensive.

I even hesitate to write about happiness, because I have this sense that people don't want to hear it yet.  At once I feel happy and guilty about my happiness. I hear the critics in my head.   I imagine it makes some people uncomfortable when I am feeling awesome, or confused when sadness bubbles up again.  Maybe it's all in my head. 

I want to tell you all about how I have moved forward in my life, and that I have found new love that is really freaking incredible, but I hesitate and (over)think about how it will be perceived. 

It seems there is an acceptable time-line for emotional shifts, that there is somehow a right amount of time to grieve, and a right amount of time before you should rightfully recover from a loss.  I still, when I talk about how deeply I miss my dad, sense that some people are thinking:  "are you still talking about your dad after 9 years?" Is it true that people think this? Or that I may have had this thought about someone else?    I hear from people (and from my own brain):   Do you think it's a good idea to post about ____________ or too soon to write about _____________ or to show photos of you with _________________?  I really don't know, actually.  Have I ever overlaid my own personal time-line onto someone else's life?  I hope not. Where is the line between moving on in a healthy way and being insensitive to others?

What I can or can't or should or shouldn't write about begs the question:  Who am I writing this blog for, anyway? Great question.  I am very aware, maybe too aware, of who is out there and that you all bring your own feelings to the screen when you read.   A lot of you are supportive and kind and loving, but some of you are quietly suspicious of me, or not sure you think I deserve to be happy just yet. But am I writing this for anyone but myself?  Well, if the answer is no, then I would just write in a diary and keep it in my dresser drawer. 

I do know that as a writing teacher, I preach how important it is to remove the self-critic, to disregard the doubt, to be brave, to write from a place of honesty and integrity, and that often our very best writing will make us take a very deep breath before we share it, before we hit "publish."

I wish that I had thicker skin sometimes, and that I didn't feel everything so fully. 

I definitely can't write about what happened in Connecticut on Friday.  I can't because I'm a mom to elementary school-age kids, and because I'm a teacher.  I can't write about it because if I think that hard about it, my heart will break or I will die.  

I can't write about how I have dared to go all the way in my imagination to the moment when I stand at the door of my classroom and come face to face with a gun, and my students are behind me, under my care.  I can't write about what it felt like to read in the newspaper the names of the kids who were killed.  I can't think about how their names were written all over that classroom, above coat hooks and on cubbies and on little job charts and on paper cutouts in the shape of pumpkins and butterflies.  I can't think about the little outfits their parents dressed them in that morning, or the way they turned and waved as they climbed up the tall steps of the bus that morning. 

And I can't tell my kids about it, either. 

The kids had a half-day on Friday.  They were hanging out safely in my office on Friday while there was utter chaos in Newtown, CT.
I can't write about dropping off my kids at school this morning, and how I swallowed my tears on the way back to the car after kissing them goodbye, how every part of that transaction felt tinged with more meaning than ever.  It's just too sad. 

I feel it all.  I feel it all deeply and my heart is sometimes too tender. 

I just wanted you to know that I'm still here.  I'm not blogging as often right now, but it's not because I don't want to or don't have a whole lot to say.  And, as friends remind me, "if anyone doesn't want to read what you write, they don't have to read the blog."  I'm just going to keep drinking coffee and keep thinking and over-thinking. 

I write on the blog because it's a part of me now.  If you stuck with me, or if you continue to do so, I am honored and grateful.  Bless you, thank you, and go hug your children. 


Pattie Reaves said...


Kirsten said...

Hi. I read you regularly. I understand how you might have reservations about what you write considering all you've been going through. From out here in cheese land, I've not really known what was going on--except what you've revealed here or in an email. But I also haven't really been bothered by the nuts and bolts of your life as they belong to you.

Would I like to know the nuts and bolts? Sure, you write in a way that is appealing. Also, because I have grown to know at least the online aspect of your lives that branches off a connection from a long time ago, I care about how you are all doing. About those silent voices in your stories as well.

It is true that reading your blog has felt like a marvelous novel or how-to guide, in which I know the people...sorta. :-) Your blogging has inspired me, a person who has only met you *in person* a few times, I think. I still blog but I'm still "private" as of about 6 months ago or so. I write for a very small readership (my MOM thinks I'm a cool kid!) and sometimes for just me.

This actually makes sense for me because I've been pretty insular these days. But I'm starting to want to be more public again, even if the number of readers doesn't change. It's fun to think of connecting that way.

I think write what feels right. If stepping on feelings of the silent partners doesn't feel right, it's probably not. If writing what makes you feel joyful feels right, then I hope you will. I'm still reading! I don't always comment but I'm here :-) I don't feel judgmental of you. I'm too busy judging myself... and worrying about dog hair these days. Long story.

Erin and Robert said...

I think I speak for most of us who read your blog when I say we read it because we find you inspiring, engaging, thoughtful, and sometimes downright hilarious. You have allowed us a glimpse into your life, and I for one am grateful for that.

We all go through hard times; none of us is immune. Sometimes it is so helpful to see someone else put their struggle into words. Sometimes they say the things you yourself can't say, but it resonates with you in a way that makes you feel not alone.

I suspect the vast majority of those who read this blog would applaud your honesty in whatever you choose to share (in fact, I think one of the reasons your blog is so appealing is because of your honesty and openness). We have all known you were going through a hard time, but it has been hidden behind this veil of mystery that has made some of us feel helpless at times, unable to say anything because we don't know the situation. I myself went through a very hard time recently and suspected maybe our situations were similar. For me, it would have been a godsend to hear about someone else's experience.

I absolutely, 100 percent respect your right to privacy, and you are smart to be cautious about what you post. But if you're holding back because you're worried about your readers and what they will think, I think your readers might surprise you. You have inspired and entertained us. I suspect most of us would relish the chance to support you in whatever you're feeling.

Regardless, your process is your process. There is no right or wrong way to go through a hard time. Those who would judge you or impose a timeline are truly not worth considering.

I wish you all the best. And am happy to hear you have found some joy - would love to hear more about it!


Amy said...

Hey Em,
Just wanted to let you know that I am thrilled that you are finding happiness! In my opinion, there is no "right" way of doing things - you have to do what you feel is right for you. After all, it is *your* life and no one knows better than you do what is or isn't right for you. Hugs!

Jen said...

Beautifully written. Hugs to you for finding happiness. There is no timeline for such things. You've got to follow your heart.

Kim Oldenburgh said...

Having gone through what you are going through, even though I'm sure both of our stories are very different, I can totally relate to everything you are saying here. I'm so glad you are finding happiness and one can never know when the right time is, so don't over think it. Just do what feels right!
Keep writing...because remember you are my writing mentor. You sit on my own shoulder every time I attempt a writing piece and say, "How would Emilie do this??"

Emily Robinson said...

Engaged and then married for one year. Then, divorced. Dating before divorce. Head over heals in love BEFORE divorced. Yes, I wanted to scream it from the top of the roof. Yes, I wanted to tell everyone that I knew. I get that you think you have to "wait" because of what others will say. However, those that love you and care about you will be happy for you. You live your life for you. You may second guess yourself. You may worry what others are going to think. But trust me when I say this Em, your happiness matters. Life is too short. And life is precious. I realize that every time I am wrapped in my husband's arms and snuggle with my beautiful baby. Every time I hear sad stories like what happened in CT. You deserve happiness and you deserve it now. Anyone who has been divorced knows that it did not happen overnight...that it took a long time to get to that point. And it is ok that you are ready to move forward, to smile again, to love again. Embrace it. <3

Emilie said...

thank you, thank you, thank you. You all gave me a lot to think about and feel thankful for.

Thanks, Pattie!

Kirsten: thanks for sticking with me and offering so much kindness and honesty.

Erin: I would love to connect with you if you want to email me. The hesitations I have are not about the blog readers so much as they are about people who personally know me and some of the other players here. Trust me: I would love to unleash it and tell you all the details.

Amy: thank you and miss you!

Jen: thank you, friend. xo

Kim: you are too kind.

Em: we need to get together. And thank you.

Hanna said...

I LOVE reading your blog! Peaceful holiday season =o)