before the brave

Audre Lorde said, “I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self.”

We’ve been trained to go through life without expressing extreme emotions. From young children, we are tamed, aren’t we? We are taught to reign it in and bottle it up.   Don’t blurt things out. Don’t cry. Speak this truth but not this one.   

As we get older, we collect memories of moments where we revealed pieces of our true selves only to face criticism, rejection and judgment. To avoid being hurt, we begin to pick and choose, denying the other parts of ourselves as stated in the Lorde quote above. But just because we don’t openly express our strong feelings, doesn’t mean we don’t have them. Where do they go? If ignored altogether, they eat us up from the inside, causing us to feel less than whole, as if we are only partially present in the world. How can we feel purposeful and powerful when our deepest emotions are suppressed? In order for us to feel safe expressing ourselves again, we have to give ourselves permission to change the way we think about truth telling.

This can be accomplished through writing.  We often think we need to be brave before we can write the raw truth but it is the writing that makes us brave.

As you open up to write, you will feel like you are breaking rules. We have so many years of practice inhibiting ourselves when dealing with the outside world. So much so that we have learned to be inhibited even with ourselves. Expect to feel a familiar resistance when you start writing down your soul. There will be that urge inside that says, Don’t say that. Don’t say you’re lonely. Don’t say you’re falling out of love. Don’t admit that you are questioning your religion. Don’t say anything that goes against the image you’ve carefully created.

Think of this resistance as a wound that must be lanced, so it can purge and release what’s causing it to throb. Ew, I know. It hurts, it persists and it scares you until you release it and face what’s inside. Think of the writing as the consistent cleansing and bandaging that must take place so the wound can heal. You must be gentle but thorough, tolerating the discomfort, trusting the process.

Try reading the following permission statement when you feel resistance and fear rising up:

I have permission to speak my truth and a responsibility to create a space to do so. My self-acceptance is unconditional. The stories that live inside of me matter, even the ones I’ve never admitted to myself. I don’t need courage or clarity to start writing, only willingness, and the courage and clarity will find and meet me along the way.

This is an excerpt from my writing workshop, Words That Heal, that is now available at any time as a self-study course. Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, if you have a desire for personal growth or a craving for peace of mind, writing can help.  Maybe there's a voice inside -- a knowing -- that you are seeking access to.  By the end of this course, you will walk away with new ideas for leveraging writing as a spiritual tool to access the wisdom and perspective that is already inside of you.  You can find out more here.