Sometimes I forget who I am. It sounds silly, but the older I get the easier it is to do. It’s not like being stricken with amnesia where everything goes away all at once. It’s more like a gradual ebbing of pieces of my self-awareness. When I finally realize it’s happened, I can generally pinpoint what part of me has faded. Then I start to wonder if it’s worth reviving.
I recently took a break from writing for a bit. It wasn’t entirely intentional. I’ve usually got so much to say, that I have one or two weeks of rambling tucked away “in the can.” Life caught up with me this time. I felt the emotions take me and my brain needed to focus on the day-to-day stuff more than it usually has to, so I didn’t have the capacity to write. I always laugh looking back on those moments because that’s usually where all the good posts are born. Those chaotic tumults that bring all the good raw stuff to the surface that I think I’ll never share, but are the things most worth getting out of me.
Some of it, I’ve promised myself I won’t write about until others are out of harm’s way. People in my life whose stories shouldn’t be shared until they no longer have to fear my version or my lens. I won’t share it until I’m the only owner left. That makes it hard sometimes.
Last month so much happened that so many feelings surfaced and I thought I might burst without getting it out. For some reason though, it had the opposite effect. Where I’m usually so compelled to get thoughts out, this time I couldn’t be bothered. It wasn’t a full-on wallow, more like an avoidance. I don’t think I was ready to face the words staring back at me.
In that time, I took care of the everyday tasks I needed to do, allowed myself the normal stress of work and even indulged in a few shows on Netflix and Hulu. With the final season of Game of Thrones on, who has time to talk about anything else, anyway?
But in that time, the self-doubt crept in. The habit of not doing something began to form in the background. The little break became a chasm separating me from the place I’d found relief. The catharsis I feel when writing slipped away quietly in the night. I didn’t feel it’s need tugging at me through the day and it was nice. I was able to focus at work and at home, checking off all the necessary, but tedious boxes on my checklist.
And so I forgot.
I forgot how much I love to write. I forgot how much I need to type my feelings out of my head so I no longer have to carry them around with me. I forgot how these trivial posts are how my family and friends keep up with me and all the banality of my life. I forgot the joy I get at sharing the ups and downs with our constant struggle in our version of life. I forgot what I know and who I am.
So many of us suffer in silence as we let pieces of ourselves slip away. We chalk it up to career growth or parenthood, as if the slips are payment for our new place in life. The toll we pay for success is metered out in lost hobbies, missed workouts and lack of self-care. Holding on to these rituals is a luxury. Yet for those who can, the price is no less, just different.
I’ve been tormenting myself this past month trying to decide if I should keep writing. Waffling between espousing all the things I can now accomplish in the time I would have been committing myself to my laptop and struggling with the fragments of posts rattling around my head. Clearly the pull was too strong for me to not answer their frantic call for release.
Writing is part of who I am. I remember that now. It helps me retain perspective on reality and my place in this world. It helps me celebrate the victories and lament the challenges. It is absolutely worth holding on to. Perhaps the forgetting brings the remembering and in the remembering we find the value we lost.