I sat down to write this evening without any particular idea in mind. I often have a backlog of ideas I’ve been meaning to post about, and so starting out with no direction or focus is unusual for me. Typically, I have in mind four or five possibilities and all I do is choose one and begin.
Which means there is never really a blank page. I have already begun to fill it, even before starting, because I’ve been playing with that idea for a while.
But today I began with a blank page.
And I’m telling you it was like Christmas. I said to myself (inside my head—I haven’t started speaking aloud to the voices just yet), “I can write about absolutely anything.”
I think this whole process of recovery or healing or whatever you want to call it has been like this—it’s been a process of stripping away layer after layer of stricture and confinement. That’s not been the whole of the process, but it’s been one part of it.
Because I grew up in a cage: between the Two by Twos and their rules and the rules I came up with for myself in a rather futile attempt to make life predictable, there wasn’t much freedom.
I pushed the envelope a lot growing up. I wasn’t a rebellious kid. I wore skirts (as prescribed), I kept my hair long (as required), I wore no make-up (as suggested). I didn’t fight with my parents or the ministers over any of those things and I didn’t experiment with anything I wasn’t supposed to.
Instead, I became a vegetarian. I refused to go to church. I came out to my parents as a lesbian. You know, just the big things. So I’ve always seen myself as a free-thinker.
This isn’t just my own imagination. I have been told again and again I think “outside the box.” I keep trying to explain I live outside the box or even simply that my box is different. I am just outside your box. But no one gets that.
Still, the question I’ve found myself facing repeatedly in my own mind is, “Can I think that?”
Can I think, first of all, that thoughts aren’t magic and, in themselves, don’t cause anything to happen? Can I just admit on certain days that I am having thoughts about suicide or thoughts that suggest I don’t like myself very much and just allow that to be?
Can I let go of the need to be positive as well as the need to try not to be too optimistic (since that might jinx what I’m hoping for), because whether my thoughts are negative or positive they remain nothing more than thoughts and life will proceed in the same way regardless of what I think?
Can I relinquish my sense that I am obligated to worry? Can I stop believing I should be afraid to think something through—that if I do, I might begin to ruminate and that will make everything worse?
Can I stop thinking I am so damned important that it even matters what I think? Because I’m not. And the mind is the best playground ever invented. And should be taken just as seriously. Which is to say not very.
Can I cease the search inside myself for that underlying badness, the ulterior motives, the suppressed desires, the passive-aggressiveness? Can I toy instead with the idea that I’m basically good and doing the best I can with life? Can I just try that out?
And the answers to all of these questions has been yes. I can think what I feel like thinking. I can say what I feel like saying. And I can write what I feel like writing. Nothing will happen.