I first knew I loved to write in elementary school.
When given the choice to write or draw during our free time, I would always choose to compose words over pictures. Other kids would be wrecking paper with crayons and markers. I would be sitting quietly at my desk, scribbling stories of princesses and puppies and love.
I have stacks of journals that contain shreds of my soul at seven, 13, 16 (that one was gruesome) and even now.
My parents got divorced when I was 12 and I can still recall that day vividly. I remember the heat of the Georgia summer and the smell of the sweat that lingered in our house. My two brothers and I lined up on the couch, like soldiers oblivious to the bomb about to drop. The bomb that would inevitably destroy the family my parents had tried so hard to keep together.
As salty tears rolled down all of their faces, I sat solemnly. No tears, no tantrums. I already knew this was coming. Like a fortuneteller looking into her crystal ball, I had been writing about this day for quite some time.
It is strange how as a writers, we tend to adopt the feelings that surround us—and it isn’t because we are more empathetic or that we have some sort of sixth sense. Sometimes it is just because taking on feelings for others gives us the ability to feel more ourselves.
As time went on my parents got worried, as any mother or father should have been. They constantly hounded me about why I didn’t want to talk about things, about why I wasn’t crying, about why I wasn’t upset.
I am upset. I am crying. I just don’t let you see.
I felt abandoned. I felt more alone than I had ever felt in my 12 years of life.
I look back now and know that what they did wasn’t selfish or wrong. In fact, in my opinion it was a completely selfless move on their part. Wanting to better the family they had created together by realizing they weren’t right for one another. But at that moment all I wanted to tell my parents was how selfish I thought they were and how much I hated everything about the situation. And I did say all of those things, just never to them, or anyone for that matter.
But damn, did my journal get an earful. Those sheets of paper felt the pain and the bitter, sharp words that flowed through my fingers and out of the pen. That journal was stained with the tears that I never allowed anyone else to see.
That journal knew everything.
Like a dog without his bone, I felt out of sorts when I couldn’t write. I still remember in college writing long love letters to my long distance high school boyfriend. I always knew I would never send them; they were like something out of an old Pablo Neruda sonnet. Too deep for anyone at the age of 18 to understand. Too deep for me to understand really, but I still wrote them. Because the words just looked so beautiful on that paper, and when I read them to myself, my heart would beat a little bit faster.
They allowed me to feel things in the dark I never allowed myself to feel in public.
I had an epiphany during a particularly low time in my young adult life. I realized something about myself. On paper I was the most sensitive, emotional, complex individual. I will definitely go as far as to say you could say I was quite dramatic. But when it came to dealing with people—now that was a different story. Dealing with my emotions and me was like trying to get blood from a stone, it just ain’t never gonna happen.
Over the years, that slowly started to change, I started to feel things more transparently. I began to realize that in opening myself up to others, allowing people to see my vulnerability and my weaknesses, as well as my strengths, gave me a whole new sense of self. And hey, in the end, it ended up giving me more to write about.
I still write. All the time. It’s a sweet addiction I will never quit.
Words were my first love and could very well be my last. Writing has styled me into who I am and awaits ever so patiently for me during times when I forget to check in and give the attention it so deserves. Writing has given me an outlet for all those times I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth but could sure as hell write them down with my hands. Writing has given me a shoulder to cry on and is the best friend who will never tell any of my darkest secrets. The love of words has changed my life and my soul.
I will be forever faithful to my one true love. I will forever surrender to the word.
Like elephant journal on Facebook.
Assist. Ed: Linda Jockers/Ed: Brianna Bemel