Warning: F-bombs ahead!
Lately, I’ve been getting published a bunch on here—on elephant journal.
It’s been, and is, completely incredible.
It’s my dream coming true, and every day I’ve felt a slight surreal haze of happiness and joy flooding over me—I can’t quite believe that it’s happening, and I am so, so, glad that it is.
I wake up in the middle of the night., smiling.
I then tend to immediately check Facebook—whatever the hour—for messages from other elephants, readers or to see my latest number of views.
Within this joy, I’ve been really, really, hurting, too.
During the first two weeks of getting published—as I began tucking deeper and deeper into my courage, sharing words that I felt so proud to be sharing, and words that have obviously been nestled inside me, waiting to pour out to the world—I could feel a grief bubbling.
Each time I was published, and each time I started writing a new piece, a pain would spread over me.
It was a pain that left writing almost unbearable for a little less than a week (I know that’s not that long, but it felt like forever). Typing words felt like opening up wounds with no-one to put a band-aid on them, and I didn’t feel able to dig out my internal first-aid kit and do it myself.
I also didn’t want to—I wanted someone to be there to share this experience with me.
Someone to help soothe this hurt for me.
I wanted to reach out and tell someone close to me about all the love that’s coming my way through sharing my words. I wanted to tell them that I’m telling the world my story—I want to tell them how it feels so fucking amazing, and that it’s my dream coming true.
I so desperately wanted to ignore the pain, because I knew what it was, and I knew that it would really fucking hurt if I let it fully be here—if I let it speak.
I also knew I couldn’t ignore it, because the more I did, the more it hurt.
Then I fell apart.
For a weekend, I cried and cried. I lay outside, tucked as deeply into the grass as I could go. I ate. I had therapeutic tantrums. I napped. I cried some more. I didn’t see anyone except for myself, my housemates, and my tear soaked face in the mirror.
I was grieving.
It was grief.
It is grief.
Grief of not having parents around me to tell about what I’m doing, what I’ve done, what I’m achieving, how I’m growing, and how fucking cool and amazing it all is.
It’s the pissed-off knowing that even if I did have parents round me, they wouldn’t give me what I need, in this way. Instead, it’s the knowing that this grief is the grief for all those years I never received this unconditional praise and cheerleading as a kid, and the anger and frustration that I’m having to learn how to do it for myself, from scratch, with my own models, now.
At 26, I’m learning to be the parent I so desperately need, and have needed throughout my life. I’ve been learning how to do this for the last two years, but this leap onto elephant feels like diving into another layer of these lessons, this learning.
Since that weekend of grief, and the little bits that have hit since, I’ve noticed a depth to the way I was able to parent myself before.
I’m learning how to say, “You’re so incredible! I’m so, so, proud of you. I unconditionally love you.”
I’m writing myself messages and putting them in my happiness jar to remind me that I see me—I see my brilliance. I tell myself all the things I’d want someone else to tell me, and I really am learning to really mean it.
And really, really, listen to it.
I tell my closest friends. I tell my Facebook family. I tell the other elephants. I share a snap of whatever it is, on Instagram.
I write down the messages from other people who see my brilliance, and put them in my happiness jar, too.
This is so, so, beautiful, and the support, love, and praise that have come to me have blown me away, but this process of being published is still hurting—there’s an ache that I just can’t quite figure out. A need that’s not quite being met.
But maybe I don’t need to figure it out or fix it—maybe it’ll just soften with time, as I continue to write, and continue to experience this process, continue to experience what it’s like to be being published on a big scale, continue to have my voice heard, and continue to feel like my dreams are coming true.
I still want to look up and find someone I love sitting beside me, reading it with me, and one day I will have that. A boyfriend, a dog—someone to share my successes and joys with, intimately.
The companionship, the “holy shit, you’re brilliant”, the high-fives, and the feeling of being seen, won’t be in the way I’m longing for now, but no-one ever will be here in that way.
That way was what I never got and it’s what I’m learning to grieve.
It still feels fucking strange, and it still feels not-quite-enough, but it also feels profound and utterly beautiful, amongst the messiness.
I’m letting myself be seen, by me.
And it doesn’t get much better than that.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: elephant media library