(The following story is the prelude from my book, which is tentatively scheduled for release in 2014.)
Three years ago, in 2010, I started writing a series of short essays in my personal journal. I wanted to remember time spent with a dear friend, Old Man, who has since passed away. Eventually I started sharing the writings, on the phone, with my brother who lives in another state. He suggested I compile them in a book so I could “leave a legacy” when I am gone.
By June of 2012 the rough draft was coming together nicely. In fact, I was pleased with the direction of the book. I was pleased with the content, and I was hoping to have it completed by the end of July. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
At the beginning of July a horrible confrontation took place that produced an unpleasant confrontation that rippled down to several close relationships. In the course of the melee key relationships were damaged beyond repair, as well as my writing confidence. Not the outcome I was looking for, but sometimes life is like that.
For the next several months my heart hurt. I swore I would never write again. All I could hear were the words that were screamed at me on that warm summer day.
“You are a crazy, psychotic, BI-polar, alcoholic, bitch! Your children would be better off if you were dead. I should kill you right here and now. You are nothing. Your life has never been anything. Your writing reflects who you are, nothing. Just give up on life and get the fuck out of my face!”
Within a few hours the individual was physically gone, but the damage was done. Sometimes words cause more pain then a physical beating. Yet, little did I know that those words and that confrontation would produce missing key elements for my book. That confrontation opened doors I never thought possible, though it would take a few months to realize those open doors.
Over the next several months the pain and grief I felt overshadowed any creativity, and drained me of all desire to write. That was until mid-September. I have a dear friend who had been editing my book for me. One Sunday she asked me how the writing was going, and that she hoped to begin to read what had been written so far. I told her not to hurry; the book was being scrapped.
She looked at me, with eyes filled with compassion, and simply asked,
“Who criticized you? It must have been someone close. I know it hurts, but now is not the time to stop writing. Keep pressing on. Write through the pain. Sometimes our best creative work comes from deep emotional pain. We will talk more at a later time, okay?”
It took some time for her words to sink in, but when they did I realized the importance of what she had said. I began writing again. I started with a few poems, and began to write a weekly blog for BuzzChomp. Eventually the creative juices started flowing once again. Within time I was able to reconnect with my book, and resume the one thing in life I love to do, write.
Even though I hurt and felt isolated for those few months, while I stopped writing, eventually I was able to see that the words spoken to me were just that, mere words. The only power they had over me was the power I assigned to them. It was an epiphany I never forget. I realized that day, with that epiphany, I was not powerless or alone. My confidence in life had been changed, and I knew why.
Old Man was part of the reason for that change. He had been my mentor, my fishing buddy, and a counselor. His own life experiences had taught him many things, and he shared those experiences, those stories, with me every morning over a cup of coffee.
For seven years it seemed like time stood still. I learned many life lessons from this man. He taught me when relationships derail there is power in forgiveness. There is freedom in restoration, and that true joy comes when life is embraced as it is.
It took me almost a year to forgive the person that screamed those painful words to me, though to be honest we have yet to talk about that day. Actually, we have yet to talk at all. This one may take a while. I was able to work toward restoration with some of the individuals who ended up getting involved, but more importantly I was able to understand and embrace what Old Man had tried to teach me. I was able to come to the conclusion that life, with all its experiences, is nothing more than a giant learning curve, embrace it as it is. Change what I can and let the rest go.
It seems like a simple life principle, but it sure is hard to embrace isn’t it?
I would have enjoyed more time with this man, but time was limited. Yet even in death the words he spoke provided guidance, healing and a sense of well being. His words resonate in my head and in my heart even to this day. His words helped me become the person I am today, Over 50 and a little crazy.
Thank you Old Man for the life lessons. See you on the other side.