Words. Lately I’m struggling to take my thoughts and put them on paper. I’m not sure what the real problem is, other than I’m not sure my words make an impact and I am afraid of what people will think. But then, therein lies the problem. Does it matter if my words are impactful? Does it matter if people read them? Who am I writing them for? I have written this little blog post multiple times in multiple ways and yet never has it felt complete. It still doesn’t. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
I’ve done a lot of reading lately of authors like Jen Hatmaker, Shauna Niequist, Glennon Doyle Melton, and Brene Brown. All of whom stress being authentic and vulnerable and putting yourself out there – telling your story. Guess what, I love these authors, these trail-blazing women. I love how they encourage my generation of women to be themselves and to not be afraid and to be brave and a million other cheerleader-y type things.
But here’s the deal. Sometimes putting the story into words is hard. Sometimes wanting to be heard is the battle. Sometimes the story is life itself and is still being developed. Sometimes the reality of putting it all out there is overwhelming and suffocating. Sometimes there is no audience, no one to tell. Sometimes the author doesn’t have the friends, family, and loved ones to help them put it on paper. Sometimes there is no support system.
I have no doubt that some of my story is interesting. I know most of my story is boring…I haven’t experienced much tragedy or illness in my 40 years (hallelujah!). My husband and I were helping our 17 year old prepare for an interview last week and she said, “What do I say if they ask what one difficult struggle I’ve been through and how has that shaped me?” Crickets. There literally hasn’t been anything difficult or majorly life impacting in her life (Hallelujah, again!). I am a middle class married woman who isn’t routinely persecuted for her beliefs or skin color or career or home or car or clothes (well – maybe my children would beg to differ on the clothes) or how she raises her children. I have it pretty good…really good. Your story is your identity.
But the storytelling is hard.
Often we are led to believe that our “perfect” lives aren’t worth sharing; that unless we have some significant dark stain in our lives, no one wants to hear about it. We all have had moments in our life that we feel define us as adults, as women, as humans. Some of us have addiction stories (Drugs, sex, gambling, etc.). Some of us have stories of being bullied. Some of us have amazing stories of redemption and faith. We all have stories…all of the stories are important. Some are crying out and begging to be told, others are hiding – waiting until the moment and the audience is just right. Other stories will remain untold and go with us to the grave.
“Nothing haunts us like the things we do not say.” – Mitch Albom
So, here’s the deal. I’m going to use my writing as a platform (it’s election season, everyone has a platform, right?!?). I’m done tiptoeing around the grief and the life-shattering reality that so many women carry with them every single day. We lost our Anna Joy almost 14 years ago. (We were just learning of her existence about this time 14 years ago!). I’m going to dig into the topic of miscarriage and infant death (occasionally other unique and interesting things will grace my thought process), more for myself than anyone; it’s a topic I significantly identify with even though I will never fully understand it, and it’s a HUGE part of my story. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think “what if” or “if only” or wonder why.
So, all of you husbands, brothers, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and moms, let’s all try to stop belittling the grief and the struggle. It is real. It does hurt. And it NEVER goes away. It’s not supposed to be awkward and uncomfortable, but yet we all make it that way. So, here I go. I think it’s time. Ready or not, here we go. Besides, if you don’t want to join in or read my stories, I won’t ever know. I’m okay with that – finally. I’ve let go of wanting to impress people with my story. It’s strangely therapeutic…
There’s a tattoo on my right foot of 4 stars. My good friend, Michelle, got a similar one at the same time. Both of us have special meaning for our star tattoos (hers is way more fancy and artistic and fun). Hers symbolizes her grandchildren. Mine – my 4 children, the three who live life alongside me, and the one who lived life inside me, if only for a short time. I love this tattoo. It tells part of my story so simply, yet so completely. I intend to tell this story, over and over, even if the storytelling itself is hard.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou