Something incredible has happened in my life recently. After ten years of silencing myself, telling myself that I couldn’t share my story because my birth family would blame me, first for getting raped, and second, for talking so boldly about it, I did what I have needed to do for a while. I told them. Then, I told the world.
What happened was completely expected. I got dozens of emails of support and love from readers of this newsletter, from people I’ve never heard from before, from my amazing writer friends in The Finishers. My neighbors, some of whom read this newsletter, texted me, sat and talked with me for hours at the pub, and encouraged me to continue speaking up. Predictably, my family was not as kind.
But something unexpected happened, too. I changed.
There is something that happens in your body when you can’t write, or when you can’t say what you need to. My writing mentor Eric Maisel says that not writing has a physical component as well as a mental component. “Not writing feels like something in the body. It may feel like tightness, heaviness, physical upset, and even encroaching nausea. We are embodied creatures and our challenges get expressed in physical ways,” he writes.
This was certainly true for me, though I did not realize it at the time. But as I have unleashed more and more of my truth and started owning more of my story, I have started to see completely unexpected physical differences in the way I write, talk, sleep, and even dress.
The more I release creatively, the more I find myself releasing in other ways as well. As I reclaim more of my story, I find myself reclaiming more of my body, my choices, my desires, and yes, also my fears. There is a level of confidence that has appeared that I didn’t have before in terms of showing up in the world.
I have always considered writing a mental and an emotional activity. What I never thought about is how much of it is physical as well. How free and light I feel when I’ve finally worked on something difficult, how some writing sessions feel as taxing as a four-mile walk in the park, how I sleep better in the weeks that I’m creating than in the weeks that I’m not.
Creative energy is still energy. If you don’t release it, it wreaks havoc in your body and in your mind. There is no greater pain for a writer than to be silenced when she wants to speak.
So, suddenly, I find that I’m not hiding anymore. I’m saying exactly what I mean without being a people pleaser.
Suddenly, I’m not dressing with a thought about how other people might view me anymore. I’m wearing exactly what I want without caring about other people’s reactions.
Suddenly, I’m not worried about sharing controversial posts anymore. I’m saying exactly what I think without worrying about if people might disagree.
Suddenly, I’m not holding back from sharing my truth.
Suddenly, writing that second novel isn’t painful.
Suddenly, I’m happier.
I’m shedding my old skin and discovering what a reinvented version of me might look like.
People have always told me I’m brutally honest and admire that I’m willing to share the truths about life and writing that others don’t.
What’s exciting to me, and hopefully for you, is that I’m only just beginning.