So, here is what has been happening…
I have been working daily, writing out some of the ugly stories of abuse regarding body size, weight and appearance from my youth. These are incidents that have clung to me, stuck with me all these years and which played a significant role in my belief that I was unworthy. After writing the blog daily for a month, it became obvious that I had to unearth and expose – not publicly, but for myself – these toxic experiences. So that’s what I set out to do.
I’ve been trying to write them out with the same commitment that I’ve used with my Eating Art Work drawings: no judgment. Yes, I hear voices – particularly of my family members – who disagree with my reconstruction of events. I’m okay with that. Because it’s clear we all experience events differently, even in the present moment. Therefore, it’s to be expected that our memories of events are different. What I am writing is what I remember experiencing, as in feeling, not just a recitation of facts.
At first, there was a sense of almost giddy relief/release in getting these words on the page/screen. I am purposely NOT rereading as I go along; using a technique I encourage student & client writers to use, blacking out the screen. That way everything is fresh, not predigested, with all the life worried/edited out of it. There is so much to say, I’m not at risk of running dry anytime soon, now that I’ve set myself to the task.
Ah, but there is a price. As with any committed writing task, you begin to live with your characters or your topic, all day and all night, away from the keyboard. So there is this yucky sensation, kind of a slimy, greasy film that settles over me or has settled into me. I guess it’s the toxicity. But it has bloomed into self-doubt.
Toxic bloom… the expression rang a bell. It’s used to describe the algae that grow in fresh water lakes and tidal areas of the ocean. Runoff from human waste and pesticides are considered major causal factors. I was struck by this language: “One thing [we] know for sure is that [toxic] blooms can cause dead zones. In Lake Erie’s central basin, the algae can die and sink to the bottom. Bacteria eat up that dead algae and rob the water of oxygen at the bottom of the lake.” (Taken from: Warmer Waters Fuel Toxic Algal Blooms In The Great Lakes: Wisconsin Public Radio News-Nov 26, 2013)
Okay, so what I’m doing here may seem like a stretch, but I’m trying to express how the toxicity of these long ago experiences robbed me of oxygen, inhibited my growth and caused dead zones in my psychological development. The self-doubt I am experiencing today is not a questioning of my memory; it is a recurrence of doubting my self-worth. The “WHO cares? WHY write this stuff? WHAT is the point?” questions are flying around in my head, shouting. It’s not that I’m actually listening to these voices, it’s just that they are so loud.
Fortunately, the cross-fertilization thing is happening again. This quote from the yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar came my way. “If doubt arises, … let it come. You do your work, and let doubt go about its work. Let’s see which one gives up first.”
So, that’s my plan. Tomorrow, I will invite doubt to come in and hang out while I get on with my writing. Sounds a little goofy, but if I can exorcize the long nurtured and toxic self-doubt of my youth by writing out these ugly tales, then I’m thinking that today’s self-doubt will lose much of its energy. I’ll let you know.