Back in the Saddle

This hasn’t been an easy year. Given the past several years, that’s saying a lot. If you don’t know me IRL, then you’ve only gotten glimpses of all that jazz, but trust me on this one. It hasn’t been an easy year.

In January, I made an abrupt announcement that I would be on hiatus, and then I vanished from internet land, reappearing only in shadowy, furtive movements. I needed that time in so many ways; I’ll try to summarize the salient points for you.

I think we all hit breaking points in our lives, and these can be bad or good depending on what we do with them. We can shut away the pain, create a game plan to move forward, and never learn from what we went through. We can allow ourselves to fully experience the trauma, accept that it is what it is, and work through and with it to heal and grow. Perhaps you can think of a few other ways of dealing, but those are the two I’m most familiar with. Ignore or allow.

I’ve had experiences that shattered me, as a mirror dropped on concrete. I’ve been on the metaphorical edge of the internal abyss, one relaxed muscle from dropping into the invisible darkness waiting to consume me. This time, it was as if all my internal fortifications turned to sand and sifted away in the wind.

Mental breakdowns can be poetic at times.

After the initial storm of WTF passed, I was hollow inside. You may have heard that term before. I thought I knew what it meant. I learned new depths of emptiness in that time. I did things because there were things to do, but they meant nothing to me. As an actor, I could easily fake interest and enthusiasm for the events I participated in, but as soon as everyone turned away, I was blank again. I became a “whatever” activist, doing “whatever” was in front of me.

Thankfully, I didn’t do anything stupid or regrettable. In fact, most would (and have) applauded the things I’ve done. I got a new Side Job with much better hours and conditions. I’ve helped friends in tight situations. I’ve continued going to church and leaning into God. And due to the hiatus, I appear to have given up the ridiculous notion that writing or acting make for “real” work.

The events that caused this latest retreat from reality (which I won’t go into now but may or may not in the future) were so painful that I, like many victims of severe physical trauma, went into a kind of coma because I couldn’t handle the agony. Sometimes, the body and mind shut down in order to protect the self from the injury.

Moreover, I became afraid of my creativity.

Creativity is part of who I am, and I felt I could no longer trust that side of myself. Some of the wounds came at the words and actions of others, but it seemed so much of the hurt was my own fault. If I’d just been practical; if only I’d not been so foolish; how could I have been so blind? I couldn’t trust myself, and I was scared to trust God, Who had made such use of my creativity. Such was my soul’s tenderness that I couldn’t even read a book, because that required too much thinking, too much imagination.

Every time I went to church, I bawled my head off at least once during service. It was weeks before I could talk to God, even in moaning screams. I went because somewhere in the depths of my torture, I knew it was better than isolating myself, better than cutting out a part of my heart again. You can only shut away so much of yourself before there’s nothing of you left. I didn’t understand WHY, I didn’t know WHAT, I couldn’t grasp HOW I was supposed to deal with everything. With anything. I was empty. Empty of knowledge, understanding, critical thinking, creative flow. I had nothing but the abused belief that if I were going to find help, I would find it in God’s arms.

Toward the end of March, I began to feel as though I might be able to think about writing again. The idea wasn’t quite so wrenching, though I wasn’t there yet. This past weekend, I attended a conference at church which, combined with our old friends Time and Distance, helped me take the steps of healing necessary to climb back in the saddle.

I’m still very “sore” from my experiences. It will still take time and “rehab” to get myself back up to speed. I don’t know what my creative process will look like. I have no projections for the future. I do know that I am going to start writing again, start dreaming again. The idea of it hurts enough to bring tears to my eyes, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I can’t promise a start-up date for my serial, “The Water Feline,” because I’m still learning my strength and endurance. I can’t promise a schedule. I can only promise that I will be making the effort.

Your patience and support over the past months has not gone unnoticed. I appreciate each and every one of you. Please continue to bear with me as I relearn how to be myself.

 

~str