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Writing as Medicine

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote a short story in the 3rd grade titled The Talking Clock. It was 12 pages long. For a 9 year old, that was a lot of pages! I don’t remember if I received any positive feedback from my teacher, or even what grade I received, but I do know that I felt so proud of my work! Holding the pages in my hands felt like gold, a joy I’d never experienced before. Something birthed inside of me that day, a knowing, a vision, that one day I’d be a bestselling author. I also learned to read at the tender age of 3. The memory of sitting with my grandma at the kitchen table with her loving guidance and teaching feels as real as if it’s happening right now. I often wonder if her love of teaching and reading is what sparked my own. I fell in love with books and language. I loved building my vocabulary with big, bodacious words. It was filling my cup in a way that I couldn’t explain. I didn’t know this at the time, but I was preparing myself, nurturing my purpose, and building a support system that I would need years down the road.

I grew up in a house where self expression was allowed and celebrated, but only if it didn’t anger my dad. He and I did not have a healthy relationship by any means. I used to joke that all I had to do was take my first breath to trigger his anger. As sensitive as I was, I could feel everything going on in that house. But at the time I didn’t know that’s what was happening. I absorbed every negative thought and emotion that breathed in that house. When my body had had too much, it would begin to release in a flood of adolescent emotion. This is where self expression became the slow spiral dance into the disappearance of my spirit. My emotions were too much for my dad. His anger raged in response. I was no longer his daughter in need of support, but now a “moody bitch who needed to get the fuck out of his face.” I descended, quickly. I put my head down and shut my mouth. I no longer felt safe to express anything in my home. I started hanging out with older kids who I felt supported by. They accepted me exactly as I am, no questions asked. But they also taught me to drink. They showed me drugs. They touched me, and I let them. I felt at home in their presence. I was 14 years old now and couldn’t care less.

But when the sun went down and I could no longer hide under the cloak of fake friends, I went home. I went straight up to my room, turned on some favorite Depeche Mode and pulled out my journal. Writing had become my medicine. The tonic I needed daily to calm my inner battle. I used pencils only, freshly sharpened #2s were my favorite, but really any pencil would do. To feel the scratch of lead across the page was like a hug from heaven, bringing thought into form right before my eyes. I could move incredible emotion with that pencil, like magic scrawls across all space and time, grounding myself into the bones of my pain. Paper and pencil love me unconditionally. I could rage across the page, fight my demons, spit on my parents, and still there she was holding me, soothing me, whispering into my being, “Keep going baby girl, everything’s going to be okay, I promise.”

While writing was my medicine, she was also my mama bear. She protected me fiercely, guarded my heart, and roared from her bones to anyone that tried to harm me. I found wisdom in her belly, warmth in her words, and I trusted her completely. My own mom was born of courage and grace, and she did her very best to keep the peace between my dad and I. But she hadn’t discovered the mama bear that lives inside of her yet, so her gentle ways were no match for the toxic energy that swirled through our house. She too grew up in a house where she was to be seen and not heard. I needed her to stand up and roar for me, but neither of us were ready for that yet. So on I wrote.

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