Why I Left

August 10, 2018

I haven’t written in a minute. A lotta minutes.

And yet every month, or maybe more than once a month, someone in my current circles- either in real life or social media- says “When will you write your book?” “When will you write again on your blog?” “I always loved reading what you write.”

I tell you this not because I need more ego strokes… forget it, let’s just be honest, I totally do. And so do you. Everyone stop and stroke some egos for a minute… that’s right… all good? Ok then, on we go.

To be completely real, however, I left writing for multiple reasons. Some of them are not clear enough to have words; they only exist in feelings right now. But I have managed to find a handful of words for some of the reasons- both good and bad- why I quit a couple years ago. Allow me to divulge:

I struggle with insecurity. I really do. I hide it well in some ways and not so well in others. Anyway, my entire life has been plagued with this nagging insecurity that has crippled me at times. Writing, my vocations, my ability, everything is subject to intense internal scrutiny that in the past has left me questioning nearly every decision, action, thought, or consequence. But with that crippling reality, in the last several years, I have also had the opportunity to challenge myself in this area and overcome much of this. No, that’s not true. I haven’t overcome it. I don’t think we ever truly overcome insecurity as a general rule. But like most people, I’ve just been able to learn to live with it and not let it interfere with my leadership, responsibilities, and personal life. When I embraced living in this tension, I had to learn to give myself a wider space, a deeper grace, and discover how to belly laugh at the things I do not do well. It’s been…. interesting.

I struggle with sharing the depths of who I am. The way that I see the world and encounter my daily interactions often disturbs me. Not in a bad way. I tend to find myself thinking a lot about people I meet, conversations I have, feelings that come up, and other encounters during the day. I wonder about people- what makes them act the way they do, what motivates them to get out of bed in the morning, what creates meaning for their lives. I could spend all day listening to people’s stories, asking them questions, answering theirs about me. But I realized awhile ago, that people seldom want to spend all day doing that. And that sometimes, some stories can so overwhelm the storyteller or the hearer that it’s best to divulge in short spurts… if at all. So, I have tended to hold back because I’ve convinced myself that “ain’t nobody got time for that, ain’t nobody got interest in my ish.” What’s probably more true, is that I grow afraid thinking if I dare open the vault to my soul, there would be such a gush- a torrent- that I might scare people off. I don’t like the idea of my stuff drowning someone- namely me- so, I’ve struggled with sharing much of what’s happening inside of me

I struggle with how my life looks these days. My life today isn’t anything like what I thought my life would be. My life hasn’t looked the way I felt it should for years. This wasn’t the intention when I started out as a fresh faced 20 year old. It’s not that my life isn’t beautiful or full of meaning. It’s just that little in this life feels like it fits. Not that my old life fits anymore either– I’ve gone back to try it on it several times over. Being in between life sizes is a rough place to be- what do you wear when you are in between life sizes? And why would anyone want to read/talk to/listen to someone who isn’t convinced her life is going the way it is supposed to go? I look at people years younger than me and think “How do they have it all put together and I’m stuck trying to figure out how to fit into the life I have?” I don’t know the answers. I just have the questions.

And finally- but also closely related to the previous bullet point- I was struggling with the darkness about my son. Anyone who has known me for more than a few years, and especially if you knew me outside of a professional relationship, knows the story of my son- either in parts or in the big, hairy, ugly, emphatic whole. (Pro tip: if you don’t know about my son, just scroll back to previous writings… that might fill in the picture.) It was easy- in a very hard way- to talk about him when I was in the beginning years of the war for him and his future. But as days turned to months, and months turned to years, it got harder. Words run out sometimes. They really do. Hard to believe since we are inundated with words in our culture every day. But words fail us at times and they failed me hugely in the years of my son’s battle. So how do you write when you have no words? Well, no words that actually portray the meaning I intend, that is.

So that’s some of why I stopped. That’s some of why I left.

And I left a lot of things in these years. I left writing, yes, but I also left social groups I was part of. I also left networking groups. I left working relationships. At the time, the only thing I wanted besides my son’s healing was to live an anonymous, isolated life because it hurt too heavily to stay connected. There were moments where I could be in a room full of people- even some who loved me- and feel so lonely that my bones would ache and my skin would feel on fire and my soul would seem so heavy it was hanging to my toes, and I just couldn’t fathom doing that day after day after day. I am now acutely aware that I can be in a room full of people and someone in that room is most likely feeling the same way. There are days when it becomes a compulsion to find that person.

That and a heaping spoonful of self-condemnation, thinking of myself as a complete failure at life was why I left– “Whatever do you mean, Wren, with your two degrees and vast experience and everything else you have?” Say that in your head in a slightly-sarcastic southern accent because sometimes that’s how I think- in a sarcastic southern accent… even though I’m from Colorado. More on that at another time. The self-condemnation part, not the southern accent part.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you can’t. Hopefully you can at least empathize.

But things change. People change. Life changes.

Through a series of twists and turns and abrupt stops just to be pushed propelled forward by a force I couldn’t see, things changed for me. The block that I had sorta, kinda, mostly-but-not-entirely imposed on myself just lifted not too long ago. It was on a Friday- one warm afternoon when I was more than exhausted from work and rather angry at something that had occurred that day. On that Friday in July, I suddenly found I could dream again. Nothing magic happened to make that occur. No miracle. No near death experience. Nothing significant happened to force that block to disintegrate. Instead it was like the loose tooth I had in elementary school which slowly detached until it was just holding on by a thread (which really seems gross to think about now). My friends offered to pull it for me, but I was too afraid, until one moment, without any effort on my or my much too eager friends’ parts, the thread holding that tooth let go. And I was left with hole in my mouth ready for something new to grow… Also a quarter. I got a quarter for that tooth. The tooth fairy was cheap in my house.

So here I am again. I have no idea if the following of people I once had will return. I have no clue if new people will come along. I don’t even know if I have anything worthy to say. But I’m here, standing stronger and more aware of myself, understanding my strengths and weaknesses better, and completely conscious of the vulnerability of doing this again. But I feel ready- ready to engage, to speak, to share, to participate. Ready to learn. Yeah, that the most. I’m doing it for me, because maybe somehow something I write about will change a thought, a life, a meaning, or a future. Perhaps mostly mine.

(Actual real picture of me actually really writing because reading an actual real post isn’t enough proof. Also, you’ll notice I do edit. I really do.)

3 Responses to “Why I Left”

  1. Rae Shellenberger said

    Ah ! That’s what I’ve been waiting for. Good job! Such a delight to read. Love the little analogies of explanations.

  2. […] things that I feel, see, hear, and experience. And one thing that has been on my mind since I wrote this post revolves around a message or two I received about being “in between life sizes.” One […]

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