A Return to Writing
A year ago, during those messy first months in Germany, I had a hard time writing.
I struggled with it so badly that I stepped away from this blog. For months, I debated whether I should remove the essays I had written in Raleigh and start over.
Or if I should just delete the entire blog and be done with it.
Where the writing resistance came from
My growing frustration with my writing came from thinking that I had to write about my story from the same authentic place I had written about it in Raleigh.
I thought I needed to continue being the Michele who wrote the first six essays on this blog before moving to Germany. In those early essays, I had opened up my heart and written from a place of deep vulnerability, as someone who was living through the experiences she was writing about.
I wanted to keep doing that.
Yet, in my new life, I found it hard do to so. I was trying to write about my years in Raleigh, and my journey of grieving and loss, from a place I was no longer at. As a result, my writing felt inauthentic.
At the same time, I was still attached to that place. It was a big part of who I was.
Intellectually, I understood what was happening: I was experiencing a shift in my identity, in my life, and in my relationship to my story and my past. Things were changing, which brought up a lot of uncomfortable feelings.
I dealt with those feelings by trying to hold on to what I had in Raleigh. The more I insisted on doing that, the more my writing resistance grew.
This back and forth struggle eventually became a tangled mess. Frustrated, I stepped away from this blog and much of my writing.
Why I felt the need to hold on
The answer is simple: it came from a place of fear.
I was afraid to let go of my story, of my attachment to it, and of the place it held it in my life.
At a time when I was experiencing some major life changes, it felt like I was letting go a part of myself: the me who had lived through my journey in Raleigh, and who had come out of it as a changed person.
That journey had shaped my early adult years and made me into “me.” I was afraid that, if I let go, I’d be abandoning that part of me, my past, and all that I had been through.
During those months when my life came to a sudden halt, after I broke my ankle, this need to hold on clashed with my growing frustration that my life in Germany was not going as planned.
The unexpected nature of my injury through me off balance. It made a natural transition, that was already challenging, even more difficult.
For a long while, I lost my way.
Coming to a place of peace
For months, I struggled reconciling the separation of my present life from my story. It took me a year to get through the internal transition.
Once my ankle healed, and I was able to start moving again, things improved significantly. Getting established here, and gradually creating a life for myself that felt familiar, helped me reach a place of peace and acceptance about letting go of my story.
My journey in Raleigh will always be a part of me. No matter how much my life changes. No matter how much I change. My struggle was never about abandoning my past or that part of myself.
It was about allowing my relationship to my story to change as I changed – instead of fighting the process and insisting on holding on.
Returning to my writing
I write this essay to be real and honest about my writing struggles this past year.
I want to return to my writing and to my story. I want to start writing again, from a more authentic place. From where I’m at now.
My story is still extremely important to me. But it’s no longer about me. This story has taken on a life of its own. It wants to be told.
Therefore, I come back to it – with a clear understanding:
I’ve changed in the last year, which means my story has changed. It will always be my story, but I’m no longer attached to it the way I once was.
My relationship to the story has changed.
Today, I can honestly say: I’m okay with that.
* Photo credit: Image from Flickr by Hajo Schatz