…and I’m late again. I really need to start setting a reminder in my phone, because this is a thing I don’t want to miss.
Since I finished NaNoWriMo on the 28th, I haven’t looked back at my novel. The truth is, even though I made it to over 50,000 words, it didn’t feel done. It wasn’t resolved. If I were actually going to turn what I wrote into a novel, with copious amounts of editing, it would still only be the first part of a much larger story. Even 60 or 70,000 words wouldn’t be enough to complete it.
Today I’m conjuring the courage to look back. Last week I started anti-depressants, and this week I started my old retail job where I’m now just a holiday helper until the end of the month. Both have helped, the meds with the energy and the job with a sense of purpose and a distraction. But still, both are ways that I’m looking back into places I thought I’d left behind. I decided to go back on anti-depressants, specifically a medication I’ve taken in the past, and I decided to go back to a job that I don’t necessarily love to do full time but that will accept me and feels safe for now. It’s reminding me that I don’t need to burn every bridge that I cross, but it’s such an interesting experience coping with trauma while also learning to leave the door open just enough to let the more positive things in if it makes sense for them to come back. I guess that’s why people install cat doors instead of just leaving their front doors open all the time.
At the same time, I’m still waking up in the mornings replaying bad scenes over and over, and the tapes won’t stop playing until I get up and get on with my day. As much as I try to ignore it, my past is always with me, and I hate it. I’m enrolled in a self-defense class right now, and much of it focuses on psychological and emotional boundary setting. This is training I wish I’d had when I was young, and that I never got. It is a painful thing to encounter not only because of its difficulty, but because I am standing in a room of full-grown women, myself included, who feel they need a class to teach them to protect themselves, to use their voices, to say what they mean. It says something about all of us. It says we are strong, yes, but it also says that it’s very likely many of us learned the hard way that learning to protect ourselves is valuable. As humbling as it is to be surrounded by women whose values align with mine, I can sense that for many of us it’s like reopening a wound that’s only just started to heal, and asking it to heal again, but better this time.
I often use repression and denial as coping mechanisms, and when they get out of hand it affects everything I don’t want it to affect: my ability to stay on top of things, like emails, cleaning, bills, and appointments, and my ability to finish projects that I start. Going back into a piece of writing that was, at times, incredibly painful to produce in order to reflect on it and shape it into something better feels…unsafe. But I’m understanding that it’s ok to look back sometimes, and not only that, it can be necessary.