Lately, each time I’ve sat at my computer the words haven’t come and I’ve ended up faffing. Yet my mind is overflowing with ideas and things I want to write about. So, in the end, I pulled out my notebook and pen and made a list of all these things:
I want to write stories from my maternal family history, not from a perspective of blame but from understanding—I know that the generations before me bore their own legacy of grief and shame, and sadness and loneliness, and powerlessness to change their situation. It manifested as anger and abuse and the legacy continued, one damaged child after another, for goodness-knows-how-many generations.
I want to write about my paternal family history, too. About my grandmother who came to our house almost every day of my childhood. About how, when we walked in the door after school, she would be waiting for us with afternoon tea on the kitchen bench. How she stood by the back door and never took her eyes off us while we were in the pool, even though she couldn’t swim and we could. How she hummed as she dusted the ornaments and peeled the veggies, and how she never got angry even when we were naughty.
I want to write about Dad’s father, my grandfather, and how he used to roll a Tally Ho paper around a matchstick and burn the end so it looked like a real cigarette, and then give it to us so we could pretend to smoke with him. How he would pour some of his tea from his cup onto his saucer and blow on it until it was cool enough for us to sip. And how vividly I still remember him even though he died before I turned six.
I want to write about my depression and how I thought it was something I would have to carry for the rest of my life but how last June I read a book on childhood trauma and cried on every page as I read about myself. How it was in those pages I finally learnt the cause of my sadness and anger.
I want to write about how I searched for and found a safe person to whom I could tell everything. How I told that person about my sadness, as well as my anger and other things I could barely put into words. How that person accepted all that I said without judgement. How vulnerable I felt disclosing these parts of myself I’d tried to keep hidden. But afterwards, how I felt as if a great weight had been lifted because I could finally stop trying to hide parts of myself of which I’d always been ashamed.
I want to write about how finding someone who accepted me, my good and bad, taught me that I could accept myself. They taught me, too, that being a flawed human being is okay.
I want to write about how, once I accepted my imperfections, I felt whole for the first time. How I used to feel damaged and scarred and as if I wasn’t as good as everyone else, but now I feel normal and worthy and good.
I want to write about how accepting my flaws has helped me to accept the flaws in others. How I can look beyond a behaviour and see the person and the place they’re coming from.
I want to write about how upset I get about kids who are abused and who then break the law or take drugs or end up in jail. Because I identify with them and I know what makes them do what they do.
I want to write about how I’ve reached a stage of life where I’m at peace and happy and feel whole and complete, and that despite everything sad and bad that’s already happened and that might happen in the future, and despite all that’s going on in the world at the moment, life is good, people are kind, and our planet is beautiful.
And I want to write about writing. Because of all the things I’ve done on my journey to this place, writing is the thing that started it all. Putting my thoughts, memories and stories into words has helped me see where I’ve come from and the person I really am.
I want to write about all of this, but the words aren’t coming. But maybe they just have and that’s all I need to say.