August 22nd Check-in Writing again

As I had hoped in the last check-in, I have been able to write about some of the stress and problems I have faced recently. I am still using my fountain pens and writing paper rather than the computer; something about the tactile feel of the words pouring out with the ink is more cathartic. Also, I am following the earlier suggestions that I change my writing place and get up earlier.  I go out on my front porch to write.  The mornings are crisp, even while the days heat up later.

My brother emailed me on Saturday to tell me that his oncologist found a mass in his remaining lung.  My family does not talk about anything that might reek of emotions, so it is not surprising that he would choose to email rather than call.  I haven’t delved completely into my reactions to my brother’s illness.  I shrink from it as from a hot stove.  When his cancer was first diagnosed, I fell apart.  I could barely function.  I must find a way to grieve without shutting down again.  I feel guilty talking about grieving, as my brother hasn’t even had a biopsy yet, but I never worked through the first time he was sick.

I called my father Sunday night to check on him, especially as he would have heard my brother’s news as well.  The call became rather surreal, with my father becoming rather emotional. My mother is entirely lost to us through Alzheimer’s, but Sunday night was the first time he didn’t try to cover up for her, to pretend that she wasn’t responding because she was busy.  My father described how lonely and disconnected he feels, how starved for conversation, which really touched me. I shared with him my loneliness for an adult voice when I was home with my toddler sons, how I dragooned the postman to spend just a little time with me by offering a cool glass of water, a bit of shadetree. He thanked me for understanding him and not chastising him, again in a surreal role reversal.

I don’t seem to be able to do much but write about the pain that has threaded through the generations; my father losing his brother to an impaired driver; my siblings reacting in our different ways to our wounded parents, turning inward and wounding ourselves or outward and attacking the others; my children and nieces and nephews all finding their parents odd and unconnected to their siblings, still following the decorous steps of avoidance taught us so early and so well.

I feel guilty for mining these experiences, yet they are the stuff of my writing.  I use  the way I saw my father change during the phone call announcing my uncle’s death, the light dimming, flickering, folding in on itself. I sketch the lines of dismissive, bullying enemies from my siblings’ dismissal of me, familiar as the ache of long-healed broken bones on a crisp December evening.  I mine the cost of breaking with convention, of being perceived as uselessly, stubbornly, educated in a world that values beauty, even though it makes my eyes burn with repressed tears.

So, I’m writing through the pain and the guilt, and hope that something useful will come of it, if only self-awareness. I fell down on sponsorship duties Sunday and have yet to reply to comments, but I will do so in the next day or so. The past few days have borne out my own rendition of the verse, “The truth shall set you free,” to which I have always added, “but first it will make you miserable.”  I plan to hammer the pain and truth into words.

Welcome new followers: Louise,  Chris,  Cate, and Courtney.

I’d also like to shout out to Natalie Hartford, whose moving stories about the loss of her mother-in-law to an impaired driver burrowed into me until I could work through the loss of my uncle.

As always, please give your support and encouragement to the other ROWers.  The blog hop linky isn’t up yet, but I can refer you to the main site’s blog. Go have a look. If you write, you might find this supportive community interesting. If you don’t write, you will find some lovely people, great blogs and wonderful books.



23 thoughts on “August 22nd Check-in Writing again”

  1. Oh Elizabeth, you’re so hard on yourself which is such a shame as you are a brave, beautiful and compassionate lady! It can only do you good to open up and let your emotions out instead of bottling them all up until they choke you! Its so brave and courageous of you to address all these painful issues; I admire you so much!

    1. Thank you, Janet. I do tend to be hard on myself, and need to work on that. I appreciate your kind words; I do think it is best for me to pour all this out, but I certainly don’t feel very brave. I have to go through it, and I know it will make me stronger, but I still flinch from it all. Again, thank you for stopping by and commenting. Your encouragement helps me.

  2. What you’ve written is both heartbreaking and beautiful and touched me deeply. Writing about how you are feeling, putting those emotions onto paper, is so much healthier than bottling it up. Let writing be your outlet and pour out those words. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, Kat. It is certainly healthier to let it all out, but the acid that corrodes when left inside burns as it comes out as well. I do think I’ve turned the corner, and won’t go back to bottling it inside. Thank you again for stopping by.

  3. As Donald Murray wrote, “the more specific you are, the more universal you are.” Each one of us who reads this post has a little more heart, a little more courage for our own lives. Thank you.


    1. That’s a wonderful quote, Karen, and as counter-intuitive as it is, it rings very true. I’m glad you think it was a good post–to be honest, I felt a little guilty and self-indulgent about it, but I also realize that is my natural aversion to putting myself in the spotlight. If I can help anyone, it is worth my discomfort. Thank you for commenting, Karen.

  4. Your writing radiates the beautiful depth and breadth of your love, even as it carries forth the burden of human frailities not so uncommonly found in the familial experience. I hear understandable fear more than guilt, hon. Don’t let the ego’s need to assign blame muddy the truth of your justifiable anxiety toward the threat of losing a loved one. And there is an awakening grace that sinews through your intimate sharing of experience that is profoundly moving and, in expressing this you have reached out to countless souls who may unexpectedly find themselves in their own darkening corner of humanity. You’ve brought light to that darkness, reminding us all that we are not ever alone on this journey. Thank you, hon.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Jen. Your point that is more anxiety than guilt is a good one. I will work on that.

      As I said to Karen, I feel a little self-indulgent about this post, but if I manage to help someone by writing it, it is well worth the pain of reliving it all. Again, thank you for stopping by, and for taking the time to comment.

  5. I feel like I am seeing loss every where I look. My heart goes out to you sweet Elizabeth. Be kind and gentle with your heart. Say what you need to say, when you need to say. It is the only way to live. You are in my thoughts. *Hugs*

  6. Elizabeth, your words are so moving and deep and paint such a picture of where you are and what you are going through. Much strength to you.

  7. Your words and pain touch me deeply. I too have found much comfort and healing by writing and journalling through the pain so I pray you find comfort in your writing…and that you and your Dad can start to build on your exchange.

    It humbles and amazes me that you’ve found strength in reading about my own experience with loss. It’s always amazing how we can find support, comfort and strength in each other’s words and experiences.

    Keep writing…keep healing…you’ll only grow stronger and more grounded.


    1. Thank you for the hugs, Natalie. Big hugs back to you. I have always found your posts about your mother-in-law very moving; I’m sure it has helped many people beyond me as well.

      I do think that writing about it is helping me immensely. It would be lovely if I could build on that tenuous relationship with my dad in addition.

      Again, thank you for your kind words and encouragement.

  8. This post brought tears to my eyes. Your writing is so beautiful, so raw. It takes courage to live with an open heart, to feel so deeply, and your words express the searing truth. May you find comfort and healing through your creative process.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Andrea. For a while, I tried to toughen up, then I tried to hide from what I was feeling. Both paths were dismal failures, ending in panic attacks and ulcers. I don’t seem to be able to be anything but what I am. I do find that writing about the pain is helpful. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  9. Elizabeth, my heart goes out to you. It bought back memories of my delayed reaction when I found out that my mother had leukaemia. I tried to cope and then it hit. It is very hard. I am glad to hear that good is coming out of this distressing situation. I hope it continues to bring your family closer together.

    All our writing is made up of our experience. We have nothing else to draw on but what we see, hear, feel and learn from. May the lessons you learn during this time be passed on to help others through your writing and may much, much blessing come out of your family’s suffering.

    Cheers, Cate (ROW80)

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Cate. I think we go into a sort of shock when these things happen, as a protective mechanism. I am hopeful that it will draw my family a bit closer.

      You’ve a good point about experience being what we can write from a place of knowledge, and it is sometimes painful. I do hope that it may help someone. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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