So, in my usual style of things, now that we’re only a couple of weeks off school holidays (which have come around so fricking fast), I’ve finally gotten myself into a reasonable routine. Only to watch it disappear again in two weeks when we embark on our *epic* road trip to Queensland. Did I say epic? I meant stupid. Because three full days in a car with four children is always a fun-filled and joyous celebration of family. Clearly.
But back to this routine thing. The constant battle to find balance between farm, family and writing remains one of my biggest struggles, and while I would love to offer some wisdom or advice on the matter, I have none. My family have simply learned to tell how well balanced my day has been by how many glasses of wine I drink that night – #jokingnotjoking
Miraculously though, the last couple of weeks have seen me settle into a routine that works well for me and has allowed me good balance. There’s been no major epiphany for that to happen. It’s just been a simple surrender to avoiding all commitments, having zero social life and being an entirely shitty friend. Winning.
Anyway, in these unusual times of productivity I’ve experienced of late, I’ve begun to compile the early framework of my Blogging For Beginners workshop to be held in August at the Salisbury Writers’ Festival. My early organization is astounding, I know. I’m going to credit this to my unexpected surge of actually being on top of things for once, but it could well be a case of having nothing better to do because I literally never leave the house now that it’s winter. Because that would mean getting dressed. And. You know.
So, in putting together such a workshop, I expected to give some thought to myself as a blogger, and the journey that has taken me from my very first post to where I am today.
I didn’t, however, expect it to impact me quite so much.
The blogging journey is an organic process. You write, and write, and write some more, and through that, you find your voice, and it speaks your passions, your loves, your thoughts, your story. Your voice is your heart revealed. It’s natural over time that your voice will change, grow, progress. But essentially, your voice should always be central, and authentic to your blog.
When I began my blog a number of years ago, it was titled This Girl Unraveled. It was the journey of a girl who had suffered a childhood of trauma and abuse, struggled to overcome Complex PTSD, was entirely screwed up in a significant amount of ways and was falling apart at the seams, but who hid it behind a wall of perfectionism.
Until one day she got tired of trying to be perfect. She got tired of everyone thinking she was perfect, and had it all together. She got tired of not being real. And she realised the more she denied her brokenness, her flaws, her unraveling, her lack of coping, the more others around her felt they had to do the same. And that was a lonely place for everyone.
So I began my blog to defy the perfect image I had created for myself. To be real, messy, raw. To bridge the gap, to connect, to help others feel less alone, to be honest in how hard it is some days, to give myself and others the freedom to say this is hard and I don’t know how to do this.
This was my heart, and my voice followed.
But the thing is, to wear your heart so publicly on your sleeve isn’t easy. It’s vulnerable. Like, stab your eyeballs with a knife kind of vulnerable. There are always people willing to bring you down, trolls on the internet who love nothing more than to judge, criticize, ridicule. These people can cause your heart to pull away. But, essentially, they are strangers. Their opinions don’t matter.
But it’s the people closest to you whose opinions begin to wear down the bold courage you once held so proudly against your chest. The parents who condemn you for speaking your truth. The family who patiently wait until your rebellion passes. The friends unable to relate to you now that you are so blindingly real. The people in your small town who have known you forever but no longer know how to speak to you; this person who no longer goes to bible study every Tuesday and church on Sunday.
You don’t see the gradual shrink back into yourself. The way you begin to only speak from your head, because you know it makes people less uncomfortable than when you speak from your heart. The way you begin to feel like you must be too much. The way your heart suddenly feels too heavy upon your sleeve. You don’t realise you become held back, afraid to speak your truth. Because speaking your truth has set you apart. It has made you different. And different can be scary. And often, very, very lonely.
But maybe it’s more lonely to shy away from our authentic selves in order to be palatable. When we lose our voice and our heart. Because while my blogging journey has been a wonderful success in many ways, and being a regular blogger for HuffPost and Elephant Journal is still surreal and wonderful thing, somewhere along this journey my heart got tucked away into a safe place where it wouldn’t get hurt by the opinions of others.
And maybe much of that was the feeling that I should have my shit together again by now. The image of readers who give exasperated sighs and roll their eyes and wonder why I still flail around in shallow water and struggled to stay afloat. Shouldn’t I be fixed by now?
And maybe that is your truth. But it’s not mine.
Because nope, I still don’t have my shit together. That’s not to say I haven’t come a long way. I have morphed into a version of myself who is a little more wise, a little more whole, a little more sage-like and grounded in the truth of who I am.
But I still rate considerably low on the wife scale, barely scrape through with my crappy parenting skills, fantasise most days about running away from home, hide from the world when my PTSD gets too much, make mistakes on a far-too regular basis, drink wine on an even more too regular basis, can maybe, just maybe, be a little too self-absorbed. I still struggle with self-doubt, guilt, failure, the line between never being enough and always being too much.
Amidst the desire to please and the fear of not pleasing, I lost my truth.
Today I remembered it. I came back to my truth. I remembered my reason for writing; the way every truth stitched me a little tighter, healed my wounds a little more. The way being vulnerable felt so scary, but the way I believed that only through the courage to be real can we bring connection, relationship and healing to our broken world.
The way I still believe it.
And so I just wanted to say.
I’m back x