Claiming Your Sovereignty
I have never fancied myself a writer. However, looking back now I realize that I’ve been writing for most of life, although I never called it that. At first, I called it “keeping a diary” and then “keeping a journal”—that seemed safer. That way I could still do what I loved and not share any of my work with anyone. It seemed like a perfect deal, until one day it just wasn’t. But it didn’t happen overnight. It happened slowly as I eventually began sharing my writing with people. First, with my middle school students in my classroom, then on my personal blog, and online from time to time until one day it hit me—I am a writer.
And truth be told, I’ve always been a writer since kindergarten when my teacher, Mrs. Persons, first asked me to write my name. I remember it was very difficult at first because my name has 8 letters. But I rolled up my sleeves, holding that big blue pencil in my little hand, and I imagine sticking my tongue out to the side in an expression of great effort. First the big “A”—up and down—adding the line across. Then the next letter, and the next until I was finally done with my labor. Whew!!! With relief-- I put my pencil down and ran to show my teacher. She looked at it—smiling—saying how good it was, and then to my chagrin said: “Great, now do it again!” I was appalled.
After that masterpiece, it slowly began to dawn on me what she really wanted—she was playing hardball. She wasn't interested in me writing my name just once---she wanted me to reproduce my name over and over again until all the special, uniqueness of my creation became a run of the mill nothing. I seriously wondered what was the matter with her, but I obliged begrudgingly and comforted myself through a series of internal complaints that went on something like—“Geeze—whatever lady! Not sure what’s the matter with you. Don’t you already know my name? How many times do you need to see it?” Not once able to comprehend the practice was not for her, but for me. In my mind, my writing and I, were already perfect--thank you for very much! But I would soon have that beaten out of me by the adults around me. Maybe its just the nature of the beast-- as we return to our own sovereignty—we get taken out of it, so we can recognize it for what it is upon our return. I mean our intention is good--we give up our sovereignty for the promise of love. Although, it takes us years to realize that we made an impossible trade. And until we figure out how to raise kids without removing them from their own sovereignty, people like me will continue to write about topics like this.
Mary Oliver, in her book, Upstream, takes a much more positive twist on it, stating: “In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.”
Writing allowed me to do just that. So I don't mean to suggest that writing at school was all bad; far from it. I wrote my first real story in 3rd grade entitled “What Good Luck, What Bad Luck.” It was a real page turner about how I lost my necklace and then, surprisingly found it again! Although it was a catchy title, it kind of gave the story line away. And then, I wrote my first real poem in 9th grade in my Creative Writing class—it was entitled “Fighting for Freedom.” And I started my first diary that year too. I was fourteen and having a terrible time in many areas of my life. From that point on, writing began to be my life line. In this way, writing was my mindfulness practice, before I knew what mindfulness was. I found myself in a world where there were no seemingly safe parties to talk to, so I wrote, and I wrote with no particular audience in mind. In fact, I couldn’t imagine anyone ever actually reading the words in my first diary. I could barely read them myself—they were so painful, that I eventually sacrificed them--burning them in my fireplace when I was about 23 years. In fact, I burned all my diaries from the age of 14-23. I didn’t want the reminder of how miserable my life had been. It was difficult to see myself, reflected back like that—better to just erase it all. But little did I know, burning up the pages didn’t erase the indelible marks on my spirit.
I stopped writing for awhile after that, but it called me back. And that’s when I started calling the writing I was doing: “keeping a journal.” Words have always been such a natural way for me to describe myself; that is--in private. I spent most of life denying the beautiful talent that kept me sane, nourished my soul and kept going through some of life's biggest challenges through the years. But this has all been part of the long, slow road to the return of my own sovereignty—beginning to say these words aloud, in print, to an audience that can hear them, that wants to listen, that can bare my experience without blaming, criticizing, or judging. For you see, I grew up in a home where there was no room for that--a place that could not hear my words or receive them with joy, love, or gratitude in which they were intended. I wonder how many people--writers, in fact-- out there have had similar experiences. So, I’m writing this for the people who will welcome these words, find some solace and comfort in them, and know, they too are on the path to their own sovereignty, no matter how bumpy the path.
Leave a comment, detailing how you are claiming your sovereignty.
Sending you lots of love on your journey!