Sometimes I write in a Word document separating the thoughts with a thin line on the screen. I jump from topic to topic spilling my wondering wanderings onto the page until I happen upon a thread I want to dig into deeper. This morning I have already wandered far wrapping my heart around: family relationships, expectations and our children, raising kids who have the freedom to disappoint me, how to refuse to engage a bully in his rage, and why I do write anyways.
I often come back to the last one because analyzing why I write when I am blocked and babbling is a good way to center HOW to thread my way forward when the chaos persists.
When Being Creative Takes a Hit
I know I write to understand myself and the world. Writing is an essential process in analyzing where I have been. I write to figure out what I used to believe to be true and what I believe as truth now. When I write I feel connected to the world and less alone. I write as process and prayer.
However like most creatives human beings, I have had my motives for
living and breathing creating called into question (often). The likelihood of this happening to you will depend upon: 1. The reach and make up of your audience and 2. The types of people around you.
My sources of strife and mocking rebuke have most often come solely from people I have known in real life. “The worst blows tend to come from those who know us well and should of loved us.” Although I would add – perhaps they hit us so hard because they are fighting like mad against the us they never knew. They find the us we are revealing as true threatening to the image of us they created in their heads. I don’t think they know us well – otherwise they would understand the significance of us sharing our stories.
Certain types of people are going to find your authenticity threatening. They will hate when you find your voice. They will rage when you begin to use it. Mostly they will do anything within their power to silence and stunt your growth.
For two decades, I have had to learn how to weigh the voice of an angry, entitled man in my life against the truth. He has often had much to say about the manner in which I navigate the world. He believes he has a right to me. Everything in my life (from my relationships, my faith, my writing, my marriage, my roles, and my health) are within his rights to nitpick, manhandle, and judge.
It is little surprise then when my writing endeavors also take a hit with angry comments and thinly-veiled, passive aggressive threats because he still believes he has rights to me.
It is difficult to learn how to navigate people who consistently operate from within their rage.
While I have a difficult time taking people like this seriously it does offer me an opportunity to wonder: why do I create and choose to speak up? Is it essential for me to tell my stories…anyways?
Why Do I Write?
Do I write because of my marriage, or my children, because I want a book deal, desire to make money, or because I need applause? Is this about needing to be heard on topics where I have been otherwise misunderstood? Do I need a bullying manchild’s approval or understanding? Does this even have anything to do with church hurt? Or relationship hurt? Photography? Or whatever?
Why do I write?
At the core I write so that people who would otherwise feel alone and believe they are the only ones going through what they are going through – I write so they know they are NOT alone.
You are not alone.
YES – there are jerks. NO – you are not crazy. NO – you are not alone.
I write to help create a world which is a little less crazy and a little less lonely.
How can I make the things coming at you better? Is there a way to help you to bravely embrace your passions even when the naysayers are shouting loudly in protest and doubt? How can you navigate your mother in law or father in law or your own parents or grandparents or siblings or coworkers or boss…better.
I do not know HOW to tell you to hit the publish button anyways. I have a hard enough time pressing the publish button for my own work.
I hesitate to hit publish. I remember even though I am loved and my voice & work matter to those who love me – there are also those who have a vested interest in my silence. They like me better in a soundproof, muted life.
Fortunately – I have a finger for that kind of thinking. And I am learning to use it liberally with the naysayers. As I find confidence in my own becoming their voices are mattering less and less and less.
“Consider the track record of your naysayers. How many dreams have they successfully brought into the world? -Sarah Ban Breathnach
I cannot tell you what pressing forward should like like for you.
You can see where I have wandered. We can talk about what it looks like to refuse to engage a person in their rage and this includes people who enable the Rage Mongers. I adamantly refuse to engage a person in their raging behaviors and angry attitudes. It is harmful and exhausting as well as likely to suck you dry of energy and resources. Frankly no amount of conversations or peace summits will help people to be ABLE to change their harmful rhetoric or actions.
Some people need to navigate from their rage in order to be OK in the world. This can happen for a season or they can take it up as their personal life mantra. They will hold the rage white-knuckled and with great certainty until the day they die.
In their rage they will need to be right about you and there is nothing you can do to stop them.
Someone has to be willing to take actions to protect the children and the family and themselves. I am sorry if that person happens to be you. It hurts. I know the feeling.
You can’t change others. You can inspire them to be different towards you. Clearly defining your boundaries is essential. It is good for you to openly share your truth. You can utilize your “NO.” But you have to face how you cannot change the foundation unless the other person is ABLE to take drastic steps in a new direction. There is something to be said for being ABLE.
When is Enough?
Most people simply want to say the “sorry” receive the “forgiveness” and move back into the comfortable status quo. You have a line of “Enough” and I cannot define where the line begins and ends for you.
Your “enough” is personal. Your “enough” is about you.
No one else should be allowed to define your “enough” for you. They don’t get to tell you how unrealistic, selfish, bitter, or unforgiving your “enough” is. We all have a line of enough. It is the line someone crosses in your life from which they cannot return. This is a line which makes it very difficult for you to continue dealing with them. It is not your fault if they never heeded the warnings you gave about how close they were to stepping over your “enough spaces.”
Some of us are mercy givers – grace overflowing. And even then we have “enough” lines.
You have to have “enough” lines or you will forever be overrun by people who believe they have a right to your life on their terms.
This is your life. You always have a choice.
You have a right to determine what and when and how “enough” is for you and you have a right to tell others to bugger off when they are being judgmental, and cruel, and angry about the lines you have chosen for your own health and safety.
Sometimes it feels like people are sucking the life from you because they are sucking the life from you.
So I write to help others feel a little bit less crazy when they feel wiped clean and hung out to dry. You are not alone in your enough.
You are not crazy.
What is happening to you is valid.
They are being overbearing and harmful.
And their actions do tell you – you are not good enough.
Chances are – you are probably right about them – they don’t like you. You are probably right they are not going to be content with you no matter how many hoops you manage to navigate well. There will always be another hoop. As well as at least one person vested in your performance and willing to hold out the hoop for you to leap through – and the hoop likely has flames – big scorching flames.
But my friend, their approval or disapproval is likely not even about you. It is usually all about them.
Remember how my writing is all about the bully man child? This article – this one will be about him too.
And I can live with it.
So take heart, you are not alone. You are not crazy. You do have a right to your enough. Self-care doesn’t mean you are stubborn, bitter, or unforgiving it means you love yourself enough to use your “NO” and not allow others to define your life for you. Establishing sacred space around your life, your marriage, your family – your creative endeavors is right and OK and something you are completely allowed to do. You have permission. And you do not need to apologize for doing what you need to do to be OK in the world. No rationalizations or excuses necessary.
Remember – you aren’t nuts. You have a choice. You are loved.
And he isn’t right about you.