Creating Space & The Gift Of A Writer

Aug 20, 2013 by


Don’t we all want to feel this blissful?
Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten

I did meet the German guy in 2005 while I was traveling through Scandinavia who used to announce his need to do a number 2 by saying, “I need to make some space.”

As fondly as I smile on that memory and use that line from time to time, this is not the meaning behind this post’s title. I’m talking about the kind of space that we make in our minds. This is the kind of space I have been struggling to make in my life and in my mind for well over a year now.

I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, and I’ve hinted at some difficulties that I’ve faced that I haven’t been able to properly discuss here just yet. Do I need to talk about it? Actually, yes. At some point, I do. I write for a number of reasons. It’s a compulsion; I literally start to twitch if I don’t. I want to connect; I feel like writing is a powerful way to connect with people and share experience. It’s therapeutic; whenever I write about something, it is my way of processing and compartmentalizing, as well as archiving for future reference. Sometimes this therapy comes in the form of forgetting. Once the writing is on paper and out of my head, it is just that: out of my head. And I no longer have to think about the trouble. Many a time when stupid boyfriends of the past have said horrible things to me, mistreated me or given me a mental fucking, I have turned to pen and paper, written it down and moved on. Many a time people will ask me, “Tell me about him. Why was he so horrible?” and I honestly can’t answer because I no longer remember. I do always add, however, that “if you really wanted to know, I could look it up. It’s all written down.”

Unfortunately, the troubles I’ve faced over the last year and a half are not as simple as stupid boy troubles. Actually they have me yearning for those days when that was all I had to worry about. I can confidently say that it is has been the most difficult time in my life. My cousin and I were talking about everything yesterday, and she just said, “It will all make sense one day,” and rationally, I know she is right, but after all that has happened, I have lost faith in this mantra; I have been so shaken that I just don’t believe it to be true anymore.

Travel has always provided me with a sense of clarity and a way of clearing the clutter from my mind. This summer was 3 months of hard and ambitious travel, taking me from the Caribbean, to Europe, to Russia and Asia and all the way around the world. I had hopeful thoughts of feeling fabulous at the end of summer and getting back to normal, but the truth is that I don’t feel fabulous and I am not back to normal. Here and there, my trip began to chip away at pain and negative thought patterns, but the healing has only just begun. Given the major kick in the ass life gave me starting back in March of 2012, I know it is going to be a long road to a full recovery. I try to maintain a graceful approach to life, but sometimes I end up on my cousin’s deck in a puddle and muddle of tears while her son runs back and forth on his slip and slide.

While I was at the airport in Sint Maarten, coming back to Winnipeg after an amazing 17 days there as well as Saba and Anguilla and Puerto Rico, I had my first glimmer of an epiphany. I had waited for him for 17 days and there he was, there I was, there we were at the airport. I thought I might find him in a hut in the jungle or under the ocean with a sea turtle but there we were, among the crowds and the impatient travellers waiting to board their flights.

I’m a writer, this epiphany told me. I always have been. And it was then that I seriously thought about my writing over the last year. I had begun to feel my journal become more of a burden than a source of therapy. Writing was slowly, very slowly, beginning to lose its place in my life, though I held on through other mediums like blogging. It then dawned on me why this was happening. When I write in a journal, it is often for finality, to reflect on what I’ve learned, experienced and concluded. I may still have questions, and there may be holes in the stories, but the stories are always, most certainly done. If they are not, the endings are almost always right around the corner, and I can sense the impending physical closing of a chapter. This ugly chapter in my life that opened on March 5, 2012 is far from over, and because I don’t see the complete story or why the story is happening at all, I just can’t write about it yet. Mum told me once that the story will end, but that it is just a longer story. I said, “yes, it’s a long, drawn-out BITCH of a story.”

This is difficult for me to write. Lately, I haven’t been much for sharing any sort of feelings on here whatsoever, sticking mainly to happy things, kind people and brightly coloured pay phones in Siberia. These words may be difficult to write, but I believe that being honest and open is a step to healing. That, and I believe that though I have some really lousy hurdles coming up (like diving into long distance again with my boyfriend in 2 days), I think there is a light beginning to appear on the horizon. It will still take a mountain of time and healing before I can process my experiences into a coherent story, but it will happen one day, and I am taking this as a first step.

I said that I write to connect with people. I want to be able to write about all of this properly because I believe completely that it will be able to help someone else one day. I want to be able to write about this one day because once I do, I know I’ll have closed the chapter, and I’ll have finally been able to stamp a couple words onto the manuscript: The End.

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  1. Zhu

    I think I understand, to some level, what you re going through. The big picture, that is. I write because I need to write, regardless of who is reading and how many are reading. Writing gives me some perspective, some insights I wouldn’t otherwise get.

    Still, some stories are painful to share.

  2. Emy

    I hope you can find a meaning to what you’re going through soon, and I also hope, obviously, that this ugly chapter comes to an end soon.
    It’s somehow funny … I was thinking of that during my trip too. I don’t know … I was hoping that this trip would make everything fall back into place, give me this dose of happiness and “freedom” that would help me feel better and bid farewell finally, to this gloomy/confused/sad and sometimes angry me but even during that marvellous trip, I had moments I couldn’t even pretend that I was doing fine.
    And I find it difficult to write as well… Obviously I write in french(also in english but that has nothing to do with my writing in french), but no matter the language, words don’t come easily, I don’t know what I want to express, to hide or share, I’m not sure where I’m going with those sentences and not being able to write makes me even more confused and at a loss. Because that’s what I’ve been doing the best for all my life, that’s what has helped me cope with many things, just like you said, once it’s out there, in the world in words, it’s like I’ve given birth or more death, to some events or emotions I no longer want to keep in me.
    More than that, not being able to write makes the dream of being published one day even more etheral and difficult to reach and fulfill… But yeah… It’s like running I guess.. Sometimes it goes amazing, sometimes not so good, and when you stop for a while, it is even more difficult to get back in tracks.
    But we shall hold on there!
    I wish you all the best Colleen!

  3. Oh wow, I’m so sorry for whatever it is that you’re going through. Keep writing! Your words are beautiful!!!

  4. I can only imagine what has happened in your life that you are continuing to process and understand. I know from personal experience sometimes life brings us not one hurdle but one after another until we’re too exhausted to even try to overcome them. I had a time in my life from 2007-2011 where so many bad circumstances beyond my control were coming at me, from family problems to personal ones. This period in my life is still something that I shudder when I think of and I still don’t understand why everything happened the way it has. Healing takes time, and give yourself patience and grace during this process. I started seeing the light at the end of my own dark tunnel when I took my first trip abroad to Europe. I was suffering from a severe health problem but I took the chance and went anyway, the happiness I felt during these travels sparked the life that I’m living now. I hope that even on the darkest days of despair you can sense this spark of hope, the light at the end of the tunnel that will bring wholeness, understanding, and compassion. My thoughts and prayers are with you Colleen!


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