I am posting today because of a recent interaction at the Phoenix Abilities Expo with a nonprofit called 2LIV4. Now anyone who has known me for any length of time has heard me say “For any what, I just need the right why.” Understandably I had to stop and chat with these ladies. It is finding things 2LIV4 that have kept from going over the cliff edge and becoming one more veteran suicide statistic.
One of my why’s for many years was closet writing. If I could use a pen name, have no byline, ghost write, etc., I would happily provide words for pay. The two reasons I crave anonymity are both related to personal ancient history.
The first is a couple of poems that can’t stop haunting me. They were written as a teen-ager. They won a poetry contest for a religious magazine; a religion I do not endorse or follow, but people I care about still do. These cringe worthy poems, and implied association, will not go away. Every few years one of them pops up in a talk by one of their leaders or in a recent copy of their still in existence teen magazine. If you Google my name, they are the first writing related search result.
In the 80’s and early 90’s I had a column, under a pen name. It was not one I was proud of, except for its ability to help me support my children. In one issue of one magazine my real name was revealed, with its connection to my pen name. The photo caption on a book cover recreation at a comic artist convention stripped away my privacy. It only took being identified, and my autograph sought, for me to want the earth to swallow me up whole, I was afraid and ashamed. I finished my contract and never used that pen name again. Thankfully this was the time before the internet and the genre of magazine barely exists any more so all traces of that time are hard if not impossible to find.
Anonymity was critical. I had/have PTSD so I kept/keep my life compartmentalized and hold/held so much of who I was/am to my chest like a losing poker hand in a high stakes bluff. Writing for money under a made up name, was a way to expose all those differences and have each aspect feel accepted. The very big downside to living that way was never really feeling like I had real friends; no one ever really knew all of me.
Blogging removes some of those firewalls. My blog is where I openly embrace(d) my choices and strengths and broken places. Who I am is all here in these posts, if someone wants to look. My only disguise is the relative obscurity of a non-celebrity written blog.
So a very long trip to this destination; I mentioned I was a writer to 2LIV4, and yes I am interested in writing. In the follow-up phone call they asked if they could see some examples of my writing, and I panicked. If they Googled, they would find the poem; my old Alibi book reviews are of such academic books I sound like a bore; and then there is my blog, where all my faulty spelling, unique grammar and run on sentences are on display with all the rest of me.
I wanted to take it back, say, “Never mind, I was just kidding I can’t write anymore.” It’s that same fear that keeps me from doing anything with a handful of finished Nanowrimo novels; its the voice that runs the litany of where I fall short compared to before, and reminds me I am not ever enough.
It’s obviously not a new fear, but after my disability required me to stop working, stop driving a car, move into an independent living center, play password in many of my conversations, that fear of not being worthy got bigger and sharpened its claws and grew fangs.
The thing is, it IS that very monstrous fear that made me say I wanted to volunteer. I know from experience, that it really isn’t about whether they hire me as a volunteer, anymore than it was about medals at the Golden Games, it’s about showing up to the fear. It’s about taking that risk of reaching out to the world and saying, hey, this is me. This is what I need. This is what I can offer. This is who I am.
P.S. This is my service dog. What is going on with us is a whole other entry. Check out the GoFundMe if you want, and share if you can.
Go make some magic.
Aurora looking hopeful. https://gofund.me/ddad638c