I totally bailed on my writing class.
I feel a little like I let you all down. All 5 of you who were following along (I’ve said it before, but you are indisputably my favorite.)
I signed up fully committed to doing it. Following the assignments where they went and being brave and putting it all out there. Leaving it on the field? Whatever the appropriate cliche is.
I tried. I wrote poems. I talked about my impending (fictional) death. I revisited heartbreak that has long ago faded in the rearview mirror of my mind.
There was a private Facebook group where my “classmates” and I shared our writing. And everyone was braving up and pouring all of the broken bits of their story out there for the world to see (the selective world of other people presenting their own broken bits).
There were over 1000 people taking the class. One thousand. That’s a lot of secrets and broken hearts and infidelity and addiction and abuse and self-doubt and struggle to find the bright side and live in the light.
Ultimately it just made me tired.
It didn’t feel brave or freeing or whatever it was supposed to feel like – not to me anyway.
The other folks were bonding over their dark and twisty parts. I give them mad props for sharing their deepest and darkest and all that. It was truly a safe place to share that stuff.
But to me it didn’t feel like a safe place. It felt like stepping off the curb and wandering blindfolded through traffic.
Dangerous and scary and absolutely the wrong place for me to be.
Partly because I don’t think I am broken anymore. I really wasn’t all that broken in the first place.
So it wasn’t like uncovering a wound to let the air in to start the healing. It was more like looking for an old faded scar and ripping it back open so I could say:
Look, me too. Here’s my dark spot. Here’s the pain. Here’s the thing that needs to heal.
And that just hurt for no good reason.
So I didn’t write the list of everything that’s wrong. I didn’t write about what would happen if I was horribly injured. I didn’t write about losing the things I love.
And I stopped reading about the darkness of the others. I felt like I was betraying all of those people as I walked away.
Maybe I’m not strong enough to wade around in the pain of strangers. Maybe un-joining the safe place of that group was the ultimate move of cowardice.
Maybe I’m wise enough to know it doesn’t serve me, or them, to try to empathize in situations where I have no context to do so. Maybe I know that I need to save my strength for situations in the real world that demand it.
So I dropped out. I quit. I ran away.
And I didn’t write anything for a few weeks. Now I think I’ve got everything sealed back up and the world feels safe and normal again. Normal being a highly relative term.
So look out. I’ve retired from poetry, but I think I’ve got some other good stuff still in there if I can manage to dig it out without hurting myself.