It's funny, being a writer sometimes.
I'm sure that there are many out there who think we share everything about ourselves. Who believe that we are like the open books that we crave, that we write, that we are drawn to.
It might seem that way, at least to the rest of the world.
There are some of us who write an awful lot about the things that people usually refuse to discuss with others. We write about addiction and mental health crises and eating disorders and death and illnesses and loss and grief. We write candidly about our lives, our families, our marriages, our friendship, our enemies.
Or do we?
I've not once written anything that was less than true, I've worn my heart on my sleeve more times than I could even count. I've opened that dirty ugly basement closet and drug some of the nastiest morsels of my personal story out, exposed them to the light for the world to see.
But there's a lot still in there.
There is a lot I don't write about. The stories that remain unwritten. The secrets I keep.
Most of it, I keep close because my responsibility to protect my family is more important than any desire to expose it.
Some of it, I keep close because it's too goddamn painful to write about, and even the mere idea of it makes the walls start to close in on me, makes my heart pound until I'm sure that it will leap out of my chest, makes me want to shut myself off from the rest of the world forever.
A few pieces of it, I don't write sheerly out of humiliation. I realized this yesterday when a dear friend and writer confided something in me. This writer hasn't written their story, and I haven't written this one of mine because I am embarrassed. I feel shame, as do they, and the worst part of it is that neither of us have any reason to feel that way. We weren't responsible. None of it was our faults. We were (and still are) very much the victims, though we both get up every single morning and tell ourselves we won't be. And yet, here we are. Ashamed of things we did not do.
So we stuff it down inside. The words that beg to find a way out are kept under lock and key.
Writers are complex creatures.
The more of them I come to know, the more I see it. The more I learn about myself, the more I see I have yet to learn.
We have stories to tell because of the things that have happened to us. If our lives weren't complicated, we would be uninteresting. We let it out, one piece at a time. We disguise it. We fictionalize it. We write about it from a perspective that no one would connect to us for having experienced it.
Or we don't write about it at all because it hurts too goddamn much, or because we just can't.
Us writers, we carry many burdens. The burden of protecting those around us from the damage our words can inflict. The burden of accuracy and ensuring truth. The burden of criticism and judgment.
The greatest of all those burdens, though, are the stories we don't tell.
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