I am participating in Diane DeBella’s #iamsubject project http://www.iamsubject.com/the-iamsubject-project/. Here is my #iamsubject story.
When did I claim my self? Have I claimed my self? What is claiming your self anyway?
In the beginning, there was nothing to reclaim. I was happy, bouncing along in a safe and protected childhood. But when my father died, while we were we on vacation in Thailand – that was when my childhood ended. I was almost 6 years old.
Life after that was raw and confusing. There was other stuff, but I’m not interested in telling that side of the story. Sometimes you have to overcome shit, and that’s all that needs to be said. No, I don’t need to feel my pain or exercise my therapy: I’ve done all that, and I’ve let it go. But I’m sharing this because this is the background where my reclaiming took place.
I think to reclaim one’s self is to take ownership and responsibility for your emotional, physical and/or spiritual well-being. And at 13 and 14, I was beginning to do just that – through writing. Although, in the beginning, writing was simply my secret way to record my momentous teenage thoughts about my feelings and crushes and fantasies of what I wanted high school to be.
It was only later, starting in the full swing of teenage-dom, that I began to use writing to express my anger, depression, hopelessness, hopefulness, and mourn what I felt to be a lost childhood. Reclaiming was self-discovery or a discovering of what I wanted, needed, and how I was feeling in a suffocating and sublime world.
Writing was my pillow, my comfort, my one true friend, and it still is because I wouldn’t be myself without it.
But I can’t write about one big reclaiming moment because I think life is filled with such humbling and strength-building outposts. And if I wanted to be really nitty-gritty, I could say each day is filled with the opportunity to reclaim oneself, because unless we are paying attention, I-as-subject can slip through the window and float away. I think this is why so many feel misplaced or apathetic. We’re not recovering and rediscovering. We’re not refocusing on ourselves.
This seems narcissist, but I think reclaiming can also be meditative moments that you capture and hold on to for as long as you can. My reclaiming took place when I started to intentionally write just for me. I felt and feel a certain kind of control when I hold pen to paper. It’s funny, when I was younger, I wrote so hard that I literally pressed my letters into the paper so that the paper bubbled with intensity. Now I write easier, easily, my words scribbling across unlined notebooks for me to contemplate, and look back on, like an artist looking critically at her work.
What was interesting about getting into the habit of writing from a young age is it gave me a voice when I didn’t feel confident that I could share what I wanted to say, and when I felt alone in my feelings and frustrations. The small act of writing provided an edge, a direction, and flow that transformed into a big act of living out my life with intention and clarity.
One of my closest friends regrets not having done something “meaningful” with his youth, like learning a skill or gaining business experiences, but I don’t have that kind of regret. Of course, I wish I had paid better attention in Spanish class and had not taken out graduate school loans, but I’m glad I found writing and writing found me.
The lifelong challenge of “knowing thyself” is an inevitability whenever you start your day, or end it, with writing. I can SEE what I am thinking. I can SEE when I’m spinning in circles, stuck with a problem. I can SEE my self, and thus, I don’t feel like I can’t express myself or listen to what I have to say.
So, for the folks who know me, they can understand where my fortitude comes from, it comes from knowing myself through writing. This is not to say, I don’t have those moments in black and red spades, I’ve had my fair share of a playing-with-half-a-deck experiences, running around trying to find the other cards. But the more I journal, the more frequently I can step back and gain perspective, the better I am able to excavate and cultivate my life.
What’s your story, baby? 😉