A few weeks ago I saw a post of Chantelle’s over on her Instagram feed (@fatmumslim – you can see the post here). It was one of those scrolling, scrolling, scrolling… stop you in your tracks posts.
I read it, and read it again.
I read it again, and almost looked over my shoulder to see if Chantelle was standing behind me, reading this very blog post which has sat in my drafts folder since… pre-Covid? Before Mum died? Before Mary was born? Before, before, before. Or was Chantelle somehow reading my mind… Instagram works in mysterious ways (that you Zuckerberg?) I figured that if this was Chantelle, and this was me, this could be anyone. You.
I could have written the exact words Chantelle had. The writer’s block, the creative paralysis, the deep funk, the irrelevance theory, the imposter syndrome, the knocks to the self.
All of it.
I am not good at many things – I don’t have a university degree in science or law or business or health or design or management or anything. Heck, I don’t even have any formal training in anything remotely like communication or digital media. What gave me a right to tap words and share and have a voice? Who cares? My bullshit radar is pretty good, sorting the wheat from the chaff is a skill I can add to the CV. Useless harpy wanker noise. Huh…
I can’t tell you the amount of times in the past… 12 months? Two years? My curser has hovered over the ‘delete’ button. To it all. Socials. This space. It’s just there. Push the button. “Retreat, retreat, retreat.” Inwards.
But: I write. Sometimes well, sometimes not very well – but over the past ten years, I’ve given it a crack, without much thought 90% of the time (that’s entirely the point…) Over the journey I’ve stumbled, tripped, soared, grown and been accoladed or applauded, but mostly just muddled through and found my way authentically. I found a voice, honed a skill, built a community. Community community community. “I never wanted to influence anyone, I simply wanted to share stories and create loving, like-minded communities.”
Perhaps it’s three babies in five years.
Perhaps it’s the transformative experience of helping to nurse a terminally ill parent in their final years/months/weeks/days.
Perhaps it’s the enveloping grief that follows the death of your Mother.
Perhaps it’s my children no longer being babies (well, except Mary). About reaching school age and being their own little people with their own little stories. About privacy and self-preservation and the Social Dilemma and WHAT ARE WE DOING?! “Retreat, retreat, retreat.” Inwards.
Perhaps it’s an early mid-life crisis (gosh I hope it’s not mid-life… maybe late quarter life?!) Again, a lot about having a close experience with death. Life. “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Maybe I should have thought about this before now. Maybe this is exactly the right time.
Perhaps it’s Covid. It’s a lot about Covid. “Inwards.”
It’s all of the things. It’s a collision of events, all at the right time, in the right order, culminating in… I don’t know what yet. The perfect storm.
It’s about going in.
Before blooming out.
What has seemed like a withdrawal, perhaps an internal review, has been like most in the world in 2020 – the hibernation and reset button that we needed. Craved. Are grateful for.
Grace and space. That was my mantra to Melbourne friends and family awakening from their lockdown slumber. The grace and space that Covid has actually allowed this year as I’ve grieved (continue to) and grown into my mum-of-three-busier-than-a-blue-arsed-fly-farmers-wife role, has actually been welcome. Do I think everything happens for a reason? Not sure. Life is what we make it, and sometimes serendipitous events align for our best selves and purpose to be pushed out into the Universe. But I’m glad I’ve given myself the grace and space so far. It’s been good. A good thing, to retreat.
But I also miss the connection. The community. Writing gives me far, far more than it takes (even when sometimes this feels like a very one way street). Cherie wrote this over on The Digital Picnic’s Insta feed which spoke volumes to me too. Create. Consume. Create. Consume. Repeat.
Writing, connecting, communing fills my cup. It often drains the cup, too. You can’t pour from an empty cup. “Retreat, retreat, retreat.”
Consider this a thought bubble explosion on a screen. It probably doesn’t make much sense to anyone, or even me (which is perhaps the point…) But that’s ok, because that’s what I used to do. Here I am again. Changed, yes. Better, working on it.
Stretching into Covid normal, changed by grief and loss and love of a completed family, grown in 18,395 different directions but purposeful or purpose-searching all the same.
All a bit deep for a Friday arvo. As you were.