Join Me on the Journey…
Most people don’t trust loners and introverts. In our world of community and ‘it takes a village,’ I felt like I didn’t quite belong. But fitting in was vital, so I faked it.
When I started middle school with braces and a flat chest, nearly as tall as I am now, Mom told me to pretend. “Give an academy award performance,” she said. “Nobody but you will know you’re nervous or embarrassed.”
I did this in class, in friend groups, on the cheerleading squad. I flipped my hair and chattered like the rest of the high pitched girls, but inside, the real me longed to go someplace safe and catch my breath.
Mom’s advice was sound, but no one ever told me to stop pretending. In college I heard my real voice faintly come up for air when I wrote papers and stories, but it was squashed back down again when I moved back in with my parents to scandalously have my son at nineteen.
Getting married, having more babies, and moving every couple of years gave my husband the loudest say-so in my head. This wasn’t his intent, but I was used to being told how to think and he spoke with authority. When marriage got ugly, I regressed into fear as though Mom had yanked me out of school and stuck me in a new one again for the umpteenth time. My internal voice stopped speaking because no one was listening, not even me. It stayed locked until recently.
When it woke up, my quiet, inner voice told me that survival meant getting out of Maine. The west was calling to me. I hated my home.
But what if it wasn’t my home but rather, my people? The church people and the job people, and even friends who were smothering me. And the person, my husband; the one to whom I’d given the safe keeping of my heart. After decades of marriage, I’m on his list of baggage just like he’s on mine. We are battered and bruised on the inside because of each other. What married couple isn’t?
When the buried whispers blinked awake and started squawking unfamiliar thoughts at me a few months back, I wasn’t sure what I was hearing. I asked my therapist if maybe I was schizophrenic and she laughed, but I was serious. The real me, at age forty-nine, was somebody I didn’t recognize.
The only message I could decipher was that I needed to vacate Maine and hightail it back to Colorado. Others figured they could explain my problem. It was the empty nest. It was because I missed my kids. Maybe I craved my Colorado people. I thought I could explain it too – it had to be the humid Maine summers and icy winters and the religion I could no longer swallow. Or maybe I was mad at my husband.
Either way, Colorado would take me back to the beginning, back where I recognized myself, so I grabbed my dog, got into the car, and drove away.
That journey is the book I’m writing now.
Join me? You can follow along HERE.