I have something to tell. It’s been needling at me for weeks. All this year, in fact. It keeps coming to a head, bubbling up in my throat, threatening to spill out and over and into the world. And just before it gets past my lips, my fingers, I ball it up in my hands and cram it back in as fast and hard as I can. And it stays there…for a while. But then, others write or say things that remind me that it’s still there. It’s amazing the way they play on it like an instrument. It’s almost like they know. They bring it out with visceral clarity in a way that makes my blood fire, my chest tighten, my teeth clench. It’s ugly and it’s painful and it involves so many other people. I tell myself I’m protecting them, but that’s a lie. Save one or two, they don’t need or deserve my protection. The truth would be closer to say that they don’t deserve my attention. But, whatever.
I can’t bring myself to sit down and spit it out. It’s stubborn. Locked down tight. Even the safe confessional of boozy strangers in bars and hotel rooms in another city couldn’t tease it from me last week. If the security of such distance and lubrication couldn’t do it, I’m not sure what can. Part of me should be thankful for distractions and this targeted case of writer’s block, but I really do want to unload and be free of it. To admit what I got myself into and my part in it. To air the choices I made. To be rid of her, even if she causes more damage on the way out. And she will. She always takes her collateral and lays waste. She always has, and it’s why it’s so tempting to just let it ride lest it cost me the peace I’ve finally earned in other parts of my life. Truth be told, I’m not terrified of the consequences so much as I am of her her. Of me. Of us. Of what we’d do together again if I breathe life back into her by speaking her name. Again, what’s dead should stay dead…only she doesn’t. And so, like the rising tide, it’s coming whether I want it to or not. That much has been clear and out of my hands for a while now.
Exorcism in print is the only way, though, and I have to declare and settle all accounts in order to move forward as a person and a writer. It’s something I also have to make some people understand as they urge me to put my toe back into those waters where it could start all over again. She’s always there waiting in the shallows just beneath the surface. I need to have the story out there so I can point to it and say, “See? That? That’s why I can’t go there again.” Like an addict, I had to give up the junk cold turkey. There is no recreational use. It always ends up bloody. There are dangers in going there again, even under the veil of fiction. Possibly especially under the protection that veil offers. Too easy to cheat. Too easy to draw the wolves back to the door.
The momentum is undeniable. I need my testimonial given and witness borne, but telling the truth isn’t so hard as facing it, especially when it’s about yourself. You have to tell the truth to yourself before you can tell it to others. It’s the first things first part that’s the problem.