I've been working on a more in-depth post on the role of scapegoat, but with everyone being home, I haven't had enough time to actually get into my "flow" to complete it. (I have a lengthy draft's folder in general, but that's just become a norm for me.) I don't want to write about the virus, or motherhood today. I feel like that's the only thing to talk about. And maybe it's silly to want to talk about other things but I need to honor the truth as it moves through me.
A few days ago, I was moving some furniture around and organizing things in our living room when I came across a copy of an essay I had published in 2012 in the now-defunct Canadian magazine, Highbrau. I found it online a few days ago if you're interested in reading it. I don't know how I'd categorize the piece, childhood trauma & abuse is referenced, growing up and coming of age, becoming a mother myself & how it all shaped me. It wasn't the subject matter that got to me so much (I know my story, these truths aren't buried, they are just my "normal" now), but the act of writing in and of itself; how much I miss it. I don't do it anymore, not really. I journal in the morning. I tweet. Sometimes write a nice little paragraph on Instagram. But basically, as soon as I returned to Minnesota in July 2016, I stopped doing it completely.
It lead me down a trail of realization of how much I stopped doing the things that brought me joy since I left California. And once I open a door, I can't just take a little peak and close it, I have to travel all the way through it. So, I started looking through journals from 2013-2016 (my time in Iowa and California, the years I was editor and chief of Dirty Chai Magazine, while my own work was published pretty consistently) and then my journals from the time that came after that until now. It was a bit uncomfortable, kind of sad and really eye-opening. Because WHAT THE HECK! These last 4 years have done something strange to me. It's confusing. I haven't been able to anchor anything. No more editing. I had a chapbook published in 2017 (that I wrote at the end of 2015) and that's pretty much been it on the writing front. I don't edit. I tried to work as a doula, but with 4 kids that's proven to be absolutely impossible. (Mom's of young kiddos cannot be on-call. You end up sacrificing sacred years and putting your entire family on edge.) I ran a few workshops here and there, but the travel requirements since I can't seem to find an interest in the community I am in for the things I do have made it harder for me to do anything in that aspect. I had planned to go to Bali in February 2018 but then found out I was pregnant with Jude, which turned out to be a happy change in direction because 1. Jude is amazing and 2. I don't think the training would've amounted to anything I could tangibly use here anyway. Saved me a few thousand dollars.
I wondered when and why I became someone who offered sessions online (which I am no longer doing because I don't have the time during this shelter-in-place order), and it's been because I've been so isolated since I've gotten here. I have friends in Minnesota, but we don't live in the same community, so hangouts have to be planned both in advance and with time for an overnight, not just a coffee meet up or something, so it doesn’t happen as frequently as I would like. I’ve felt very, very socially isolated here. It became glaringly obvious that the internet was the only "outlet" I had. Both for having thoughts outside of taking care of this house and the kids and for using my gifts. (Not trying to minimize the connection I have with my partner, he’s amazing and we share so much. But I do long to connect with other adults, too!)
And! I haven't been writing! I have a ton of unfinished, half-started projects, but I can't remember the last time I actually finished an essay. I don't know how much of it has to do with time (I know it's a big part of it) and how much of it has to do with a lack of inspiration. I'm so understimulated that I don't have anything but complaints to whine about (hence this blog post. Ha.). No one wants to read that. Not even me! So, I haven't even been writing about that (and when I have, it's come from such a distorted place that once I came to my senses, I had to delete it.) And, let me tell you, isolation makes your brains go all-scrambled eggs. I started to genuinely forget the communities that I had while living in other places. I truly began to believe something was wrong with me and that I just hadn't fit in anywhere, ever. And that is such a lie. I once tweeted, "It's much easier to program an isolated amnesiac" and I just recently realized how true those words were for me, personally. Depression is a spiral and it makes your vision foggy and when we go for long periods of time without seeing or speaking to other grown adults (and in my case, face to face contact with other women), we start to go a little cuckoo clocks and the enemy gets a win.
And then this stay-at-home-order thing happened, slowly rolling out to sheltering-in-place and I've noticed more people getting online and posting random stuff. That, too, has been such a clarifying experience. Isolation makes a person naturally use whatever resources they have to send a signal out into the universe. I'm watching people whose profiles have been idle for years suddenly posting chain-letter-style Q/A updates. It's amazing! It's made me feel less crazy! See?! See what happens when you're mentally unstimulated?! How you look to connect in any way you can?! This reminder coupled with that essay and the trail of revisiting myself via journals has shaken me awake. I feel God dancingly saying, AZIA! FINALLY! WAKE UP SLEEPY HEAD!
I don't know what it all means. But, my friend Sofia said to me on Tuesday night (after I had just gotten off of a zoom call with 3 of my oldest girlfriends), “You cannot be pragmatic with your life or your love." Practicality can be a dream-killer, a personality-killer. I've learned this first hand. Somewhere in the mess of these 4 years, I've lost the spark of me and surrendered to a half-life. I betrayed myself because I kept telling myself You have four beautiful children. You are with your lover. You have a house on 5 acres. You have chickens. You have so many things: what is wrong with you? Just be happy! Denying that while yes, those things are great, I am grateful and feel so very blessed, me, Azia, is still a sovereign woman who longs to connect with other women in person. I desire community. I need a life outside of taking care of this home, too. And that doesn't mean something is wrong with me. And every time I deny this, I'm chipping away a little bit at the truth of who I am. What's left? Chronic anxiety, a list of frustrations, exhaustion and a person who no longer writes because the words that come out of her feel like they have nothing to do with her.
What a realization.
What a wake-up call.
And it's going to be interesting now, to do dive into what all this means for my life as we enter into this shelter-in-place order. I will not only be doing everything I was before but I will also be a teacher to 3 kids (what society is asking of parents right now is honestly absolute insanity). I'm going to feel more claustrophobic than ever some days, I'm sure. It's already happened. But, I'm grateful that I'm going into this time cognizant of the remembering of myself. I want to feel it all and remember every bit of me, fight to be the woman I am again. I know that as I give myself time to feel into these truths, I will have more patience and grace. I will be a better mother, lover, friend. I will write again. And eventually, one day, I will be home.