For All The Things I Never Said
The strength in overcoming fear.
I grew up in a culture where if one was not physically hurt, then one had no valid reason to complain or cry. At very young ages we were conditioned to bear this burden. Our parents did it, so did our grandparents; the line of emotional suppression is so long I believe it naturally became part of our genetic makeup.
The divorce between my parents didn’t help the situation much either since it basically left me with a struggling father to pay bills while raising four girls. To not add any further burdens to an already burdensome situation I learnt to cope and be satisfied with not voicing my opinions or needs and keeping my feelings inside made more sense. Being emotional was gathered to be weak and weakness was not encouraged.
As I grew, so did my emotional suppression, I began stiffing any thoughts that would make me stand out or call attention to myself. I would say nothing to avoid confrontation but what I was really doing was hindering my emotional growth by not learning how to process my feelings in a healthy way.
Within my family this was all manageable, after all, they were doing the exact same thing too. It all became more complicated as I matured into a teenager. Having to deal with adults who were not my parents and peers who were not my siblings became the real challenge.
Whenever I think back to my earlier years, I sometimes cringe as certain memories replay their instances in my head. Times where I was accused of things and I could not find my voice to say “It was not me” landed me in detention at school and despising my peers. I found my feelings in the lyrics of rock genre songs and ended up feeling an even bigger need to express myself since I was now being forced to defend myself on grounds that I was not worshiping the Devil. But I still said nothing.
I began writing and the words poured out of me like water from a broken levee. I drew when words were not enough to express how I felt and then I hid them away from prying eyes under the pretenses that no one would understand mainly because I could not understand the reasons behind these emotions.
I ended up failing to express my passion to pursue an artistic career because I had no proof I was willing to produce that this is what I really intended to do, I ended up pursuing an academic background in business and technology. I continued to draw but found my self writing less for me and more for the next assignment due for some class I was taking.
In addition to having to deal with pursuing a degree I had no intention of using, and deep down I felt this to be true, I was also having to deal with the challenges of having personal intimate relationships where communication was key. My relationships were strained because I could not be the "weak emotional" one. I either had loud explosive moments or slip into giving the silent treatment because at this point in my life, expressing anything would only cause more pain.
Moving fully into adulthood, this fear of expression became my cross to bear. So many avoidable situations that happened due to my fear of the outcome of articulating my feelings or thoughts. I started writing again, jotting thoughts down in my phone, scribbling poems and sketching art onto computer pages at work when life became too overwhelming; then hiding them away.
Then COVID happened along with my 30th birthday and I began dreaming of that 'What If' life. What if I had said this or done this that one time? What if I had studied something else? Anxiety was gripping me by the throat and the only way I could think of fixing it was to express it on paper, on canvas, on my phone or computer. I began dreaming of showing my art to the world, of one day having a book with my thoughts and feelings in words and images all of my own making. Some may say I manifested it or some may say whatever is meant to be will be in its own time, whatever it is, what happens next still amuses me. I went searching for ways to start blogging and found Vocal. I started adding a few pieces here and there using the challenges to funnel my thoughts since I had absolutely no experience in blogging at all. I told no one close to me. I was terrified of anyone close to me reading what I had to say. Vocal would become a stepping stone to what happened next.
I decided to participate in a 21 days Write Your Heart Out Challenge. Every day for 21 days I was tasked to write a poem to submit, if I missed one day the next day they required two. This was tasking to do after a full 9 to 5 job but I managed to find joy after each creation. At the completion of the 21 days, the publishing company offered to publish my book of poems with the opportunity to add any artwork I wished to add. For days I bit my nails and tossed sleeplessly in my bed thinking "WHAT THE HECK DID I JUST DO! TAKE IT ALL BACK!". I pushed pass the nervousness, agreed and ended up with Chrysalis, my book, being published in November 2021. I begrudgingly shared the news with family and close friends who shared the news across all their social media platforms and within minutes people were reaching out to congratulate and acquire copies. .
I spent the next month, terrified to read my messages. What had I done? All I could think about is what people would think about me. I poured my heart out in most of those lines, I admitted to suffering and pain that I could not tell my partner, family or closest friend. Would they think me juvenile with some of the thoughts I expressed? Why didn't I write anything better?
But it was the out pour of support that continuously flowed in that caused me to finally exhale for what felt like the first time ever.
I look back now at the years I've spent being terrified of what people might think, gripping fear of of saying the wrong things or being a burden when the only things that should have mattered was whether I felt it needed to be said and simply just say it. The years of thinking no one would care about what I had to say changed with every congratulating message. The feeling of being bread crumbed by life to express the side of me I kept buried for years. The shock on the faces of those closest to me as they viewed my artwork for the first time broke chains I've been bonded by for years.
I sure did find a way to express years of hidden emotions and it happened in the biggest way my younger self would have never imagined.
I finally found strength in my voice.
About the author
I was born a Dreamer.I have led a life that sounds unbelievable sometimes,encountered people who match the villainous and heroic personas we read about in stories and done things I would surely do better.
A penny for my thoughts is worth it.