Big Feelings, Small Words

Sometimes to help myself write every day, I pick a theme for the month. After playing around with fall in October, I had planned to use gratitude and thanksgiving as my inspiration for November. Then my daughter moved out, taking my granddaughter with her. Gratitude and thanksgiving have been far from my mind.

I can get there if I really stretch: I’m glad they found a new home that they love. I’m glad they’re both healthy enough to embark on this adventure. I’m glad they’re where they want to be.

I wish I could express the journey I’ve been on with this child, but I can’t. The feelings are still too big to fit into these tiny letters. My words aren’t strong enough, supple enough, to capture the complexities of what she means to me. And it’s not like she’s out of my life. She’s a couple hours away, closer by phone. She called me this morning, in fact, just to say hi.

Still, this transition has left me feeling huge feelings that I’m having trouble writing. They’re too big for my little poems. Too complex for my simple words. The sadness is too deep, touching too many long-buried emotions that I’m just not willing to feel right now. I recognize that the sadness is deeper than it should be. I understand that not all I’m feeling is about what it’s about. But I don’t want to unearth the buried caches of old feelings I’ve tried hard to forget. I thought I had burned the maps that marked those spots. I wasn’t expecting her going to reveal those secret pains.

In my journal the other night I wrote, “I miss her. It’s like a piece of my heart is gone….She was laughter and silliness and hugs and love. She was love. And even though this move is good for her, her being here was good for me.” That thought turned into YOU LEFT, which surprised me. It captures some of the heartache, and perhaps some of the underlying larger grief, but framed in a way that I still haven’t processed fully for myself.

I need time to ponder my own writing sometimes, to find the hidden meanings, the hints and signs that lead to a better understanding of my being. That’s always the biggest question for me: Who am I in this situation? Who am I in relation to these events? To these people? Where do I stand in love? in loss? How much of myself am I willing to share? How much of myself do I even know? How willing am I to examine those buried emotions?

Every poem I write is a conversation with myself, whether I realize it right away or not. I wonder what I’ll learn if I make myself concentrate on gratitude instead of pain and how long it will take me to get there.

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