It took me years to be able to say that I am a writer. It just sounds so presumptuous. After all, what defines a writer? Anyone who writes? Or one who gets paid for that writing? If that is the definition, I guess I should say that I was a writer. Which is even more depressing because that means I have lost more than just my voice. I have lost a part of who I am. A big part.
Here is the greatest irony. For years I worked for others. I wrote for others. I was paid to write for others. So I did what I was hired to do. I loved what I did. I had readers. I had audience. I got feedback. My writing seemed to really resonate with others. It paid the bills. It fed my ego. But it wasn’t enough.
I was never entirely clear if my writing was my writing or if I was conforming to the mold that worked. A mold I may have even created. I simply can’t remember.
It’s like that story you tell. You think it’s true. You’ve told it so many times that it feels true. But there is that part of you that wonders if maybe, just maybe, you made part of it up. Or exaggerated a bit for effect. Or copied a part of someone else’s story. You tell yourself it doesn’t really matter. But you know it does. It is one thing to take creative license with something. It is another beast altogether when you can’t remember if you have. When you just don’t know the truth anymore.
All these years I waited, I yearned for the chance to just write whatever I wanted. However I wanted. And here I am. My dream fulfilled. And I have nothing to write. I have nothing to say. Even if I do, I no longer know how to say it.
So I struggle. And I wait. And today I write. Not because I have anything to say. Not because I have found my voice. But because I am hoping that after a ridiculously long hiatus that maybe by being honest with myself, on paper, something will be triggered. Something will come back. Something maybe I don’t recognize will appear that I want to get to know. Or what I know will start to feel authentic.
I write because I can no longer not write. I write because I know I have a voice even if I am not entirely sure how to express it. And I know that when I don’t write I allow myself to be enslaved. And we just celebrated leaving slavery. It is time to get out! I need to leave my personal Egypt. I need to share again, to write to tell. To create my own Haggadah, my own story.
I find comfort in knowing that the Hebrew month of Iyar follows that of Nissan. Nissan is the month in which Passover is celebrated. Nissan is also the month connected to speech. Freedom is defined by speech. The freedom to express oneself. The freedom to question.
But freedom is hard. With freedom comes responsibility. Perhaps that is what I am scared of. In the past if someone didn’t like my writing I could rationalize that it wasn’t really mine. It was whatever the other wanted. It was just a job. It wasn’t me. Yet now I have this freedom to write for myself. To write what I want. And that comes hand in hand with the fear of rejection. For if my writing is rejected it is part and parcel of who I am. And that is terrifying.
Intellectually I know that freedom is not an end goal but a process. But putting that into practice is the challenge. Step one is moving away from Egypt. Check. Done that. But the next step is finding my voice. And that is where I find myself now. But in just a few days we leave the month of speech and enter the month of healing. Iyar is an acronym for Ani Hashem Rofecha, ‘I am your Creator, your Healer.’ If freedom is so wonderful, why should we need healing when we are supposedly in the best place ever? And yet that is specifically when we do.
I pray that healing comes to me in the way of clarity. Clarity of thought, clarity with words, clarity of expression. Because I desperately want to write. I desperately need to write. But I need to find my voice. My voice.
So let this serve as my first expression of my freedom. The freedom to admit how truly enslaved I still am in so many ways. And the freedom to know that I can no longer allow myself to stay silent.