Private Words, Publicly Spoken

When you sit in your quiet writing space and create a blog post, there’s a sense of solitude. Even though, somewhere in the recesses of your little writing brain, you know what you’re doing will be public.

It’s a common dichotomy for any person who chooses to step out publicly: balancing public and private. For writers in particular, if you can’t cut deeply into your emotions, you can’t create stories that will also touch another’s emotions. So you must be brutally honest and public, about things intimately private.

I’ve never given this much thought until recently when I posted about losing a loved one. The loss was so raw, so shocking (and still is). The only way I can process is through words and so I posted. Not thinking of readers at all. Simply deep in my grief. Not thinking about private tears exposed publicly.

Then the comments started coming in. People thanking me. Sharing the post. Some complimenting me. One of my dearest, oldest friends said ‘you were always meant to be a writer and this proves it’. I cried after that one.

And then started feeling anger. Thinking that I didn’t write that piece to be thanked. I didn’t write it thinking about author craft. I didn’t write it seeking compliments.

I didn’t write it thinking of myself as a writer creating something.

It became difficult to respond to comments. How do you say a cheery little ‘thanks!’ when the reason you wrote those words is so heart-breaking?

Another friend stepped in to tell me that people weren’t thanking me for what I created, but thanking me for saying what they couldn’t. Okay…but again, how do you respond? Especially when one of the people thanking you is his mother?

A huge sense of responsibility descended. How dare I consider myself the right person to say what other’s can’t? I’m not good enough.

All of this swirled around until it’s now a tornado of words and reactions and questions with no answers.

And in the eye of that storm is the deep silence of grief.

All I can do is write selfishly about my private thoughts. All I can do is forget about the public platform those private words sit on.

But there must be a better word, a better reaction than ‘thanks’. What I want to happen, to each and every person who compliments me or thanks me, is to hug them instead of speaking. To stand in silence and share, probably with tears, those emotions and memories my words might have inadvertently touched.

I want those private words to become community, not public. To create family and friendship and connection instead of congratulations.

So if you thank me, please know my stumbling response, or embarrassment, or discomfort, has nothing to do with you and everything to do with loss.

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7 thoughts on “Private Words, Publicly Spoken

  1. Love you!!!
    Hug written out or simply a heart icon help me to express myself instead of words in moments like that.
    I wish I could be there to hug you in person.
    This is so you… Using your words to deal with the pain, like a painter would paint a picture of the scene you described. It was beautifully written and a moment frozen in time. An important moment, important view of that grief and pain. And you shared it what is the best thing you can do in those kind of tragedies. This is how one deals, how you deal and other appreciate you picture, that you are one of them, one of the community and they encircled you into that group by thanking you to describe their thoughts, their view and their pain.

    I am sorry, but you are just really good at what you do and it speaks to the hearts of so many! Why would they not thank you to put those beautiful words out there. I know they showed the pain, raw pain, but they also showed the love and the comfort and the community. It made something horrid a little bit less bad in a way if that is possible.

    Hugs!!!

    • I know there will be community, and hugs, Saturday at the memorial. And a flood of tears. Going to be a hard day for everyone and an impossibly hard day for the family.

  2. Hi Lisa, as writers, I do not believe we consider ourselves the right person to say what others can’t. We are often only expressing what our spirit needs to express. Your words for Sam remain profound and simply YOU although I do not know you personally. But it does not matter that I know you personally. You have reached me by way of my friends and your words resound with me and I reflect on those words, those feelings and link them to my own humanness. You have no idea of how much. And simply, I am thankful for the connection. Thank you….for opening yourself to such connection even if you may not have knowledge of it.

  3. Bravery. I think that’s the word I’m looking for. It takes bravery to share the words that express deep emotion, offering them up, not knowing who will see them and respond. The expression is also healing — to she who writes the words as well as those who read them, because it builds bonds. It’s the ultimate act of love; to reach out and be willing to share. And it’s scary as hell because it makes the giver very vulnerable. So, yeah. Bravery. Thank you for being brave enough to reach out and touch people’s hearts and offer what they need; connection and community.

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