I have a little girl who loves to watch the movie Frozen. I’ve watched that show so many times that I’ve discerned the lesson in the plot, and it seemed like an epiphany once I did. This is it: You have a gift. You can choose to use your gift for good, or you can use it to hurt others. And sometimes it’s hard to know the difference because all you know is you need to — almost have to — use it. (Remember Queen Elsa singing, “Let it go, let it go, can’t hold back anymore”?)
God certainly gave me the ability to write, but I know that sometimes what I write hurts others’ feelings. Often I’ll write something that seems sassy and smart in the heat of the moment… but then later I’ll get to worrying about it and wondering whose feelings I’ve hurt.
When I write a scathing piece full of secrets or accusations that might upset someone, I often wallow in worry and self-loathing for days. My heart beats fast and my stomach aches. What if we lose our job because of my big mouth? What if the people in our community blacklist us? What if the sheriff comes to take my kids away? What if no one comes to play at our ranch rodeo this year because I’m Trouble with a capital T? What if I disappoint my parents yet again?
Why oh why do I always have to do things the hard way? Life would be much easier if I took the path of least resistance and wrote only about happy things: brandings, bunny rabbits, birthday parties, etc. Why don’t I just stick with happy thoughts?
I guess because I have this need, this little voice inside me that challenges me to constantly write up against the very edge of what sane people would deem acceptable. And sometimes bystanders get hurt while I’m busy being me. I wonder: did God make me this way? Or does the Devil make me do it? Often, when I’m writing, I can’t tell where the words are coming from. I just want to get them out.
I don’t know why I am the way I am. I’m opinionated and sassy and tend to spew out what crosses my mind. I’m prone to get riled up and sometimes want to hurt others. I’m radical even though my parents aren’t radical at all. They’ve never quit anything. Their job, their church… no matter the hardship, they’ve always just put their heads down and trudged through it. They are happy to take Big Brother’s advice. Me? I want to stick Big Brother in the craw with my pen, even though I know my behavior continually makes my family uncomfortable.
Sometimes I wonder why I can’t just be like everybody else and keep my mouth shut and save mankind some heartache. Who benefits from me writing down my every controversial thought, anyway? My grandmother has a tiny newspaper clipping on her refrigerator that reads: “It takes more energy to build than it does to tear down.” Something inside me wants to tear down. Do I do enough to control that desire?
Then I think: those people who are keeping their mouths shut aren’t hurting anybody, but they sure aren’t helping anybody either.
And at the end of the day, I guess that’s why I write for the public. Some people might wish I kept my thoughts locked in a diary. But occasionally something I’ve written and revealed to the public will really touch somebody. I often find out that a controversial piece spoke specifically to one certain reader. Every reader relates to me differently, and just about the time I think I’ve really done it this time and published something so reeking with pain that I should’ve just kept it to myself, somebody’ll say something about how that particular piece really spoke to him or her. Maybe made them feel less alone in the world. The piece that disgusted and infuriated Reader A will often be the piece that delights and gives hope to Reader B.
Guess it’s true that in life you win some and you lose some. So I’ll continue being me, because I don’t know how to be anybody else. Though please know, dear reader, that I do not take lightly the emotions that you entrust me with every time you dive into my words. (Read: Breaking news: Santa’s elves sentence non-believing mom/aunt to 50 lashes with wet noodle.) And I always check myself to discern whether the Devil is using me to tear good things down. My jury debates and debates that one.
Because I always feel yucky when I know I’ve hurt someone. I’m not made of steel, and that’s why I couldn’t make it in the newspaper business.
But the newspaper business did polish within me the ability to kinda accept the fact that there are some people who just plain don’t like me. It just seems to be part of being Tami Jo.
These tales of mine write themselves while I am showering… mowing… driving. And then when I finally get a few free minutes and put them down on the screen it’s such a sense of accomplishment… and then I have to choose whether or not to hit the “publish” button. If I do, my thoughts and opinions will be out in the broad daylight for all the world to see.
More often than not, I publish.
© Tami Blake