Writing is like laying yourself bare naked on cold concrete for everyone to look at, a controversial exhibit on display in a museum. It is like slicing yourself down the middle and peeling back your skin to reveal the workings of your body for everyone to judge.
When I was younger I used to write about everything, and the darker the world I created, the better. I loved to tell harrowing stories, fearlessly diving down into the disturbing world of my imagination and pulling out scenes and images I knew nothing about in the real world.
I didn’t care what people thought of my work. I didn’t care what they thought of me.
But, with age has come this crippling self-consciousness that permeates my writing like a parasite. I am afraid of what people will think of me after reading what I write. I am afraid of being too honest, revealing too much in case they see me for what I am. I cover myself with layers to protect myself from the serpent eyes of those around me.
Don’t look at me.
What is it that I am afraid they will see?
I am afraid they will see how much I feel. The intensity of my thoughts and emotions that crash through me, that threaten to drown me some days. There is an ugliness in the world that I can’t help but see. There is so much gnarled pain and hurt, and the sound of it is almost deafening.
I am afraid to look at it.
I am afraid to listen to it.
I am afraid to write about it.
In case it overwhelms and consumes me.
I am afraid to feel. Writing is like picking at the scab on the surface of your emotions, that hard layer you form to protect the raw flesh underneath from exposure to the outside world. To write well, you need to reveal that sore tenderness, and I am petrified of the hurt that comes with that. I am afraid the feelings will overwhelm me and I will bleed out.
I am afraid of myself.