While some might see this statement as negative for me it was a point of pride. There was a point in my life where the work I did on my poetry this year would've sunk me into self-destructive behavior. There are only a few people in the world who know how truly self-destructive I can be when properly motivated and even fewer who know what it takes to bring me to that place or how to then get me out of it.
But this year, when I felt tempted to let go and sink into that emotional quicksand, I did things I'd never done before. They may seem like no-brainers to you, but for me this was revelatory.
I allowed myself to cry, to sit at my desk and let the tears flow while I worked. I didn't stop working, and I didn't stop the tears. I didn't make excuses for the tears. I didn't question the tears. I didn't analyze the tears. I didn't judge them. I just let them be. I didn't fight them, and they didn't fight me. It was positively cathartic!!
Other times, I called/texted/IMed (oh, today's verbage. gotta love it.) with my friends. Sometimes we talked about the poetry projects and even my feelings about certain poems. Other times my friends distracted me enough that I didn't get bogged down and distracted by the content of the poems while doing more tedious tasks.
My friends chatted with me, analyzed poems with me, reminded me of why I decided to publish my poetry, encouraged me, and reminded me that great is actually better than perfect. One friend texted with me for a couple of hours one night as I worked through a particularly emotional set of poems. It was a light conversation, for the most part, and the friend didn't even know I was working through most of the conversation, but it kept me balanced.
I also turned to my community on Facebook with status updates about my progress and to share poems. This brought encouragement, insight, and support often in ways people likely didn't know they were giving. A silly comment that made me laugh in the midst of a group of painful memories. A word of encouragement about my progress. A "like" about a post related to my poetry or my gratitude statement of the day.
There were times when I also put myself first and disappointed others. This is always hard for me, but it became necessary for me to concentrate and give my own work the attention it deserved. There were those who understood. There were those who respected me for it. There were those who, well, didn't respond so kindly. The unkind responses made me appreciate those who truly care about me and my goals that much more.
As I prepared to release Love in Silhouette, I couldn't help but wonder if some of these poems will make people who think they know me well, question just how well they really know me. I also wonder if some of the people who inspired certain poems will recognize themselves in the poems should they read them. The last two things that occasionally concern me are that someone may misinterpret a poem or assign a poem to an incorrect time period in my life, but that can only happen with people who think they know more than they do about me and my past. Strangers won't care, and those who love me know the truth.
So, I released the poems into the world for judgment because I know that in the end no matter how the world judges them, my friends will be there to remind me of what's important.
I'm nearing completion of the manuscript portion for the second book, Reflections in Silhouette, right now. At least I think it's almost complete. As I rearranged the order of the poems and added a few new poems to improve the flow, I realized that I've learned a lot throughout this process. I've learned that sometimes you have to reach out and say "support me, please." because your friends can't know what you're feeling, but their inability to read your mind and heart doesn't mean they don't care. I've learned that sometimes a distraction that presents itself is there to help you through something tough making it as much blessing as distraction. I've learned that my feelings don't have to be hidden or tempered or changed for those who truly care about me. They will continue to care about me even when I'm sitting at my desk crying tears they don't see while reading their silly texts designed to make me smile. I've learned something about accepting support and asking for help. Sometimes you don't have to ask, sometimes you just have to accept the support offered even when the person offering it doesn't know they're offering it. Sometimes that is the best help of all.
I managed to stay afloat as the emotional quicksand that is my poetry surrounded me, but I didn't do it alone. And, that's okay. Strength doesn't mean pulling yourself out of the quicksand on your own so much as finding and accepting the resources and support of those who will throw you a lifeline when you need it. Much love and thanks to all my friends who support, encourage, and inspire me whether they know they help me or not as I traverse the emotional quicksand that is the poetry I've written.