Some things you can’t write about in a blog post. Because these things are so intricate and subtle and it takes a long time to untangle and, even then, all you do is to form theories that need even more time to then be demonstrated into practice. These things are the kind of things that come to life and reveal their true colours (when you’re writing a memoir for example) only through the retrospective lens. But I’m going to try to write a blog post about one of these things.
There are times in life when you feel restless and ungrounded. And no matter how hard you try, you keep banging into walls as if you were a blind person in a maze that keeps changing shape. Such times are happening to me right now. Perhaps you’ve wondered (or perhaps you haven’t and it really doesn’t matter, but just in case if you did) why I’ve been so quiet lately both online and socially, as if I melted into the background. Because life is busy and then you move house and you get married and you keep running on the treadmill as if the world was on fire and slowly you start losing things that make you you like when you lose change through a whole in your pocket.
At first it was the softball. The team I was playing with was taking things too seriously and the game had lost its fun and I wasn’t really good at it anyway. Then it was the running, since, I come home late from work and I don’t like waking up early in the morning and there is no park nearby to where I now live, anyway. Then it was the meetings with friends, the social events, the interesting talks, the the morning pages, the artist dates and the list goes on. I had to take a look at myself recently and realise that I am not sure who I am anymore without the things I used to love and I no longer have. One excuse followed another and before I knew it, I was empty inside. Except for the fact that I have a husband, a cat and I live in a grown-up house with a garden.
I didn’t realise but I have been slowly killing myself. I had slowly taken away vital elements of my being one after another and couldn’t figure out why I was doing that. What was motivating me? Was I punishing myself for something? Was I doing that thinking that it would please my partner if I annulled who I was? Did I really believe all that crap that I was telling myself?
It’s been over half a year since nothing happened with The Love Project. It has been on a shelf until I was done with the wedding et al, so I could revisit it unhindered and give it a revamp for agent resubmission. And I was cool with that. I felt that time apart did me good and I was able to come back to the page with an expanded heart and make the adjustments it needed. And so I began about a month an half ago during my morning bus commute. And the more I edited, the more I realised I had written a book that was not entirely me. I started feeling like a hypocrite because it wasn’t telling the true story, the pain, the mistakes, the embarrassments, the failures, oh the monumental failures that made me grow and how many times I had to go through them in order to finally learn to love myself. I felt inclined to destroy it so I can write it again, but I felt too coward to do that. Perhaps I could salvage it. Perhaps I could chop it up and stitch it back in the interest of time and my sanity. But it’s hard when you no longer believe in the message of your own story.
The message of The Love Project is not that if you try hard enough you eventually find love, but that you have to (against all odds and in any circumstances) love yourself enough to break your own heart (to quote Cheryl Strayed), to build a braver heart, to rise above your conditioning and to allow yourself to be who you are meant to be in this world.
And how could I turn the message around when I no longer felt like myself, when there was almost no heart in my chest left to break?
‘You are very good at giving people direction,’ my mother said last week, whilst visiting me in London.
‘Really?’ I asked, having just finished drawing a map for my 18-year old cousin, indicating step by step how to make it from Streatham to Victoria and Albert Museum and back.
‘Yes,’ she said, ’do you remember when nephew Adrian had to fly from and back to Romania all alone, speaking no English and having never travelled by plane before, and you’ve drawn him such a detailed map that he managed perfectly, without any assistance,’ she recalled proudly.
‘Vaguely,’ I said, but, thinking about it later, I realised that my mother had brought something important to my attention.
I never thought of myself of a great storyteller. I don’t know how to naturally embellish a narrative and captivate an audience. This is perhaps one the main reasons why, for many years, writing was something I yearned for but thought that it was out of my league. I didn’t know how to create characters and make up stories and so I thought I was a fraud. It was through blog posts that I found confidence in my writing and realised I didn’t have to be a storyteller to be a writer. I was a gifted observer and interpreter of life.
When I decided to take control of my love life and write about it was from a keen desire to signpost the way to others. Even though it is a memoir, what is The Love Project if not a detailed journey towards emotional healing that I hoped would inspire others. By writing this book I tried to draw a map for others who haven’t been to the places I’d been to yet. I was showing the world how living in London as a single person really was and the courageous steps one needs to take to pave the way to inner happiness.
It’s important to remind myself of this function of my writing whenever I lose sight of my purpose. This book has been in the making for so long, that (with all due respect to my efforts) I’m sick of it. But maybe I’m meant to be sick of it and I’m meant to feel like a monumental failure all over again, because it is through my own failures that I am able to draw maps for others.
In such times, I need to define myself. And my mother (once again) helped me realise that there will always be someone (someone like nephew Adrian, for instance) who could really use a good map.