Marrying an even-tempered man had its advantages, but sometimes it made her crazy! Although they rarely argued, Janet often felt like she was going through her emotional experiences all alone–with someone who wasn’t affected by them. Mark saw change as mere, matter-of-fact occurrences unworthy of comment or discussion. What, then, should Janet do with her comments and expressions? So often she wanted to express herself, but found that when she did the people in her house—not just her husband, but her children too—looked at her with puzzled, annoyed or amused expressions and shook their heads. As if to say, “here goes crazy mom again,” overreacting as usual.
Nevermind that so many changes in her life were happening so fast and she didn’t like them, but Mark seemed unphased. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t get him to join her in the amazement.
“Look at these pictures from 20 years ago!” She would exclaim. “Look how young everyone was!”
“Oh my gosh, can you believe our daughter’s going to college already!”
Barely a blip on the radar.
“Wow, it seems like just yesterday we brought our baby home from the hospital, now look he’s almost taller than me!”
Janet’s a writer. Mark’s a scientist. For Janet, these important life changes are intertwined with her creative work and an important part of how she processes everything that is going on around her. So, when she writes something she’s especially proud of, she naturally wants to share it with her family. Of course, her family is politely supportive, but, when you’re the creative and emotional one who sees the world in metaphor and they’re the logical, matter-of-fact types who see everything in black and white, once the creative piece you’re sharing extends beyond a couple of sentences, a glassy look comes into their eyes and there’s a sound of birds chirping in the distance. The chirping stops, abruptly, when she gets to the last sentence, and, of course, everyone smiles politely and says “that was very good,” and she’s appeased, but empty, because she and they know what’s true.
It’s a lonely life.
You’re emotional. You feel things deeply. You “read” the world and people like a book and think about life and seasons in ways that others don’t. When you try to talk about those things, people look at you and listen, but they don’t really see you or hear. When conversations begin and you join in, they stop, or shift, or shut down, because you bring an entirely new perspective that no one thought of, or considered. They move on and leave you with your thoughts, unengaged.
It’s just our lot as creative thinkers.
But, maybe there are others who are like us who can appreciate the significance of the change happening all around, who will “oh my gosh” and “wow” and “amen” along side us while digging into the deeper meanings of those experiences and help us process them. It is not strange that we should need this, even if those around us do not. It is not strange that we should desire to discuss and write about and display our emotions in response to the world we experience, even if spouses do not. But, what we need is a space to do so that is free from the disparaging gaze of those who don’t understand, because the disapproving eye has so much power over the soul. Their disinterest makes us second-guess ourselves and their wrinkled brow squelches our light.
We will inevitably live and/or work with those who function outside of our mental space. But, perhaps it will stretch us in some way, make us work harder, think more…it will certainly give us something to write about.
Yet, in order to do our work, we must sneak away…for the sake of our souls, we must find a safe space, maybe even a secret place…and, if we can, a like-minded group. Forget about the people in your house! They might love you, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for your writing life. Find a writer’s group—even one online! But you mustn’t let go of your pen.
Shhh, even if we have to keep it secret, whatever we do, we’ll keep writing!