“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” Maya Angelou.
I was surprised with the recent publication of my essay, “Harnessed”. It wasn’t only the fact that I finally felt a writer, meeting the literary criteria of a journal. It wasn’t simply because this was a fresh piece of prose, put to the page late July in Benjamin Busch’s class at Sierra Nevada’s MFA program. There were painstaking hours spent with this work, in my early journals while in the Air Force, and later, marinading in my heart to brave up and pen it to paper. Once written, Busch asked us to surgically hone our narratives to less than half, to something so concise that only the essential story would remain.
This was tough work. But the edit did not surprise me.
What caught me off guard was the response once the piece published. The out-pour of support through texts and emails. Messages from those who knew bits of my story and secretly rooted me on from afar. Those I grew up with and those only recently met. There were also those who were concerned.
“I didn’t know you still carried so much anger, so much hatred,” someone told me.
I didn’t expect the conversation to open this way, but I realized there is a grand misunderstanding about how someone might process their own life. For me, I no longer held rage and the fact that I could write or talk about aspects of my life was proof that I was healing.
No, I haven’t written everything down about my journey. No, I don’t know that I will be able to share portions of myself, submit them for publication, even if I do draft them into an essay. No, I may never be able to open up, even to myself, and ink out the darkest times. I’m okay with all of it.
But that conversation prompted me to reach out to my family and close friends and tell them to not worry about me, that finally speaking out and breaking my own silence was a good thing, not a sign of my past wounding. The funny thing was that in the dialogues that followed, we finally cut through the quiet and talked about something that had remained unspoken. Most of them shared how they worried for me over the years and how they prayed for me and wished, somehow, they could’ve stepped in and intervened in my suffering. It was the type of talk that helped us all.
I’m thankful “Harnessed” made its mark in Gravel and out into the world. I’m full of more gratitude that in doing so, it changed and encouraged those close to me to know that I am doing all right. My hope is that it will reach those I may never cross paths, those who may have faced or are enduring similar circumstances and that, in reading this short piece, they will know that they are no longer alone. They will, I pray, have a glimpse of hope.