Inspired by NaNoWriMo, I’ve committed to finishing my memoir. Finally. After almost a decade of cogitation, percolation, and procrastination. Voice building. Muscle building. Gut building. I’ve decided to call it Hell is for Children. Because, this. I’ll have a first draft done by the end of the month and a draft ready for an agent by the end of the year.
But, my god.
The monsters are visiting me in my sleep. I’m 3 months alcohol-free, but after a long day of writing, I’ve been dreaming that I ingest opiods and red wine. I hate it, in my dreams, but I can’t get enough. I wake up in the morning with the residue of guilt and defeat on me. I get it though. I get why I drank. I get why my brain seeks it, even in my sobriety. Lidia Yuknavitch said at the Ojai retreat that “your wound is your superpower.” And if my wound is PTSD (and it is), then my superpower is this outpouring of guts and honesty in the form of structured words on a page. My voice. My muscles.
I’ve had multiple dreams in the last week involving water. I’m always lost on the water. Sometimes, often, I fall out of a large ship, usually a luxury liner, and find myself flailing in deep water with sharks from the mesozoic era – especially the mammoth Leptostyrax macrorhiza – coming to eat me. I can never swim fast enough. I’m never rescued in time. I just spend all night pumping and pumping my arms, in a deep and very real panic, knowing that ancient beasts that can eat me in one bite are lurking just below the water, inches from my toes. I cannot get away.
Last night in my dream, I was stalked by a horde of weasel-like animals with spikes sharp as hypodermic needles. Other people could touch them, but I couldn’t get near them. They were all over me, poking me with with their spiky bodies. I experienced very real, very searing pain. The more I ran from them, the more they multiplied and gave chase.
I don’t usually remember these dreams straight away. I’ve been waking up deeply tired and restless, with an icky discomfort all over me. My stomach has been a bit on edge. I’ve been high strung. Usually at some point in my day, usually as the work day ends and it’s time for me to shift into writing mode, I remember whatever horror I dreamed of the night before. It’s unnerving.
Stopping this book isn’t one of the answers, though. I’ve begun. I’ve churned up the sediment.
I’ll tell you something I’ve never written about, and likely won’t. It’s deeply personal; it’s mine. I only share it here for the sake of explanation. A reminder to me, really. That’s what I need.
Dear Future Me:
Remember when you shaved your head when Sierra was pregnant with Logan? You were 33 and couldn’t wrap your mind around becoming a grandma or the divorce? You had no idea who you were in the world, again? Reinventing Gloria, reinventing Gloria, reinventing Gloria. Always and always and nonstop. So, you created your own spiritual practice. You shaved your head bald, quit looking in mirrors, and, based on the profound relationship you formed with the book The Sorcerer’s Crossing: A Woman’s Journey by Taisha Abelar, you decided to practice recapitulation? You spent three weeks recapitulating your sexual traumas, privately, in solitude, in a sacred space. You went all the way back into your memory, relived the events, and breathed out the energy that was deposited into you and breathed back in the energy that was stolen. Remember how exhausting that was? But remember how, weeks later, as your hair was growing out and you started wearing makeup again, you felt lighter than you’d ever felt in your life? Future Me, you’re going to re-read this post – probably sometime in 2016. And you’re gonna say, “Yep. It was worth it.”
P.S. Present Me? Calm the shit down, yo. Remember your breathing.
This book, it’s a crucible. It’s alchemy. It’s pick-whatever-fucking-metaphor-for-change you like. The nightmares aren’t bigger than me. The only way out is through.