After Page One: My Journey
A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire
Split in Two
It’s never easy to sacrifice, to place others before yourself, even to the detriment of your dreams and desires. Reality is cruel, unforgiving, untamed. As mothers, wives, and women, we envision an existence different than the one in which we find ourselves entangled. We imagine ourselves independent and strong, emerging from the shadows of oppression, gliding down paths forged by those before us who struggled to obtain their equal position in a patriarchal society. They shirked their aprons and iron skillets, threw down brooms and picked up pens, capturing the essence of their authenticity in words etched onto paper. They refused the box in which others struggled to contain them, bursting forth, screaming their names.
Contemporary women strive to emulate such vibrant souls, to honor the emancipation of the feminine by placing footprints on the tapestry of humanity. We become doctors, lawyers, teachers, astronauts, engineers, scholars, writers. With each breath exhaled, we assert our true selves. Nature, however, is persistent, and the nurturing instinct buried deep within the womb beckons. We long for a coo, a whisper, and lock of velvet newborn hair brushing against our hand, and we relinquish all thoughts of ourselves in search for the perpetuation of our existence through the formation of another. Soon, brushstrokes, gavels, pens, and stethoscopes are replaced with diapers and dirty dishes, lullabies and sleepless nights. The spirit, struck mute, slips into a catatonic state, trapped in suspended animation. Most forget the sound of their voice, burying it in the recesses of their past.
I am one of the fortunate. Though later in life, I managed to reconnect with the woman I abandoned long ago in pursuit of raising a family. I returned to school at thirty-seven, first to finish my Bachelor’s in English, and then to obtain my MFA in creative writing in 2012. My voice emerged in my writing, and the lost soul often neglected had plenty to say. To date, I’ve published forty pieces of literature, as well as my first book, Evolution of Cocoons, this September. I’ve been nominated for a literary award for my poetry, and currently seek the publication of my second book, Welcome to the Dollhouse, a collection of feminist poetry. Writing frees me; it provides me an outlet for my emotions, my fears, my triumphs, my desires.
Writing helped me to both cope with and accept my daughter’s chronic and debilitating mental and developmental illnesses. Writing allows me the opportunity to express my strong and vibrant feminine self. It provides a conduit through which I connect with other women across the spectrum of race, class, religion, and culture through shared experiences of the sisterhood. Without writing, I dwell in silence.
It’s not easy. I spend each day searching for time to write amongst a myriad of duties and obligations to my husband and two daughters: laundry, cooking, home schooling, orthodontist and therapist appointments, caring for my special needs child. Eating is a luxury, let alone taking several hours of daylight to sit down at my computer and immerse myself in my writing. By day, I embody the archetypal woman, the wife, mother, and caregiver as she has existed across the centuries, putting my family before myself.
When darkness comes, and others slip into slumber, I emerge: the woman, the poet, the artist, the writer. Just as life continues from day to night as the earth rotates across the sky, so do I exist separately in shadows and in light. Without indulging both, and equally significant aspects of myself, life would be intolerable. I am a mother and wife, yes, but I am also an individual who exists independently from others. For many years I denied the presence of my authentic self, concerned only for others; however, there is only so much you can care for, so many responsibilities you can carry, only so much air you can take in as the noose tightens, before you splinter into a thousand shards. So, in the collapsing shadows, I grew a new life, one that affords me the opportunity to flourish in my own light. I relish nighttime.
A balanced life is as impossible as the pink of Barbie lipstick: unreal, imagined, unattainable, yet somehow we manage to live dual lives, straddling the boundary between caregiver and independent woman. The female spirit possesses an incredible knack to split the world in two. Submission to the chaos is the only viable solution to surviving the dichotomy of motherhood and the exploration of our authentic selves. Feigning control over something so unyielding and wily leads to heartbreak, resentment, and an untimely end to our pursuit of self. Acknowledge your voice, embrace it, and celebrate it. Usher in your revolution.
Janna is giving away one copy of Evolution of Cocoons. Read the entry details here; deadline is November 6th.
Join our After Page One series. We’re looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we’d love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude. The list is endless, but here are some questions that might help you get started. We’ll publish a short bio so readers can learn more about you and your projects.