Sometimes It’s OK Not to Write

For 7 years now I’ve been trying to sit down and put into words how it feels to have lost my dad. I try to think of a powerful poem or essay. I want it to not only express the great loss I feel but emotionally connect with anyone reading it. I think of metaphors I can use; like the stripped mine that was once filled with gold and is now empty.

I’ve been trying to force myself to pour my soul out onto the page like I have so many other times. I can’t. I just can’t. Is pain is more than words can possibly hope to convey? Am I just not as talented a writer as I think? Am I not ready? What is this roadblock that has been stopping me from doing the one thing I feel most strongly about for 7 years now? Fear. I know that there is no way I can possibly depict in words the absolute horror I felt when he died. The loneliness, despair and heart ache was overwhelming. How do I take all that and try to find a few words to clearly represent it? Then I begin to fear that if I try I will fall short and in doing so I will leave the impression that I didn’t hurt as bad as I did or that I didn’t love my dad as much as I did or that he wasn’t the most important person ever in my life. I fear I will fail, because I will. For 7 years I have set myself up to fail and knew it.

But how, as a writer, do you not write about the single most important event in your life? How can you be honest with anything else you write when you are so obviously avoiding the most powerful emotional experience you have ever had to weather?
As a writer you are taught that these moments are gold. You are to take them and exploit them for every little drop of emotion and create from them a lifetime masterpiece. We are taught as writers that writing itself is the best therapy there is. But I just can’t. Not only can I not write about this I can’t seem to allow myself to write about anything else until I have. So for 7 years I have struggled with this. I have refused to sit down and really write anything because I can’t write this.

I have to allow myself a pass on this one. I have to find a way to say that it’s okay for this one area to be off limits. I have to get past feeling like not writing about him is dishonoring him. I am not hiding from the pain. I am just realizing that words could never do justice to that part of my life and that it’s okay.

Maybe someday. Maybe someday I will be able to pay true homage to him, my biggest fan, but I feel that in the meantime not writing at all is an even greater affront to his memory.

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