Writing the bullet

keep-calm-and-bite-the-bullet-9

Biting the bullet is a really grown up thing to do, sometimes.

I created a list on my to-do list app (I use the app called “Things” if anyone is looking for one) of all the “grown up” choices I need to make. Because I’m constantly tempted to opt for the childish decision, I’m trying to actively do the opposite. I’m going to tackle them by breaking them down into small, achievable tasks. Bear with me.

Floordrobe… or hang it up?

Laundry later… or laundry now?

Keep playing videogames… or go for a run?

Continue being scared and anxious about workload and ignore emails like they don’t exist… check, flag, and respond to emails now?

Ice cream for dinner… or ice cream for dinner? (No one’s perfect)

Then the slightly harder/more arduous ones:

Sort out household paperwork properly (HUGE job).

Make sure the contents insurance is thorough.

Then there’s some that are right up there on the difficulty level. Hardcore mode. Things I’ll only ever really get one good shot at — permadeath options:

Sort out my will.

Ask the people I know would do an amazing job raising my kids if they would be willing to look after them if my husband and I died.

Write back to my birthmother.

These ones are really hard. Sometimes I use that hardness to force perspective into the non-hard ones and tell myself to grow up and do the washing. But most of the time they just make me whimper and give me hot tears behind my eyes.

I’m not going to make a habit of just opening a vein and spilling out red feelings all over the page, in this blog. But at times when you’re on your journey of self-care some things are going to be Big Things, and some things are little lifehacks and cool reminders to be kind to yourself. This is one of the Big Things. An Everest. Once I write that letter, a weight will be lifted from me that I’m not sure I even comprehend the size of, yet. This isn’t about gushing or complaining about A Sad Thing in my life. This is about getting all the shit done that I need to get done so I can look after myself and be a better human. Sometimes you gotta unpack some shit. (I don’t know why I feel the need to have a disclaimer about over-sharing but there it is. If it makes you uncomfortable I can assure you it feels worse from over here. Very vulnerable indeed)

I’m a writer by trade. I wrangle unruly words into certain orders that please some people enough for them to give me money in exchange for this service. Despite that sentence just now! Amazing, no? My syntax and grammar and breadth of vocabulary and hodge-podge structure and run-on sentences and those god damned em and en dashes all need work. But I’m totally at peace with that. A woman’s not a robot. I’m learning.

You’d think then, that because words can flow from my fingers quite easily sometimes, that I’d be able to write lovely letters filled with loveattacks and pretty prose and articulation not seen since… I don’t know what. But I have written draft after draft of that letter since I was 14. Her letter has been needing a reply for 15 years. That’s now longer than how long I was alive before reading it. I don’t want to say it’s “haunted” me, but it’s the less scary version of that. It’s just always been there, in the back of my mind.

14 sucks at the best of times, and I was going through some stuff on top of that. Looking back, I don’t think I was mature enough to deal with reading the letter right then.

Not sure if I even am now, really.

Earlier this month I saw “Philomena” with my husband, for our 7th wedding anniversary date night. We had a yummy steak dinner and then because I’m an idiot thought that movie looked like it would skewer my heart in that perfect way to make a date night really fun be interesting. It’s based on the true story of Philomena Lee, an Irish woman who found herself pregnant as a teen and given to a nun-lead workhouse, where she was forced to work to pay for her board, and her child was forcibly removed from her and given up for adoption. Naturally I cried the whole way through, even at the parts where I was gushing over how amazing Judy Dench’s performance was. Philomena was going on her journey to find her son, and “just wanted to know if he thought about [her]”. Her request was simple to answer. It was binary, even. Yes, or no. It made me reflect; maybe I was over-thinking this whole letter writing business. (15 years is a long time to think, after all) Maybe she just wanted to know she made a good choice and that I’m okay. Maybe she just wanted to know if I hate her.

I know my birthmother thinks about me every day, she said so in her letter. I was born by caesarian section (breech, still don’t like getting out of bed) and she says every time she sees her scar she thinks of how I’m doing. She gets moody on my birthday and her husband (not my biological father) knows she needs to be left alone. I think of her when I see adoption in the news, or Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness, or hear people talking about scuba diving, or the suburb of Frankston.

If I was feeling particularly histrionic I might be tempted to say “MY SCAR ISN’T ON THE OUTSIDE”, swish my cape, apply the back of my hand to my forehead and fall on the nearest chaise lounge, but I honestly don’t feel scarred. I feel lucky. I have no ill-will towards her in the slightest. I’m not putting off this letter because I have feelings I can’t explain, it’s because I can’t explain my feelings. That’s not the same thing. The letter has contained such literary gems as “Thanks for not having an abortion, I guess?” to “I’m pro-choice, I hope that’s okay”, to “I’m really sorry this happened to you”. There’s no right way to say any of what I feel like saying, but maybe I just have to pare it back, and keep it simple. Maybe she just wanted to know if I thought of her. Maybe she doesn’t need to know my entire life story.

So with that knowledge in hand, this is the year I’m going to write that god damned letter I’ve been trying to write for 15 years. I’m going to do it by whittling it down to simple achievable tasks. Yes, I think about her. No, I have no ill will. Yes, I admire what she did. Yes, I am thankful. A short paragraph each, and perhaps at the end a nice little self-indulgent paragraph about what my life looks like now. Maybe I don’t need to sit staring at a blank page thinking “How do I say everything I’ve ever experienced is thanks to you so cheers n stuff?”

Maybe if I break it down into little pieces, I’ll have less chance of breaking down myself! I’ll keep you updated about when I finish it. But in the meantime, bite your bullets. It’s going to feel really good and maybe we can do it together.

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