(the pain that can swell and break a heart)
and write it in fine black lines
on starchy white paper. . . .
--from Fine Black Lines, Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad
WHEN my former husband abandoned our family back in 2005 (the girls were then 2 and 4 years old), I felt as though I’d had the life sucked from me. After several months in survival mode doing what I had to do to make sure that we would continue to live on, I started writing. At first, the task of putting down those first words was daunting. When grief is new, feelings are so raw and close to the surface. I found that every time something came out, I would see it on the white sheets of paper and cry; sob. But, what surfaced over time was a way to lay down my pain, and through writing, promote my mental and physical well-being.
TIME wasn’t an issue. I felt like I had a lot of time. Although I still had my day-to-day tasks of caring for two very young children, 24 hours seemed like an eternity of time. I began by carrying a spiral bound notebook. I would jot down memories, or words that would conjure a thought or a scene. After a few days, I had many ideas down to work from. My earliest works were so lonely and sad; sentences strewn together that had no resolve. Eventually this all evolved into a process.
PROCESS- There did not seem to be a set time frame in my mind for how long I would write. I knew that it was a process and my hope was that someday the writing would become less frequent, signaling at least to me an end to the pain. But as I continued to write, not only did I become interested in WHAT I was writing, but what it LOOKED like on the page; how it SOUNDED out loud and what it FELT like. The process became clearer.
GOD– He was there through all of what my children and I went through and continues to be with us each day. I was surrounded by my wonderful family and friends, and a wonderful CHURCH. I knew that God had placed us in the home we lived in just so that I could be close to Vicky, my across-the-street neighbor who became one of my dearest friends, and prayer buddies. The girls had wonderful playmates, and for the 7 months that followed we made it; by God’s grace, we made it!
THE 7 STAGES OF GRIEF– There really are 7 stages in grieving. I am certain all of them came to me, if not one at a time, sometimes all at once! And I wrote through them all; denial, pain and guilt, anger, depression and loneliness, the upward turn, and finally HOPE! God reminds us in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)
What did I write about? –
At first; anger, hate, denial, frustration, hopelessness, pain, guilt, depression, sadness, loneliness, desperation, and resentment.
Then later; my children, my childhood, happy memories, faith, beauty, God, a future, and HOPE!
I realized yesterday, that what I began writing in 2006 has evolved into the culmination of around 140 poems, maybe more. In the fall of 2007, I took a Poetry class here at The Florida State University. After having been out of college since 1984, going back was a shock and so much fun! By the way, I made an A in my class. Since then, some of my work has been published here, here, here, HERE, and HERE!!!!! I also realized that in 2010, I only wrote one poem. For the most part, the healing is complete. The writing has subsided, if not all together ceased.
The Muse – My muse has left me for now. Healing became my art; I became a poet. God’s grace IS sufficient; MORE than sufficient!