To Reveal

I awoke just now to a sudden gust of wind and violent pellets of rain colliding against the roof. Two minutes later, the rain was already a gently sprinkle, and the trees were tucking in their undergarments and straightening their skirts. This is what they look like right now, as if they are putting themselves back together, slightly embarrassed from revealing too much “skin”.

And so it is with writing, and I had not even expected to get to this subject with such a natural segue. But it’s so true. Sometimes, you write something so painfully or brutally honest, and then in the aftermath of such an emotional dump (though that sounds cruder than I want), you’re left tucking your clothes back in and fixing your hair. People saw me like that?, you start thinking.

The idea that I could publish any of my writing is relatively new to me. A friend of mine in Atlanta inspired me to do more than simply write in a blog. To write for a much larger audience. You can follow her lovely blog here at Mama the Reader or often find her writing on the Huffington Post blog.

So after my two recent publications on Sweatpants and Coffee, an obvious yet eye-opening shift is happening in me. The knowledge of responsibility . It’s a heavy burden to tell a true story. It’s even heavier if others are involved. I can see now why writers might quickly turn to fiction to avoid the biggest reveals about their unhappy marriage (not me) or their estranged parents (yes, me).

How does one tread lightly without knocking the good china off the wall? Without breaking a heart or sullying a person’s image of you? I suppose it’s not possible. Truth sometimes requires a lost shingle or two and some broken branches. But everything settles down again when it’s over. At least, in part.

In some ways, however, you’re not the same and others might not be either. Once words are out there in print, you can’t take them back. Your appearance to some might be forever altered, for better or for worse. And this is something a writer, of any kind – whether prestigious and highly acclaimed or solely known on an online magazine or two – must carry. The burden of truth. And how it forever alters everything.

But writers provide access for others to accept their own truths. They provide solidarity, enlightenment, and laughter. They provide wisdom that can lift us and support us. That can change us.

For me, I started writing in a blog so that I could reveal, not just to others but to myself. So I could reveal the parts of me needing to be told, to be understood, or worked out. Putting yourself out there is not easy, but for some of us, it’s as necessary as a rainstorm. And where would any of us be without a good rainstorm? Or without someone to tell us about their own?

 

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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