It has been a very long time since I’ve cried….for joy! T’is bittersweet, really. There isn’t any way to explain just how much it means to me to be part of a community and a community of writers at that. It really is a turning point (all of the cliches are coming out:), and it is overwhelming to me how kind, supportive, enthusiastic and consistently so the people at Southbank have been. I mean, they REALLY believe in me. We absolutely believe in and support each other’s writing. It is the focus and the priority and no one is diminishing it or acting like it’s stupid, a waste of time, just a hobby, and all sorts of other negative bull shit we’ve been told directly or indirectly.
I can’t stop talking about this experience because it’s been, hands down on the ground kiss the earth, the best thing that has happened to me in an uber long time.
It took me awhile to let my defenses down and open up to the people and the process. I would have to say, I really noticed the biggest change over the last couple of weeks, coming to the end of the program.
I can’t believe how many times I’ve heard over the last little while how good I am at writing, how well I did in my performances and that I have such a good reading voice that I should record audio books, how much people like this or that story, that they can’t wait until I get published, they’re so happy I won the pass to the Surrey Writer’s conference, and other general compliments about my humor and kindness and so on and on. It’s almost too much for me to take. I am not used to hearing so many positive things about me and it’s difficult to take in, absorb, and reconcile with the perceptions of myself that are in disagreement with these ideas.
I haven’t felt good about myself for a really long time, not in any significant lasting way. And much of my life has been playing into that sense of worthlessness. It is what I have become too familiar and comfortable with. I know how personally I have taken every form of rejection/challenge very badly in the last 2ish years, from the loss of relationships to my inability to find work to my weight climbing up and up again; I have really struggled to make sense of things. I have put so much mental and emotional energy into trying to “make” things happen, to “get over” things, too “suck it up”, that I’ve felt trapped in an endless downward spiral of swirly shit. None of these attitudes work for me. Not across the board. I have to want to. I have to see myself in what I do. I need motivation and reason to do what I do, and without writing as the main driving force in my life, I have no life. I do not have myself. I have the Leanna I’ve lived to keep other people at bay, in whatever way seems necessary to be safe, be it from physical harms or emotional. I have kept myself under careful, controlled, well padded wraps, because standing up and going my own way has been fraught with fear of loss and what if’s.
Through the writing group, much has come to the surface. It has been painful and emotional, and it has been scary.
I was writing honestly and throwing some pretty dark and twingy things out into the wind, and my gracious coursemates took what I had to say, and not only didn’t run the other direction, ignore me, or tell me I was crazy, they commended me for my courage.
This is eye opening. This is not to suggest no one has ever praised me before. I have heard kind and lovely things throughout my life from various people. Just not often from the people I listened to most.
I have been hungry for community and connection, and starved for consistent, unconditional kindness. This is even more apparent to me now that I’ve had a taste for it.
This 3 months have been an intensive study into the endless possibilities that can catapult wildly and unpredictably from love.
And it all came right when I needed it.