I was Skyping with someone at work who is an attorney who documents torture and other human rights abuses perpetrated against Syrians. I loved this quote she had on her Skype account:
I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.
It was said by E.B. White, who along with William Strunk wrote The Elements of Style, usually just referred to as “Strunk and White.” It was first published in 1918 and is considered one of the most influential English language books. It was like a Bible to me when I first began my career. Basically, in a little over a hundred pages (1999 edition), they tell you everything you need to know about punctuation, grammar, composition and commonly misused phrases and words.
Here’s another quote from White: “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.” That’s a great affirmation from someone who basically inscribed the Ten Commandments of writing on paper. As someone who often wonders, “Why am I writing this blog?” I appreciate this one.
And finally, “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.” I hope I am both.
I’m going to share a couple posts from my son Vince in the next week or so. We started Breaking Free as a co-blog, to write about his experiences in prison and mine as a prison mom. Is that a thing? It is now.
The anxiety started a little over a week ago, when I found out how soon Easter actually was this year. I was finally going to jump over another big hurdle. I’ve been out of prison now for almost seven months and haven’t had the opportunity to attend a gathering with the extended family, and today was that day.
I don’t actually know what it was that I was afraid of. I guess it’s the fact that I haven’t seen them for a decade and I really don’t know that any of them have any idea where I’ve been. I visualize a hundred conversations all ending abruptly when they ask what I’ve been doing, or why they haven’t seen me in so long. And of course it’s not their fault that they’d be curious, we’re family. My grandparents are wonderful but as far as I know, they didn’t really spread the word about my trip to prison, or my years of alcoholism and drug addiction. And there’s the shame factor for me that I didn’t really want to go into any of that at Easter (or ever). I mean who wants to hear such a sad story on Jesus’ Birthday? Or whatever it is.
All the worry and apprehension was for naught. I was greeted with hugs, handshakes, and warmth. And truth be told, I felt some connection with a few of them that it turns out I really missed. And once again I was sitting at the table with my family, laughing, conversing, and feeling all the uneasiness dissipate. I didn’t recognize a few of them as they had all literally aged ten years and were just kids the last time I had seen them.
I think what I realized is that it doesn’t matter where I’ve been for so long, only that I am here now. Not just in this particular situation, but in everything. It took me a while to adapt to life outside the walls, but now that I have been away for a while, I think I can let that go. That time of my life is over, and even though I constantly need to be work on recovery, it’s not so much about not going back, but being able to move forward.
I just got home from the gathering and wanted to get those words down while the event was still fresh in my mind. I feel really good right now. As if a weight has been lifted off of me. But like many of these weights, it was put there by me. I need to quit that. I’m a work in progress.