I sat back in my chair and stared at the computer screen, a little stunned at what had come out of my head.
It was the fastest I had ever written six hundred words. It was probably twenty minutes, but it felt more like two. The words had been rattling around in my brain for weeks, arranging and rearranging themselves, moving in and out of focus, and I just let them stay there, knowing that they would let me know when they were ready.
I was making my way into work last week when the story began writing itself. I got to my office, threw my coat over a chair and fell on my computer. I called up my blog and opened a new post. My fingers started flying over the keyboard, the words gushing out of my head and pouring themselves onto the screen.
As I wrote, a wave of emotion rose up inside me and my eyes blurred with tears born of feelings I hadn't yet let myself feel, anxiety I had pushed aside and doubt that I had stubbornly refused to address.
I had been stoically soldiering on, putting one foot in front of the other, focusing my eyes straight ahead, for fear that a slight deviation from the path I was on would cause a fissure into which those feelings could creep. I was afraid it would knock me off course, and that I would never again be able to find my way.
The ground I had been walking was uneven, riddled with potholes and boulders seemingly too heavy to move, I was sluggish with exhaustion, and my shoulders were sagging under the weight of the load that was mine to carry.
My fingers raced faster and the story took shape. I thought that the sentences were probably terrible, the grammar a mess, but I kept on writing. For the first time, I didn't obsess over the words I was using or how they all fit together. I didn't go back and read over paragraphs once they were finished or sensor myself for fear of what others might think.
This time, I wrote for me. To help myself find some order. To gain some perspective. With each word I wrote I felt stronger. I felt a light fill the dark space inside of me that the words had occupied, and the anxiety that had been my constant companion began to slowly ease.
When the last word was written, through my astonishment I found myself smiling radiantly, filled with the glory of finally owning this story. This piece of my journey that I did not choose, but that I embrace nonetheless.
I saved the essay without making a single change. For a second I thought about pressing "publish" but I didn't. Instead I closed it and tucked it away, not quite ready to share this part of me. This story that is mine, for better or for worse.
This story that I won't - that I can't - ever stop writing.