Searching for Words, Finding Hope

I’ve lost them, my words.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I know where they are. They’re in my head, racing around at a dizzying pace.

They spend the day building up momentum for the seemingly endless night ahead- unleashing with a force that is as deafening as it is despotic.

And they’re tired and pissed and terrified that they’ll be trapped in there forever.

As am I.

I first blamed their retreat on the holidays. Maybe I was just depressed. Or maybe it was because I was editing other people’s words all day and I didn’t have the energy to come up with my own.

Or maybe I was actually never a writer at all. Maybe it was just a phase or a lifeline to keep me from drifting off to a point from which I couldn’t return.

I tried to exercise patience. I decided, if I couldn’t write, I would spend my time learning how to write instead.

Terrible idea. Everything I read only confirmed it: I have no idea what I’m doing.

Technique, imagery, character development, piecing together a plot? Yeah, I haven’t really been doing any of that. I’ve just been trying to keep my protagonist from falling apart.

Although I did discover that I at least have the five essential elements of ‘a story’ in place: all the characters are ready to go, I have an interesting mix of settings to work with, my plot is established, and there’s most definitely a conflict… in desperate need of a resolution.

It’s that last one, however, the resolution part, that’s the problem. I was sure this whole mess would be resolved by now. Or at least enough of it that any real threat of another maelstrom taking me down was minimal.

But it’s been a year. And things are still so fucking messy. And it still feels bizarre to laugh. And making it through the day without fighting back tears at some point feels equally bizarre.

I push through it. I make sure to smile and do what it takes to distract everyone from noticing what feels like a gaping hole in my chest. But I’m tired, and now, it seems even my words are failing me.

I do, of course, have good days, quite a few in fact. But when they happen, I find myself looking over my shoulder, waiting for disappointment to catch back up with me. It seems I can’t keep ahead of it. And for the first time in my life, I’m wondering if I ever will.

orange.blossoms

But it finally hit me last night, why they’ve been trapped. I was walking home, mad at myself for forgetting my gloves and wishing I could better embrace this whole ‘no car’ thing. I was just about to dart across the street to beat the approaching cars when something made me stop.

I turned around to retrace my steps and breathed in as deeply as I could, feeling the cold air scraping against my lungs. But nothing.

I realized how ridiculous it was and turned around to head home, then stopped again. There it was.

The smell of orange blossoms.

I closed my eyes.

and felt the uneven cobblestone beneath my feetI gathered up the bottom of my dress to better navigate my way through the crowd, seizing every opportunity to forge ahead without slamming into one of the orange trees lining the street. Flamenco music spilled out of every bar- all packed with locals sipping on manzanilla as they made their way to Feria.

An old man stopped, smiled and tipped his hat as I walked by. His words- infused with the sweet smell of orange blossoms- trailed behind me…

“Ahh, las maravillas de Sevilla’.   (Ah, the wonders of Sevilla)

Adorable+kids+dressed+in+flamenco+dresses+-+Feria+De+Abril,+Seville

I looked around for the source, tilting my head back to study the tree sprawled out above me. Fluorescent lights clung to its thin, rigid branches, turning them an ashen shade of brown that rendered any sign of life impossible.

Reality set back in and the only thing I could smell fumes coming from the cars behind me. The relentless heaviness that’s been lodged in my chest resumed its place, extinguishing any trace of what had taken me back to a time when desperation seemed impossible.

So this is why I’ve lost my words. Not because a resolution hasn’t surfaced yet, but because I’m starting to believe one never will. I’m starting to lose hope.

When I smelled the scent of orange blossoms, when I thought back to Sevilla, I got the same feeling I do when I see the first tiny buds appear on the trees after a long winter. Or when I’m walking down the street in a far-off country- foreign words, enchanting music and exotic smells swirling around me. Or when I see the person I love light up when I walk in the room.

Those moments when I want to take everything in all at once, feel it as deeply as I can, and savor the magic of it all.

But going to Spain isn’t an option right now and it feels like it never will be. And green is nowhere to be seen. And the thought of ever falling in love again feels impossible.

Hope is powerful. As opposed to its dark cousin, despair, which paralyzes us, hope energizes and mobilizes us. Beyond that, hope affects those around us, lifting them as well as us.
~ Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D.

The thing is, I don’t write just for me. And I had convinced myself when I got to the other side of this, I could maybe be a source of hope for those who had lost it.

But that was when still had hope, when I still truly believed all that would remain at this point would be a scar- a substantial one to be sure- but the pain would be a distant memory.

Despair is not what I thought would be commanding my thoughts, keeping me up at night and stealing my words. And despair is not what I want to elicit with my words.

I waited for a break in the traffic and darted across the street, landing on the patch of grass underneath my favorite tree.

He had been the highlight of my walk in the fall, greeting me each morning with a new display of colors that were more enchanting than the day before. But now he was stripped bare. He looked cold and lifeless. He looked desperate.

This morning I made it a point to stop again and give him the benefit of daylight.

He didn’t look lifeless at all. He looked strong and peaceful.

And I realized, he isn’t bare. He’s covered in leaves that are growing just beneath the surface, building up the momentum they need to unleash with a force that will allow them to flourish.

They are there and have been all along, full of hope and wonder. I just can’t see them yet…but they are there.

buds

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.” ~ Maya Angelou

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28 thoughts on “Searching for Words, Finding Hope

  1. How do you think you are not a writer. You command the reader with every word and phrase. You made me walk beside you in this and every other piece of work of yours I’ve read. Are you talking about fiction? Fiction is nothing but reality covered in paint to make it look like something else. More importantly, though, this showed me you still see with your heart and soul. And THAT, dear Brooke, is why I have hope for you, and why I know you WILL be ok..maybe not tomorrow…but you will dance in the light of love once more.

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  2. Sometimes we are too involved in the details of a problem to look at the situation as a whole. You are this whole, this beautiful complex being with its ups and downs and contradictions which seemingly don’t attract, like life itself.
    You see a big leafless lifeless tree full of holes and scars. When you’re ready, you’ll step back and see a beautiful orchard behind full of ripe fruit to be picked.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. As your friend, it breaks me a little to read this. I hate that you hurt and that you question yourself the way you do. If there were a simple button, a thousand times I would push it for you. There isn’t one though, and thank god there isn’t. You see, the beautiful thing about being your friend is that I have the luxury of seeing you for exactly who you are and I get to remind you. I have witnessed your strength firsthand. You have pulled yourself from the depths and the grip of darkness over and over again, and each time, you stepped from it stronger, happier and more confident than before. The things you have done, Brooke, and all that you have overcome fills me with so much pride. Take a moment to think about all of those things and be proud…please do that. If you have trouble remembering those things, I will remind you. All of this was meant to teach you something, and I know for many reasons it already has. And how great is that? Yeah, an excruciating way to learn lessons; just doesn’t seem fair – but one day you will look back and be so thankful for all of this shit because it forced you to fight and grow and helped you become the person you were always meant to be. These words here that you wrote? Well, they are further proof of your strength. It’s not easy to write through despair, but you did, and you did it exceptionally well. Because that is what you do. You are Natalie Brooke Breazeale goddammit, and you are a gifted writer and human being. NEVER underestimate your talent, what you are destined to achieve on this earth and all the lives you touch. Also, please know this. Hearts like yours are made to love, so when you are ready, you will again fall in love. No doubt. And it will be right and everything you have ever dreamed. It is an honour to know you, and I could not be more proud to call you, friend. You continually inspire me.

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  4. The devil will give away his rapier of jealousy, his dagger of fear, and his strangling noose of hatred; he will hock those wares without a thought. But he will never part with his wedge of discouragement. The other items will cause a person to act in foolishness, but the wedge will cause a person do nothing; to not act at all. It is the devil’s favorite curse.

    I don’t believe in devils but I do believe that discouragement – loss of hope – is the must enfeebling emotion of them all. I cannot cast upon you hope; that you must find inside. I can be here, we can all be here, to encourage you until you find it. And we will. And you will.

    Brande is right; you already are a writer. Your words, today, are one of the most alluring and powerful things I’ve seen. You’ve hooked this reader.

    Bojana is right; it’s hard to see the forest for the tree(s). This is a complex problem, and you have a complex soul, and this long winter has been hard, but spring is coming. The blossom is under way.

    Tanya is right, you are a strong, amazing human being with a loving, powerful heart. You are among friends.

    I’m right, too, but I’m too modest to say that out loud. 😉

    Brooke, we got you. Take your time. Write, like this if you must. Foolishly, if you must, with anger and fear and relentless abandon. But don’t stop. Don’t give into discouragement. That wedge has no place here. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a beautiful, articulate and thoughtful response, Tom. Your quote is perfect. I don’t believe in the devil either, but I know the demons are real. I do want to say, though, that perhaps I misrepresented where I’m at. It’s not fun, it’s excruciating most days, but I’m incapable, it seems, of laying down my sword.
      But what you said is truly liberating and something I needed to hear. I have to keep writing, even it’s just for me. I got caught up with the power I know words have and the power I know I have because I can write them. I guess I fear that I’ll do more harm than good, and this seems that the wedge. More than dispair, it’s fear, which I believe to be the devil himself.
      It feeds my soul to know you (and these other talented, beautiful souls) are here, listening and willing to let me ride out this seemingly endless winter. Thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t know you as the others here do, but in the short time I have been reading your work, it is clear that all they say is truth. I have seen and felt, in all of your writing, a beauty that cannot be contained or dimmed. Within the fear and the despair, there is beauty to be found; it does’t have to be a trap or something to simply try and escape. I understand the feeling of having lost your words, but they are here, in what you wrote and shared in this post. They may not always be what you want them to be or what you expect them to be, but the words are a part of the fabric of who you are. You are beauty and light and darkness and truth. You are a writer and a teacher. You are compassion and grace. You will get lost and be found over and over again and in all of it, there is beauty and your are beauty. Your words are not lost Brooke. Your words are in your heart and in everything you do and feel, in the way you look at the world and in the way you live your life, in the dark times and in the light. You are extraordinary.

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  6. What is doubt but introspection taken a little too far. Who hasn’t blundered into a blind alley, only to back out and stumble into another? Beep, beep, beep goes the reverse alarm, and around the next corner we go. And I suppose that’s the trick. Finding that next corner. It’s right there, next to you, smelling of rich coffee, bougainvillea, or, perhaps oranges.

    If you love your characters, but can’t figure out the solution to their current plight, pick them up and drop them somewhere strange, tropical, or challenging. If your characters need to sleep for another year, find another pack of adventurers.

    I doubt everyday. And my writing sucks. But these stories in my head deserve release. But release through better writing that I’m capable of now. So, I spin around, turn the corner, polish my skills, and blunder on.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. In no way do I get the sense your words are lost. It’s important to not force the process and what you describe is, just that , the process of creativity, of story telling. Allow this time, just glory in the time you are not writing or struggling or figuring out. In time it will become stronger than you and you will HAVE TO write it. Let it happen, don’t over think it, just allow whatever to come. Just one line after another. When you get to the end, and you will. Then you can go back and fix it. If you are ever in the South of France and what to talk about the process of life, story telling, writing, I would be more than open to sharing. Blessings to you. This piece is gorgeous. Thank you for your words. They will heal people even despite you and your thoughts. Just do it, gently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the encouraging words. You are exactly right. Just have to keep putting ‘pen to paper’ (or fingers to keyboard) even when inspiration is nowhere to be found. The South of France is definitely on my list. I’ve only been to Pais Vasco area, which I know is different. One of these days, hopefully very soon, I will get to wander again. Thanks again for reading my words and taking the time to leave such thoughtful ones in return.

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  8. Nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. I’d be delighted if you accepted, I’d completely understand however if you didn’t 😊https://lemonzest2402.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/the-versatile-blogger-award/

    Liked by 1 person

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