My daughter told me they talked about “strong language” in literacy group the other day. When I got over my first impression of third graders reading rap lyrics by Eminem, I asked my girl what she meant. She said story tellers use strong language to tell a better story; they use words that make you feel. When the teacher used the term “strong language” and began to explain it, my daughter began to tear up. When they read a sad story as an example, my girl allowed two fat tears to roll from her cheeks to her chin. She said, “I couldn’t stop them, Mom.”
Before I began writing, I spent much of my life trying to stop the tears and the feelings that accompanied them. My inner life was very rich. It was a colorful chaos I hid beneath a highly controlled exterior. I hadn’t yet found the outer language I needed to express the fullness of my inner life. I saw a counselor a number of years ago, and it surprised him to discover that I never suffered from an eating disorder or an addiction of any kind. What did I do with all the feelings, he wondered? I buried them. And when I thought no one could hear me, I cried them out in the shower.
Yesterday, our school’s fifth grade chorus performed the song “Let It Go” from Frozen on national television. As I watched them on the screen closing their eyes, singing and swaying to the lyrics, I cried. Big fat tears, cheeks to chin. Call me cheesy or childish or silly, but the lyrics of this song speak the truth I lived for too long.
“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well now they know
Let it go, let it go”
For me, writing is an exercise in letting go. The colorful chaos of my inner life rises to the surface, breaking through the controlled façade, revealing the life pulsing below. I’m learning how to harness the power of strong language, while the fearful and false me falls away in a string of words.
I have learned to let her go.
What are you letting go of today? How do you go about releasing it?