Like most people, I am a creature of habit. For example, I used to be in the habit of writing columns … lately, not so much. But, if you’ll allow me, I would like to explain why …
The cutesy, humorous ones are pretty easy to knock out. After all, it’s not an emotional thing to write about a funny day or a weird thing that happened or an odd and different way to look at a news story.
But it’s quite a different thing when it gets personal.
Many times over the past several years I have sat before my keyboard and poured my heart out — whether it be about Autism, addiction or homesickness — and bled the ink that was typed on these pages of broadsheet you hold in your hands right now.
That’s hard. It’s emotionally draining and honestly, it renders me kind of vulnerable to strangers who suddenly know all about some of the most painful parts of my life — albeit it by my own doing.
So, why would I expose myself in such a way to begin with?
Easy. Writers write, that’s what we do. And when someone comes up and hugs me and says how my column about my grandfather passing from Alzheimer’s Disease helped them get through a similar situation with their loved one — it’s not awkward, it’s not embarrassing — it’s validating.
If writing about my experiences dealing with my son’s Autism Spectrum Disorder or my brother’s heroin addiction have helped even one person, than it was worth it. And I’ll do it again tomorrow.
But for some reason, I have a much more difficult time when it comes to talking about good things. Maybe I’m just an angsty person at heart, or maybe I just have a flair for drama … I don’t know.
Either way, in early October, I wrote about having a long-lost sister. A woman who I had never met, although we share DNA. It was a touching column, but admittedly vague — stemming from a heartbreaking story that wasn’t mine to tell.
It still isn’t.
I wasn’t a part of the narrative when Danielle came into the world, but I’m thrilled to say I am a part of it now, because after 36 years, I finally met her.
Setting aside my wedding day and the birth of my sons, meeting my sister was probably the most emotional day of my life. Except it wasn’t one day — it was a week.
Well, six days.
From the time the plane landed to the time I left, it was a roller-coaster of feelings — all of them good — but slightly overwhelming.
When I returned, I was greeted by a bombarge of Facebook messages and emails all asking the same question: “How did it go?”
And I ignored them all … After all, how in the world do you even start to tell people about something like that?
How do you explain meeting someone for the first time and yet feeling like you’ve known them forever? How do you talk about an experience that affected you so much that you know 99 percent of people will never, ever encounter and therefore couldn’t possibly relate to?
I mean, how many people out there even have long-lost siblings, let alone discover and meet them?
It all sounded so bizarre and surreal, even to me, I didn’t know where to start.
So I didn’t.
I’ll admit it wasn’t just the lack of vocabulary to describe what happened, part of me was being selfish — and still is.
The visit was precious to me and I wanted some time to keep the experience to myself. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk about it or that I didn’t want to write about it — I just didn’t want to share it.
It was mine — just mine — wrapped up deep in my heart.
It took me a while to realize sharing what happened wouldn’t diminish it in any way.
And yet, I’m still reluctant.
I guess what it comes down to is “a line.” In the past, there was nothing I wouldn’t discuss in this (very) public forum — much my to family’s dismay. But as personal as those things may have been, ultimately, I was apparently comfortable talking about them.
In this case, not so much.
So, has this been a column about nothing? Eh, maybe … and if you feel that way I apologize for wasting your time. Suffice to say I had a wonderful trip and look forward to getting to know my sister more in the coming years.
But as for all that took place down there? The nitty-gritty details? I hope you won’t mind if I keep that bit for myself.
Kasie Strickland is the managing editor for The Sentinel-Progress and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the newspaper’s opinion.