Rising out of my Refuge in Writing – Reclaiming my Expression

by Fumiyo Egashira, Japan

Everyday, I spend a fair amount of time on the Internet. I read various blogs and check out Facebook posts, but I hardly ever contribute my own input except for liking/sharing some posts every now and then. I remain pretty much invisible.

I have been OK with this position of mine… until I saw a post about a month ago which challenged me to feel into myself when I click on those ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ buttons: what is it about these particular posts/articles that I feel inclined to share with other people? What am I communicating? What am I actually feeling about them?

I just went blank. I couldn’t find any words.

I became hesitant to click on those ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ buttons. It made me realise that my attempt to look within, connecting with myself, was immediately followed by a quick look-around outside. How easy it is for me to lose myself.

May I indulge?

As I start typing these words I immediately notice how heavy and tight both of my forearms are feeling. Also there’s the tightening of the jaw and the throat – as if they are being compressed, strangled. My breath becomes shallow. My stomach tightens.

Hard work.

What is it about me that finds it so hard to write/express myself – to be seen?

There are some usual suspects.

  • Would people like what I have to say?
  • What would they think of me?
  • Would I upset anyone?
  • Would I be good/smart/esoteric/true/loving enough?
  • Who am I to say what?

And there’s something else.

As a teenager, I used to enjoy writing stories, poems etc. on the back of the text books, my desk in the classrooms… everywhere. I loved using words. They were not intended to be read by others, however I did enjoy the occasional compliments I received.

Some years later, in a different country, I landed a series of jobs such as a newsletter correspondent, an editorial assistant at a community newspaper and a freelancer.

Somewhere down the line, I stopped writing. Here’s how it all happened:

  1. A teenager enjoys writing.
  2. She doesn’t get along with the teachers at school and her writing becomes a relief out of emotional turmoil, and she thinks it is her creative expression.
  3. She begins to think she is good at writing and becomes identified with being a ‘writer’.
  4. She gets a job that asks her to be neutral and not subjective. And then another job, then another… she gets confused and loses interest.
  5. She refuses to let go of the illusion. Her identification solidifies.
  6. Eventually she comes up with an excuse to give up the illusion – with such ferocity that says ‘Writing/Expressing is only for those who seek their ego massaged’.
  7. She stops writing/expressing – as she doesn’t know how else to do it.

There feels to be something else deeper that had been ready and waiting to be triggered, but that’s another story.

I have believed for so long that expressing myself only serves to boost my own ego – which probably was very true for the way I was. I might have kidded myself into thinking that I ‘loved’ writing, however getting my name printed and the perceived recognition/identification/acceptance was a major drive for me. Looking back, even before all that started, writing for me had already become a means to escape from life as a teenager. This was a hard one to admit – the possibility that there could have been no genuine love in the first place. So, I kept pushing it away.

Over a period of time I dipped in and out of writing/editing jobs while I continued feeling rather uncomfortable. Whatever I did, it just felt so phony. On one hand I couldn’t stop milking the opportunities, but on the other hand there was a constant sense of embarrassment I couldn’t quite deny. Soon that awkward feeling was turned into a judgment, then to a self imposed curse that has shamed and crippled me from expressing.

Full stop.

But I didn’t know it then as such. I thought I was growing up, becoming smarter, by choosing not to express.

I realise now that there was this undertone of “like me, like me, like me” laced into every thought and action around me and my attempt to express, and choice to not express. To say “Other people’s reactions don’t bother me” wouldn’t have come out with an ounce of honesty while I kept looking outside of myself for validation – for what I have to offer, and of my-self; or I gave it all up in resentment. I didn’t know any other way. It never came out from true love within.

But there is another way. That, now I know.

Finally, my self-imposed curse got shook up. I can now re-learn ‘the other’ way to express myself.

145 thoughts on “Rising out of my Refuge in Writing – Reclaiming my Expression

  1. “Full stop.” We have to bring our thoughts to a full stop before starting a new paragraph, or cycle, of true expression.

  2. As children we express without consideration of others, it is only by the reaction of others that we start to consider there is a way we ‘should’ and ‘should not’ express. Our expression can then become about fitting in and about power to maintain our spot in the safety of the pack rather than about the freedom of expressing what we feel and who we are without a filter. Expressing without a filter would, in truth, not cause harm or try to control another and is not sweetness and nice, it is honest and true.

  3. What we impose on ourselves and our body is very unloving, great that you let this imposition go, ‘my self-imposed curse got shook up. I can now re-learn ‘the other’ way to express myself.’

  4. Thank you for expressing your journey with writing so honestly. Looking for recognition is such a trap which I have also been caught in and can still return to when I lose my connection with myself and become invested in an outcome rather than just expressing what feels true for me.

  5. I used to hold back what I was bursting to say or to write just in case I got it wrong and embarrassed myself, and it actually hurt to do so. What I wanted to say would go around and around in my head until eventually it faded away, or so I thought. I now realise that everything we hold back is stored in our body, at huge expense to this precious vessel of ours. These days if it feels true I express it either in the written word or verbally and the difference in my body is profound.

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience with writing, it is a very relatable and real experience which is all the more enjoyable to read.

  7. I resonate with a lot of your article Fumiyo. As a child I wrote loads of stories and three of us formed an authors club! But as I grew I too was looking for recognition. And when not forthcoming I ground go a halt. However since committing to expressing using the written word on a daily basis this has also affected my spoken expression. What matters is that we express what we feel to be true. And not everyone will like it. And that’s ok.

  8. Just being myself and expressing without need for validation or to put my value into another hands is something that is very beautifully unfolding.

  9. When we learn to express from our heart the words just flow, and great wisdom can come as we allow depth in our written word. The worst thing we can do is be judgemental or criticise or go into self doubt, or measure how much we are going to let someone see who we truly are.

    1. When we choose to hold back our expression it festers inside us and has to be expressed another way either through illness or disease or expressing our frustration and resentment to the detriment of ourselves or others.

  10. It is interesting to observe how much in life we can configure ourselves based on what we feel others will like and when we do this we lose ourselves and then there is an emptiness and constant seeking of approval from others.

  11. Our inspiration and zest for sharing ourselves in writing and in life comes from our lived way and openess and observation of life. If we get enthralled and caught in the trap of the emotional roller coaster life can become, the we lose our enthusiasm and inspiration to share our true feelings. If we are more open to see what really is going on behind the seeming reality of life, we can re-empower and therefore take ourselves off the emotional roller coaster of life, living instead from a more open zest and joy that continually remains within.

  12. Holding back our expression not only harms us it harms others too, because we leave them as lesser due to our lack of our expression, and what we could have delivered if we had allowed ourself.

  13. We are often not encouraged to truly express ourselves. The other day I did a bit of an experiment, I was working in a school and I had a young person come and speak to me. I just allowed them to speak and didn’t interrupt them but really listened. The child just opened up and shared a lot- what they love doing, where they like going camping, funny moments that had happened in their life etc. I thought, I want stop them I’ll just let them speak- they continued for over an hour then the lunch bell went. At this point the child stopped and said ‘I didn’t realise that I had that much to say’. It made me aware of how much we experience but often don’t share.

    1. Very beautiful, thanks for sharing this Jane. I have had similar experiences. Just ‘holding’ or ‘being held’ in this way can be very healing.

    2. This is beautiful Jane the young person could feel that you were holding the space for them to express freely, and just naturally opened up. This is very inspiring and shows that there is nothing we have to do but everything we need to be. imagine if all schools offered children this space without imposition expectation or judgement what a very different schooling system we would have.

  14. I love the way you have expressed here Fumiyo. It is real and straight from your own lived experience. I find the best writing comes from lived experience as it is not coming from a mental construct.

  15. Not expressing who we are or what we can feel, even to ourselves, hurts us because it’s a denial of who we are and what we stand for..

  16. This blog brought up a truth about writing for me. Comparison. At school when we were asked to write an essay to express on a subject the ‘good’ essays were read out in class and I always felt inadequate as they were excellent and mine were not and were never read out, for which I felt much relief. This fixed in me that I cannot write and it is a belief that I have carried to avoid practicing how to express myself. So my education taught me not to express.

    1. This is such a cap on our own expression. Seeking approval from another, be it a parent, a teacher or a friend means we are not being true to ourselves and what we have felt needs to be expressed. There are some boxes we need to tick in education, but it is possible to do without losing yourself in the process. Oh for an education system that doesn’t just say it but actually supports it.

  17. So beautifully and so honestly expressed Fumyio, coming straight from the heart sharing your own wisdom about the fact that a writing is not about us and what we can get out of it but about we can offer the all by our own unique sharing.

  18. It really shows how much we can change and re-configure ourselves to please others and have them like us. When We do this we end up resenting either them our ourselves, it is up to us to honour ourselves in full first and from there things change.

  19. What strikes me re-reading your awesome blog is the huge pressure that you and so many of us put ourselves under to write in the ‘right’ way when all that is needed is to open our hearts and express from there. Simple to say and when I get myself out of the way I have experienced this but I can still too often allow outside factors to taint my expression. Appreciating what you have offered us all in your expression and feel to enjoy the process and let go feeling there is an end goal to achieve.

  20. Writing, like anything, can be used as a form of escape, relief, or reward through the recognition we get for it. But when it is used simply to express what we feel, with no investment in where it goes, or who reads it, it can be enriching and joyful for the writer and the reader. In its true purpose, writing is a tool that brings something for everyone.

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