Monday, June 20, 2011

A Sudden Sinking

By Belinda

What is it that causes a total loss of confidence?

I don't know, I only know that on the day I drew this now aged sketch, I experienced a loss that I have never regained--the confidence that I can stay afloat when out of my depth in water.

I was fifteen, at a lake somewhere close to Rotterdam, in Holland, withTante Hannelore and the daughter of a friend of hers.

It was an impromptu trip to the lake, and the girl, whose name was Ria and who was a couple of years older than me, had loaned me one of her bathing suits.

Ria was tall, with long tanned limbs and short blond hair. At fifteen, I was only just beginning to emerge from teenage puppy fat and I really would have much preferred to stay at the side of the lake and draw, but I didn't know how to say that without offending them, so I didn't. I sat by the side of the beautiful lake, enjoying the warmth of the sun on my back as I sketched the tall poplars reflected in the water; the boats, and the boat houses on the other side of the lake; but eventually at Ria's urging, I put my sketch pad aside and walked out into the water where she was already swimming.

I was a fairly strong swimmer when younger, at least I can remember swimming the length of our local pool in a relay race at school when I was about eleven and having no problem, but, inexplicably, when I found that I couldn't touch the bottom of the lake, I panicked and started to sink. I felt the water closing over my head and realized that no one would know what was happening--they thought, quite rightly, that I could swim! I wonder if I felt so inept and clumsy that day that it affected everything including my ability to swim. Obviously I didn't drown--I made it back to the shore without being dragged out and resuscitated on the shoreline, but ever since that day I have had no desire to go swimming and the few times I have tried, when my children begged me to, I sank like a stone, so powerfully was I convinced that I would!

And that is how I felt at the gala on Wednesday night when the managing director of The Word GuildDenise Rumble, asked all of the editors and writers in the room to stand up. I sat in a row near the front, with the four friends who had got all dressed up to enjoy the evening with me, beside my granddaughter Tori, who was there because she is a young writer who loves to breath the same air as other writers--and I lost all confidence that I could call myself a writer. I stayed in my seat.

That moment, the decision not to stand with the other writers, was a denial of a part of my self identity, and while I was ashamed that I didn't stand up, I also didn't feel worthy to. I could no more explain it than explain why I sank in the Dutch lake, but the loss of confidence was just as real.

For the last several months I have been extra busy at work and my writing has been less consistent. I suddenly wondered if what I write about had any value--my little stories about Molson and baking pies--and this and that. Was it all just fluff and meaningless?

A small inner voice reminded me that faithful readers do still read and wasn't I insulting them if I thought that? But I squashed that thought and chose instead to believe the other voice that told me I was being completely self indulgent spending family finances to go away to a writers conference the next day. It was as though I had a slow leak and all of my vision and confidence was leaking out.

To be continued!

9 comments:

Dave Hingsburger said...

I don't know what to say. You, not a writer, I don't even know how to conceive that possibility.

Marilyn Yocum said...

I don't want to rush in before hearing you out here, especially since you have written out words here that I have felt about myself (and I have my own theories on why it is, but won't bog you down here with all that) and am fully sympathetic to the unsettling pain of such thoughts, while wanting to stay open to the possibility that God is directing talents and energies elsewhere - don't wish to cut off that possibility....

....BUT.....

your stories of Molson and pies and travels and conundrums and those you love are NOT fluff to me.

Also, you are probably more a writer than just about anyone else I know.

Marilyn Yocum said...

But definitely write on! I look forward to the next part.

Brenda said...

Ditto.....ditto.....ditto.....your blog writing keeps me going.....it challenges me, inspires me and sometimes makes me laugh which is medicine to my soul. If you stopped writing there would be a very big hole in my life. Shame on us readers who lurk and don't affirm your God given gift.

Belinda said...

Oh, my dear friends Dave and Marilyn, thank you for encouraging me, as you do ALL the time. I am sorry for the pathetic state I was in last week, for which there is no excuse. But God in his gracious mercy, love and patience, bore with me and more than that...

Brenda it is SO good to hear your voice. No shame...I'm just glad to see your face and honoured that you check in.

A big hug flying to all.

Janet Sketchley said...

Dear Belinda, you could have kept this to yourself... it's personal and nobody who knew would blame you. But your choice to be transparent will bless us as readers. We've all had these doubts and questioned our adequacy, about writing or about something else at some point.

Now we're reminded that we're not alone, and we can take encouragement from your journey.

You are definitely a writer today, even if God moves you into a different role in the future.

I didn't know you sketched, as well. Lovely!

Cindy B. said...

Your writing is like a shy smile across a room - something to brighten up my day.

Everyone has days when they question their own worth but God did make us in his image so we must be okay!

I bought a door sign for one of my children a few years ago that said "Be patient, God isn't finished with me yet".

Belinda said...

Dear Janet,
Thank you for praying for the bird with soggy feathers that showed up at Write! Canada. You have no idea what a comfort that was, that in the midst of "serious needs"--writers who had appointments with editors or agents etc...that a simple blogger with a case of wobbly knees rated serious prayer--it meant so much.

Belinda said...

Cindy, that made my day--to be a "shy smile across a room," to brighten someone's day--that makes my heart sing, because it is the chord God has given me to play. Thank you for your part in encouraging me. I don't know you, but I feel as though I do!