Honoring the writer within me: A Journey of Identity, Self-acceptance, & Self-empowerment
I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. However, I’m 41 years old, and I’ve only identified as a writer for a few days. As a child I wrote dramatic poetry (better stuff than I could write now), never left home without a journal, and dreamed of being a published author one day. In college I majored in Journalism and Psychology. Later, I started the Caitlin’s Couch blog. In 2016 my dream of writing for Psychology Today came true when I got my Modern Sex blog for their magazine. No matter what I’ve done in my life, writing has always been part of my journey. When I worked in Philly, I would hang out in a local bar and write by myself after work. Interestingly, the noise in the bar made it easier to concentrate. When I met Calvin, my husband, he came with me to coffee shops and bars to write with me. He teaches writing as a College Professor, so he edited my work, too. It was one of the ways we were a team early on. He continues to edit my work to this day. Over the years there were times when I struggled with writers block, blank page anxiety, and other issues that made writing a challenge. Those were difficult times because the writer within me was suffocating. Whenever my ability to write was challenged, finding a way to write again became my sole focus. I’d reach out to writing coaches, read books about writing, and listen to podcasts. I’d work on it in therapy. I’d shed lots of tears. I wouldn’t stop until I could write again. Looking back, I can see how deeply my need to write was when I couldn’t, and I can see that writing has been part of my life since I began to learn how to do it. Still, I never identified as a writer. I just enjoyed writing and needed to write. In recent years as a mother, wife, therapist, daughter, fur-mom, and friend, writing took a back seat more than it ever has before. Mostly it took a back seat because I’m often exhausted and I don’t feel like I have anything to say. It didn’t seem as important as spending time with and doing things for/with my family and my clients. I assumed I would write again when I had the time and something to say, and I didn’t worry about it. It turns out that it is not that simple. Even though I didn’t have anything to say, I never stopped desiring to say something; to write. The distress of not writing was always with me even when I wanted other things to be more important. Logically, my family and my clients are more important. But logic isn’t everything. My family and my clients are more important to me than food and water, but I still need food and water to be ok for my family and clients. The same is true of writing. I need to write to be ok. I need to prioritize the time and space to do it. I need to take care of myself so I’m not too exhausted to write. If I don’t do those things and I don’t write, I get depressed. Deeply depressed. Writing is not just a hobby. It’s part of who I am. After 41 years, I finally give myself permission to claim this: I am a writer. I am a writer! I had many reasons for not identifying as a writer sooner. I was told early on that you’re not a writer if you haven’t written a book and been published. While I have been published, I haven’t written a book and I don’t earn a living as a writer. I thought I had to meet other’s expectations to define myself as a writer. But who I am is not about what I get paid for or external accomplishments. Who I am isn’t determined based on what society tells me I need to do to be valid. I get to determine who I am, and it’s what is inside me that matters. When you try to diminish a part of yourself, you will feel depressed. You may do this because you don’t like that part, or you fear you will be judged or ostracized, or like me, you invalidate that part because you don’t think it is good enough. It’s important to stop denying these parts of yourself because doing so greatly impacts your mental health and forces you to stay small and ashamed. When you embrace all parts of yourself, you shed shame and elevate self-love. You can’t love yourself if you’re diminishing yourself. Let’s make 2023 a year of self-love. Let’s stop devaluing ourselves and dimming our lights. Let’s start embracing ourselves with the love we deserve. If you’re ready to start embracing more of your authentic self, the Journaling for Identity Awareness, Self-acceptance, & Self-Empowerment is for you! You can purchase your copy here and get started on strengthening your sense of self and self-love right away.