Kat Atwell is a freelance writer, blogger & stage presence telling stories that deliver laughs, validation & community.

Mental Health | Wellness & Self Image | Experiential & Reviews

Drawing blanks.

Ever have too many things you want to write about, yet all of it makes such a brain cacophony in your head that suddenly it’s a loud, amorphous word blob? Either it’s too private, too trite, not your story to tell, too sad, or simply too “not right?”

I don’t even remember why I didn’t write last week, but I didn’t. I’m really sorry about that.

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Holy hell, is this writer’s block? I thought writer’s block was when you didn’t have any ideas, which, I suppose I kind of just admitted to, but my situation feels different - it resulted from too much, instead of too little. I’m different! My circumstances are unique!

Not really.

It makes sense, I suppose. I signed up to do Nanowrimo (as I do every year), and so far, I’m zero for 50,000. Should I be somewhere between 13,000 and 17,000 words by now? Yes. Yes I should. I could start to run the literary race at this point, knowing I would lose, I guess. Getting in well under 50,000 words is still better than not having tried at all, right?

Photo by  Jonathan Chng  on  Unsplash

I was about to overload that last thought with way too many metaphors. Running the race, jumping in the pool - why are they all sports-related?

Perhaps I’m avoiding because I’m not an athlete? HMMMMM…?

Probably not.

I suppose I should come clean as to why writing is a struggle today. It’s because I have a lot of friends in pain right now. I am feeling their pain, and trying desperately to sit (figuratively) with my friends, offering my presence as my love, instead of trying to fix the things and giving all kinds of words and opinions that are unnecessary. I’d say there’s really no way to steel oneself from being highly sensitive and empathetic, but there is discipline in being able to hold space without becoming the fixer.

Photo by  PHUOC LE  on  Unsplash

Photo by PHUOC LE on Unsplash

Grief is supposed to be felt. Depression is sometimes just depression. Sadness doesn’t have to be fixed.

I can’t chuck a giant blanket over the feelings of others and try to hide them, simply because I’m experiencing them from the sidelines (more sports) and they’re making ME hurt emotionally. That’s not fair to my friends. That’s me being selfish, if we’re being candid. Nobody asked me to feel their feelings. I was asked to simply be a friend. I was asked to be there for them. I was asked to listen. That’s all.

It’s so difficult to be that friend sometimes, too, because the desperation to make their circumstances better is so frenetic. Remember that science experiment from elementary school, when you could make a tornado in a bottle? I grew up in Kansas. I have watched way too many weather documentaries. I know how ominous and loud and destructive tornadoes can be. But the tornadoes in a bottle? They’re silent. They’re at the mercy of whether or not you’re going to agitate the bottle and make the tornado appear.

Photo by  Nikolas Noonan  on  Unsplash


It’s because I’m talking about my feelings, and I feel vulnerable, and my impulse is to either avoid them, not cop to them, or to make fun of them, that’s why. I’m not stupid.

I’m also mad at myself for spending so much time dwelling on how I feel as a result of the truly life-changing pain my friends are experiencing. I feel, as a friend, that I should be slipping all of this into a pocket (in a dress), to examine later, once my friends have settled.

That’s not fair to me. I know. I’m forgiving myself for that. Diminishing my feelings, or trying to avoid accepting that yes, I’m overwhelmed by everything that is happening to people I love right now, that’s just going to make me less of a good friend in the long run. That’s ironic, isn’t it? It’s that whole “love yourself before you can truly love others” quote I’m paraphrasing - it’s making sense right here and now.

That awareness is significant. That makes me a better friend, I hope. I know I can’t fix circumstances, and no one asked me to, so instead it’s my job to make sure I’m the best, most present me I can be for the sake of the people I love.

And if you’re one of these friends I’ve been talking about and you’re reading this, please know how much I love you, and how honored and touched I am that you’ve chosen to ask me to hold your hand as you move through this. I’m doing everything I can so that I don’t become that person who offers the unsolicited advice (although it’ll probably happen anyway, but I’m working on it), or tries to avoid through humor (that will definitely happen, but again, working on it).

This is what I know: I know I love you. I know this, too, shall pass. I know you can handle this. I know your pain and hurt is real. I know I will always be here for you, even if sometimes it’s in a more limited capacity for my self-preservation. I love you, I love you, I love you.

globalanimal.org via Buzzfeed

globalanimal.org via Buzzfeed

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