I have always liked writing. I remember the excitement when I first learned to write and had little poems published in the school newspaper. As an adolescent and young adult I wrote long letters in which I recounted my life as it occurred. It was a wonderful feeling to carve out time, light a candle, put on some music and give myself entirely to the experience of narrating my life onto a piece of paper.
I didn’t know how important writing was to me until I gave it up. When I got married my life became confusing and hectic and having little time for myself, I stopped writing. I lived in a world where patriarchy was accepted as the norm and, even though women were educated and held professional jobs, their voices were barely heard. In that world, my voice became totally silent and I often felt sad, hidden, invisible and forbidden.
Two events helped me to come out of the darkness: I met a new group of women and my mother died. The women called themselves “feminists” and spoke their minds freely. They were not afraid of naming what they saw and felt. They knew that they were not being heard and fought against it. It was among them I began to understand my silence and recover my voice.
When my mother was diagnosed with cancer I left my nuclear family to be with her for a few weeks. For the first time in a long time I was free from the demands placed upon me by my role as a professional woman, young mother, stepmother and wife. I visited with friends and walked streets that brought back the memory of the free-spirited girl I had been before I had gone silent. Despite the circumstances of my trip, I felt wholesome, free and alive!
When I returned home I felt a deep urge to write again and began scribbling a few sentences here and there every chance I had. It was like finding a long-lost friend, a treasure chest that I could open any time and immerse myself in its contents.
My mother died a few months later and a period of profound sadness and confusion followed. A few months into the grief journey, a voice within me began taking shape: “What I needed was to write, not just 5 or 10 minutes at a time, but to write as long as I wanted.” The voice began as a murmur, as a fleeting thought that made no sense. I wasn’t a writer. I had a job. I had financial responsibilities. However, as time passed the voice became stronger until it wouldn’t take no for an answer.
With the support of my women friends and the newly acquired understanding that life is finite, I gathered the courage to announce to my family and friends that I was going to leave my professional career and take up writing full-time, initially for 6 months. The decision caused surprise and disbelief; but for me, it was if as I had finally found a way out of my dark maze.
Using an old rickety desk placed in a corner of my small apartment I began to write. I wrote every day all day. I recovered my memories and described my feelings and beliefs without fear of being censored. I allowed all of my voices to come out and knitted them together. I felt alive, connected and powerful.
I made this decision 16 years ago and have not stopped writing since then. Today I write every morning to connect with my self and my journey, to celebrate or to grieve, to think or to meditate. I write to be alive.
Paulina Ospina, LCSW
Palm Desert, California
Paulina is a psychotherapist currently practicing in Palm Desert, California. She is originally from Bogota, Colombia. Educated in Ottawa, Canada and San Diego, California. Her spiritual awakening led her to pursue her soul´s calling as a counselor and writer 16 years ago.
She believes that each person comes into the world with a voice that is wise, creative and powerful and focuses her work on helping people find and strengthen this voice.
Paulina loves to write, paint and garden.