Old John-Boat + Writing Thru Self Hate

Yesterday’s prompt was to “write something personal” in my made up March writing challenge for myself. I thought of several things which might be fun to explore and share – hunting stories, my love for my sweet puppy, my relationship with my brother, on and on. Yet, at the end of the day I had nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

I’ve been thinking about it all morning – and I’ve decided I’m going to share with you a couple pages out of my journal. When you read it – I want you to keep in mind a couple things:

1 – I’m not whining.Straight up. This is just how I feel. If it comes across whiny – I’m not sorry. This isn’t a pity party – it’s me trying to come to terms with myself.

2 – I hope you have something in your life that affects you this way. Feel free to share if you’d like. If it’s something creative, something athletic, if it’s work, or raising children. Share with me what that “thing” is that makes you feel something similar. 



I didn’t write in my journal yesterday – mainly because I always seem to justify not writing by replacing it with reading time. It’s just an excuse but I seem to be using it a lot lately. It’s not that I don’t have any creative push…I do. I have ideas rolling around in my brain like BINGO balls in a raffle drum, crumpled up pieces of paper overflowing my trashcan next to my desk, and little sticky notes of drafts in my purse I’ve thought up randomly in the middle of the day. It’s not that I don’t have the drive…I do. I enjoy my writing time. It’s the one place in my day where I stop holding my breath. I can be naked in bed, I can be in my car eating lunch at the park, or sitting on my back step with a cup of coffee. I love the feel of the journal cover bending under my hands and the sound of a crinkled page from too much ink. 

Lately though…here’s what writing feels like: sickness.

The only thing I can compare it to is one of my first memories in a boat on the river with Dad. I wasn’t scared. I can’t really remember a single moment in my life where I’ve been scared when my dad was in charge. He’s kind of like my writing: he’s a safe zone. He always has been. He’s steady, sure of every move he makes, confident in his intelligence – I turn to him when I need to be brought back down to earth and when I need a dose of reality/brutal truth. (Momma is my dreamer; she’s my light on my dark days, my color in all the grey. Momma is my biggest defender and my most loyal companion. Momma is my soft place.) Dad…Dad is the one who makes me face what I don’t usually like to face and own up to it.

The boat though – it was the movement. Not the fear of it – just the sudden jerk of my stomach running away from me when he took off. I couldn’t have been very old but I remember already knowing I loved it. Maybe it was in my blood. I don’t know but I can remember even through small child’s eyes how calloused and tanned my dad’s hand was on the throttle, how he sat sideways and took in the shape of the river banks with gentle eyes I rarely got to see turned toward me, the smell of the Chariton seemed to smooth his face over with calm.

I know the comparison of an old john-boat to what writing feels like probably doesn’t make all that much sense. Writing is thrilling and much like that old john-boat – it’s a part of me in a way I know I’ll never be able to escape. It’s the realest thing I’ve ever known. It pushes me to observe and take in every single moment and I honest to God LOVE the English language. Words are beautiful – putting them together to form a thought in a way you can’t communicate verbally. Seeing a line someone wrote a hundred years ago and being comforted in knowing someone else felt exactly the way you feel before. Writing isn’t something I’ll ever be able to stop or, God forbid, suppress. It’s the best part of me.

But, damn, it hurts.

There is a lot of self-doubt and self-hate which comes into play when I write. That old john-boat feeling has been in my gut the past few days and I can’t kick it. I feel like:

  • I don’t write enough.
  • I don’t write WELL enough.
  • I’m not intellectual. I’m superficial.
  • Rip it up and trash it. Right now.
  • A teenager could write this.
  • Breathe- it’s okay.
  • Why are you crying? Jesus. 
  • Stop crying.
  • I’m gonna throw up. 
  • Holy shit, just go to bed.
  • Can’t sleep. My brain won’t stop.
  • Oh! THIS is how I should’ve phrased that.
  • Wake up – write it down now.


On repeat.

Over. And over.


It didn’t start until my twenties – when I wrote in high school and my freshman year of college – I NEVER felt like I was drowning. Sure, I didn’t like some of the things I put down on paper but I didn’t loathe myself in this way. And really, it doesn’t stem from people not liking my material or feeling unworthy according to someone else’s opinion.

I don’t feel worthy according to MYSELF.

I sit there and feel my gut toss and turn – like in that boat – and I just want to scream. It’s not painful but it’s unpleasant. I let it eat at me. I let it devour me until I want to just crawl in bed and disappear under blankets and Advil Migraine.

I have loved two men with my heart and soul so deeply that I completely shattered when they left me at different points in my life – but they never came CLOSE to the way writing makes me feel. Writing builds me up and then smacks me across the face. It helps me release all my emotions in a healthy way then throws them back in my face like a narcissist. Writing makes me feel capable and well rounded, then turns around and makes me feel inadequate and irrelevant.

I never knew you could love something so much, yet hate it at the same time.


© 2016 Pearl Bayou – All Rights Reserved.



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