Pouring Thoughts and Pee-Phobia



Elizabeth Duffy has an entertaining and thoughtful entry
in her column, this week as shares with us the origins of her writing:

I started keeping a diary when I was about eleven. My mother suggested I start writing to cure a weird childhood insomnia that kept me up late nights worrying that I was going to pee in my sleep, even though I’d not wet the bed since I was out of diapers.

When I was struck by pee-phobia, I would go stand by Mom and Dad’s bed, and wait for them to wake up, which was weird, and when they did, often terrified by the stranger looming at their bedside, I’d say, “I can’t sleep . . .” which is a phrase that, as a mother, I’ve come to associate with a caustic sense of annoyance.

“You can’t sleep? Could it be because you’re standing beside my bed rather than lying in your own?”

I wonder how many nights of sleep I pulverized for my mother before she suggested I write down my feelings rather than bringing them to her attention. I remember her saying something like, “How about for the next week, on the nights you can’t sleep, write down what happened before you went to bed. Then we’ll see if we can figure out what’s causing it.”

It was an ingenious solution. I stayed in bed rather than waking Mom up. I felt like I was participating in a scientific study. I’d write until I got tired, or until I realized that indeed, I did not have to go the bathroom. And eventually, pee-phobia went away.

I also developed this habit of writing down EVERYTHING that ever happens to me. And perhaps a new phobia was born—a phobia that events might occur without the proper documentation. Words took on an inordinate value to me. The volume of the words was more important to me than what they actually said. I liked to fill up composition books, and stack them, side by side. I write small, but I started writing even smaller, two lines to one on a college ruled notebook.

That sort of obsessive writing brings Elizabeth to thoughts of filters — especially as the sharing of one’s every thought pertains to the internet, and also to our lives as Christians.

Now writers are an internet presence. They can dialogue with their readers. They have to keep coming back and interacting, if not physically, then at least emotionally with the response of their audience. Never has it been more tempting to abandon the filter. And yet never has it been more necessary to exercise restraint.

It’s a great little piece and you’ll want to read it all.

Speaking of pouring thoughts and words, all I can add is, cheers!

About Elizabeth Scalia

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