6. The Answer

I was seven when my mom bought me my first journal and I discovered what it felt like to put pen to paper. To see one’s innermost thoughts take tangible shape and form seemed a sort of magic, like spinning gold out of air. To create something where nothing once existed surely must be the most powerful realization of our humanness, Imago Dei enacted. Writing felt like the most natural extension of myself, my way of knowing my place in the world.  

I stopped writing when I became a teacher, a sort of natural response to the need to shore up my emotional reserves so I could be present for my daughter and students. Good teachers are optimistic, encouraging, consistent in mood and demeanor, able to buoy up their students through their own resiliency. I am not, naturally, any of those things, as most of my students can attest. It took a lot (A LOT) of energy to rise above my naturally moody disposition, my tendency to brood, contemplate, ruminate, prevaricate. You get the picture. Writing only further pushed me into a place I desperately needed to stay away from in order to do my job well. So it goes. I have no regrets. Those five years of teaching helped me grow in ways I never could have imagined. I loved my students. I loved my classroom. It was absolutely where I was meant to be in that season. 

But by February of this year, I knew that season had come to an end. I no longer had the stamina to push myself. There was nothing left to give. When the well-being of others relies on your own, you have to know when to call it quits. 

But what next?

I’ve spent the past seven months applying to jobs in just about every field imaginable. Hundreds of jobs. Hundreds of hours. And I’ve been met with one closed door after the next. Quite literally, every facet of security has been stripped away in that time, slowly, like a flower losing petals at the end of spring. 

And I am so grateful. 

Beneath those props, I discovered pieces of myself so long buried that I barely recognize them. It is as though I have returned to a land I thought I might never see again. I am awash in the comfort of its familiarity. I began to write again, more than just morning journal dribble. I wrote to process my grief, to preserve my sanity, and to hold onto my sense of self as everything around me seemed to crumble. And now that I’ve tapped into that place, I can’t seem to stop. Each day, I wake to more words, as though they had stored themselves up and were simply waiting to be let out. 

Maya Angelou has this saying… “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” I feel that. I feel this story pressing to get out, and I fear that if I don’t put it to paper now, I might never get the chance to. 

So here’s what I’ve decided. As I’ve contemplated and prayed about these next steps, I have overwhelmingly felt that the only thing I need to do at this moment is to write… and trust that the next step will appear in its time. I need to put this story… my story… to paper and know that I have done this thing that I feel I was born to do. I can’t guarantee it will get published. I can’t even guarantee anyone will read it. All I know is that I have to write it. 

I’m a type-A planner who loves to have her space settled and who hates the unknown. This is not a decision I’ve made lightly. But now that I have, I can’t imagine any other path ahead. 

And so, I’d like to ask for your support. I have been graciously provided a beautiful space for the next three weeks. Afterward, I hope to find a short-term rental somewhere solitary and inspiring. My daughter will continue virtual schooling and will stay with her grandmother, to whom I am so grateful. Worse case scenario, we are right where we left off when I finish, but hopefully the world will have regained a bit of normalcy by then. The stakes seem low.   

Think of me, pray for me, and if you feel compelled to contribute to the cause, it will be greatly appreciated. And more than anything, thank you for reading. With every ounce of my being, I know this is only possible because you read. I am so grateful to have you with me on this journey. 



Update: this photo was taken by Tom O’Donnell. It is Uncle Henry’s cottage on Monhegan Island in Maine.

Published by dainsworth

The tether. That thing that binds us to our families of origin, not by any desire of our own, but through the mere act of existence. We spend our lives exploring the roots of this connection, be it to an unending wellspring of love or the heavy, unshakeable burden of pain. We create new ones. We watch as old ones fray. And sometimes, in life's most painful moments, we witness those tethers break. (un)tethered traces the paths of old and new connections through family, love, the modern church, and fourteen-years of single-parenting. I begin this blog in a time of deep uncertainty, having recently left my position at the boarding school where I lived and taught for the past five years. Technically, I still live in Charlottesville, VA, but the next steps in life could take us anywhere! There are many unknowns ahead, but I know I am not alone in this. I hope this will be a place of solace for all who are wandering/wondering through this time.

2 thoughts on “6. The Answer

  1. Beautifully written. Appreciate that you are sharing your vulnerability, rather than keeping it to yourself. You have a story that’s worth telling, and worth listening to, and you express yourself so well. Will be saying a prayer, and possibly contributing – that would be after the prayer. Cheers, Maverick

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