I was thrown into a tail spin when my father passed last July. Many people have described me as fearless over the years, and yet, just thinking had become a scary thing. I was processing and reassigning the family dynamics I grew up with. I was acknowledging truths that could not be told to anyone. Nearly a year has passed in trying to sort it all out.
I finally realized recently that nothing is ever going to change with me until I get my feelings about my life down on paper. What’s been scaring me off was the idea that it would have to be published. Of course not! It only needs to see the light of my own day; that way the thoughts in my head that can drop me like a polio-stricken child can be stopped from whirling constantly around in my head. When I write, everything becomes real. It becomes truth. That’s a bit scary at first, because once you recognize an ugly or unpleasant truth, there’s the problem of keeping it to yourself. For the original “too-much-information” giver, this can be an issue.
I’m consciously not editing this piece much because I think it’s critical in writing your memoir to be as authentic and free-flowing as you can. So, actually this is a bit of an exercise as I’m planning to go back to the memoir when I’m done here.
I’ve always said, since I was a teenager, that I would be a better writer after my parents were gone. Terrible thought, terrible to say, but still true. That’s because, like most writers, my abilities, whatever they may be, stem from an imperfect past, beginning in childhood. There are many, many things that I want to write honestly about, but can’t because it would hurt too many people. That need is clawing at my insides, but what I’ve already found, in such a short time, is that beginning…writing…is the true cure.
Again, it doesn’t ever have to be read, but as I write I’m being as truthful as I can, both about other people and myself. That’s a killer. My goal for about five years now is to be as authentic as I can be. Society really doesn’t permit true authenticity, but a person can get close. I treasure and honor kindness and that doesn’t always blend well with truth, yet I strive to be honest whenever I can.
Writers, and frankly anyone else, if you’re trying to sort things out, get your life back or just get past a particular problem, write about it. If it’s your whole life, then start a memoir. Return to it each time you have a memory that needs examining. Be ruthless, on paper. Don’t share it if you don’t want to. In fact, I urge you to keep it to yourself the first time and see if that doesn’t make you more “for real.”
I’ve been struggling far too long and am so happy to be back on track that I couldn’t help but share this. I sincerely hope this helps someone else.