“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories.
If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”
One of the most damaging legacies of childhood trauma is loss of voice. It can take a lifetime to identify this crippling pattern, let alone change it. When we do commit to having a voice in our own life, our own destiny, we often doubt our ability to express ourselves skillfully. Perhaps we had no role models, no permission, no support – all of the above. The answer is to get your story out anyway you can. You have an infinite array of possibilities to express yourself. Chances are you’re already, at least in some small way, leaving your mark on the world (gardening, cooking, decorating, artwork, photography, music, any number of talents). All good.
Story, however, requires something that may not come so naturally to you. In contemporary parlance, journaling is often sited as the place to begin your exploration of how you came to be who you are in this moment. Journaling can lead to (or co-exist with) poetry, essay, blog, memoir, article, short story, novel. As I regard my family members 44 years ago, knowing the trajectory their lives took, I’m in awe at the depth and richness of Story. From one family photo, you can derive enough material to crash your laptop!
Fiction writers are often asked if their short story or novel is based on their own lives. My answer to this is simple. While my fiction is not autobiographical per se, I could not have expressed emotional depth, nuance, humor, pathos etc. had I not lived the life that I lived, just as I lived it. I believe many other writers would agree. The creative process that birthed my novel, You Were My Mother, was cathartic for me in ways that I’m sure I’ll never quite grasp or articulate.
My essays, blogs, journaling, articles, and other expository writing do come out of my life experiences and will always be part of the process that helps me express, define, and develop who I am coming to be in this world. Witness this start of a memoir about my mother (in front of me in the upper left of the photo).
In this next link, the feeling of “father hunger” is poignantly expressed by a writer friend in a Father’s Day blog.
This is a polished piece by a professional writer yet, at the same time, as personal as a journal entry. Never doubt that your life experience is rich in it’s detail, it’s lessons, it’s wisdom. Get it down, whether on paper or electronic file. Read it aloud to yourself. Listen for what matters. If you left it out, put it in. Choose a trusted friend to share it with, if that feels comfortable. Even if it feels scary, consider being brave. You can always bring it to a wise one for the light of understanding. Don’t wait until your deathbed to get out what needs to be healed. You may not get the chance. Write On!