Category Archives: Memoir

Writing to Redemption

I’ve mentioned previously that I’m working on my memoir right now. I’m doing it because I want to and I like the idea of being an artist. I’m not taking it all that seriously so right now it might as well be a glorified journal, which works fine for me. You might be better off journaling, but I find that I can’t stick to writing that no one will ever read. I don’t know if anyone will ever read these blog posts, but at least people can if they want to and they might get something out of it.
As I’m writing I feel like it’s effecting me in ways I never would have guessed. One benefit of a memoir over a journal is that writing your life story makes you sift back through your whole life, not necessarily just dwelling on the present. This is providing me with some interesting perspective. It’s also forcing me to confront some rather painful memories. I think a lot of people, myself included, can be haunted by our pasts but we refuse to aknowledge it. When the bad memories pop up we slam them down and put a lid on them, shoving them out of sight but not really out of mind. We may get these traumas out of the forefront of our thoughts, but I think they can be just as dangerous simmering in the background, casting a shadow over everything we do.

I’m right now confronting some of the things I’ve felt guilty for most of my life. I’m beginning to think that this guilt might have fed into my self-destructive tendencies. If I believe I’m guilty and need to be punished I might subconsciously punish myself or interpret anything done to me as a just punishment for my misdeeds.
You might have things in your past that you’ve never forgiven yourself for. By now I’ve forgiven pretty much everyone who has ever done me wrong over 5 years ago, yet I still hold myself responsible for things I did 20 years ago, long past the point where I’m sure everyone else involved forgot about the whole thing. By now I should be far enough away from these events to see things clearly and allow myself some closure but too often we just get so into the habit of avoiding and suppressing negative emotions that we never really deal with them and allow ourselves the healing we deserve.
I’m sure there are plenty of ways to face the past, I have simply happened on one that works better for me. I think writing a book allows me some distance, I get to treat myself like a literary character and I’m way more forgiving of faults in characters than I am in myself. I also know that a good story doesn’t just have a fall from grace, but a rise from the ashes. I’m not there myself yet, but the urge to write a good ending to my book seems to be giving me the energy and the permission to truly find peace with myself.
Think of your life as a book, what do you think you’d learn if you read it?

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What do you want your memoir to say?

Usually you hear the question in the title posed something like,”how do you want your eulogy to read?” Or, “What do you want to be remembered for after your gone?” If this line of thinking  inspires you, then by all means think that way.

I personally find this line of thinking kind of morbid, and I’m a naturally morbid person. I honestly don’t think I’ll care that much about my eulogy or how historians will talk about me centuries from now, I imagine I’ll be too dead to pay attention to the world of the living. Instead I’m interested in what people will say about me when I’m living. I chose memoir rather than biography because frankly, I’m the person who I most need to impress.

Think about the celebrities you know of, about all those behind the music documentaries you might have seen. You probably noticed, like me, that the people we as a society heap praise upon the most actually have the hardest time living with themselves. Even if they somehow are able to thrive off the approval of strangers there inevitably comes a day when things begin to change. Old fans move on, critics sour, the sales go down, the list goes on and on. Think of the groups that used to play stadiums that now tour state fairs. 

This isn’t to say you should straight up ignore what other people think, we’re social beings and we need each other to make it through this life. By all means care about other people and try to do your best to help them, but don’t rely on them for your self worth. I’m not a parent, but I know from experience as a child that the job can be thankless. You can sacrifice everything for your kid and they might still resent you. The trick, as I understand, is to believe in yourself and what you’re doing.

I have to admit, I need to work a lot on this. I barely know the meaning of the term “self esteem.” A dear friend of mine had me repeat positive affirmations with her and it physically hurt to say them. The simple words “I am not a bad person” felt hollow and painful. Lately I’m moving forward bit by bit, it’s hard but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.

One step I’m taking is working on a memoir. I’m still young, no matter how I feel, and I’ve seen so little that the thought of writing it kind of makes me laugh. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, I like writing and searching through the past for the story I have to tell is helpful, and I think it’s bringing some things into clarity that will help me further on.

I want to write more about this later, but for now I’ll leave you with these thoughts: What do you want your memoir to say? Why aren’t you writing yours now? If you said it’s because your life is too boring, what are you going to do to make your life a story worth hearing?

If you trust this site the average human life is 28,000 days long, and I’d wager every life that long has a book worth of stories in it if someone would just take the time to dig in and pull them out. And until your dying day you’re shaping that next chapter, make it a good one.

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Filed under Inspiration, Memoir