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?