- Louise Hay (wed-gie.com)
- Today I loved listening and seeing Louise Hay live! (todayiloved.com)
The next day I heard shouting, banging, bumping sounds coming from upstairs. I ran to see what was going on, when I reached the top step I saw Janet and Howard fighting the in the hallway. I watched in silent terror as they wrestled knocking objects over that happened to be in the way—until Howard hollered; “Go down stairs Heddy!” Once everything settled Howard said he was taking me home. It was clear that Howard was highly upset, but I didn’t understand why I had to go home. I never had seen him angry before, never heard him raise his voice, curse, or even fight.
Oh No, I thought, I have to go home without seeing Leon! I was downhearted I wasn’t ready to leave, I had to think fast. My heart was racing like it was in a NASCAR competition. I didn’t have Leon’s phone number, but I knew where he lived. I saw Howard walking down the staircase and stopped him as he reached the last step.
“Howard, how long do I have before we leave?” He looked at his watch.
“We’ll probably leave in an hour.” I quickly ran upstairs and threw my clothes in my little black suit case and zipped it up then ran back down stairs.
“I’ll be right back!” I hollered, then ran out the door across the street and walked briskly several blocks down to Columbus Avenue where Leon lived. I knocked on the door. His brother peaked through the window of the door then opened it slightly looking at me. “Hi is Leon home?”
“No, he ain’t here. Who should I tell him came by?”
“Heddy, tell him Heddy came by. I’m sorry to come by without calling, but I wanted to see him before I leave.”
“Before you leave—where you going?” He opened the door wider.
“I’m going back home, to Meadville. We’re leaving in an hour.”
He observed me carefully then said;
“Let me get your address, he’ll write you… Wait… let me get some paper.” He went back inside and got a pencil and a small torn piece of paper from a used envelope. He wrote down my address. I thanked him and said goodbye.Not seeing Leon before I left was deeply troubling me. I was afraid I would never see him again, but his brother promised that I would hear from him. From the very first time I saw Leon, I knew he was my handsome knight and shining armor. But I still wondered if I would hear from him or if he would simply forget about me and move on to the next girl in line willing and waiting for his attention and affection. The thought of losing him terrified me.
When I got back to the house Howard was ready to go. I said goodbye to Robin, and the other kids. Howard threw my suitcase into the trunk, we both got in the car then he backed out of the driveway and headed for Interstate 80 east. The drive back to Meadville was long. I was heavy-hearted and gloomy. It was quiet, neither Howard nor I was much for words. My thoughts centered on Leon. I hoped and prayed that I would hear from him again. And that his brother really would give him my address.
When we arrived in Meadville Mama was happy to see us. Howard stayed for a while and ate dinner before leaving. No one could refuse Mama’s good cooking. She wouldn’t let a visitor leave without feeding them and she always had leftovers in the fridge.
I ran up the steps to my bedroom and put “My Girl” by the temptations on my record player, then turned the dial to 45 and sat down on my twin bed listening to it over and over. Finally the music lifted my spirit and I got up and danced—swinging my hips from side to side and swirling around to the rhythm of the music. “My Girl” was my refuge. Every time I heard that song, I thought about Leon.
A week later I received a letter from Leon just as his brother promised. From then on he wrote every week. As soon as I got home from school and walked up on that long gray wooden porch, the first thing I did was check the mail box for a letter from Leon. When there was one in the mailbox my heart smiled with sheer joy, it made my day! It didn’t take long for him to write that he loved me. That was absolutely blissful. We both were in love his letters confirmed it. Somehow hearing it in person was different from seeing ‘I love you’ written in his own handwriting. That sealed it—it must be true! I thought. I was his girl and I always knew he was thinking about me.
Shortly after graduating from high school he wrote that he had joined the Air Force and would be leaving for basic training in Texas. I didn’t understand why he joined the Air Force especially during the Vietnam War. I worried about his safety and prayed that God would keep him safe. Leon kept his promise and continued to write weekly. Sometimes I received two letters in one week. I don’t know how he found the time to write so often especially when he was so busy training, but he did and I’m glad that he was a man of his word. It made it easier for me. I felt close to him, as though he were there with me, and I with him. We continued to stay in touch by mail and I always knew what was going on with him and he knew what was happening in my life. His letters came from Air Force Bases in Wichita Falls, Texas and Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. The last assignment I knew of was at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia.
Leon received a lot of training at those three Air Force Bases. He wrote that he was trained as a mechanic. His job was to fix the planes, even while it was flying in the air he had to go out on the wing to repair the plane. Daddy was a mechanic in the Air Force too! I imagined Leon standing beside an airplane just like a picture of Daddy I had seen of him dressed in his mechanic’s jump suite. Leon’s military career settled at Langley.
One night I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes. We had one of those stand alone white porcelain sinks with the double door cabinets underneath. I hated washing dishes; there was nothing to look at but the bare wall straight ahead. A black wall phone hung from the other side of the room next to the huge wooden cabinet that housed the dishes and food. The phone rang Mama walked in from the living room and answered it. She was talking for several minutes. I knew it was for her so I continued washing the dishes. After she finished her conversation, she called me to the phone. Puzzled that it was for me, I walked over to the phone as I wiped my hands dry and picked up the receiver from the cabinet Mama had laid it on.
“Hi Angel, how are you?” It was Leon—I was shocked and happy.
“Leon! I’m fine. Where are you?” I asked thinking maybe he was in Akron and he would be coming to Meadville to see me, I hoped. It had been twenty-two months since I saw him. The day I left Akron loneliness set deep down in my heart—I yearned to be back in his arms again.
“I’m still in Hampton.” My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yes, I’m fine… I’m sending a picture. Look for it in the mail. How’s school?”
“School is good, I’ll be glad when I’m finished. My grades are great.” There was a Long pause. As I stood there waiting, I sensed something heavy was on his mind. I had no idea what it was, but I knew it was deep. I remembered how deep our conversations could get. So I decided to leave it alone and be grateful that he didn’t go into a long deep conversation. Something kept nagging at me, but I was afraid to push the matter. I felt something was seriously wrong and it scared me.
“What’s wrong Leon?”
“Nothins wrong Angel…” he paused again. I want to ask you something…” silence broke through and another long pause followed. This was the first time he had ever picked up the phone and called to talk to me.
“Okay just ask me.”
“No, I’ll wait.” What does he want to ask me? I wondered. It’s not like him to not speak his mind. He’s worried about something.
“I love you Angel.” I felt a rush of relief. He still loves me; it’s not that he doesn’t love me anymore, thank God. Silence fell on my ears again.
“I love you too Leon.”
“I gotta go.” He slowly said. “I’ll talk to you later. Be good.”
“Bye Angel,” he said softly as he hung up the phone.
There was something strange about his call; he never called me before in the whole two-year courtship. I always received a letter. And Mama didn’t say a word. That was too strange. I looked at Mama and wondered what she thought about Leon and me saying that we loved each other. Then I thought it probably wasn’t a problem since he was in Virginia and I was in Pennsylvania. That’s too far away to make a sexual connection.
Mama focused on me graduating from high school. She always told me I would be somebody one day. She made it her top priority to make sure I graduated from high school and NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING would stand in the way of her dream for me.
The smell of bacon, and fried potatoes and onions came up through the vents and cracks waking me up early the next morning. Janet had come home and was cooking breakfast. I was so happy to see her. She stood about 4’9” inches tall and was spunky. She’d tackle anybody no matter how big they were. She’d say the bigger they are the harder they fall. Janet wore her dark brown hair in a short bob with a bang combed to the side. She had a pair of gorgeous round brown eyes that she used when expressing her thoughts and feelings. I remember her favorite phrase was “Nigga Please” The way she said it made me crack up—it was so funny. Janet was frank she called a spade a spade and walked with plenty of self-confidence and pride. And I loved her like a big sister.
After eating the kids went outside to play. Janet washed the dishes and I dried them and put each plate carefully in the cabinet above the counter. I knew Leon was coming over again that night; I had to tell her that I had met a boy. So, I told her about Leon and how we had met in the park and asked if he could come over. Janet stood at the kitchen sink washing the pots and pans and asking me a zillion questions like:
“Where does he live, Heddy?”
“He lives over by the park on Columbus.” I wiped the table with the wet dish cloth that was on the kitchen counter and sat down at the table.
“Where does he go to school?”
I was getting more and more uncomfortable with every question. I rested my elbows on the table and put my head on my hand; then I looked up at her.
“He goes to Garfield High School.” Janet returned the plastic milk carton to the refrigerator.
“Where did you say you met him?” she asked.
“I met him at the park down the street.”
“Who are his parents?”
“I don’t know his parents.” I knew I didn’t have all the answers. Actually, I didn’t know much about him at all. I guess I was too busy looking at him and wasn’t paying attention when he was telling me about himself. Janet turned and looked me in the eye.
“Heddy, I’ll have to know more about him before he can visit.”
I didn’t tell her that he had been over many times to visit. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to have company, but I should have known. Mama never let me have company unless she was there watching every move and listening to every word like a hawk.
“He’s a really nice guy, Janet.”
“I’m sure he is, Heddy, but I need to know more about him.” She walked out of the kitchen heading towards the upstairs.
Later that day after calling around and doing some checking, Janet finally said he could come over. It was still daylight when the door bell rang early that evening. It was Leon, I ran to the door. He was wearing a black waist length leather jacket and black pants. I could smell his cologne before I reached the door. I guess black was his favorite color. He looked so handsome standing there smiling at me. A white two door Pontiac Grand Prix, parked in front of the house waited with the motor running.
“Hi, Angel, I came to let you know, I can’t come over tonight. I’ve got to go to Cleveland, but I promise I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” I was sadly disappointed I had spent half of the day trying to convince Janet to let him come over. The other half I spent hoping and praying that she would say yes. Just when she agrees to let him come over—he has to go to Cleveland! I couldn’t believe this was happening. I stood there stunned and paralyzed from the mouth down.
He gave a slight grin and waited for my response, but I just looked at him and said; “Oh, okay.” Yes, I was disappointed, but what could I say? I had a bad feeling, as I watched him step off of the porch, walk down the sidewalk, get into that Grand Prix, and ride off. I watched him until I couldn’t see him anymore.
I was upstairs playing with the kids when the door bell rang. As I walked down the steps I could smell the scent of his Brut Cologne in the air. The first thing I saw was Leon looking through the screen door smiling at me. His smiling face warmed my heart. For a few moments I just stood there admiring him and smiling back. He was wearing a blue long sleeve shirt with black pants and his rose-tinted sun glasses as usual. He never took them off—not even when he kissed me. I wondered what his eyes looked like underneath them.
“Hi Leon” I opened the door.
“Hi Angel.” he walked in and kissed me on the cheek, then walked over to the living room couch, sat down and crossed his legs. I walked over and sat down beside him. “I didn’t bring any records today.” he said. I noticed he was wearing black nylon socks. Like always, his finger nails were neatly groomed. Nobody in Meadville wore nylon socks. I just had to touch and feel them. I ran my finger down his ankle. They felt soft like women’s stockings.
“So, how was your day? he asked smiling.
“It was okay. I took the kids to the park again.” He reached for my hand and held it and he kissed me gently then put my hand on his lap taking my hand and rubbing it along his leg. Then he moved my hand slowly onto the warm, bulge inside his pants, and whispered softly in my ear, “I want you baby.” Leon sent several kisses, gently pecking on my lips. “Can I have you?” he said looking in my eyes as he waited for my answer. I was embarrassed to touch him that way and I didn’t know how I should react. At first I just let my hand lay there, but Leon took it and made it rub him again. I got the feeling that he wanted me to rub him there, so I did. My mind was foggy and my body was excited; it was hard to think clearly. The physical sensations coming from my body were confusing and the bulge was getting bigger and bigger.
“You already have me Leon.” I didn’t have to wonder what to say it just popped up in my mind automatically. What Aunt Carm had always said; “If a boy asks you to raise your dress say ‘no’. If you do it, something terrible will happen,” kept repeating over and over again in my mind. She never explained what would happen. I guess she had a just say no philosophy. I was scared to death of what might happen. If there ever would be a time to say ‘no’ it was now.Leon kept trying to slip his hand into my slacks. Every time his hand went below my waist, I stopped him and held his hand firmly. He could kiss me passionately, and caress my breasts even suck on my nipples, but that was it. I liked the way he made me feel. I was too busy enjoying it to know that I was playing with fire and that fire was blazing hotter and hotter by the second.
“Do you love me?” he asked holding my hand. I thought about it for a moment, I wasn’t sure how it felt to be in love. I knew I had never felt that way about anyone. And I never had those kinds of experiences with anyone else.
“I think I do.”
He let go of my hand and gave me a serious look. “What do you mean you think you do?”
“I never felt like this before Leon, I’m not sure.” How do I know if it’s true love? I thought.
“I love you Heddy.” He French kissed me plunging his hot tongue inside my mouth.
“Do you love me baby?” he whispered kissing me again gently on the lips.
I thought, maybe I should just tell him ‘I do’ so he would stop asking.
“Mm, Yes, Leon, I love you.” I kissed him on his neck and stroked his head and down his shoulders. He held me tight and French kissed me again passionately. Leon slipped his hands inside my slacks. But I stopped his hand again and held onto it tightly.
“No baby. Please don’t. We can’t,” I whispered in his ear.
“Why not? I love you. Don’t you love me?”
“Mama will kill me.” I thought about what Mama always said: “Boys flock to the bad girls, but they marry the good girls.”
“She’s not here! How’s she going to know?” He shrugged his shoulders. “Are you going to tell her?”
“No, I wouldn’t tell her.”
“Well I’m not going to tell her. So, how would she know if neither of us tells her?” That made sense, but Mama had ways of finding stuff out—then all hell would break loose. Most people say ‘fear God,’ but I feared Mama—with God I had a chance. Mama was a strong disciplinarian she gave my sister and I one chance to do what she told us to do, after that our behind was hers. She never forgot or let anything go: consistency was the motto she lived by.
“But something could happen.” I looked down fiddling with the buttons on my blouse.
“Like what Heddy?”
I looked up at him. “I could end up pregnant.”
“Is that what’s worrying you Angel? I won’t get you pregnant. I promise I’ll be careful.” He unbuttoned my blouse, kissed my nipples, and waited again for my answer.
“No, I can’t! I pushed him away.”
“Come on baby, I need you. I want you so bad.” His hand pushed my hand over toward his bulge again. “Feel that?” It was big and hard as a rock. “That’s how bad I want you. I can’t go home like this!” I didn’t know what to do or say; my body was going crazy with anticipation and desire. All I could think about was what Mama and Aunt Carm warned me about.
Leon kissed me on my cheek and then my ear. The next thing I knew his hot wet tongue was inside my ear licking. My body went limp. He quickly stuck his hand inside my slacks and down into my panties. His fingers searched tenderly until he found the opening of my portal. I gasped for a breath of air, and went even weaker as he went deeper inside with his finger. It felt good until he reached a spot that hurt like hell.
“Stop Leon, that hurts!” I shouted. I pulled his hand from inside my panties and pushed him away.
“I’m sorry Angel I didn’t mean to hurt you.” We sat there on the couch silently for what seemed like a long time before he tried again. He kissed me and licked and sucked on my nipples. Then I heard the sound of his zipper unzipping. He put my hand on his private which was out of his pants and harder and standing straight up in the air. My body wanted him in ways I was too young to understand at fourteen.
He whispered in my ear, “I’m young, dumb, and full of cum.”
“If you loved me you’d let me.”
“That hurts, shoot! If you loved me you wouldn’t ask.”
He sat there silently for what seemed like a longtime, then stood up and walked towards the door and looked back at me with his tinted shades still in place. “Good night Angel see you tomorrow.” He left closing the door behind him.
I’m pleased to present a guest blog post by Kathy Pooler. She has been in my workshops and is one of my premier blogger friends.
“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.” Robert Cormier
One of the greatest benefits of a critique group is receiving constructive feedback that enables you to take your writing to the next level. That can only happen if you allow yourself to be open to hearing from others what is working and what is not. I have been participating in Linda Joy’s Spiritual Autobiography and Healing Memoir Teleworkshops since January, 2010, where I have learned that writing is truly rewriting.
Revision is part of the process, as much as we’d like to think we can get it done on the first try.
Let’s face it, we all want our readers to fall in love with our little darlings. Our stories are our babies. We have created them with our own hearts and hands, but sometimes we are so close to our own words that we can’t see the discrepancies, missteps and omissions–the tweaks here and there that will make our stories and our characters become alive on the pages. Learning to self-edit is essential to our growth as writers. Read this excellent post by author, Nicola Morgan, comparing self-editing to weeding a garden.
Jody Hedlund, author of several Christian novels, Preacher Bride and The Doctor’s Lady, has an excellent blog post on her reactions to her own revision process “Getting Feedback That Makes You Cry.” About the “initial sting” of feedback, she states, “You need to give it some time and then come back to the suggestions with humble and objective eyes.” I really appreciate Jody’s honest sharing about the human aspect of receiving feedback.
The point is we have to be able to separate our emotions from the process of revising, and convince ourselves that revising will make our stories stronger.
We have to get over ourselves so we can go on to craft the best story in the best way.
“Writing is rewriting” is a common mantra in writing circles. In his book, Revision and Self-Editing, novelist James Scott Bell, talks about the importance of “rewriting with know-how” and lists the following tips in the revision process:
* Cool -Down …Take a break and walk away when your first draft is done.
* Prepare… Read through your first draft completely for the first time.
* Print out and prepare a fresh copy…with red felt pen and notepad handy.
* Get ready to read your manuscript… in a couple of sittings.
* Use outside readers…for objective opinions.
* Analyze… Does my story make sense, is my plot compelling, are my characters believable? Think about the effect on your reader as you write and revise, particularly in the later stages. Then, there’s the idea of deciding when our manuscript is done–after we’ve rewritten, incorporated feedback, deleted, added on, transformed our story and owned it. Perhaps this is another topic for another time.”
It seems to me that it’s essential to accept writing as rewriting, and revising as a natural part of the process. Constructive feedback helps us to see our blind spots, and offers us a chance to see through another reader’s eyes. These steps strengthen our stories and give them every possible chance to get into the hands of readers who will devour them with the same gusto it took for us to write them.
Perhaps the real starting point is when we accept that our first draft is lousy and needs to be rewritten, revised, and reconstructed. In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott calls a first draft “a child who is let loose and romps all over.”
I’d love to hear how you feel about revising and editing your work.
Are you rewriting with “know-how?”
Any ideas on how to get through the revision process as painlessly as possible?
Linda Joy Meyers is the founder & president of the National Memoir Writers Association
Lynne Namka, Ed. D. © 2012
Are you fascinated by the nightly parade of visual images that march across your mind? Working with your dreams in another way to understand the hidden-away parts of yourself. Dreams are direct communication from your unconscious parts of yourself. The images and patterns presented in your dreams have some basis in reality. Your dreams are a gold mine of information for you if you are receptive to taking the time to understand them. Here’s what my friend John Freedom said about dream interpretation to harvest important information about yourself:
“Dreams are direct reflections of what our subconscious minds are thinking and feeling. They are symbolic attempts at representing and problem-solving the deep issues of our lives. Understanding your dreams is a powerful way to understanding and knowing yourself, deeply and intimately. Interpreting your own dreams can be revealing, enlightening and fun. You know your own self best and you can best interpret your own dreams.”
Bob Hoss, another friend of mine, founded the DreamScience Foundation which sponsors research on dreaming. Bob is a former president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, and is on the faculty of the Haden Institute and a Director with the Soul Medicine Institute. Hoss has many resources for people interested in working with their unconscious mind and their dreams. There are fourteen radio shows on the science of dreaming which can be accessed through his web site athttp://dreamscience.org/.
What Does My Dream Mean?
Hoss’s dream guide worksheet can be downloaded in a pdf file athttp://dreamscience.org/idx_dream_language.htm
Step #1 – Record the Dream: tell or record the dream as if you are re-experiencing it (use first person, present tense). Give the dream a short meaningful name, one that spontaneously comes to you.
Step #2 – Life Situation: record any emotionally significant situation that is going on in your life at the time.
Step #3 – Metaphors in the Dream Story: Look for phrases in your description of the dream, or activities in the dream, that also sound like a figurative description of something going on, or a way you feel, in your life at the time. Describe the situation, who was involved and how you felt at the time. How might this life story relate to the dream story?
Step #4 – Work with the Dream Imagery using the “6 magic questions”:
a) Pick one or more dream images (things or characters) that you are “drawn to”, seem important, curious or emotionally significant to you. You might try picking a colored dream image so that you can work on both the image and the color.
b) Let the Image Speak – Go back into the dream and bring the image (that thing in your dream) to your mind’s eye. Take three deep breaths, bring the image closer and on the 3rd breath imagine yourself as that thing in your dream. Now speak as the dream image would. You can try a simple approach and just state what you are and how you feel in that role in the dream (this will provide some basic associations). A more comprehensive approach is to answer the following 6 questions and record your statements. Speak in the first person present tense, using “I am” statements. If “becoming” the dream image is too difficult then imagine yourself asking the dream image these questions, and imagine what the answer might be.
1. Who or what are you (describe yourself and how you feel): “I am ______”
Alternatively – if the dream character is someone you know, then as that person:
a. describe your personality;
b. in what ways are you like the dreamer;
c. in what ways you are different.
2. What is your purpose or function (what do you do)? “My purpose is to _________”
3. What do you like about being that dream element? “I like ____________”
4. What do you dislike about being that dream element? “I dislike ____________”
5. What do you fear most as that dream element? “I fear _____________”
6. What do you desire most as that dream element? “What I desire most is to _________”
Step #5 – Relate to a Life Situation: Now look at the statements as if it is YOU speaking them about YOUR life. Do one or more of the statements sound like a way you feel or a situation in your waking life? Do the “I am” and “My purpose” statements sound like a role you are playing in waking life? Do the “I like” versus “I dislike” statements sound like a conflict going on within you? Do the “I fear” and “I desire” statements sound like waking life fears and desires, perhaps feeding the conflict? If the dream character is a person you know, do one or more of the personality statements relate to a manner in which you are approaching the waking life situation? Or alternatively, does this dream character have a personality trait that you admire or wish you had more of, in order to better handle this waking life situation? Describe the waking life situation and any new feelings or awareness’s that the dreamwork has revealed.
Hoss also has instructions on how to use color to assess your dreams and how to use your dreams to enhance your life. In addition, he and his wife Lynn, have a technique that combines The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) with finding the meaning of your dream and using tapping to release uncomfortable dream content. See the Energy Psychology link at his website to get these instructions.
Want to understand more about your dreams or the science about dreaming? See Hoss’s book Dream Language: Self-Understanding through Imagery and Color.
By Sue William Silverman
Sue William Silverman is an award-winning memoir author, a writing teacher in the MFA Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and the author of Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir.
Five Reasons Why Your Life Will Improve By Writing Memoir
Growing up, I lived a double life. On the face of it, we seemed like a normal, happy family: My father had an important career. We lived in nice houses and wore pretty clothes. But all this seeming perfection was a veneer, masking the reality that my father sexually molested me, a reality never spoken aloud.
Later, as an adult, I continued to live a double life: this time as a sex addict. Again, in public, I appeared normal, with a seemingly good marriage. No one knew that the shiny façade hid dark secrets: I cheated on my husband.
Before I began to write, I didn’t fully understand the effects of the past on the present. Instead, for years, the past appeared in my mind’s eye like faded black-and-white photographs, in which no one, especially me, seemed to be fully alive.
Then I started putting words on the page. Finally, I chose to examine my past.
I encourage you, and you, and you, to explore, through writing, your life, as well. Whether your childhood was traumatic or not, whether your current life is in disarray, chances are you do have a story to tell. Whether, say, you’re figuring out a divorce, taking notes about a recent illness, exploring the disruption caused by a parent in the military, or worrying about a visit with an estranged mother, we write memoir to better understand ourselves, as well as to bring a reader with us on our journeys.
Here are five reasons why your life will be improved by writing a memoir, by telling your own story.
One: Memoir Helps You Understand the Past. I gain much clearer insights about my past when I write, than if I simply sit around thinking about it, in the abstract. What was the relationship between the sex addiction and being molested by my father? How did the past cause such emotional devastation? I discovered the answers to these important questions through the written word.
Writing is a way to interact with—and interpret—the past. It helps us make sense of events, whether they are traumatic, joyful, or maybe just confusing. Writing sharpens our senses so that images and details from the past emerge in a new context, one that illuminates events for ourselves as well as for our readers.
Two: Memoir Organizes Your Life. Just living my life day by day, I never stop long enough to question events. There’re errands to run, meals to cook—to say nothing of emotional clutter! Who has time to stop and think about events swirling around us?
Only when I put my everyday life on hold, so to speak, sit down at my computer and write, can I even begin to see a pattern to the rush-and-tumble of life.
Memoir writing, gathering words onto pieces of paper or on a computer, helps us shape our lives. By discovering plot, arc, theme, and metaphor, we give our lives an organization, a frame, which they would not otherwise have. Memoir creates a narrative, a life story.
Three: Memoir Helps You Discover Your Life Force. Before I wrote, while I kept secrets, I didn’t feel as if I were really living my life. I didn’t have a clear grasp as to who I was. What, and who, was the essence of “me”? There are thousands of other incest survivors. How was my story different?
When writing, if I forge even one good sentence on any given day, I have discovered a kernel of emotional truth. I feel that life force of “me,” as if it’s my pulse. To write is to give birth to a more complete self.
There is only one of you. Your voice is unique. If you don’t express yourself, if you don’t fully explore who you are, that essence of you will be lost.
Four: Memoir Helps Others to Heal. One thing I most love about writing memoir, is that it affords me the opportunity to meet many courageous people, still struggling.
For example, after I completed a reading at a library in Athens, Georgia, one woman waited until everyone else had departed. Approaching me, she was so scared she began to cry. She confided that I was the first person she’d told that her father had molested her. She was too traumatized even to tell a therapist. Why did she confide in me, trust me? Simply because I had written my story. Through this meeting, both of us were empowered.
Five: Confessing, through Memoir, is Good for the Soul. Telling family secrets—any intimate secret—can be scary. Finally, however, I reached a place where not telling the secrets was worse. I felt heavy, weighted down. Finally, then, it was more a relief to write my life, then ignore it. So even though at times I felt scared or uncomfortable, I ultimately felt a sense of release and power.
In short, with every word the pain lessened. It was as if I extracted it, one word at a time.
As you challenge yourself, you’ll feel more courageous every day. Writing memoir energizes your psyche, nourishes your soul.
About the author: Sue William Silverman’s memoir Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction is also a Lifetime TV movie. Her memoir Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You won the AWP Award. Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir won honorable mention from ForeWord Review. Her poetry collection is Hieroglyphics in Neon. She teaches in the MFA Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Please visit www.SueWilliamSilverman.com