19. About Writing Your Memoir

Quote Anelou PenI always tell people, “I think everyone should do this.” But with the caveat that you probably should not do it until you’re at least 50 years old, because you might not be able to handle it.

It’s no small deal. Telling your truth honestly and earnestly means time-travel, not just remembering. Being a disembodied observer looking down impartially like a sacred voyeur. You will see things you never saw– about your life, yourself, and the people along your path– truths and revelations you could not have seen with your younger eyes.

This will be painful. It will also be healing. Old wounds you didn’t realize you had will open right before your eyes, and bleed and leak other nasty stuff you never realized was in there. That’s the bad news. The good news is, you will see other things too, that you didn’t notice before: the beauty of yourself and other “imperfect” souls in your story. I promise you, you’ll be astonished, and quite possibly overcome with love and respect for that stumbling, blundering, courageous innocent that you really were.

Emotional wounds are like abscesses, scarred over with guilt and denial. When opened again in a clean place with a good light, they can have the opportunity to drain their poisons and finally heal. We all have old wounds, many from our earliest years on earth, because they just go with the life-path. A big part of the adventure in life is the challenge of managing them, rather than allowing them to manage you. This takes a mature observer, an experienced blunderer, a sympathetic listener. This is the heart of my book.

A friend of mine said, “If it’s unconscious, you can’t make any choices about it; you just let it ride.”  We can choose whether to be conscious of life or not, but when we were very young, we didn’t know that. We made choices according to the rules and opinions of others. Writing a memoir forces us to re-open the time again, to look at ourselves and others in our story with mercy and compassion that puts whatever regret or guilt we have been carrying into a truer perspective. We can honestly forgive, and be forgiven.

 

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