Except of course when my mom’s driving me crazy.
Now that I have a couple of articles out there, in addition to my blogging at The Nervous Breakdown, I get some kind words from people, which I really appreciate. I also get haters, which is kinda fun.
I’ve written before about the risks of writing about my life, especially in such a public forum like the internet, where you can get immediate feedback. I have to be careful about writing about other people, changing names and other details, and I have to really think about what I want to put out there about myself. I don’t mind making myself look bad, but there are some details that are TMI, even for me.
Recently I received a comment that I need to “put things in perspective and get over it,” that “life moves on” and that my need to write about the past only hampers my “inability” – I think she meant “ability” – to move on with my current “happiness” (cuz I’m not really happy now you see).
If you’re familiar with my writing, you know I write a lot about the past. Why do I do this? Number one, it’s a good story. Number two, it helps to put it behind me. Number three, writing about the past helps me see the lessons. It puts it at a distance so I can see meaning and events more clearly.
I’m not interested in making myself look good. An important goal of my writing is to own up to my own faults and mistakes. Plus how boring is a “heroine” who’s perfect? You might as well read a romance novel.
An essay is a smidgen of the real me. Even this blog is not the “real me.” It’s what I choose to share. You can believe I’m happier than I’ve ever been, more in love than I’ve ever been, or you can not. I really don’t care. There are other things for you to read; no one forced you to read anything of mine.
Recently I attempted to write a piece about one of my favorite childhood authors, Madeleine L’Engle. In my research, I found a fascinating write-up about her. I had always assumed she based her books on her own family, and that her family was pretty much perfect. Turns out her kids hated her books because they felt she had appropriated their lives. L’Engle wrote a memoir, but there’s nothing in it about her troubled marriage, or the troubled relationships she had with her kids.
I feel like I can’t help but write about myself. I blab and blab, probably too much. Maybe because I’ve always had a diary, and when I was kid, would force myself to write about upsetting things because I thought it was “therapeutic.” (I think I watched too much thirtysomething.)
But, I could only write about my marriage and ex’s affair after we divorced. I couldn’t bring myself to face it while it was happening. It was simply too painful.
“Is this good for you?” a clueless guy I once dated asked me of my memoir. “Should you be writing this?”
In a way writing about the past was like reliving it, but the only way I could write about it well, was to have enough distance. It’s like watching a movie or reading a book: you’re completely wrapped up in it at the moment, you laugh, you cry, you’re scared, upset, happy, but you know it’s not real. Clearly I was calmly sitting there writing, not sobbing or tearing my hair out or sucking my thumb in the corner; yet this guy still thought writing my memoir wasn’t “good” for me.
So why not just go to therapy? Why do I feel a need to share my “pain” with the world? One, it’s cheaper. Two, I’m a writer. The way I express myself is to share through my writing. If you don’t want to witness my pain, then move along, there’s nothing for you to see here. Go watch Dancing with the Stars (though that seems pretty painful too). I’ll still be writing.