I have had a hard time of late writing my memoir, about all of this: unearthing. Despite some of it being a totally fun ride, a lot of it is heavy stuff.
A book about healing ancestral trauma recently came out this week which both delighted me and sent me into a vortex.
It delighted me because it affirms what I’ve been feeling in my bones and also reading, discussing with my therapist and friends and learning about in recent years. It’s that we all are part of a web, no matter how far we are out on the line, whether we are poor or rich, tall or short, pasty white or bronze toned, male or female: that we are affected by stuff that happened hundreds of years ago; stuff that is unresolved, unattended and still festering in our genes. Don’t believe me? That’s ok. You keep doing you.
None of these past hurts and wounds are our fault, but once we learn about the patterns in the web, we are confronted: stay there and let the spider (past wounds that aren’t even ours) consume us or stare at the spider on its approach and wriggle ourselves free.
I have chosen to wriggle myself free. I’ve been wriggling myself free since before I even knew there was a web. I have always been ready to stand and resist.
I have not read the book that was recently released and I have no doubt it’s brilliant because its author is a psychologist I do not know yet I hold in high esteem. She is vulnerable and real. She puts herself out there and I sit with sincere admiration for not only her work but also her Work and the effort of writing a book, which is NO simple task. Writing a book requires either thick skin or complete arrogance because you are putting yourself out there — no matter what the genre is, you are literally saying “these are the words I’ve strung together to compose these sentences to complete these thoughts and I’ve done it consistently to the tune of about 300 pages and if you think they’re brilliant or if you think they are dull, it doesn’t matter: I can’t unring this bell.”
That is guts. It’s a similar energy required of actors, singers, dancers, artists and anyone (apparently other than politicians) who aims to express themselves through a certain medium.
The vortex that I recently crawled out of however, has taken some Work and some standing back and looking at my situation objectively after my pity pouty (and that’s not a typo, I actually pouted, and not in a sexy way). It hinges on the fact that yet another book has been released about transgenerational trauma and it’s a memoir which of course meant that I should not be writing mine. In came the judgment: you suck Who needs another memoir you suck about dysfunctional families, unconscious habits and how you still suck even though that unconscious habits thing might have traction one person has worked to end the cycle? I mean, c’mon, right? It’s just one you suck more person saying mean things about its family, cry baby, you suck its relatives, you suck the neighbors it had and how everyone was against this person? Right?
Well, no. I remembered that a good memoir, one that engages and informs and delights and entertains has a balance of justice, humor, reality, and truth. A good memoir isn’t like tragedy porn, where the writer goes on and on about his or her exploits or the beatings or the drunken nights, or the arrests or the blackouts or the one-night stands, DUIs or even the days at the park with the nanny and butler or sunsets spent sailing after a day of horseback riding with the polo team whilst eating crumpets and sipping a cuppa tea. No.
It’s a mix. Just like life is a mix. And it doesn’t have to include every freaking detail: I woke at 6:52, the brown velvet curtains were drawn but I could see the sliver of light…. I was wearing my Snoopy pjs, the ones with the hole in the shoulder seam, not the ones without the hole as they were in the hamper, with my GAP hoodie, the socks I wore to Alexandra’s fire pit when Sam was there with his new girl. It was 6:53.
The only way to make that interesting: it was 6:53pm
I can include highlights and lowlights. I can include my screwups and my parents’ moments of cogent brilliance. I can include stories about my dog and cats and how the house was broken into and when my dad or mom said really stupid or creepy things. Or when my dad took us sailing and never relaxed the entire time. My dad: Captain Ahab of Buffalo Harbor. It’s all of it. It’s life. The reality though, is that I’m doing it to get some things off my chest, to share with people that ultimately while we aren’t responsible for the stuff that happens to us when we’re younger, at some point the statute of limitations applies when constantly blaming our upbringing.
So it took almost an entire session today with my therapist to get me to turn this bus around and reframe the whole thing. She said, “Well, you could just stop and give up on it; if it’s causing you that much stress. Don’t finish it.” She’s such a minx. I said, “Nope. I see now, better, that what I’m doing is an act of generosity and kindness to entertain and help people heal and maybe feel strong enough to get on the couch or share their stories because that’s how we help each other from the web.” Crawling out and seeing the sun included that I read a text from a family friend who’s LITERALLY got my back. This person came out of the woodwork to offer professional expertise gratis and if that ain’t a sign of go! go! go!, I honestly don’t know what is.
Plus, I think this psychologist who released her book would be right there telling me to run and get writing. This is a big enough world. Everyone deserves a chance to sing their song.
So: I’m back, peeps!