Category Archives: On Writing

The Journey’s the Thing

I knew that eventually I would write about my childhood. I needed to. I had carried around with me so many painful memories. They were always there, just below the surface. I could call on them whenever I needed to explain to myself why I felt or acted a certain way. They were my story. My sad story. But they scared me, too. So I kept putting it off, until one morning I woke up with a title for my story. A way in. A place to start.

As I knew would happen, once I began writing I was immediately flooded with memory after sad memory. They came pouring out of me, through stinging eyes and an aching heart. I had no idea where it would lead, or if I would ever share the words with anyone. But it didn’t matter. I was getting it out. I was telling my story. Every night I would read what had spilled out of me, and I would burst into tears. I broke my own heart every day.

After about a week, another memory came to me. It was about a road trip I had taken with my family when I was really young. I hadn’t thought about that trip since… since we took it. So I wrote about it, sure that its sadness would reveal itself to me. But it didn’t. There was no sadness in that memory. Only happiness. What? Where did that come from? My memories, my stories of my childhood, had never been happy. And this memory had no place next to all the others. It didn’t belong.

I stopped writing for a few days. I was exhausted and confused. I couldn’t include a happy memory in my tale. It would feel like I was betraying my wounded child. Or could I? The next day I remembered another happy story. So I wrote about that. And then another. It was like they had all been hiding under the sad memories, just waiting for a way out. So I let them all live together on the same page. And suddenly the tone of my story, of my childhood, changed. Yes, it still included a lot of bad stuff, but there was also a lot of good stuff, too. So I invited it all in, and my writing expanded. It felt more complete. I felt more complete.