Writing the Good and the Bad
Some say the hardest part of writing is the writing. Many coaches advise to just put pen to paper and write – even if it’s just one word. That’s where you start. It’s why I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a book until I had written over half of it. Sitting for hours with my laptop and tears was cathartic. I have poured my heart into these pages. It’s probably why journaling is such a good idea. I do not like to write in a journal because I can not be consistent. I write what I write when I write it – check the dates on my blog for verification haha. I also prefer to write in stories or to someone.
The important part of writing is to get things that are stored inside of you onto the outside. This brings some freedom. You can then take the next step of holding them in your hands and evaluate. Was this really what I thought it was? Did I make more of it than I should have? How bad did this hurt me? What part is my fault? What can I learn from this?
When I started writing I felt these stories had to get out. It felt painful and good to get them out. It was part of the healing process itself. I started with the pain. I wrote about all the bad things. It was good in that it gave a reality to things that sometimes are easier to pretend are memories from a movie or book but not really my life. Getting them out validated me and my experiences that yes, these things really did happen. Some people made some really poor choices and I carry scars.
The next step is to write the happy things and this is more of a challenge than I thought. Writing the happy things does not invalidate the painful ones. It shows that people are human. I was in the bath 20 years ago when it occurred to me that people are not either good and bad, they are a mix of both. We grow up with stories of good guys and bad guys. You need to fit into one of those categories. Someone can be good but act poorly. This includes me! That evening soak in the tub found me wrestling in my head with a difficult relationship I had with a family member and trying to reconcile how she could be nice to others and even sometimes nice to me but other times a complete jerk. This multi-dimentional thinking changed my world.
Characters in stories are good or bad but a memoir is a real story with real people who are more than one dimensional. Writing happy memories about someone doesn’t mean they didn’t do the bad things, it means they are human. It’s still ok for me to write about my pain and its even more ok to write about the positive memories. So as I continue to write any happy memory that I can think of, I do so to honor the people that were in my life as being human. I don’t need to villainize people from my past. They are people who made mistakes. Rory’s Feek’s memoir also reminded me that hurt people hurt people. It is often out of woundedness that people make poor decisions.
What if we looked at people as being wounded instead of being villains? Can we be more compassionate? Can we help each other with our own areas of woundedness and together find healing?