Tuesday, June 28, 2011

open a vein

Writing about events in my life frightens me. It is strikingly personal and revealing, like hearing yourself on a voicemail for the first time, and being at once disgusted and intrigued by the sound of your own voice. I read that Rudyard Kipling was known for mixing fiction with autobiography to lessen the sting of recounting the most painful moments of his life. This allowed for a more comfortable disconnect between his work and his memories. I can see why he did this.

I remember my teacher saying that as a writer, what you have to offer is yourself. Your experiences, crossing the spectrum of human sentiments from elation to despair. This is how people know they are not alone. It is, "No, you're not crazy. Someone else has felt that way too. Please don't feel alone because while your experiences are unique, the human condition is not."

People have been deep in depression, have struggled, have questioned if the struggle is even worth it.

It has been 7 years since my Dad died, and it isn't really easier to talk about now than when I was 15 and giving a eulogy. Strangely, I think it's harder. The reality hadn't set in then but it has now. When people express sympathy for something, the focus is on the event and the immediate repercussions. There is nothing wrong with this and I think it is a natural inclination. The thing with these events though is that it is not something that happens and ends. It ripples outward and touches every aspect of your life and those involved. It tests mental resistance and faith. It forces you to ask questions you never wanted to think about; to confront parts of yourself you didn't want to acknowledge. It will establish a permanent presence in your mind. I say these things because I know that they are true.

I don't think my feeling is unique. Everyone has trials and tribulations they deal with every single day and there is no way to completely understand how the events in someone's life affect them. I don't think that everything we get in life is something that we deserve.

There is no ultimately redemptive aspect to this because I still don't know it myself. I was thinking, though, that when I read something where someone says that they have been there, they have experienced something that was hard for them and they lived to tell the tale, it always makes me feel better. I am not saying that I have any answers, I am saying I know how it feels and you aren't alone.


  1. This is beautiful, reflective and very relative to what happens in all of our lives. You have such strength for writing about this Carolyn. Thanks for sharing love :)