Would you write about your pain?

Writing about one’s pain is never easy. So, it’s interesting that I came across two fascinating write-ups this week, dealing with this topic. One was this post about how you own everything that happens to you. The other was an article in the Harvard Business Review which talks about how to get over something by writing about it. This bit from the article was particularly fascinating:

. . .reflective writing, therefore, involves breaking down and translating the event into a meaningful narrative, enabling cognitive and emotional integration, thus contributing to a deeper understanding of what had happened. Through the process of reflective writing we can take a greater responsibility for our own narrative and move on.

The point is, would I want to move on? Or would I want to suppress the negative memories for fear that they may give rise to otherwise unanswered questions?

This question becomes particularly relevant if I am talking about an issue that people choose to suppress for a variety of reasons. Assume that a writer had troubles in her past such as chronic depression, sexual abuse, post-partum  disorder, manic depressive psychosis, suicidal tendencies, which although fleeting, were very powerful and terrifying at the time that they occurred. Will a writer then approach this mammoth fear by writing about it? Doesn’t it take an excruciating amount of courage to write about your deepest secrets?

Earlier this year, I wrote a fictional piece here on the blog about two friends and how one’s candour was too harsh for the other to take. That was born out of a real episode. Plus, I also know that the said friend never reads my blog, so I was ‘safe’ in expressing my frustration this way.

Picture from Pinterest
Picture from Pinterest

This got me thinking later,though. Was I not being cowardly? Instead of facing the situation head-on and maybe broaching the subject with her, I chose to cloak my anger and bitterness in a fictional tale. More recently, I found out that someone had written about me on a blog. To be honest, it wasn’t flattering and I was naturally upset by it. My first instinct was to approach the writer and ask the writer to explain why he/she said that about me when it was obviously untrue. You see, although my name was not mentioned, it would be pretty obvious to a circle that I frequent, as to who was the subject of the article.

Then, I realised something. If writing about me gave the writer catharsis, should I not be happy? Perhaps the said person can now move on in their existence. After all, we are the sum of our experiences. So, I decided that would be the better course of action to follow. That, and to watch my words and actions with a lot more care than I have been given to do in the past. So, I guess, I’m actually glad that this happened 🙂 Oh and that friend I wrote about earlier? We’ve buried the hatchet. Go figure 😉

How about you? If you were to reach into your suppressed past and write about an episode that was particularly painful, how would you go about it?

Would you go the non-fictional route, lay your soul bare, wrench out the memories and let the readers know?

Or would you cloak it under the guise of fiction and let the story be told through the voice of a character who is ostensibly disconnected from you?

Either way, the story gets told.


20 thoughts on “Would you write about your pain?

  1. I haven’t written any fiction or non-fiction on such accounts, though right now, my head is brewing such stories. I think writing will give necessary venting for sure. But have to be careful in not hurting someone else’s feelings by doing so. Thought provoking post Shailaja. 🙂

  2. I think fictionalizing a painful incident protects both you and the other person while still allowing you to heal. If you experienced the benefit of writing it out, then fiction was definitely the way to go.

  3. Cloak the dagger in fiction, I guess ;D
    It is good you expressed your thoughts, they say that nagging thoughts too can lead to pains; meaning your shoulder pain could be partly from your upset mind. I think our thoughts do affect us in various ways so hoping you fell better.

  4. I always deal with crap from life using humor, so if I ever have to vent, I try to make sure others are entertained while at the same time getting frustrations out. Fiction would probably also work. That way you create something others can enjoy while helping yourself work through things.

  5. I agree with Aparna’s statement about write for cathartic’s sake; however, consider whether posting or not. For myself, though I would love to write personal issues in a fictional way, I write non-fiction primarily. Thus, I sometimes do lay my soul bare and it can be therapeutic and healing. That’s what happened when I wrote, LOA: Suicide, Homicide, and Me which I was considering whether to post or not: http://xpressyouressence.blogspot.ca/2014/09/part-3-suicide-prevention-week.html … I was amazed that I was crying as I wrote it or at the end as I know I had forgiven completely and thought it was released; however, the body holds memories… 😉 <3 Tell me what you think Shailaja if you wish. 🙂 <3

  6. The problem with expressing things directly is that a lot of people react ‘in the moment’. Now, when you write down your thoughts, you usually have the freedom to put your thoughts down a lot clearly. At least I do. And the same goes for the other person. When they read, usually a few hours or days later, they are no longer in the moment – hence they are able to look at it more objectively. Personally, I believe that taking a short break between reacting for anything, will help you contain the situation and so that it wont blow up in your face. Or rather is less likely to.

  7. Your post made me think Shaiaja. I realise I’m not too good at sorting things out. And I do know that’s not such a good thing. On the upside I forgive and forget easily. Nope, writing it out isn’t for me. I’d perhaps be able to cloak it as fiction after a long long time.

  8. Shailaja, strange that you mentioned it today as I am in the process of writing about my personal experience. My health issues and how they affected my life, will share today. I write in my voice and present it as a true story not fiction. Loved this post 🙂

  9. So much food for thought. There are several things I think I’d benefit from writing about, but since I don’t write fiction it would have to be just me being open and honest. Considering my audience, I’m not so sure I’m ready to do that.

    Thanks for this thought-provoking post – I appreciate it.

  10. To be honest, I would write it cloaked in fiction 🙂 You never know when your feelings towards the person or the situation changes. And as they say, anything on the internet is forever, even if your emotions decide to do a round about.

  11. As Aparna pointed out, writing is always therapeutic! Publishing or not is often a matter of choice and the extent of personal touch. Because honestly, some things are best left to keep under the wraps. Because words once published are out there for good.

  12. Too profound Shailaja ;). So glad to hear that the hatchet has been buried in that case. Writing definitely is a great catharsis, publishing or not could be a debate after the feelings have been put down :).

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