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.
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.