I became an instant fan of Jane Friedman, janefriedman.com, who 9 out of 10 times writes an article relative to my writing experience. Her last blog discussed the book, A Year of Writing Dangerously by Barbara Abercrombie, which in one excerpt raises the question, “What Does Your Mother Think of Your Writing?”
At the bottom of Jane’s e-mail she inserted a quote by Anne Lamont that gave me permission years ago to share about the realities of my life: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”
The first thirteen years of my dysfunctional life I suffered through the worst kind of sexual abuse by an older brother, and my mother knew, but to acknowledge my abuse she would have had to acknowledge hers. My mother won’t read what I’ve written because it’s too painful for her to revisit, yet she has no idea how the past makes me feel.
My award winning memoirs and poetry are based on my dysfunctional childhood, yet if you ask any one of my three older sisters and two older brothers, each of us would have a different version to tell, as if we grew up in different homes.
Like many abuse survivors, I’ve made lemonade from an immense lemon orchard. I’ve served as a life coach for over 30 years to sexually abused people and I’m working with a publisher on my first non-fiction book, The Long Term Effects of Sexual Abuse.
I have no problem sharing my past even though several family members have asked me not to publish anything about the abuse. How else do we end the cycle? Speaking up lessens the power of the effects of abuse and it helps to bring an end to the generational pattern. There are those who say it’s no one else’s business but what I hear is, “We’re ashamed and embarrassed about the truth of our family” and “What will people think of us?”
I know that my children who are writers at heart will post my mistakes and shortcomings out in the universe one day and that’s okay. I am willing to be accountable for my actions, for my mistakes as well as my triumphs. Perhaps someone will be able to learn from or be inspired by them.
Today is my 54th birthday and I’m celebrating it by honoring my Self and that includes my integrity. God bless Anne Lamont who gave me permission to write “shitty first drafts” and to tell my truth, even if it doesn’t match the truth of other family members.
Do you have your own truths that you want to share but are concerned about how others will react? If you could write about anything, without restriction, what would it be?