A Writer's Conundrum

How do we write? Our truth, that is? How do we tell our beautiful, amazing, messy stories and not alienate everyone in our lives? For people need to hear these stories - our stories - they heal us and they help heal others. But what are our secrets to tell?

She was beaten with a slotted spoon. He was an alcoholic. Her mother died when she was young. She’s a narcissist. He has a serious transmitted illness. They’re declaring bankruptcy. He tried his first drugs on his 9th birthday. She was anorexic. She was sexually assaulted. She took care of her parents as a teenager. He has a deep, lasting burn mark on his chest. She cheated. She’s in love with her best friend. She’s never enough. He’s never enough. They’re never enough.

Will Smith once said “If you’re absent during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success.” Well, what if those people were your struggle? The cause of your pain? How can we acknowledge our truths without hurting others? We can’t guarantee that they feel remorse for their actions, nor can we say that they deserve eternal damnation as the great villain of our story. Who are we to judge?

So we tell our stories (hopefully) with only the judgement of the damaged child within, but with clear eyes. We hope and pray that they won’t suffer eternally among their peers or lose their job. I guess. Because how can we tell those stories, our stories, without those people? Those are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and trusted friends. So, I guess the question we should all really be asking ourselves (and they should've thought of) is “if set down in print, will these actions cause me shame? Would I lose my loved ones or job because of them?” Maybe that will work, since, unfortunately, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” doesn’t seem to resonate any longer. Maybe those who have wronged us should've thought of that before they caused hurt. 

I have no answer. I am here to tell my story, that which is sacred to me. So I may have to say “she’s a narcissist (they’re both narcissists), he's dying a slow death, she was beaten, she was anorexic, they’re declaring bankruptcy, and, yes, we cheated.”


Phoebe Guider is a writer and artist living with her wife in Richmond, VA. More of her writing can be found at: www.phoebeguider.blogspot.com.