Jung believed that a human being is inwardly whole, but that most of us have lost touch with important parts of ourselves. Each human being has a specific nature and calling which is uniquely his or her own, and unless these are fulfilled through a union of conscious and unconscious, the person can become sick. Jung concluded that every person has a story, and when derangement occurs, it is because the personal story has been denied or rejected. Healing and integration comes when the person discovers his or her own personal story. As a therapist, I endorse this heartily.
Apropos the above plagiarism, I have been thinking and re-thinking the benefit of writing memoirs. The dark side takes up too many pages, a flood. And the light is barely a sprinkle. I continually ask myself, “What are you doing?”
Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living…” But whenever Jung’s buddy and mentor, Freud, contemplated his navel, it reminded him of a penis. Maybe a little bit of examination is good, but is it good to commit it to pubic/public introspection?
My first twenty years were lived in various levels of derangement. My sister says she has always felt we were “quite the normal family.” My first cousin feels it’s fine, biologically speaking, to date first cousins. I think he’s interested in me. EWW! I remind him of the insanity, incest, and drug addictions swimming through our familial gene pool.
He brushes that off by saying, “Oh, I’m sure you’d find some of that in all families.”
I respond with, “But why concentrate it knowingly?”
He says, “Well, there’s always birth control.”
I think I’d like to write my memoir book this way. The front jacket would be black on black with swirls of gray. Hidden in the dark would be a frowning mask. All of the terrible happenings would be written there. If you turned the book upside down and over, the jacket would be beautiful spring colors camouflaging a happy mask. This rendition of my life would reflect all the amazingly wonderful things that have happened. Depending upon whether you were a pessimist or an optimist would determine whether you read the book forwards or backwards.
I want to write my personal story, but I am afraid of ridicule, anger, and shame from my family. The family rules are that secrets must be taken to the grave. I’ve been a fairly good girl now for the past sixty years, festering with the weight of these secrets and the pretense of normalcy. Telling one’s story in a private therapy session is noteworthy. Creating a publishable memoir feels like an act of lunacy. Yet, I keep writing. The words tumble out onto this white screen, a jumble of beautiful memories and awful tragedy. Way down deep inside of me is a little girl clawing out of a dark depression, swimming to the surface. “Free at last!”
Morgana, I salute your courage in writing about a background such as you describe, even in such generalities as you use here. I love the image of the book that changes appearance as you turn it over. Optimist/pessimist. The picture you paint of that cousin. I get it! Your descriptions are vitally alive.
You keep writing. If nothing else, it will leave a legacy of your healed heart. Your story reminds me of John Kotre’s book “MAKE IT COUNT: How To Generate a Legacy That Gives Meaning to Your Life” about legacies. His book details the concept and importance of the decision to (so to speak) “let it end here, with my generation, and go no further.”
You keep writing. Perhaps nobody will read it until your generation is gone, but things like this ripple through generations and shedding light into the darkness is so important. Keep the faith. Keep your courage!
Thank you for this awesome “semi-public” sharing, baring your heart for us to try to understand. Reaching out for understanding is a community effort, and I think that’s where the real power of memoirs starts to take hold. Talking to a therapist starts stories working through your mind, and with one trusted person in a closed room, you pull your memories out of hiding and into the light. Memoirs takes the process to another level, to the community. Even if it’s never published, the effort to translate your private memories into public stories creates a transformation, reducing isolation and increasing intimacy and acceptance.
Good luck pressing forward on all fronts, and it’s great to get to know you here in NAMW.
Memory Writers Network
Morgana, WOW! I am so proud of your decision to continue to write for yourself. Its like shedding the dark heavy weight of silence that holds you down. I love the beautiful transition of black and gray to the burst of beautiful colors! As I read on, I could feel the connection that I have to you, I can relate on so many levels. As you give the examples I feel the light of truth and exposing it to the “sun” makes such a difference. You present your story with an air of optimism and from what I can tell, the pace is not overwhelming and bogged down like some of us feel when we do write about our darkest hours. I feel like I am rooting for you and hope is evident and the beautiful garden is just around the corner. Good job!
I am proud of you! You write with sensitivity about your conundrum. Your use of metaphor exactly fits your predicament. Writing about our lives means facing ourselves and our family circumstances. I think making friends on this website will encourage us to finish what we set out to do. Keep writing. I am eager to read another installment. I imagine your work in therapy gives you an insight to your life and relationships.
I have also grappled with how to be true to my mission of writing my memoir without censuring, alienating, and betraying people who have loved me. Like you, I was raised to keep family secrets in the family. When I was a child, I loved to walk along the flat top of a fence that surrounded the horseshoe game at the park. To keep my balance, I stretched out my arms like wings on an airplane, carefully placing one foot in front of the other. When I reached an open corner, I calculated the distance then leaped from one fence to the next. Today, I can’t believe I used to do that. Writing my memoir is the same kind of balancing and leaping experience. I expect to be successful even though it takes courage!