by Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., MFT, NAMW President
It’s true that memoir writing challenges us, but it can be a good friend, this process, inviting us to become more of who we really are, to find the voice that is ours and ours alone.
“Re-member” means to bring together the different parts of ourselves, and find ourselves whole.
- Writing your deep truths frees you from the past and creates meaning out of chaos.
- Re-membering brings all parts of you together again.
- Writing with your own voice is empowering, story by story.
- Telling your truth frees you from shame and guilt.
- Your stories on the page will be different from the ones in your head.
- Writing a memoir is a transformational and spiritual path.
- Your story can help change others’ lives.
- Research proves that writing heals both body and mind.
- Creating a narrative where you are the “I” character and the narrator integrates the past and the present.
- Integrating who you are and bringing memories out of the darkness changes your brain.
- Writing and sharing your story breaks you out of isolation and connects you more deeply with the larger world.
- Becoming an author is empowering and inspiring, and frees you from the shadows.
- Getting published online, in an anthology or in your own book, are ways to get witnessed and move from victim to leader—showing others the way to healing and greater self-esteem.
We all know that writing our personal stories is a challenge–of heart, mind, and body. To wrestle with truth, history, and memory requires us to be brave as we dare to speak out after years of silence. For some, there is the sound of trumpets as the feeling of freedom and fullness of open up through the writing. For others, they hear the voice of the inner, and outer, critics. But they write anyway, and keep writing as a practice, a meditation, a dedication. Writing leads to more writing, insights, and memories.
Beautiful and all so true. I deeply believe in #7 – as a victim of domestic violence who has had a passion for writing my entire life, I found this to be a way to make ‘lemonade out of lemons’ and tell my story to help others. Thanks for the great tips!
I am in the process of writing my memoir. I have wanted to be a writer since I was twelve but so much has interrupted my life. I haven’t had the self-esteem either. My parents told me that writing books wasn’t a real job and I was to lazy to write. So, a lot of that has stopped me and than I had my first baby at age 19. I became a military wife and had two more children and I didn’t want to start because I wanted to spend all my time with my babies. So, I am working on it now. My daughter is eighteen and my sons are fourteen and ten. So, I am trying to focus on my writing now. That just inspired me more when I read this. Thank you. Take care and God bless. Lisa
It’s so inspiring to read about these true stories of how sharing through speaking or writing can help us let go of the shadows of the past that haunt us. Thank you for writing!
Linda Joy, everything you said is spot-on, especially, “Telling your truth frees you from shame and guilt.”
Forty years ago, as a college freshman, drunk on Boone’s Farm wine, I participated in an impetuous sexual experience (in public!) with a young male peer. Two years ago I decided to write about the incident (and the 38-year-old lingering shame) and risk sharing it with a group of adolescent girls i was mentoring who were in residence in an adolescent treatment facility. I’d never shared the details of that ancient, humiliating incident, with anyone. Yet, throughout those 38 years, the memory never failed to fill my heart with shame and dread.
After I’d finished reading to the young women, I looked up at their faces. Blank looks from them collided with my burning cheeks and sweating palms. “Is that IT, Mrs. Roddy?” one of them remarked. “You’ve been ashamed of THAT for 38 years?” Another young woman chuckled, “I was waiting to hear something really weird and kinky! Oh, Mrs. Roddy, you SO need to get over your shame. If that’s the worst sexual thing you’ve ever done, I’ve got you beat by a million miles!” They all nodded and laughed.
Those young female voices mentored me that day. One brief half hour, sharing my story, they freed me from a lifetime of loathing.
This post says it all. I am amazed at the true healing power of writing and giving voice to the pain so it can find its way out of my head and heart and onto the pages. So freeing~leaving room for living,loving,laughing in the present. Yes, we know it is a challenge but so worth the effort. Thank you for all you do to facilitate the process in each of us.
Yes, we find over and over again that telling our stories helps us to connect with the pain and shame of others. It still amazes me, and I keep finding new layers of healing as I write the same incident through a different angle of view, or as I think of a different theme. Thank you all for your responses.
My frustration is not in the writing. I’ve completed my memoir. [And your reasons are so apropos, Linda] It’s in getting an agent to look at it. I suppose I’m going to have to look at alternative means of getting published. I just wish there were more blogs and resources [maybe I’m just unaware of them] that deal with the publishing part of the process.
Dear Grace–yes, the world of publishing is indeed challenging. There is so much to know about publishing. It can help to have a mentor walk you through it–something I offer, and there are indeed websites and groups that talk about the subject. Google self-publishing, but also google things such as fictional tools, writing, and editing.
One of the groups about alternative publishing is the self-publishing discussion group on yahoo- Selfemail@example.com. There are people on that site who are very helpful in trying to steer you to the right places if you want to write a book. You can also blog your book, and put chapters on Scribd, if it is thoroughly edited.
Another thought if you have not done it is to make sure the manuscript has been looked over by professional to see if it needs to be tweaked in any way–is that possibly why the agents have not taken a look. Even if you self-publish, you will want it to be as good as you can possibly make it, and that is quite a process. Of course, I don’t know where you are on that continuum.
Please contact me further if you would like more help in this area. It’s an area where innocent people can really stumble around if they are not guided or don’t have enough information to make sound decisions.
I hope this helps to begin to solve your problem, and best of luck!!