“I am writing a book about my mom’s journey with ALS and how it changed my life. Thinking about that time, putting myself back in touch with the emotions is harder than I expected it to be. After weeks of work with Tammy Plunkett of Big Sky Author Services, building the outline and deciding on how to approach the story, I am proud to say that I have 1100 words written. It may not sound like a lot, but it makes this book real. And that feels great.”
I published that post on my Facebook page in February. Six months later, the file I called “The Whole Thing” sits untouched on my computer; the last edit date is May 4, 2019. It sits at 5,300 words. The length of an average memoir is 60,000 words. I’m not even ten percent of the way there. I stopped writing because it got hard.
It’s not easy to look back twelve years and see the world as the person you were. I have changed since Mom’s illness and death, and again since Dad’s passing. The way I see the world – the way I let myself see the world – my fears, my goals, my way of being. It has all changed.
It’s difficult to relive those experiences, this time by choice, to dig into the fear; confusion; family dynamics. I’ve lived it once, I don’t necessarily want to live it again.
I don’t want to go back to that time in my heart or my mind. I’m afraid my perspective – my truth – of that time will hurt people I love because my experience was different from theirs. Writing that down and sending it into the world could change everything. And it might not. But the possibility of harm to relationships is the biggest fear I have. Why risk it? My story doesn’t feel big enough to take that chance.
Nothing Special about My Story
I stopped because who wants to read about my life? What’s so unique about losing your parents? If we’re lucky, they pass before we do. That’s how life is supposed to go.
Who am I to write a book? I have no formal writing training. My blog posts come from my heart and share how I see the world and the people in it. I am surprised each time someone comments on what I have written. It’s a surprise when they compliment my writing, even more so when they compliment my message. I have looked at the world this way as long as I can remember. The fact that it resonates with others is honestly a surprise to me.
The last couple of weeks have seen me drifting back to The Book. Snippets of memories sneak back, filling in the blanks. Unexpected comments from others telling me they can’t wait to read my book throw me off. Why are people interested? It feels like nothing special. I am trying to get out of my own way and let the story come out. To remember why the story needs to be told.
Because at the end of his life, my Dad taught me how holding on to a shame-filled secret can eat you up from the inside. Ashamed and afraid to let it out and when you finally do, you find out after 60 years that it wasn’t a secret at all. When you do share it, it can be the missing puzzle piece that makes everything click into place.
Because we’re all stronger than we think – we can survive our worst fears. When we face them, when we let ourselves feel the pain and grief, it is possible to come out the other side as a wiser version of ourselves.