Secrets! We all have them. Many will go with us to our graves, perhaps because they are so trivial we forget them.
Ybonesy reminded me of a couple with her RedRavine post about a minor mishap she had as a newly licensed driver that she and her passengers attempted to cover up with a Secret. I wrote a comment about early driving secrets my sister blackmailed me with for ages.
This type of secret is bush league compared to the Secrets discussed by Polly Kahl in a blog interview with Howard Dully, co-author of the NYT best-selling memoir My Lobotomy. In Part 2 of the interview, Polly explains her early life, the subject of a memoir she recently finished and is shopping around.
For me, the meat in her material is her description of the interviews she had with people in her past as she researched and wrote her story. She interviewed family members, neighbors, all sorts of people, and got varying responses. Of one man who was twice her age of 14 when he had sex with her, she says, “...when I interviewed him, he offered to me that it was sexual abuse, and he offered to me an apology, so it wasn’t like I was confronting him, it was like he offered me the gift of apology, and because of that it was a very healing experience for me.”
In both her case and Dully’s, their parents “just don’t get it.” That’s okay, they claim. It’s enough that they had the discussion. Coerced apologies or psuedo confessions and understanding are meaningless. What matters, as I understand their accounts, is that they brought it up, gave people a chance to explain, and their consciences are clear with respect to writing about the memories. They did not wait until the people were dead and no longer had a chance to explain or defend themselves.
Whatever the outcome, disclosing these secrets and writing about them has been profoundly healing for both. Legions of other memoirists have had the same healing experience, and readers often experience vicarious healing through reading these accounts.
Still, most people are as unlikely to publicly bare their emotional scars and shame in print as they are to parade down Main Street in their birthday suits. That’s okay. The good news is that you can experience the same degree of healing if you write for an audience of one. You don’t need to write a polished memoir or even an organized story, so weak writing skills are not an impediment. Journals are a profound way of writing to heal emotional wounds and weaknesses.
I’ve begun exploring the wonderful world of journaling in depth. Stay tuned for more on this important aspect of life writing and the role it can play in lifestory writing.
Write now: find a secluded spot and make a list of secrets you keep closely hidden. You’ll be amazed at the power of seeing these words in print, on paper, in the light of day. When you have finished, burn or shred your list if you have any fears that it may be found.