Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Right or Happy...

I've been in a mood lately. I don't know if this book I'm working on is a good idea. Writing it leaves me in a miserable place. It sends me back to old places.

I don't want to feel that way anymore.

A friend sent me a quote from the book "Three Dog Life," by Abigal Thomas. It is a story about an older woman who is taking care of her husband who had been hit by a car and left severely brain damaged.

"When I was young, the future was where all the good stuff was kept, the party clothes, the pretty china, the family silver, the grown-up jobs. The future was a land of its own, and we couldn't wait to get there. Not that youth wasn't great, but it came with disadvantages; I remember the feeling I was missing something really good that was going on somewhere else, somewhere I wasn't. I remember feeling life passing me by. I remember impatience. I don't feel that way now. If something interesting is going on somewhere else, good, thank god, I hope nobody calls me. Sometimes it's all I can do to brush my teeth, toothpaste is just too stimulating.

The future was also the place where the bad stuff waited in ambush. My children were embarking on their futures in fragile vessels, and I trembled. I wanted to remove obstacles, smooth their way, I wanted to change their childhoods. I needed to be right all the time, I wanted them to listen to me, learn from my mistakes, and save themselves a lot of grief. Well, now I know I can control my tongue, my temper, and my appetites, but that's it. I have no effect on weather, traffic, or luck. I can't make good things happen. I can't keep anybody safe. I can't influence the future and I can't fix up the past.

What a relief."

Sometimes, I wonder why I'm trying to write this book. I can't fix the past. I can't change it. Nor can I stop any other children from being hurt the same way. The words sting and make me wince- I know it makes others wince, too.

Is that what I want?

Maybe my sister is right. Maybe I need to let it go, once and for all. Take all the pages and throw them in a fire. Shovel the ashes on rich ground and let life spring from it. Focus my life on the positives and stop trying to punish people who will never own up to their actions, never be held accountable.

Do I need to be right? Or do I want to be happy?

And yet the reality of being able to read stories like my own when I was going through the worst of it, made such a difference to me. I feel responsible to give back what others have given me.

I have no idea what the future brings. We are all in good health, with good jobs, and in a safe place. There is nothing I can do to make that continue. I can only enjoy it for what it is today.

Can I let go? Can I find that relief?

I don't know.


Blogger Casey said...

Bravo! Great Post!

<< I feel responsible to give back what others have given me.>>

I know that feeling, and it is a true deeply passionate feeling.

Your words DO give to others, keep writing them.

In my opinion, if they make you wince you should just write about something different.

When I am in turmoil, first I read "about it" technically, so I understand it, then I can let it go.

But then I really want to read something that makes me smile, you know, like all the millions of great stories you have about your angelic and awesome children.

Keep up the good work!

Love you-Your Seester

10:59 AM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

There is no logical reason to write unless it's a report or a technical manual.
We write because we have to.
We write because it's our right.
Don't burn those pages. That's not how you let things go. Sorry.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Sue J said...

Sometimes it's not a matter of "being right" or "being happy."

Sometimes the story just needs to be told. It doesn't fix everything by being told, but it helps someone, somewhere, to feel less alone.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

well, sue, that's the reason why I have been writing it.

because it did make me feel less alone. less crazy.

and it is the best writing I've ever done.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...


4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're not done until you're done, and you can't just decide to let something go. you must continue revisiting your past until the letting go happens on its own.

7:08 PM  
Blogger John Bisceglia said...

Sara, I consider the writing you are doing to be ART; a mode of self-expression. As with all ART, the final product is 'almost' irrelevant when compared to the what you receive AND give while you write.

Music & Art Teachers know this truism - the PROCESS of ART is 1,000 times more important than the PRODUCT of ART. The PRODUCT is not the reason why most artists do what they do. Artists are DRIVEN to explore themselves and the world around them AND driven to express these thoughts and ideas in a particular medium. PROCESS.

I can relate to your dilemma; writing about such things as childhood abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and ANY serious trauma can be traumatic in and of itself. But you and I both know that people who write and share these kinds of stories ALWAYS end up having other people come up to them who express how deeply moved and transformed they were due to another's personal sharing, and they are always VERY thankful.

But take care of yourself in the process - some memories can be like playing with fire - so surround yourself with love (it sounds like you have a good support system around you). If this book creates more mental distress than it's worth, set it down. We're in the 21st Century; you can save and file it away for another decade if you wish. No demands, no expectations.

Sending you love. I had a therapist tell me at age 15 that my life 0-13 would make a great book, so I may also attempt the a similar journey one day. Not yet tho!

10:02 PM  
Anonymous donald said...

try and do both, write AND be happy!

7:08 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

thanks, John. That actually makes a ton of sense.

it's about the process, not the end result. I can't tell you how many times I have said that to my kids.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Rev. Bob said...

Your family and friends trust you to figure out the right thing to do. Trust yourself.

9:21 AM  

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