Experiences of writing, and writing of experiences

I made a decision a couple of weeks ago to find time to write more. It’s probably the only thing missing in my life right now … not because of the need to express myself as I have some lovely friends I can freely do that with, but because of the need to reach out and comfort, inspire, inform, or support others. That’s always been my motivation for writing, right back to when I wrote my first book. I’ve got the beginnings of three memoirs on my laptop … one about the strokes, one about Tohoku, and one about surviving narcissistic abuse, all of which are in one way or another, intended to help other people. I know I’ll get round to finishing them but in the meantime, I’ll try to write more blog entries.

I’ve always found that writing about your own experiences is the best way to touch others. I am always overwhelmed by readers’ private or public responses, and by how many people may have had similar experiences. People I THINK I know surprise me by writing privately to me about how my writing helps them, which makes it worthwhile. Because it’s not easy writing about some things. I understand why some people keep their experiences private but it’s too difficult for me to be silent. I feel like I’m hiding things. I’m an open book by nature. Always have been. I wear my heart on my sleeve and find it impossible to lie. Writing comes very easily to me. And transferring difficult experiences from the private domain to the public domain has always been a vital part of healing for me as well as a way to reach others. I didn’t write about my strokes for months, if not years. It was too difficult an experience to remember, but a big part of healing for me is turning difficult experiences into opportunities to help others. I hope that my writing about how Tommy died will help dog owners know what to expect … I would have loved to have known this in the weeks leading up to his leaving me.

But not everyone is comfortable reading such personal stories, especially about unpleasant or painful topics. Topics that are written about in a raw, truthful, deep-inside-your-gut kind of way. Some people want to push these things away, pretend they don’t exist, refuse to acknowledge the pain and struggles that others deal with. I feel a bit like that whenever I see pictures of animal cruelty on Facebook. I scroll past them quickly, ignore the stab in my chest or the sting in my eyes, and sometimes unfriend the poster, not because I don’t like that person, but because I don’t like the feelings their sharing evoke in me. It’s easier to pretend cruelty doesn’t exist, and to convince myself that even though I KNOW it does, if I unfriend that person, I will have one less reminder that there are horrible, horrible people in the world, who do horrible, horrible things.

So as I follow up on my promise to myself to write more, I know I will make some people uncomfortable. I’m not going to apologise. I’m tired of worrying about everyone else. I know I will lose some Facebook friends, and maybe even friends in real life, and I’ll deal with that. I’ve dealt with worse. It actually frees you up to write even more honestly. And sometimes we have to come to terms with the fact that not all friends have a place in your life after difficult times (I lost a few after the strokes when I was no longer able to go out drinking with them) but you can still feel grateful for the earlier times you did share.

My writing will make people uncomfortable. But the people who feel uncomfortable are not the people I’m trying to reach out to. It is the people who are stuck in the middle of difficult experiences, whether that be recovering from a head injury, losing a pet, or moving on from abuse. I’m writing for you. I’m reaching out to you. Please keep reading. You’re helping me too xxx

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