I have censored myself throughout my life. While I was growing up, there was the censorship of not telling anyone about the abuse. There was always the need to censor what emotions I was displaying. As a child, I was not supposed to get mad or sad. My least favorite thing to hear was, “I’ll give you a reason to cry.” And now that I am writing stories, I find that no matter what I am trying to write, the story has a tendency to turn very dark; this happens even when the story I am trying to tell is light and fun.
I had a long conversation with my husband about this, and he told me about writing an uncensored journal. It was something that he did when he was trying to work through some issues. He would draw or write whatever was in his head, no censoring or going back and changing anything. The journal was one that no one else would read. He could destroy it later or do whatever he wanted with it.
I thought about writing a journal like that, no censoring. It is a terrifying thought. To write without the worry of hurting someone’s feelings or of traumatizing someone with my story. To be completely honest about what I endured is a liberating concept. My first thought was that I have been trying to write about it for a long time.
When I started the MFA program in Creative Writing, my thesis, or novel, was pretty much a straight forward story. I could see the whole thing in my head. I could see the characters fully formed in front of me. There was humor, and there was sorrow in the story. But as I was writing the story, a funny thing happened. The main character started to experience my life in small parts. She carried my depression and fear. Some of the things that happened to her were what happened to me in a small part.
I started that story over three times. I wrote three different storylines, and they all devolved into trauma and all the other aspects of my life.
I want to write my stories. I want them to be what I see in my head. I have been writing a novel using the book, The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the Story Within. There are a lot of writing prompts to get you to think about your story. As I moved through the prompts, I found that my character was becoming a different person. She was becoming a depressed and abused person, instead of the strong woman I knew the character to be.
All this tells me is that to write about these other experiences and characters, I need to write about myself first. I have bought some journals that will be easy to burn so that when I’m finished writing, I can burn them if I want to. I have censored and kept quiet about my life for a very long time. I have talked about the abuse a little. It is time to bring it out and grieve with it and acknowledge what I experienced instead of summing up and then locking it back away.
I am unsure about what will come from this. Writing is therapeutic. And telling my story even if it is only in a journal might release me enough to be able to tell the other stories I want to share. I will have to see how it all comes together, but I am hopeful that this will enable me to write about other things, stories that are not my past.