It’s Sunday night. I have a stack of papers to grade, and a movie I want to watch before I go to bed (“Hannah and Her Sisters”)…but I saw this link by Tamara Louison linking back to my post about “The Story of My Relationship With My Body” that I wrote awhile back…and I had to respond.
“Should blogs be censored? Do you have the right to say what ever [sic] you want on the internet? Should you have this right?”
The bottomline of her query was that my post was TMI (“too much information”)–that perhaps I should have kept some of what I said (about my eating disorder, about my struggles with my body, about my health struggles, about my past self-loathing), to myself:
“Its [sic] amazing what people are comfortable posting on the internet. I’m sure her blog may help some little girl with body image issue but I cant [sic] help but think that she should have kept some of this to herself.”
I immediately DM’d a friend and said I was confused–should I be offended? Amused?
But after a little bit of thinking, I decided that I am none of the above. I am not confused, nor am I offended, nor am I amused.
I am a writer.
Years ago, I was in a workshop with an amazing writing mentor, a writer who has given a TED talk, won numerous writing awards, gone through extreme hardship himself, and is one of the most generous people I know.
In the workshop, on the very first day, in the very first minutes, he asked each of us to provide a deeply personal anecdote about what we wrestle with.
I raised my hand. Prompted to speak, I said, “I’m a really private person.” I mean, this was the FIRST workshop; I hardly knew him, I hardly knew the writers around me, and I had a ton of heartbreak inside of me that would answer that question, but would make me vulnerable and naked in front of everyone. I did not want to share my truth.
He listened with unblinking and steady eyes, eyes that have at one point in his life faced physical and psychological torture and behind which lay a brain that withstood and survived that torture and then thrived. He said in a soft voice, “Then why are you a writer?”
I closed my mouth.
He continued and said that a writer cannot be private like that. We must share. We must put out our truths. We must be brave.
And so in that workshop, I proceeded to talk about the year I experienced deep grief: about the loss of my memory after my stroke, paired with the deep grief I felt for a family member’s sudden death–and how my memory returned and I kept remembering her in crisp relief while everyone else’s memories began to fade…and how my grief, for many reasons, made me feel so alone and out of sync with everyone else around me. I had never talked about this family member’s death in mixed company before. The whole workshop fell silent as I told my truth.
And from telling her story, I learned something about storytelling.
And that is my answer to Louison: I am a writer. I write the truth. I write my truth. And I hope my truth resonates with you, be it with discomfort or joy or solace or comfort or inspiration.