Friday, November 5, 2010

Everything Old is New Again

It's been four days since I wrote on my blog, which is the longest I've gone since I started.  Abject apologies to anyone keeping an eye on these things but in my defense, I have a reason.  I have finished the final edit work on my memoir FREAK and it is ready to send to print after through!!!!  AAAA!!!

This memoir has been a massive undertaking for me. Limitless thanks go out to everybody who's come to my aid as I flounder about in literary waters. While reading through the story of  my own life, editing this, scribbling that, I realize that everything from my past has been brought up again, fresh and new in some cases, rancid and raw in others.  How did I begin the whole process of writing about my own life?  Why on earth would I think it might be interesting to anybody?

It began as simple therapy.  My psychologist suggested I keep a journal, which I found teeth-grindingly dull, so I just started rambling into my laptop. Nothing specific, just a lot of stream-of-consciousness memories tip-tapped out on a keyboard.  What happened to me, what I was feeling at the time: everything.  Before I knew it, I had one hundred and fifty pages. With some coaxing, my therapist talked me into letting her read them.  I wrote them with the intention of their never being read by anyone, so I was very reluctant.  They were raw, sometimes gross, often graphic but absolutely true renditions of events which have helped shape my life. After reading the initial batch of prose, my therapist urged me to publish it.  She thought it was important.  She thought it could help people.  I believe my first reaction was, and I quote, "Fuck, no!"

But I kept writing.  It seemed necessary.  I felt better afterward, even though I was often shaky as hell when I finally metaphorically put down my pen, only to pick it up again the next day.  Even when I lost my apartment and had to move out of state, thus losing my therapist, I kept writing.  It no longer mattered if it was so-called therapy or not.  Somewhere inside me, a door had opened and the flood waters just poured out.  Endlessly. 

I began to weave events together in a way I never had before.  I began to see patterns in my screwed up behaviors that I'd been blind to, decisions based on past trauma instead of present reasoning.  I knew I tried to kill myself in my mid-twenties but I hadn't really thought about the actual horrific events that led up to it.  In the moment, with the razor blade at my wrist, all I could think about was I was so tired of breathing.  Living had simply become an unbearable burden.  There was no specific tragedy in my head at the time.  Just a bone deep weariness.

As the manuscript began to take shape, so did the mystery of all that self-hatred and sorrow.  I found answers as to why I allowed myself to be brutalized as an adult. I thought I was strong and tough because I'd never had an adult relationship with anybody stupid enough to hit me.  I'd had enough of that as a kid and I sure as hell wouldn't accept it as an adult.  What I didn't recognize is the fact that I was verbally and emotionally bludgeoned almost every day.  I was black and blue inside with internal hemorrhaging and all I could think was, "Why are you crying all the time, you big baby? Why aren't you happy?  Get joyful, for shit's sake!"  Viciously self-loathing, I was a bully to me, every bit as cruel as anyone in my life.

Shyly, I started handing out sections of the memoir to friends.  They began telling their friends.  I started getting phone calls; strange requests to "just talk to my niece, she was molested" or "how did you stand fast when your son was doing drugs?  How did you cope?  Why is he alive?"  To my astonishment, my story became a comfort.  This weird, creepy, cannibal inbred redneck horror show of a childhood had become something to help others.  That's why I decided to publish it.  That's why it's about to become a book.  They say everything old is new again.  All this old shit, dragged out of the closet called my brain, has miraculously become something new.  Like a gross squashy caterpillar inside a chrysalis, this goofy past of mine may turn into something beautiful.  So for all my brothers and sisters of circumstance, FREAK: The True Story of an Insecurity Addict is about to become a book.  Maybe reading about all my dumb ass mistakes will convince others to not repeat them.  I hope, with all my heart, that it helps whoever reads it.  I hope they stay their hand if they're in despair.  I hope they find solace, as I did, in putting the puzzle pieces of their own shattered psyches together again.  Thanks to all of you out there for caring about my words.  Take care of yourselves.

Love, R

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