|More - Austin Texas, 2012|
One of the reasons why I think that approaching memoir mind-first works so well is that by becoming curious about how our mind works, we access the various natural voices already occurring deep inside our own daily self-discussions. Instead of developing voices out of mid-air, we can discover them naturally existing, then give them body.
Another benefit is finding our own natural multiplicity (taken from Rita Carter's book title of the same name), which has therapeutic benefits as well. All of us are many-faceted, and in writing memoir, we can't help but encounter all these parts of ourselves. In inviting them into the discussion, by allowing them to show us the many versions of events that occurred in the past, we can help resolve - better than resolve - accept that the conflicts about "what happened" - whether traumatic or not - aren't just external (eg your sister recalls something else than you do) but internal.
Memoir isn't about trying to nail down "the version" but finding a felt sense that is closest to "a truth" - and that means including multiple facets, and, I believe, multiple voices. Whether or not this writer keeps the voices distinct or integrates them through writing and therapy is up to her - regardless, getting to experience it first hand through her raw writing here really shows us the power of memory and mind and multiplicity.
When I speak of resistance, this is it. The deep, deep fears. What parts of us really, really don't want to share anything. If we don't give them voice, acknowledge them, we will never find a way to write with less suffering involved.
Student writing by KA.
I don't feel like writing because I'm in a lot of physical pain. Actually, I see now it's not the physical pain that makes me not want to write, it's the voices below the physical pain. The seething pit of intestines trying to convince me, again, that…
I stopped writing…
I hear the words, I feel the words… But they hide from the page.
Is it you, the listener, the reader, that I want to hide from? Or, is it myself? Or, isn't that part of myself that does that speaking?
For years now… Again, I stopped writing.
What do you need in order to allow me to write down what you were telling me, what you are flooding the system with?
--"Don't show anyone," the voice, the energy, the angry being seems to be saying.
--"I fucking hate you and I fucking hate life and I am fucking trying to kill you," says the voice inside.
Again, I stopped writing. My first response is "what I AM I going to DO with this?" After all, I have so much experience with it, with the doing something.
--She's going to read this aloud.--
More selves show up…"It helps us," they say.
Okay. So, I continually sought to free myself of this part of myself, this part of myself that seems to perceive itself as a nasty fly who we all ought to all swat, who is continually convincing us that we are all going to die.
Oh, wait… perhaps, perhaps... is this the freedom I've been seeking in all those 12-Step meetings, and all this healing work, and in creating a healing business?
What does a self do when it is a baby and the baby is dying? Dying from violence? Dying from starvation? Dying from emptiness? Wouldn't it makes sense for a self to internally protect the baby, to regulate all that death away from the core of existence, away to die instead in layers in hopes of finding a solution before the life force no longer had the chance?
Then, as the baby grew, how would she learn to reintegrate this part within her, this hero? How would she coax it back to the living or would it need to continually make itself known in the only way that it knew how? Alcoholism at 13? Dogs as lovers to carry any hope for a passion for living? Marijuana always first thing in the morning? Who would want to get out of bed otherwise, when they were carrying death around their neck, when death had actually saved their life?
Then, then the brother dies and not her. Not her. The brother. And, somehow, somehow, it must of been her fault. Somehow, because she was the one who had invited death in.