I recently listened to three writers read from and discuss their recently published memoirs. The session was entitled Laid Bare which was apropos for how candid their writing was and how I identified with what they were saying.
One of the writers compared human emotions to that of an iceberg. She said, like an iceberg, one tenth of how we really feel is on the surface and nine tenths is unexposed. I am a passionate person that has no problem being vocal when I see someone being treated unfairly but not so vocal when it comes to me. I suppress a lot of my past not wanting to either expose it or deal with it.
I know it seems like I am “out there” but have learned to hide the hurt when I feel people are not treating each other with respect. I grew up in an alcoholic family as did two out of three of the writers and there were moments when I felt we all had the same vocabulary when dealing with our emotions.
One writer had a very selfish and cold mother who did not have many friends because of her behavior. Even after her daughter made her actions public with her book, she said it didn’t bother her even though it did not put her in a very positive and loving light. At least, she said, it was focused on her and not on her daughter. Predictable after hearing her daughter’s writing but also sad that the mother couldn’t or wouldn’t take responsibility for hurting her daughter.
Many studies have been done to show how exposing traumatic episodes can soften or even alleviate damaging patterns of abuse to oneself or others. But in listening to their writing and watching their body language it seemed that the emotions were very much alive. I admired their courage to expose a painful part in order to find some kind of peace in their sometimes troubled world.
One of the writer’s was pregnant when her husband announced he didn’t love her anymore and was leaving. She said she was paralyzed in finding words to write. She was so stunned, being a writer, that her mind froze. That in that instant everything changed and her body reacted immediately to that change. I remember the instant I heard the word cancer and it was being used in the context of my health. I instantly changed as well and now believe that anything can happen.
There have been other moments in my life when I realize that the only way to handle whatever it is regardless of how difficult it can be is to lay bare. I have laid bare before and survived.