Before I wrote my latest memoir, Innocence Unraveled, I spent years contemplating the whys and wherefores of exposing the delicate truth when family is involved. While reflecting, I knew that, first and foremost, I wanted to share my story. Beyond that, I knew telling the truth would “set me free,” and allow me to heal from the pain.
Beth Kephart put it in her book, Handling the Truth, memoir persists because we persist because we all have stories.” She further writes, “I teach the genre and I’ve dared to write it. I watch it get made, broken down, and reconciled.” Kephart describes the sharing of our own absolute truth as “the literary equivalent of a confessional. It is not the Sacrament of Penance. It is not an unmodulated whisper. A memoir is a life story, artfully (honestly) resurrected.”
As the years of contemplation dragged on, I knew I needed to share my story to others to bare their truths. I also wanted the opportunity to further my own healing through connection. I not only knew it was time to share my confessions but listen and learn from the similar experiences of others.
My story persists because I persist and if I want to heal. I must paint, like the strokes on a canvas, line after honest line. I know writing my truth may expose the villains of my story and the victims of those villains. It may reveal pain loved ones couldn’t see. It may be impossible to prevent, but I don’t intend the harm it will cause. With a story like this, I had to prepare loved ones of what was to come.
I’ve lived my life with secrets too heavy to bare till death and traumas too normalized to quiet. I too must face the possibility of celebration and attack, just as Kephart was “loved by many, attacked ferociously, honored and muddied” for writing her own memoir. I pray this act of vulnerability heals others as they read, just as confessing began healing me.