People often ask memoirists why we write the story of our life. Writing is for me a spiritual practice — an exploration of the deepest terrain of my soul. I felt compelled to write my story. In the beginning stages, I couldn’t have told you why.
In my studies on the art of writing memoir, I learned of the importance of writing honestly about our shortcomings … of not glossing over our flaws and failings. I was determined to be as honest as possible. That meant facing head on a fear I had lived with from a young age … the fear that there was something wrong with me that made me unlikable and unlovable. You may remember that I kept Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, in the book cubby above my writing desk.
At the end of eight years of writing A Long Awakening to Grace, I received a whole new perspective … my life finally made sense. The writing proved to be healing and transforming … an unexpected and welcome gift of grace.
Publishing what I wrote was another matter. I needed to let go of a coping mechanism I had used since childhood to avoid criticism … being quiet and invisible.
For many years as an adult, I hid. I cut myself off from old friends who would have wanted to know what was going on. I didn’t want to tell them.
Except for my twelve-step support system where it was safe to be open and vulnerable, I lived a double life. I avoided people and activities where I might need to reveal my life beyond the superficial. In my professional associations, I didn’t talk about the nitty gritty details of my personal life, even with colleagues I trusted.
Publishing my memoir was a big deal. In exposing my flaws and shortcomings to my readers, I risked the possibility of actualizing my childhood fear of being judged unlikable and unlovable. My editors even prepared me for such a possibility.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” ~Brene Brown
The truth of Brene Brown‘s words revealed itself in these comments from readers:
“…it took courage to be so open and vulnerable.”
“…your honesty and vulnerability shown through … You are a true hero in my eyes.”
“Your willingness to be vulnerable and open about your challenges and struggles and self-criticism leave me in awe.”
If there are readers out there judging me, they are keeping quiet. If and when judgment comes, these voices will override them:
“You memories have given me hope I can survive the past two devastating years.”
“…your sharing has given me strength and courage. …your brave vulnerability has been healing for me and I am extremely grateful.”
“Your story confronted me and gave me hope.”
“Your book will bless many people.”
More words of wisdom from Brene Brown:
“Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world around us a little braver.” Brene Brown
And then last week, an awareness began to float to the surface of my consciousness. I’ve put it all out there … my worst stuff … for the world to see. I no longer need to hide. I’m truly free … another unexpected and welcome gift of grace.