I spent my childhood watching narratives get spun, twisted and renegotiated as family events were transformed from incidents into stories. There’s a big difference, it turns out, between the two. An incident is an event that happens in real time, with real consequences, usually involving real (and raw) human emotion. A story is what you make out of it later. Incidents are wild and dangerous; stories are controlled and reassuring.
Your History Is Whatever You Choose to Tell About Yourself
Did I do my stories justice? Did I make the right decision by saying X or Y? Is telling my story worth other people being angry at what I’ve written? Am I leaving out parts of myself that I should tell, but won’t because it doesn’t “fit?”
When I look at the past, I’ve never let facts get in the way of telling a good story. But I find that I reveal more than most when I lose myself in writing what I’m feeling at the moment without editing (as you can tell- there are typos all over). At the same time, the way I remember things are the way I remember things, and all emotions are valid even when my logic is screwed up and backwards. My logic is screwed up and backwards most of the time, because my EQ is so much higher than my IQ. I don’t tend to remember the facts, but I remember what I felt around them. I remember how incidents made me feel rather than the order in which they happened. In this blog, it really shows.
I can tell when I won’t lay down The River.
When I wrote that sentence, fear enveloped me like a coat. As a writer, it was supposed to. Sometimes, The River means telling someone else’s story instead of mine, and I try to avoid that at all costs…. this blog is not about anyone else’s emotions, because their reactions are their reactions, and those are valid, too. I just can’t speak to them. I can only speak about my reactions to what has happened, and not what anyone else was thinking in the same moment. I just take guesses, and sometimes they’re off to a frightening degree because I haven’t taken in someone else’s words as they were meant to come across to me. I have written my own spin because again, I cannot read minds. There is only so much I have to go on, and it’s often wrong because I’m not listening…. or as I told Argo, “sometimes what you think of as ‘not listening’ is actually ‘not understanding’ and I am beating the wrong dead horse instead of the right one.” When I originally wrote that sentence, it made me ruminate and laugh at the same time.
I know me. We’ve met.
I do not have an easy peace about writing. If I am going to get emotions out enough to make me feel better, it has to scare me in the moment. I have so much compassion for me in my older entries, because I am far enough away from those emotions that it feels like caring for someone else, and I can do that. As I walk further from who I used to be into who I want to become, it feels like one of The Doctor’s regenerations. I might not change bodies, but my mind feels completely different. Feeling like I am listening to someone else’s story allows me to forgive myself, because I wouldn’t treat a friend nearly as harshly as I would treat myself, and that is really something considering how bad it got between Argo and me. I lashed out at her because a piece of me was missing and I couldn’t get angry at the person who deserved it, so I got angry at her instead. It wasn’t right, it wasn’t sane. But the beauty of seeing that much anger in myself encouraged me to get it handled. I had to look back at myself on this web site, and when I didn’t like what I saw, it was the impetus to change directions. See, I can read and get angry about what I’ve written just as easily as you can…. if not more so.
I am sure that Elizabeth Gilbert has had a few “what the fuck was I thinking?” moments, because all writers do if they’re writing about themselves. Crafting your story so that you can’t really see yourself is not hurting anyone but you. There’s not a repository of real feelings, just created ones. The entries where I’ve really taken off the mask scare me, but I know they were necessary in making me the person I am today. Telling all my secrets makes me immune to blackmail, because there’s nothing in my past that I wouldn’t say about myself if we were talking. I am an open book, and as much as you read on this web site, there’s still a layer I only share with my inner circle.
And in time, those stories will come out, too, because bringing them to light makes them not look so bad after sitting with them until I resolve the conflict I had with the way I behaved. I don’t write because it is easy… I write because it is hard. The day-to-day unraveling of my marriage is disheartening and scary. The C3 I used on Argo is cringeworthy. I beat up on myself until I can make my peace with it, and it takes a long time. I do not vomit emotions on the internet and feel like the subject is closed. If anything, it is broken open. You get about 20% of my thoughts because in my own head, there are subroutines upon subroutines, and I can only put one on the page at a time. That’s why you get different reactions at different times. I am feeling a thousand emotions and they can’t all “make it in.” So the stories have different emotions at different times on the page, but I was thinking them all at the same time in the moment. It seems like hypocrisy, but I have no problem with cognitive dissonance. For instance, I can love Dana and want to kick her ass at the exact same time, and if you can’t feel me, you’ve never been in a serious relationship of any kind. If only my 64-bit brain could play the piano on the page, two rhythms running at once. But there is only one piece of virtual paper. I absolutely FEEL ALL THE THINGS, but I can’t express them in real time. That would require being able to write two concurrent blog entries and I nearly flunked group piano. There’s no way I could write with a Dvorak for each hand. But even then, you’re only getting two streams of thought when there are more like 16.
I can only tell it like I think it is.
Right or wrong.