“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ~ Anne Lamott, April 23rd 2012.
I like that quote. I think it’s good advice and I’m going to do my best to follow it in my writing. But it got me thinking. And I’ve realised that the biggest obstacle to me owning what happened to me is not that I worry about what people will say if I speak about what happened. The biggest obstacle is that I struggle to see what has happened for what it is. When I tell my stories they feel like just that, stories.
I remember the first time that I told someone that my Dad was a violent, temperamental nut-case. The next day I told them that it wasn’t true, and I felt horrendously guilty for telling such a hideous lie. Only it wasn’t a lie; it just didn’t feel like the truth. Even though it had been the truth for about fifteen years. Because domestic violence is a big deal, and things that are that bad only happen to other people. I didn’t feel like I deserved the amount of sympathy and attention that are paid to a victim. I didn’t think I fit any image of a victim that I’d seen portrayed elsewhere, so I thought I didn’t ought to bother anyone about it.
It was the same after I was attacked. The next day the world still looked normal, getting on the bus and walking round the supermarket still felt the same. So it felt like the earth shattering thing that I thought I remembered, couldn’t have happened. Surely if it had the world would have stopped. That was until I burst into tears on the lady assistant who approached me in PC World and made her think that I was crazy.
I know that’s where therapy comes in. To help you to process things and to put them in their place. But it does mean that it took me an awfully long time to realise that I actually need therapy and that I should probably ask for help. People think I’m really independent, but in reality most of time I just don’t think I deserve to be enough of a bother to anyone to ask them to come and care about my shit.