I recently had a conversation with a person about the subject of the book I’m writing. It’s a natural question and when I answered that it was hyperfictionalized memoir of my experiences with my analyst, I was asked the following:
“Why won’t you just move on, Molly?”
“What is the point of all this? You have a wonderful life, a good husband, beautiful children a safe and happy home.”
And I agreed. I do have all those things.
I answered, “Because it’s a story about recovery, redemption, hope and ultimately, acceptance and forgiveness. For myself, for everyone in my story.”
The reply was this: “Right, your story. What does that have to do with anyone else?!”
I have to admit, something in me, a tiny voice agreed with this position, I mean, who the hell am I to suppose that I could benefit anyone? But a bigger voice told that little voice to pipe down. And so I tried to explain, vainly (and I suppose probably foolishly), that my story might help someone…? That answer was met with a “pfft.” My back went up and my eyes narrowed and the big voice got bigger. This person was about to get razed. A person within earshot of all of this smartly intervened and suggested a subject change. That suggestion was met by the interrogator with, “WHY? What makes you think that’s necessary?” and the answer to that was, “Because I see an argument coming on.” I nodded in agreement and was grateful for the suggestion; I said as much, and I left the room.
The next day, I received an e-mail message from the interrogator apologizing for how I was treated. I was surprised, frankly, to have gotten it. I wrote back expressing my gratitude for the gesture while also detailing my reflections and expanding on the exchange and what I thought about the line of questioning, essentially proposing, and I hope rhetorically: “Has nothing you’ve ever read taken you to a place where you can agree or picture someone else’s position? Have you never been moved by something you’ve read?”
Crickets. That’s OK. I was pretty intense in that note and I feel like I’ve made my points.
But I’ve been thinking back on my interactions with this particular person over the many years we’ve known one another and I see there has been a pattern: things have never been quite right between me and this person; we’ve tried, or rather it has been suggested to me that I change, you know, in order to make it better. When I was in college, I was told I studied too much. When playing tennis or exercising, I was told I played too hard. When out socially I was told I didn’t wear enough mascara. And now most recently, I am asked, essentially, “What makes you think your story matters?” and “Why bother?”
This is not a person I’m related to. This person does weigh some influence, but not too much in my personal life. I’ve always sort of regarded this person with a mix of wary kindness; sort of like sniffing your drink before you sip it. I can’t say why, it’s probably me. But I have to say this: I’ve never been asked these questions or put back by anyone ever in my life other than by this person, so I have to suggest to you my readers, if you know someone who talks to you like this, first: think about it and ask them, “What are you still so afraid of?” Next: stop talking to them. Full stop.
And one more: if you talk to someone like this, what are YOU afraid of?
I recently read a comment offered at a blog owned by the amazing Kat Hurley which mentioned Anthony Robbins’s acronym for “F.E.A.R – that it is just False Evidence Appearing Real.” And I scratched my head and said, “yup.” So again I ask you: if you hear people talk to you this way, ask them what they’re so afraid of. And if you talk to someone this way, what are you so afraid of? The big bad wolves are mostly in your head. Kick ’em to the curb.
I can say this now because I’ve done what I thought I could never do; what I thought I lacked the courage and guts and the endurance to do: I finished writing my book yesteday. And it’s good, to me. It’s solid, it’s true and fair, it’s real and it’s so so so strong that I feel like chest-bumping myself and saying “BOOYAH” and other things that people who cross a threshold do. It ended the way I think I’m ready, no that I know I am ready to have life go now. It is good.
So, yeah, screw fear. Right now I’m riding the “I just wrote a freaking book!!!” wave and the wind’s in my hair, the ocean’s spraying on my face, my feet are on my board and I’m having a great time. Today is enough.
ps – I’m heading out for vacation shortly so I don’t plan to be blogging (keep your applause to yourself!). I do however have a few reblogs in the hopper; some of my favorites and I hope you’ll enjoy them. if you aren’t already a subscriber, please do leave your name and e-mail address in the field to the right of this post that says “Follow GrassOil via e-mail” and you’re almost done. Just click on the confirmation e-mail and I think that’s it. See you soon. THANK YOU! 🙂