What does it mean to generate a politics around telling experience when experience is precisely what the person may want to forget? Beverley Skeggs
Last night, my exercise in memoir writing became complicated. These stories that you have been reading here came from my exploration of the memoir format. I wanted to know what conventions come through the writing even when the writer is self conscious about those conventions. The experience defintely took a narcissitc quality of enjoyment as I relished in just story writing. But last night something went wrong. No not wrong. Perhaps amiss is a better word.
In the other tellings, I have been able to imagine a distance between the self typing and the self in the memoirs. The told self was very much a ficitional creation, and this enabled me to while expessing pain to not really feel it. There was an ability to concentrate on the writing itself. I focused on not just the story but the crafting of the story. Last night that all feel apart.
You see, I think I told something that I didn't want to tell. Each sentence I wrote just sunk me deeper into a kind of darkness of memory. I could still, 26 years later remember all belief I had in anything good disappearing. I remembered being so afraid as my mother wailed and moaned in that dark room. She didn't seem human to me at that point. We were already damaged people, and the damage my father inflicted that night broke us, I think. I don't think any of us ever recovered. We carry fresh scars from that morning. There are different ways to be broken.
But the story I wrote last night was not pretty nor even good. As a work of art it sucked. And I think it is because I told a story that I could not tell. A story that is not a story to me. It is a moment in my history that is like a nuclear explosion. I don't know why I told it. Why I even tried. I think perhaps it is because I thought that this is how one heals. You tell these painful things. You string them into pretty baubles for others to devour. Once you can write them, I thought, they no longer have potency on you. You turn their poison onto others.
Of course this raises some questions for me in terms of my academic work. I found myself laying in my bed last night nearly paralyzed in misery. All the feelings of my dad's leaving, the events that occured afterwards, all of it just pressed me down. And I looked at the bedstand where Palmer's book was and thought "Shit, her life was by far worst than mine. How did she do it?" Why do we tell these stories? What motivated her to put this work out? To create these stories (for that is what they are...memory is an unreliable thing) out of her pain, anger, and sorrow? What are the politics that moitivate us to make our emotional world into