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Writing about things you don't want to remember

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by copperpot, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    I just got done reading Ty's story about the coach's premature son who died. It made me think about my brother, who committed suicide in August. I imagined writing a story about it (or having anyone write one) and what it would say. I thought about how the last weekend I saw him, we went to a wings festival, and he was playing some kind of pattycake with his little girls, and I remember that he seemed very deliberate as he swung his hands back and forth with them, almost as if he wanted to be sure it was something that would be burned in their memories ... or maybe his.

    Anyway, after he died, I started a blog, but I felt strongly I didn't want it to be a place where I reflected on his suicide or the many sad and confused emotions I felt. I'm an optimist by nature; I called the blog "Bent but not broken" and talked a lot about how I was determined to get through this and to honor his memory by living life to the fullest. I did visit a bereavement counselor, and I talked about all of my conflicting emotions, so it's not like I've totally suppressed those, but I have definitely balked at putting them on paper.

    Recently, I contacted some of my brother's friends and asked them to share some stories that I could compile into a book to one day give to his daughters, and even to other members of my family. I am going to include my own memories, too, some of which I've already written and sent to various relatives.

    But the actual suicide itself and the circumstances around it ... I've really never written anything about that. And for some reason there is something of a pull inside of me to do it. I don't know if it's just because I am a writer, and it's kind of odd not to have written anything about something that had such a profound impact on me. But I also wonder if I don't want to have it in writing. Not that I think I'll ever forget, of course, but something about having it on paper -- maybe that will just be too much of a reminder. It's important to me to remember my brother's life and not to dwell on how he died, although I make sure to never be embarrassed or ashamed to tell people how he died.

    I'm just wondering, I guess, if any of you have ever had an experience like this. You're writers, too; do you feel the need to write about things even if they're painful? Does it make you feel better if you just put it down on paper? Is there necessarily worth in exploring something through writing that is guaranteed to hurt?

    Thanks a lot for any feedback.
  2. writing irish

    writing irish Active Member

    Not wanting to write about painful shit is understandable. I don't think sweeping generalizations are too useful- sometimes writing can make you feel worse and sometimes writing can make you feel better. However, I suspect that most of the time it makes you feel better...after all, the notion of catharsis is related to that dynamic. Often, a feeling needs to be felt and will rattle around in your subconscious until it's finally felt. Then, it calms down.

    Sorry for your loss. Good luck. Don't worry about feeling hesitant. Henry Miller didn't finish writing the painful story of his second marriage until 1960. They were divorced in 1934.
  3. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    I've never done it for someone who died, but awhile after my girlfriend broke up with me two years ago, I wrote everything I had ever wanted to tell her, but never had the courage to. Never gave it to her, no one's ever seen it, but somehow, it made me feel much better and helped me to move past her.

    Perhaps writing it would do the same for you and help to heal some wounds.

    I am sorry to hear about your brother, btw. A friend of mine had his father commit suicide in high school and I can't imagine the pain losing a loved one like that must cause. My condolences, albeit a little late.
  4. KYSportsWriter

    KYSportsWriter Well-Known Member

    I am like the above poster: i went thru a bad break up a few months back and wrote about it for a few weeks after it happened. I wrote one saying things i never got to tell my ex and never will. Only one person has read this blog, but writing about it helped me gain some sort of closure. My condolences about your brother. I havent had a family member kill themselves, but a few of my close friends have. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
  5. pallister

    pallister Guest

    I never felt the "need" until a couple of years ago. I was worried I'd dredge up bad memories of things I had previously just wanted to forget about, but once I started writing, I found, like shockey said, that it was incredibly cathartic. In hindsight, it's been the best thing I've done the past couple of years for my peace of mind. It's also helped me rediscover a creative side of myself I had ignored for too long.
  6. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    copper - you'll know when it's time ... and the words will flow, trust me.
  7. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    Thanks, everyone. I'm left thinking it would be a good thing, but nothing I have to force myself to put a timetable on. I was honestly just kind of surprised how vividly I found myself thinking about things after reading Ty's story. I really appreciate your taking the time to weigh in.
  8. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    Copperpot, you will know when it's time. For me, I didn't write anything about it for three months and carried on as if nothing had happened. A lot of my friends were kind of surprised at "how well" I took it. Basically, I just ignored everything I was feeling for three months.

    One night, before having to go in at 7 a.m. for layout, I couldn't sleep. Finally couldn't ignore it anymore because I couldn't stop thinking about her. About 4 a.m., I got up, went to my computer and wrote for an hour.

    Fell dead asleep after that (for an hour and half :(). At that point, it finally started dealing with it and got myself straightened out. It wasn't like I planned it, or anything, the words just had to come out at that point.

    I know what you're dealing with is a lot harder and certainly different, but I think you'll find the same thing happens. When it's time, your mind and heart will let you know. And probably won't leave you alone until you do something about it.
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