Image by Antonio Litterio
Sue William Silverman led a double life. Although she appeared to have a normal life, she was actually suffering from sexual addiction. It wasn’t until she began to write down her thoughts that she realized how writing a memoir could change her life… for the better.
She saw how jotting down ideas on the page became a therapeutic way of confronting personal demons that for years she simply could not face. Everyone has a story to tell, which can not only help one resolve one’s own issues, but can also help others deal with their own struggles as well.
The Past Today
Writing a memoir takes the writer through a personal journey of past events based on a central theme. The goal is to seek an emotional truth from the past so that a better understanding of the present is possible. The events themselves are not as important as the writer’s interpretation of those events. By unpacking these events and revealing the truth, the audience is able to better understand the writer as a human being.
Connect With Others
Writing a memoir helps the writer connect with an audience. Posting memoirs on a personal blog, for instance, extends one’s audience and allows for direct feedback from others who may have experienced a similar past. The philosopher Martin Buber argues that we only understand ourselves as a result of the relationships that we form with others, and that we would be acting with distrust if we assume that one’s past events defines the individual (I and Thou).
Writing a memoir helps others. Revealing one’s past and connecting with others through open and ongoing dialogue sets the stage for developing a support system that can be therapeutic. Confronting past events, organizing these events in the mind, then articulating them to others becomes a reciprocal and iterative process that emerges through informal dialogues. As ideas are shared, trusting relationships form which reinforce the notion that when we help others, we help ourselves.
Your Future Self
Writing a memoir helps realize the future that one desires by accepting the relationships that are being formed. Buber’s notion of the I-Thou recognizes how human beings remain interdependent, and that this inter-dependency permits others to not stereotype individuals based on their past. Thus, the future self becomes an aggregate of continual relationships that collectively help form one’s personal identity.
Sue William Silverman was not able to face her past without formally collecting, reflecting on and articulating her past in the form of a memoir. Memoir writing can help individuals face the past in order to better understand the present.
It can also be a way of sharing ideas with others and forming relationships that act as a support system for pursuing the future self. Regardless of one’s past, the process of reflecting upon and articulating past events, before sharing this process via informal dialogues, takes the writer on an emotional journey to seek the truth. Tell someone your story today and begin to experience your future self… because it’s worth it!
Benjamin L. Stewart is an enthusiastic blogger and a proud member of the GKBC Writing Academy.