I wrote this post for the Women’s Words Mcr blog that I wrote posts for and managed. Re-reading it today made me realise it was powerful writing that I needed to modify and post here too. You can read the full blog post here.
The Women’s Words project brought out many stories. It illustrated to those of us involved in the creative side of its management how important providing safe spaces for dialogue are for women. As the stories of sexual abuse, injustice and violence against women keep appearing in the media, and more and more people talk about the traumas they have gone through, it seems this project could not have come at a better time. We all have hurts. We all need to share them and expose them to the light so that we can learn from each other and take solace in each other. A hundred years since the granting of suffrage to some women, we have come a long way. But we have much more to achieve in terms of true equality. Here’s to all the women and men working together to build a truly just, equal and fair society.
On a personal note, because the personal is so often the political, I am a life-writer. My part in this project has become to keep exposing my truth. I hope you are as excited about the archives as we all are. We hope that you will be amazed at the resilience, strength and courage of the women who have contributed to the Women’s Words archive.
Share your pain.
There is power in exposing your underbelly.
Recently I wrote about the yearning and pain I feel at being childless at forty.
I had so much support and conversation generated from that one post. For everyone who read, shared and responded either publicly or in private, thank you.
There is power to be had from exposing your vulnerability. As a writer, my best work comes when I’m trying to wrestle with my demons and do something concrete with my pain.
Story-telling is the art, oftentimes, of bringing our shadows into the light. It is the banishing of the ghosts of Christmas past, and claiming the future we want by transforming our weaknesses into strengths.
This January, my husband and I were privileged to be invited into our friend’s large, extended family celebrations in Spain for Epiphany and the coming of the three Magi. It was a wonderful time, and I was so moved by their warmth and love. But coming back home brought back to me how much I miss having a family of my own.
I am an only child, and there’s so much loneliness in that for me. I still grieve the brother or sister I never knew, who was aborted by my parents twelve years before I was born. I know my parents never saw her or him as a child. He or she wasn’t someone they grieved, but I do. Since the day I learned about that decision from my mother, I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to have a much older sibling.
We all deal with loss and pain in our own individual ways. We all take things so differently. That makes us unique and wonderful. I am strongly pro-choice, but that doesn’t mean choice comes without heartache or pain or tears for all concerned.
My mother could never forgive me for not having children. My inability to conceive felt to her like a personal attack, a rejection of her. It wasn’t, we just never managed to create a baby, and none of my choices in life were meant to be against her, but a reflection of my authentic soul. But that is something I couldn’t explain well enough for her to understand.
I write not because I have to, but because I must. It is my way of coping, of dealing, of getting some kind of understanding of what’s going on in my head when the black dog barks incessantly through the nightmares. For a long time, years in fact after finishing my PhD, I worked on my novel, convinced it was fiction I was meant to publish. And I loved the whole process of writing, don’t get me wrong, and the novel was complete, but it wasn’t truth and it wasn’t being true to my style and being.
I know family back home sniggered behind my back as the book failed to materialise after I had said I was writing. But we are not measured and judged by others, but by ourselves and what is in keeping with our own personal truths. I was fortunate that I found my real style emerge through the medium of life-writing. It is the writing of personal truth that gives me pleasure. Perhaps there’s a little bit of the perverse in me, I am okay in sharing my deep hurts and shames. I feel it is easier to share than the joys. A friend of mine, a wonderful, brilliant, amazing Sri Lankan poet Vivimarie Vanderpoorten said to me ages ago that she found if easier to write about sad things. I didn’t get her then, I do now. Vivi, you were always my teacher, mentor and guide.
Expose your underbelly.
Hold your shadows to the light.
Exorcise the demons.
Dance in the sunshine.
For tomorrow is another day.
You are not alone.