Re-Membering the Past is Not an Easy Task


And for me it is, indeed, a matter of re-assembly.  Sorting and piecing , cutting and pasting. 

(So, today I have a confession to make.)

From the beginning, I’ve wanted this blog to be an avenue into memoir, since, in many ways, the story of my past is far more interesting than the narrative that is now.  And, in fact, the most significant “event horizons” in my life happened a long time ago.

I know that may be hard to believe, as the life Sara and I have lead over the past several years has been an exciting one—taking me to places like Bangkok, Hanoi, New Delhi, Port-au-Prince.

But in many ways to travel backward in time is the bigger challenge—more over-whelming, more frightening, yes, but also more meaningful, and perhaps even profound.

The story of how I’ve gotten here—how I’ve gotten “now” is one that must be told.  And how I’ve gotten here involves telling at least two stories, requires that I follow two narrative threads.  (There’s actually three but only two I’m even close to comfortable sharing now.)

The first is the story of my father’s involvement with organized crime and the second is the story of my twenty-year struggle with bipolar disorder.

Neither of these is easy to tell.  And honestly I’m afraid.

I still intend to write about Haiti.  I still intend to write about the “now” that is the life I share with Sara on this troubled island.  In fact, I believe the struggles Haiti faces nationally are not dissimilar to the personal challenges I’ve endured.  My story and the story of Haiti both involve sickness and corruption, oppression, endurance, even hope.

In the coming days and weeks I’ll outline my strategy, share my goals, my hopes, my fears.

I don’t know how to tell this story.  I don’t know where to begin.  I feel swallowed by the enormity of the task, dwarfed by it.

So, I’ll pray for peace—and if you’re a praying person, please offer your own prayer; if you’re not, please say you care, please say you’ll share.

I still need that massive infusion of grace.  I still need that holy yes.

29 thoughts on “Re-Membering the Past is Not an Easy Task

  1. Beginnings are often the trouble with writing as are endings. I usually find mapping out a structural timeline or a series of chapter headings can help. The other ways to use are connections that end up in a circle or starting out perhaps with the birth (not necessarily of a person). Best of luck. I too want to write a story but I am yet to discover my plot outline because all the work I have read overwhelms me to the point of thinking my story will never achieve what these authors already have accomplished.

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    • Thanks so much for these suggestions. I’m pretty certain I know the event I’ll begin with, as it’s the memory that has remained the clearest for me, but once I’ve finished that–all bets are off. Tomorrow I’ll be mapping out my strategy, a lot of which will involve research, as there is so much I’ve forgotten. I appreciate the encouragement. Hope you’ll come back and see where this all leads me.

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  2. You’re ready, Kathy. I’ve known you for decades, and you do not fail when you commit. Many years ago we thought you’d fallen into the abyss, but God caught you and held you close, protecting you. God is there with you blessing you and guiding you. Tell the story now, my dear.

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  3. I don’t know you well enough to know that telling this story will be cathartic, but I suspect it can be. And, I can assume that something in you tells you that you need to do this. We all wish you a safe journey back and offer you support.

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    • Renee, you gave me the push I needed, and I can’t thank you enough. I know I’m beginning an amazing journey backward in time, but I’m ready and open to what comes. Thanks again for your memoir posts. Tomorrow I will lay out my plan and refer to your posts in particular. Hugs to you, my friend!

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  4. Wow, Kathy – you’re so full of courage and I’m (if I’m allowed to be) SO proud of you! You are amazing in what you share and the way you share, and I’ve no doubt your memoir will be a gift for those who will get to read it. I pray for peace for you as you do this, and please know that I am here, cheering you on, believing in you and reading you.
    Sunshine xx

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    • Thanks for saying you’re proud. That really touches me! I don’t know if I’m courageous or crazy (oops, I guess I am the latter, forgot) to begin this journey. But I’m excited to finally be on my way. Hugs to you in London—————-

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  5. You begin by beginning. Don’t try to map out the story yet. Write a moment. Write a single memory. Start with an easy one if you have to and then let it lead to other memories. You begin by trusting that your readers are not going to judge your story; no, we will read it with our hearts full of “Holy Yes!”

    You’ve already begun.

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  6. I for one am very excited to read your new project. It’s hard to be truthful about ourselves especially. But I think our best writing springs from courage sometimes. Speak your truth. I think it will be riveting. And you definitely have the talent to do yourself justice.

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    • Thanks so much, Maura. I agree that honesty breeds the best writing. I think part of the reason I’ve felt so blocked recently is because I was holding back this information and it was beginning to feel dishonest. Not sharing about the bipolar disorder was holding me back and beginning to interfere too much with what I would and wouldn’t allow myself to write about.

      Thanks for you kind and supportive response to this news.

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  7. Great idea, Kathy! There is something very therapeutic in writing it down for others to read. Frightening…Yes. Exposed…Yes. But, quite often it is very helpful to others.
    I believe that if my story can help others in some small way then it is worth every minute of fear and nakedness.

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  8. Hugs to you. I think getting started is the hardest part of taking that journey back. I have a mantra I use when out hiking and we’ve come to a place that brings up one of my fears (heights). “Just put one foot in front of the other.” It’s simple and it’s a way to keep from freezing up.

    I look forward to hearing your story and traveling with you.

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    • Excellent mantra, Robin, and one I use often when I’m having a bad day. I remind myself that the only way to accomplish anything is one step at a time. Thanks for this reminder. It will be good to apply it to this project, too!

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  9. Oh girl! We are your Holy Yes Choir! I know that feeling of wanting to tell a story that seems too big to confine to paper, and the first sentence is always the hardest. You are a strong enough person and writer to push through that first “wall” and tell your story 🙂

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  10. You can do this. I’m glad you’ve decided you will. I am truly looking forward to reading all about what it is that makes you you. Clearly, it’s going to be difficult and challenging, but your past has made you a wonderful person. So don’t be afraid to tell it! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Terri. I know it’s going to be a wild ride–but sometimes you just have to let go and see where the story takes you! I appreciate your words of encouragement. Hope you have a great weekend– (By the way, I’ve been loving the photos you’re posting!)

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  11. What a moving and courageous post, Kathy. I agree with the earlier commenter who said it gave her chills! Even just spelling out two of the main threads of your memoir in two simple sentences was a profound way to start on this journey. I imagine that just ‘getting it out’ removed a lot of the obstacles and writer’s block you’ve been experiencing lately!

    Looking forward to reading more and cheering you on along the way. 🙂

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  12. Pingback: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Insanity but were Afraid to Ask | reinventing the event horizon

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