I lived a long time unconscious of my backstory. I guess most of us do. It can be a dispersed and painful state. Mine held drama, shame, doubt and chronic insecurity.
I didn’t understand where it all seemed from until I started to excavate my backstory. It might have begun when I was five and our upstairs neighbour took me on a drive in his blue Volvo. It’s a story I wish I didn’t remember.
Decades went by before I found the words and courage to express what happened. It is the kind of story we have come to know as #metoo. A movement I am grateful for, for the way it’s opened my eyes and heart to those – too many of us – who harbour life stories like these.
We all have #metoo stories. I believe it’s good to talk and write about them.
Thankfully not everyone’s stories are about childhood sexual abuse. Many more are similar to what happened when I was six. This is the story I’ve learned the most from while excavating my past and doing therapy on the page. This means, I suppose, I’ve learned most from my six-year-old self – which is strange, in a way.
When I was six I started to live in fear of abandonment, rejection and not being good enough. I was afraid Mum didn’t want to bring me back home, after a long stay in the hospital. The thing is, I didn’t see this as a traumatic event until I was pregnant with Ruby and started to read about brain development in babies, childhood programming and everything in our body, mind and soul that shapes the adults we become.
It is likely this life event was pivotal to how I came to believe people-pleasing was an expression of love. It took many tries, setbacks, broken love-and-friend-ships, rejections, and heartaches to discover that people-pleasing is borne of fear – not love. I think it is about a fear of not having enough value.
My quest to please was both my guide and my struggle.
Sometimes I thought I was clever in the ways I discovered and applied tools – to fit in. Decades ago – when I first heard the phrase people-pleaser – I asked myself WHY do I have such a NEED to make others like me? I thought I was only good enough when I saw acceptance in the eyes of others. Have you ever felt like that?
During my teens and early adulthood, I longed for friends and lovers to see me for who I truly was. I didn’t realise that for others to see the true me I first had to truly see myself. I had no idea of how little I knew myself until I started to ‘observe my human‘ as Moira says.
Feeling broken and adrift, I yearned for a love that would anchor me. I believed my anchor had to be linked to someone else. I had to feel love and belonging from others in order to feel ok. But first – to be loved – I had to be special and very good and kind.
“You have to be a good girl,” I was frequently told when I was a girl. So many of us are told this. Sadly many parents still tell their children to be good, today. Being reminded, so often, to ‘be good’ lead me to the belief that I must be inherently bad.
Love, for me, was a bit painful before I figured out how to love myself. Have you felt that way?
What is your Backstory?
Please tell me, I would love to hear it, and I mean that. If you are already writing, or have published your memoir I know you have the courage to tell me about it in the comments below, in our Facebook group or even in an Instagram post visible to everyone. There is much validation in being visible. I would love to do an Instagram challenge on this. Would you be up for it? Let me know.
If you are thinking about or have just embarked on your memoir & life-writing journey, I invite you to email or message me. When you are looking for a safe vessel for your story to be test-heard, I’m here to hear you. I am as happy using emails, Messenger and Instagram (where I’m slower to reply) as I am speaking over Zoom or Facetime. Please get in touch. Let’s take about our stories, they deserve to be heard.
My emails are a roundup of Life & Memoir stories and lessons. I love a good email conversation. To me, emails stand as the last frontier of sharing our life by writing. It is like writing letters. Journaling and letter writing was
two of my favourite things to do when I backpacked through Australia and South-East Asia in the early 90s. That’s when I meet S. Email is the most intimate we can be with each other, over distance, through written words. If you like my writing you will love my emails. Get them here and I’ll see you, within minutes, in your inbox. I am grateful you are here. 🧡
Much Love and Light
One of the best memoirs I read, in 2022, was Silenced No More by Sarah Ransome. It’s an emotionally tough memoir to read. Sarah tells her story in such detail and with extraordinary insightful reflection. Her memoir was ghostwritten, I don’t know by who. It is beautifully written.
I’m grateful Sarah Ransome had the courage to write and share her story. I learned so much from reading it.
Let’s connect on GoodReads and share great memoirs and books on writing we love.
❝ Remembering who you are
is how you take your power back. ❞
Lalah Delia @ InsightTimer