Writing about my past is one thing, having others read about it another; it’s akin to posing as a nude model in art class. However, standing naked in front of strangers (or worse yet, in front of family, friends, and half the town of Sonoma) has nothing to do with me or what I look like, it’s simply being willing to be seen, to present myself on behalf of something larger than me. So far, no one has smote me down for what I’ve written—though my sister did threaten to put a hex on me right before she died.
Some years ago I wrote a family memoir, and from that I took 20 passages and published “Behind These Doors.” Currently, I’m issuing the full story—now titled “Through Any Given Door” — on my website as a web series, one short story at a time. As most of us now have the attention span of a gnat, it felt like this was an idea whose time had come.
Journaling about my family was an act of love. Turning those stories into a book, an act of faith. Reworking it into a tale that was coherent, an act of perseverance. Publishing it was either an act of trust or an act of hubris. The memoir is not an autobiography. It’s snippets and sketches and vignettes, strung along a timeline well before I came along up until I’m the age of twenty, kneaded into tales from complicated and often messy lives. It’s a story that transformed the holes created by chaos and heartache into a wholeness, and out of that wholeness, a holiness emerged.
The experiences from my childhood shaped me; they gave me the work I needed to do to wake up, took me to the places where I had to stumble to find my gold. I’ve spent most of my adulthood overcompensating for my young wounds, which I is my way of healing them. My ego makes sure I get seen and heard, I know I matter, and I do make a difference. If I hadn’t been so tweaked in feeling invisible and unloved by my mother, I imagine I wouldn’t be so driven.
It’s been nearly 50 years since she’s been gone, yet she continues to show up in my life like a bad Hallmark card, the gift that keeps on giving, popping up whenever I’m sideways about something. My original title was, “If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother.” I was disappointed when another writer published using that title just as I was ready to go live.
A combination of choices and chance delivered me to my doorstep today. I don’t have to know how I got here—though a lot of that got sorted out in the process of writing “Through Any Given Door” — I simply know this is where I am now. When I pay attention and stay on the path on which I’m pulled (a complete act of trust on my part as I have no sense of direction), I end up where I’m meant to be. Generally it takes me a while to get there, and I often don’t like what it looks like; life can be hilarious, and then at times, well, not so much. So that’s how my life shakes out—and really, isn’t that what it’s all about? That… and maybe the “Hokey Pokey.”