Core Beliefs and a Lack of Clarity for Reflective Writing

black sand photo by Photo by Adrien Olichon:

My writing mentor asked me two questions during out last session together:

  • What is something you’re very knowledgable about?
  • What is your core belief?

I know a lot about metaphysics because I’m a tarot reader. I began researching different religions and cultural practices when I was fourteen, and I never really stopped. I’ve been practicing tarot for more than twenty years now. The cards are a great ice-breaker, a good way to get to know people, and a wonderful tool to help with journalling, focus, and writing.

There’s something my grandma Agatha told me when I was very young and I’ve always remembered. I don’t recall the exact wording, but the gist is “anything worth knowing can be read in a book.” I think that has stuck with me because much of my life necessitated independence. I constantly found that the authority figures in my life were not around to provide answers, or were not able to, so I took it upon myself to read and learn what I could on my own.

The answers to these two questions prompted a third inquiry: What story could I tell incorporating those two things?

I could tell the story of my life.

The conversation was meant to spark inspiration / interest in writing short stories, and while I would like to write about my life, I have no desire to write short stories. And unfortunately, I don’t think I’m ready to write about my personal history yet.

I’ve touched on some things here; testing the waters with the less painful memories. Some books and articles I’ve read about writing memoirs suggest not doing so if the pain is still prevalent, to write objectively (without blaming or vilifying), and to be able to provide a type of “resolution” so the narrative includes an element of closure.

The story I want to tell isn’t purely my own. My life includes my family, whether or not we’re on speaking terms, and I don’t want to hurt them with my shared perspective. Friends, teachers, and past relationships have also contributed to my development in various stages of my journey, and there are things that I’ve kept to myself that I should discuss with some of those people before putting them on paper. There’s a lot to consider about my past, and there’s no obvious answer about how to proceed.

Then she asked another question… “What would you write if you weren’t afraid to do so?” And I was surprised how simple the answer was to produce:

I would write about the seven year period of my life when I lost touch with reality.

So why don’t I?

Because it isn’t that simple.

I want to talk about ages 14-21 because they were horrific for me, and I’ve never really talked about it to anyone. I think the most I’ve said was that I hallucinated regularly – seeing people decaying around me, thinking I’d hurt myself when I hadn’t, vividly recalling conversations that never happened – and that it made me want to kill myself because I couldn’t make it stop.

This wasn’t something that happened all of a sudden like a car accident, or a house fire, or the death of a loved one. Years of incidents led up to that, and years of self-harm, self-medication, self-isolation, and a lack of support and stability caused it to continue.

Over the years, many people have suggested that I write about my life because I’ve been through so much and they think it will be cathartic and freeing. And I agree. But I don’t know how to do it.

How do I tell a story that no one wants to hear? Who will believe me when I finally tell my truth? What is the best way to say that despite how those seven years terrified me, I miss it? How do I explain to friends and loved ones that the deepest connection I’ve ever had in my life was with someone who wasn’t real?

What kind of resolution could I give that?

Even though I’m reluctant to write about that part of my history, I do refer to it when asked about my creative writing. I write horror, fantasy, and occult stories in large part because of the experiences I had during that time period.

In literature, monsters are misunderstood creatures seeking solidarity. In my real life, I used to be able to see the monsters that stared back at me through my own eyes when I looked in the mirror. At the time I was more afraid of being alone than being overrun by their shadows. Now, I fear that they’re still there, and they’re waiting for me to call out to them, only I can’t see or hear them anymore. I’m afraid that they’re gone. I’m afraid that I might need them again.

I believe in unicorns because, once upon a time, darkness believed in me.

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