I’ve said more than once that I don’t believe that writing is license to kill or even hurt others.
It is, however, an effective way for many of us to work through difficult situations, and yes, pain. Especially family wounds.
Like Annie Lamott once wrote, “you own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
There’s a difference, though, between writing to wound and writing to make sense of our own wounds.
The elephant in the room
About a year ago, I decided to stop avoiding the elephant in the room, which was the deep fracture and dysfunction in my family of origin.
Because I am a writer and because I am aware of the power of words, I have been careful to write only of my own pain and disappointment and my own view of a completely dysfunctional dynamic.
Everyone has a story. I am a story teller. Telling mine is natural.
Reality is stark in black & white
So, it’s natural. But not pretty. Reality bites and it bites harder on the page in black and white.
As I’ve worked through the family dysfunction’s impact on me over the decades I saw how much I’d bought into the unrealistic media stereotype of what a family is “supposed” to be. In fact, very few real families live up to that image. Mine certainly didn’t.
I also remember back in the day when therapists advised me to sit down with my father and talk about the family dynamic, to work it out. It always made me laugh: I couldn’t imagine anything less effective.
But that’s part of our conceit: the idea that we can fix things, make it better, that people can find common ground, meet and reach equilibrium. I’m sure many of you know what I mean and have tried this yourself.
Not everything can be healed
Sometimes, though, you just can’t heal family dysfunction. Sometimes, you just have to leave it alone and move on.
I’ve never been that good at moving on. I built my entire life on making things happen and I didn’t want to believe that I couldn’t make some rapprochement. I am, after all, a healer by nature. As my spirit guides have told me, “you’re built for reconciliation.”
Finally, though, I’ve learned to move on. Armed with forgiveness and compassion, I wish my family well and focus on enjoying my own happiness.
There’s incredible freedom in letting go –of the fantasy, of the pain and of the time spent trying to figure it out.
So when I’m asked, “how can I heal family wounds?” I’ve learned to respond that sometimes you can’t. Sometimes, we have to accept what is and move on. No harm, no foul.
May all beings be at peace.