I am feeling vulnerable and with such a fullness at the same time. Tonight was the DV support group. Three new members, two gone, three others missing in action somewhere.
This is the group for which the shelter organization wanted me to start a book club. They were excited, I was excited, some of the women were excited, when we first began discussing it. None of the original women are still there, which makes sense because that was months ago. Women and their children are an ephemeral presence. It is wonderful when they move on, find housing, jobs and a way to live their new reality. Less wonderful is when they return to their abusers or their other addictions.
Tonight was dominated by the usual people and that is fine, as it allows the rest of us to enter the dialogue when inspired to do so, or just sit back, listen and think. I am thinking that if I qualify for the certification that can result from the training next month, this will be the end of sharing anything that happens in any group to which I belong.
I know what the requirements are for sharing what goes on in support groups, having been a member and then facilitator since the mid-80s. But, if I do this new work, I will not be able to share anything, not even if I develop cryptographic protocols.
There is not any way to build trust if the people with whom you are working know and understand that, for a writer, pretty much everything is grist for the mill. Think: Oliver Sacks. I am no Oliver Sacks. I am just a hack writer, have not been published for a dozen or so years and after all that time, no one even knows who I am anymore. Well, that is aside from the issue of trust and confidentiality.
I am writing all of this stuff, as well as other materials, as my own story. During the process of all of this writing, it is my intention to learn about myself, clearly address my shortcomings and failures. It is important to me to chronicle the process of learning, recovery and healing, all life-long pursuits. Truth is that even if we put down what and who we are, what happened to us, the consequences, and whether we write fiction or fact, we do it only for ourselves. An interesting aspect of how I will craft this is that fiction is often a more accurate representation of a personal truth than non-fiction might be. It is my sincere hope that I do not come to regret addressing that.
I have a friend who has a blog, and wants very much for it to be a source of income for her. She is an excellent writer, much better than I am, and she is sure to be successful at anything she does. I am good enough to be me, nothing more, but I write for myself. When it comes time to organize what I have been writing for the past several years, it is going to be a revealing experience because I do not go back to read what I have written, not before I post or put aside my journals, not later.
Last year I ritually burned all of my writing from the previous fifteen years. I resisted the urge to dip into any of the pages, lest I fall back into the emotions and struggles I remember from those times. My experience now is built on all of that, informed by it, but it is not what I felt then. That is why I had to let it all blaze and drift up into the air. It was very cleansing at a time when leaving nearly everything in my life behind was a daily struggle and agony for me. When L (my other cat) died in the midst of that time, I lost a part of myself, and as strange as it sounds, that sorrow helped me. Now I just miss her, but then, the loss was a blanket in which I wrapped myself, a kind of protection from the other losses.
I wonder what I will do when I no longer have all of the crap from my other life as a source of material. I wonder if no huge complaints means significantly less inspiration. Maybe not, being such a whiny person and all. Yeah, plenty of writing in my future. Like I could actually stop.
However, my work is now officially off-limits. The change in the professional and confidential nature of my work means that I will no longer be writing about any of my clients in any way. My personal notes remain private. I suppose that I could wait until they had all passed on to the great beyond, but I am significantly older than most of them, so that will not work.
My bottom line is that I write to heal myself, to recover. It is enough.