“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about memories. During the holidays I was with my sister, who is several years older than me, and we were reminiscing about some things that happened when she was in high school and college.
“Remember how mom and dad wouldn’t buy you a car, so you used your Ice Cream Shoppe paycheck and went and bought a Camaro? A 16-year-old buying a Camaro! So crazy!”
She looked at me with her eyebrows raised. “Um, Christy, it did not at ALL happen like that. I didn’t get that car until I was in college and working almost full time. My first car was a $500 neon blue Pontiac Sunfire.”
This hit a nerve. How could I remember something so differently than what was true? Granted, there was nothing particularly special about my sister’s car, so it’s not something I would have necessarily filed in my brain.
There are stories running through my head 24 hours a day. I wake up in the middle of the night and write things down, but 99% of those ideas don’t turn into anything. My days are so full and there are 800 bajillion things I have to do, and so sometimes I look back at my notes and I have no idea what I meant. I found one the other day said, “Jockstrap/teenage acne”. Uh…I have literally NO recollection of writing that or what in the world I was thinking about.
I have all these memories from my childhood, ready to come out. I have come so far in pretty much just writing all my inner demons down that I feel like this would be the next step. I know there are people out there who think I am embarrassing myself and my family by being SO honest. I truly, truly don’t care, however, because I can see my reach and how much just talking about this has helped others.
The thing is, they are going to make some of my family members look bad. And so I hesitate. I’ve never, ever wanted to hurt anyone in my family. I swear, I only want to help people. My experiences as a child are SUCH a big part of who I am today that I want to share them. But what if it was just my perception as a child and I’m remembering it completely incorrectly (Camaro vs. Pontiac Sunfire)?
On the other hand, I want everyone to own their truth and this is MY truth. And, like Ann Lamott said, I guess if you didn’t want someone to write about it on the Internet someday, you should’ve acted better, yo.