Writing a memoir laced with the revealing motifs that contoured and filled my existence for two years was risky. Publishing it, I knew, could be perilous. Not only did I share intimate details about my emotional fragility, exposing vulnerabilities and shame…shamelessly…I also articulately couched the desires that shaped my thirst and my quest for sexual experiences. As a writer, I wanted to paint a very real portrait of an experience I knew couldn’t be held by the spoken word only, for the spoken word would not have been heard. Really heard. Truly understood. The spoken word, I noticed, can dilute the message, drain the very meaning of its essence, leaving filaments of fragile truths simultaneously exposed but ignored.
Inhaled, with its dive into darkness, was meant to shed an intense light into a space, an unsafe and very real space. Through it, I focused ardently on the subject of emotional abuse, describing its composition and mostly its subtle but devastating blows to an already disturbed and shaky existence. I intentionally overexposed myself, my life, my despair.
From these revelations, tightly knit by carefully chosen words, I expected a certain audience, made of friends, to be shaken…but not muted. Yes, their silence, the absence of pride in my “achievement”, their feigned indifference wounded deeply, at first. Dinners, get-togethers and general outings where Inhaled was treated as the proverbial white elephant in the room were hurtful…but not that revealing. Was I really surprised? During the writing process, I had felt their apprehensions but had still expected a level of understanding that could match their ability to detach and contextualize, to understand, empathize, and…alleviate. Nothing but loud silences, unease, and clumsy avoidance greeted me. Who and what did they fear for most at that point?
And then the book came out, wrought with its violent indulgences, uncovering my sadness, my void, my wants, most likely confirming their fears, whatever these were. It is true, I must admit, I didn’t hold back. I realize now that I never really did. No one had ever noticed. Until now.
So, another wound to make sense of, to transform into a truth I avoided facing, emerged; their limits, their boundaries, I do not share and never will. My own self-discovery lead me to discover theirs as well. Had I sought shelter and protection from individuals unable to give it to themselves? Had I mirrored to them parts of their own reality, fragments of unaddressed emotions, a lack of courage and honesty vis à vis their lives? Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing remains; a writer owes nothing to the world but the truth, her truth, whether in a work of fiction or nonfiction. That, if anything else, should always be recognized and applauded.