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Fear/lessness

1. Once upon a time there was a girl who was growing into a woman, but she wasn’t growing into the right kind of woman. Instead of dressing in loose robes that dusted the ground, she dressed like her brothers, in tunic and trousers. She pulled her hair back away from her face and never wound it in cloth. When possible, she bared her feet and hands and face and smiled in her joy because she was comfortable. This girl, instead of praying as her father prayed, turned her face

I was in a conversation the other day in which a friend was mentioned. She is in poor general health, struggling with chronic fatigue and a host of other pain issues. I was speaking with her mother, asking after her and expressing a wish for ease in her life. Her mother said, “I don’t know why she has these problems. Her father and I don’t have any of them.” Okay. I can roll with that. But I know this person fairly well. Enough to love her. And I know she

Before I ever dreamed of not pleasing my father (and this was before his hair turned gray, although he tells it otherwise) I filled hours imagining the ways I was better, superior to my sisters, mother, all others who could not dream the way I dreamed of being Daddy’s favorite –the golden child The Unmarred, The Worthy. I am none of those kinds of child I am no longer child, golden, unmarred or otherwise. I have, with great reluctance, accepted my position of adult, mother, Woman. My dreams now revolve

It took me ten years to work up the courage to write about my childhood. In that time, I explored every field except nonfiction, earning an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) with a thesis my husband describes as “stories in which girls don’t act quite the way they should”. Fiction was a safety net-a space where I could address my sexual, physical and emotional fears without honestly admitting to them. During workshops of my short stories, I often felt personally attacked as my writing was critiqued. While my peers were

The Letter No One Wrote My Mother was well shared. It had and continues to have international readership. Several of the people it has reached (with your help, thank you!) have contacted me to say that Fact Seven resonates with them. Fact Seven: I am an almost-abuser. I choose every day not to abuse my child. Becoming a parent is terrifying for any number of reasons. For many of us, those fears center around 1) losing ourselves or 2) our child getting hurt. Fact Seven is a combination of those fears.

It’s a shame that writing about past abuse has the power to hurt people in the present. I did not tell anyone in my family my plans to write about my home experience. The Spire is open to the public, my family reads it, some of their friends, colleagues, etc. Two days after posting The Letter No One Wrote My Mother, I have been told that feelings are hurt, and that relations are now strained. Out of courtesy to others, I shouldn’t write these things. I was also told that

Dear Mother, There is so much I need to say to you, because you are a sister to me. In a new way, now. We share a fear of seeing anger in a man’s eyes. We share a fear of those we love being hurt, and hurting those we love. We share a fear of hurting. This love is beyond friendship. We are betrayed. I want to hold you. I want to make myself safe for you. Always, you can cling to me. For hours, I have walked my floors

As a teen, I once was grounded when my mother found a story I had written about sexual exploration. That incident catalyzed a series of events that resulted in me living a double life for years: I kept fake diaries; I lied to my friend; I shamed myself daily because I had desires that I couldn’t seem to control. My body was developing. I had been open to the rawness of being. But I closed myself down piece by piece in an effort to stay safe in an emotionally hostile

I had reason to search for paper. I went looking for clean, lined sheets. In my room, there stands a bookcase filled from the top down with materials related to my life as a writer. The top shelf holds my collection of self-help books, words of wisdom for growing my creative mind and maturing my writerly process. The middle holds the journals I filled with poetry beginning at age six. Then there are foreign language books–German, Arabic and Spanish, because they stimulate my desire to learn more. To continue growing

If you are a reader of Sheila’s Writes a Memoir, I apologize. I’ve taken her memoir down so that I can begin writing the pieces of my own life. Sheila was a great help to me when I first considered writing about my own abuse. She was a separate person with a parallel experience of abuse and sexualization. I could write her story much more safely than my own. Fiction is a wonderful buffer for the exquisitely painful reality of one’s own truth. I am grateful to those of you

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