For the last 17 years, I’ve been writing about painful topics like child abuse, PTSD, and the alienation that comes from growing up in the diaspora of military life— a serious memoir. Every word of that book felt like it was ripped out of me. For years now, I’ve been doubting I was a real writer. I wasn’t writing. So how could I have written this funny thing?
In-between the dark words.
One of the few blessings of PTSD is hyper-vigilance. I don’t miss much. When I couldn’t wrestle painful words into scenes from my past, I observed life as it occurred around me in my now, and wrote it. If I had an interesting thought, I’d post it to Facebook. A weird thought? Post it to Facebook. I followed that advice my teachers gave to jot down things as they came, but instead of a journal, I used Facebook. But how could all those dark words and this quirky book could come from the same person? Which writer am I? The answer is, I am both, and much more. Check back with me in ten minutes. I’ll be someone new. Whoever I am, I’m a work in progress.
Walt Whitman wrote, “Very well then I contradict myself (I am large. I contain multitudes).” Identity isn’t static. Over the course of a lifetime, one must reinvent oneself to grow. I’ve discovered is that my painful past isn’t my present reality. I’ve built something more joyful than what I was born into. I’m a real writer—I just didn’t realize it until I opened a book I’d already written and started reading.
Jan Becker on the Jitney