Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some People Would Be More Comfortable If I Were A Victim

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. --Audre Lorde

I thought I'd share this quote as it pertains to my current dilemma: misunderstanding. You see, I worked diligently to write, to express a tough story without whining, crying or playing the victim. And yet there are some people who think I am holding back, that there was some sort of sexual abuse in my past that led to the stories that make up my memoir. The fact is, there wasn't. Women are capable of making bad decisions all on our own, without first being victimized. I am the poster child of this fact.

For some, it's far easier to claim we are easy targets, victims, incapable of making our own bad decisions. Many readers have recognized and acknowledged my attempt to own up, to examine my personal quest, but there are a few who think they can read deeper into the meaning of my words, that I'm secretly calling out for help. I have to be honest, this worries me. And, it offends me.

I'm here to say, I do not regret writing my memoir, nor do I regret publishing it. I am somewhat bruised by those who assume I was a victim of this or that, but it won't shut me up. In fact, it gives me fuel to keep writing, to explore more fully the human condition in all it's shaded, difficult to draw contours. Not everything is black and white, clean lines. This makes life both beautiful and difficult, and I will continue to exercise my ability to capture this shading, to try to communicate my personal experience of the world without being so easily pigeonholed.

For those who misunderstand, you keep me going. My goal is to capture that gray shading and communicate it to those who are convinced everything is black. Or white. Good or bad. Predator or prey. Hardly.

This is why I write. It is also why I read. I want to better relate to what I do not yet know, what I have not experienced first-hand or that which I have and do not yet fully understand. So, I'll continue to write, to practice my craft and hope that I can better communicate what it is like to live and watch and empathize as the individual woman I am, without being filtered into a neat, comfy category that says I am X, the direct result of Y. Things aren't always that simple.

***Since posting this, I spoke with the reviewer who theorized about my being molested as a young child. He admitted that he was rash to speculate, and he has since retracted that sentence. He was incredibly professional about it. This illustrates some of the perils of memoir, I'd say... the writer invites assumption and speculation.
Also notable is the fact that my father read the original post, which he was hurt by but also less reactive to than I would have imagined. He was rather stoic, actually, when he told me that this happens when you put yourself out there. And he's right. A memoirist might appeal to some sense of humanity in those who can relate, but to others she can be just another story... The End.

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