I’ve almost died … twice
Both times, I was under the knife for what should have been straightforward surgical procedures: a tonsillectomy and an appendectomy. Both experiences changed me profoundly. How? I’ll share that with you in future posts.
I’m reopening the confessional category of my site, My history as a so-called writer, with a series that might strike you as a little morbid. It’s about death and how it’s shaped my life. Originally, this was to be a two-part guest post on Monique Liddle’s Bends in the Road, but since them it’s metamorphosed into something a little bigger, and I hope, better.
Yes, I’ve had a couple of near-death experiences, and my father and grandparents have all passed, leaving their marks on my heart and soul, but I’m not just talking about actual death here. Mental illness and addiction, which I think of as two kinds of personality assassination, have also had their affects on me and my family.
If the ‘you-who-wants-to-live-in-this-world’ dies, even metaphorically, how can that be any better than actually dying? It’s a question, I believe, that leads many to the depths of depression and suicide, which may seem like the logical conclusion of such ruminations.
I’m starting this series with Bell’s Let’s Talk initiative in mind as well as my impending personal season of sorrow: my father’s birthday, the anniversary of his admission into the hospital for what proved to be his ultimate decline, the anniversary of his death and funeral, followed by Father’s Day.
I also thought this was a timely topic after listening to Michael Enright’s interview with Bob Ramsay last Sunday on CBC’s The Sunday Edition. Bob died on the operating table, but didn’t have the typical near-death experience that most people report. In fact he didn’t remember much of anything at all. You can visit the link above, see some listener response, and listen to the podcast yourself.
Finally, I’m reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. I picked it up on the recommendation of a friend and have been reading through it. It’s a little slow going for me, since I’ve gone through some of what she writes about in my own way previously, and because I just can’t relate to some of the other experiences that she writes about. I hope to share some of my insights on happiness throughout this series as well.
On that note, this past week, I read Justine Musk’s blog post on the pursuit of happiness. I think she has some valid points.
My encounters with death (physical and spiritual) have informed my development as a creative person and shaped the way that I respond to various negative events in my life.
What I’m hoping to accomplish
This isn’t supposed to be purely confessional or self-serving in any way. I am a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) kind of gal, but to be honest, I expose myself as a means of defence. If I share too much information (TMI), people tend to react in one of two ways:
- They never ask me a personal question again and generally leave me alone, or
- They understand I choose to share the deeply personal or embarrassing details of my life in an attempt to deepen my connection with the people who are important to me.
It’s a way of knowing who your friends are and of deepening your relationships with the people who mean most to you.
Doing this on my blog has been a bit of a mixed blessing. I blogged most of my embarrassing, personal stuff early on in Writerly Goodness’s existence, thus ensuring that few people would actually look at it. I wasn’t really risking much, but I also had no idea if this was the kind of subject material that would resonate with my readership.
I’ve mentioned a few times in various posts about how shy I am. It would be very difficult for me to speak about these issues in a face-to-face kind of way without getting freaky and spastic. This has happened, though. It wasn’t pretty.
So now I’m pulling out the big guns again in an attempt to connect more with my friends on the interwebz and in the hope of sharing something of the themes and interests that inform my writing. I’d like to start a conversation about these issues without getting self-indulgent because I think they are important to many creative people out there.
It’s an experiment of sorts and I’d love to hear from you. What do you think about it? Would it be of value to you? Would you be willing to put yourself out there, along with me, on this crazy journey?
Let me know. Please keep in mind that I moderate all comments and I have the dreaded day job. If your comment doesn’t show up right away, it’s because I haven’t had a chance to review and respond yet. Rest assured, I make every attempt to respond in a timely manner. Your comments are important to me 🙂
Writerly Goodness, signing off.
- Sylvia Plath: reflections on her legacy (guardian.co.uk)
- On February 12, Let’s Talk… (onfreedomroad.com)
- BBC TV: The Art of Looking Death in the Face (thefamilyplot.wordpress.com)
22 thoughts on “There’s something you should know about me”
Ah, I’m in that club too. This past year has been nothing but experimentation on Writing Space. Lots of misses and some sweet-spot hits…and LOTS of personal growth as a person, social being, and a writer. I look forward to reading more of your insights, personal and otherwise.
Thanks for the vote of confidence, Lori 🙂 I was a little inspired by some of Kristen Lamb’s posts of late as well. They seemed very confessional, but tied into a larger theme. I’m going to see if I can implement Khara’s suggestion from the I ❤ my blog challenge, to connect on a larger issue without it being completely about me (Me, ME!).
I was really inspired when I read The Memoir Project. http://marionroach.com/memoir-blog/ I think it sings the same tune. Also read a great old book from the 70s that had the same message but was based on WSJ’s feature policy. In other words, I’m heading the same direction.
Looking forward to seeing what’s coming up for you. Writers in solidarity, sista 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Lori.
I think it’s amazing that you would be so open and willing to share your experiences. I think you’ll have a lot of insight to share!
Thank you, Jennifer. It’s also frightening, but I’m facing it head-on.
Blogs like yours that are real, raw and come from the heart connect with people who need it and can relate to it and I think it’s brave of you to put yourself out there. One of my closest friends recently committed suicide (he suffered from Bipolar) and – by some horrible fate of accident – I found out about it on Facebook. This had a huge effect on me as this was a friend from childhood and it was an incredible shock. I hope by reaching out you’re able to help those that need it before it’s too late.
Thanks for sharing your your experience and how it affected you, Gemma. I promise to respect the topic while being honest.
I think it’s a great idea. I’m reluctant to talk about personal things, so perhaps this will help me explore and open up.
It’s difficult to think about death and despair being inspirational, but if sharing will help anyone else in any way, I’m happy to do it. Thanks, Jennifer.
I look forward to this series with interest. Many have stories they do not tell for a variety of reasons, possibly you will open up others and they will speak of their experiences, just as you’ve been encouraged to write yours. 🙂
Thank you, Vera. Part of me is looking forward to this new series. It’s been boiling about in head and heart for a long time. Time for the hand to take a turn (clackety-clack) 🙂
Good for you; i relate to honesty and authenticity about life; have written books and revealed a lot; but i’m open to what you are doing; i don’t believe in confession but sharing stuff is good; i grew up with addiction in my family, and have conquered a lot of stuff; interesting; sensitivity is always there; sometimes good, sometimes not so good; much love, e
It’s an interesting balance to achieve, and I hope I can share without whinging. Ultimately, these experiences have made me the person I am today, so it’s more good than bad. Thanks for commenting 🙂
It’s so difficult to be personal in a blog. That’s why I found it so scary to merge mine.Even ggoing back to some of my really old posts makes me wonder why I shared so much. Kudos to you for being bold and yourself.
Thanks, Heather. I hope it will all pass muster 🙂 I think this is my most commented on post to date. That in itself makes me want to step back, but that’s the thing about putting your goals in writing. You kind of have to follow through!
I’ve been blogging since 2002, and have often shared personal stories and thoughts ( I’ve blogged my colonoscopy. among other things. Can’t get more personal than THAT! 😀 ). I’ve never known how many people have read the posts, only those few who left comments or sent e-mails. I’ve never doubted the righteness of this sharing. it’s all part of who I am as a writer.
Thank you, Kiril. I’ll try not to doubt. Thanks for the boost and your recent update on your health. Cuddle those kitties!
I’ve always considered myself to be an open book, and in the past I have blogged the full awful details of my life (when I was going through a bad patch) but that was on another blog and set as friends only. I worry about who will stumble across my personal stuff 😦
Good for you though honey. I admire ALL honesty 🙂
In all honesty, so do I 😀 Thanks, Vikki!
“If the ‘you-who-wants-to-live-in-this-world’ dies, even metaphorically, how can that be any better than actually dying? It’s a question, I believe, that leads many to the depths of depression and suicide, which may seem like the logical conclusion of such ruminations.”
Well, I think if the body is still breathing, there is always hope for the mind. I recently became aware of a man who was an alcoholic for about 60 years, who celebrated his first sober birthday. I’ve always gotta believe there’s hope.
Thank you for commenting, John, and I do agree. There is always hope. Otherwise, I don’t think I’d be here writing this. The series is serious 😛 but I don’t want to dwell overly on the maudlin. I want to try to pull out some of the hope that’s been my lifeline and see if that can help others who may not be so willing to ‘let it all hang out.’
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