Today's guest blogger is Judy Stone-Goldman, PhD, whose blog, The Reflective Writer, I first wrote about last month during my participation in the 2011 Wordcount Blogathon. I immediately was drawn to Judy's insightful and engaging posts and her blog's focus on finding personal and professional balance through writing.
Here is her post -- enjoy!
I have been here before. It’s the weekend before a trip, and I am shopping, on deadline. Will I never learn? I purchased a dress for the main event weeks ago, and that left me languid with relief. Unfortunately, I felt so good I forgot about the secondary event. So here I am in the mall, trying on every last pair of light-colored pants that exists in this almost-too-late date of June.
I hate to mention my mother and be a cliché of childhood calamity, but she’s behind the scenes in all these memories. She was no more skilled than I in the fashion realm, and she treated my chubby frame caustically, leaving me ashamed as well as clueless. By the time she became more comfortable with style herself and perhaps inclined to act more kindly toward me, I was older and living the clothing stories of my past.
The clothing stories of my past—suddenly they are bombarding me: the date I went on wearing a house robe because I couldn’t figure out what to wear, the events I went to in drab work clothes because I couldn’t imagine myself in any other kind of outfit, the endless cycle of hesitant purchases followed by reluctant returns.
No wonder the shopping expedition is so fraught, so laden, with each small hope hounded by fear. I am never really shopping for my life today. I am shopping for the stories of the past, telling these stories in one version or another, deepening their mythology with each repetition.
I find myself thinking about this as I gallop around the mall, parallel threads competing: defeats of the past versus necessities of the present. Which will win? My memories have turned into a drama, and I have acted in this play before. I even wrote the script.
But if I wrote the script I can rewrite it, and that is what I must do with these stories. I must write them, retell them, give them life on the page instead of life in real life. Writing gives me a space after memory but before reenactment. Writing is my opportunity to rewrite a bit of history so that what was past becomes part of a new future.
Write, retell, reflect, revise, rewrite, recreate. What do I understand about this story? What is important to me to retain and what can I release? How am I different now and how will that affect the story? As I write my way into a new version of the story, I become a combination of the old and the new—I am still myself, still shopping last minute before a trip, but somehow, something is different.
I emerge from the mall triumphant, the white pants in hand. I am balanced, not frazzled; self-accepting, not critical. This is one story I don’t have to escape, and one pair of pants I don’t want to return. I even have time to pick up that bone clutch I forgot I needed.
Questions for Reflection: How does this blog take you back into memory? What stories do you find yourself retelling and reliving? What stories from your life would you like to rewrite?
Writing Prompts: “When I read this post, I began remembering ______” (then keep writing); “One story I relive often is ______” (then keep writing); “When I write about a recurring event, I find ______” (then keep writing); “I would like to rewrite my story of ______” (then keep writing).