Not My Story

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I have so much I could be writing about lately, but I haven’t been writing about any of it. I haven’t been writing about any of it because it feels as if it’s not my story to tell. It feels disrespectful to be making personal essays out of events that, while they affected me, affect others so much more.

The last two weeks have seen the end of my relative’s journey on this plane; he died the morning of June 14. I was there during his last hours, and saw him only minutes after he died. Other family members and I sat with his body until the funeral home workers came to transport him, and we watched him be wrapped up and taken away.

I was there, and I had thoughts, and I had feelings…but it’s not really my story. It’s his story, and his wife’s, and his children’s. I know that the feelings I have are nothing compared with how they feel.

It’s not my story…yet, inevitably, it is. It may be the ultimate self-absorption, but my lens is the only one I have. I’m incapable of an omniscient perspective; anything I write about is really about my experience of the thing. Even if I write from the perspective of another character, it’s still my projection being fueled by my attitudes.

So I’m aware of my own self-absorption right now. I’m aware of the part of my brain responsible for interpreting everything happening in terms of “What does this mean to me? How does this change the structure of my inner world? How do these truths apply to my journey?”

I’m judging myself for this. I feel ashamed of spending any mental energy on philosophizing while people I love are in need of comfort. I’m ashamed of the fact that, even while I carry out actions that reflect my desire to comfort them, a part of my mind is off crafting metaphors.

This judgment, however justified it might be, is dangerous. Blocking my personal writing is dangerous. Turning my metaphor factory into a moral issue is dangerous. Yesterday, I found myself tearing pictures out of magazines with a very diagnostic type of focus…my symptoms are rising, and I cannot afford to reject the best and least harmful coping mechanisms I have.

I need to allow myself to feel, and write, and make existential gold out of straw. I need to let myself think about what witnessing a death has made me feel about life, and recovery, and meaning.

3 responses to “Not My Story

  1. Your a great writer. It may not be you story as you say, but it’s a story worth telling. Best to be told by someone who knows it such as yourself.

  2. Since when are you not allowed to express your feelings surrounding something you are affected by? If you’re hurting, dont stifle the feelings because it wasnt your immediate family. Your feelings and thoughts are very valid even if they are about strangers a half a world away. Please be well.

  3. I’m sorry for your loss. Yes, your loss. I read another post today and this is what she said: “i would remain there, stuck in my problems and using everyone else’s misery as a reason to ignore my own.” It was a 1000 word post and this is what I chose to copy and paste into the comment section when I commented on her post. And look here, it’s still on my clipboard and somehow seems applicable to you. I think this is how things work sometimes. If this is one of those times, I am blessed to be a part of it. If not then at least let me say, Hi. And I hope to see you write again soon.

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