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  • Writer's pictureAnne Heffron

Writing Your Truth and Risking Rejection

Someone in class today asked about how to write their story when they fear possible rejection by friends and family if they tell the truth. The first thing that popped into my mind was Annie Lamott’s quote, You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.

But should haves don’t do much for addressing the fear of being alone in the ocean with your story after the people you wrote about kick you off the island of belonging.


The idea that you own everything that happens to you precludes the belief that you own both your stories and your life.


When I see little kids with parents who are texting or reading or talking on their phone, I wonder how much of their time together looks like this: distracted adult, unmirrored child. I wonder if the kid is dying of loneliness inside, thinking that this is what life is like, not being seen by the one you love the most. I wonder if the kid feels real. I wonder if the kid feels life has much meaning if a thing is more interesting than they are.


Years later, in a college writing class, is that kid going to feel free to write a story about how they used to look at their mom’s or dad’s face, wishing they, the kid, had been shaped more like an iPhone so they could have gotten (could still get) the same kind of deep attention the phone received (receives) for hours and hours every day?


If the parent is still wedded to the phone, I’m guessing the college student might hesitate to both show the vulnerability of having needed attention and not gotten it (What was wrong with me, anyway?) and to risk finding out the parent was never all that interested in them in the first place. The disinterest was real. The iPhone was the better kid.


The student might also hesitate to write about this painful situation in the fear that somehow their parent or parents would find out and be devastated, crushed, ashamed, broken by the information. What if this information wrecks their parent's life?


The Writing 101 assignment goes from an essay about a childhood memory to a lethal weapon.


Better to write about something less fraught, less important, less true.


Or, better to have parents who have therapists, wise friends, good counsel. Better to trust that your parents and friends are adults and can find these things if necessary. It is not your job to both live your truth and shelter others from the facts of your existance.


One way to stay completely safe is to write your story on a dry-erase board with a pen in one hand and an eraser in the other. You can write and wipe simultaneously. It will be like nothing ever happened.


It will be like you never were there.


I do believe if your friends and family abandon you because you tell your story as feels necessary to you, they were more than likely poisoning the well of your being all along. If someone doesn’t want you to speak freely, what is it they do want?


It hurts to lose people. It hurts.


But to die having never lived, I am guessing, hurts even more.


And the world is so large, populated with human beings aching to resonate with the truth of you. They just don’t know you yet because you were hiding behind the wall if I'm silent, will you stay?

To hide is no way to live.


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1 Comment

jyre Heffron
jyre Heffron
Apr 23

It's so important what you've written here....

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