Are We Haunted By Our Pasts?
Sometimes what we write comes from within. Something in our pasts, a memory trying to break free. When we stare at the words, we’ve written we realize there’s a familiarity there. Considering what it might be, we wonder: where did that come from? Did it touch upon the time we fell from a bike on the gravel and skinned our knees, too eager to get home to Mom’s apple pie. Or was it even deeper? The unpleasant memory of a relative who assaulted us? My whole life, I’ve learned about forgiveness. Sometimes, that’s hard.
There were those in my family who couldn’t understand why I could “let” my ex get away with what he did. Simply, it was because I prayed and gave it to God. Not that I didn’t get angry about the events of my marriage and the days following after the end. The hurt. The realization. Tears. How could I not have realized what or who I’d married? The remembrance of his words telling me to slit my wrists like his girlfriend’s husband did, to prove my love to him. That was the last straw for me.
When we’re writing a character or a scene, we often don’t realize where or when we’re going to take them to a place where we ourselves have been. Things happen unconsciously. The good thing is because we’ve been there, we can identify. We can add the details that are true to the scene. How far we push the memory depends. We can go deep. Or we can just outline the events. Sometimes that’s easier for us to handle. The pushing helps us to relive what we went through and perhaps to release the pain. However, it can also trigger memories. We have to decide how far things go for our own comfort.
Sadness sometimes evades my writing where needed even without me realizing I’m going there at times. I want to turn away. To put those memories to rest. But I realize, by telling my story, by relating through the character’s perspective, I can help others who’ve been through the experiences. That’s the thing about books. People think we pick them up and their words go away when we’re done. And granted, that happens with some books. Others pull us in, they get inside our skin. They transform us and our circumstances. They help us. We see others familiar with our pasts and relating to what they’ve been through. Books hit us in our guts and help to root us in healing and going forward.
We may think we’re nothing like some characters. That we couldn’t do or say what they have. After the book is finished and out there, we stumble when we realize we may indeed have a streak or a pinch of them inside us. We wish we were as brave or adventurous as them. That we could have life turn out differently for us, if only. Sometimes, that’s crippling. Others, we realize that even if we knew, even if we could change things, the biggest turnover would be in our character. I wouldn’t change who I am now for anything. Not that I’m perfect. I’ve done and said things, horrible things, but I’ve also been at the pit of violence and made it out along with my children.
They know me. They accept me for who I am. Flaws like everyone caused me to change, to grow, to learn better. I’m still striving to get better. To be a kinder, gentler person. Sometimes, my mouth betrays me. I swear way too much at times. I wish I didn’t. I pray that God would help me to tame my tongue. But as I age and settle into who I’ve become, I give myself a break. An allowance. Forgiving others is hard. Forgiving ourselves is even worse. We think we should’ve seen things. And we did. We just didn’t know to pay attention. If only can cripple a soul if you let it.
Our pasts judge us. They weigh us down. Nothing quite condemns our actions as we ourselves do. Moving beyond that takes mercy. For ourselves, for others. We don’t necessarily have to let that person back into our lives but holding on to that cliff of unforgiveness can ghost us. Moving on may be difficult. At the pinnacle of despair, I didn’t know how or what to do. For myself, for others. My illness forced me into a darkness I didn’t understand or know how to battle. I gave up. Only to find a peek of myself again.
Guiding myself back to health and life beyond has been one of the hardest challenges I had to face. When you hate others, you can bottle that up and beg God to take it from you. When you hate yourself, sometimes it feels like there’s no end. I couldn’t understand how a miserable wretch such as myself deserved to live. A conditioning I’d learned over years of abuse. I had been weak. I’d let myself be fooled and disgusted with myself, felt drained. Near death. It was my children who pulled me out at that point. Just remembering them. Journaling about them while in therapy. Their smiles, their hugs. They were my world.
They’re still my world. Are we haunted by our pasts? Heck, yeah. There’s not a single person I’ve met over the years that hasn’t done something they regret. Whether it was getting involved with an individual they shouldn’t have to abandoning their families. We may look down on others for what they’re going through but that’s just it. You DON’T know what someone’s going through. Health-wise. Relationship-wise. Morality-wise. Judging someone for their perceived failings is forgetting to look at ourselves in the mirror.
We’ve all been on a journey we wished we hadn’t taken. Now I’m not talking about someone who has obviously done something like murder or rape. All acts are not the same. I’m suggesting that you give your neighbor or your coworker or that person in the seat across from you on the subway some compassion. We all make mistakes. We all deserve to come back from them. Provided we’re sincere. With God’s forgiveness as well as our own. We often haunt our own lives with condemnations more than anything others could throw at us. Maybe that’s how God brings us to our knees. To accept redemption.
Below are some products you may like, I may receive a small compensation from the sellers:
- The Batman: https://amzn.to/3LAkpGO Because, who has a more haunted past?
- The Unwilling: https://amzn.to/3PwIMrX Who doesn’t love a good book?
- Cloud vs. Sepiroth: https://amzn.to/39LHJEo Two of the most legendary characters of the Final Fantasy 7 series in a two-player battle between them.
Here are some blog links you may enjoy.
- Kill Zone https://killzoneblog.com/2022/05/tkzs-words-of-wisdom.html This site has all kinds of advice for writers and not just the mystery/suspense writers. Come explore.
- Writers Helping Writers https://writershelpingwriters.net/2022/05/fear-thesaurus-entry-a-secret-being-revealed/
Debilitating fears are a problem for everyone, an unfortunate part of the human experience. Whether they’re a result of learned behavior as a child, are related to a mental health condition, or stem from a past wounding event, these fears influence a character’s behaviors, habits, beliefs, and personality traits. The compulsion to avoid what they fear will drive characters away from certain people, events, and situations and hold them back in life.
In your story, this primary fear (or group of fears) will constantly challenge the goal the character is pursuing, tempting them to retreat, settle, and give up on what they want most. Because this fear must be addressed for them to achieve success, balance, and fulfillment, it plays a pivotal part in both character arc and the overall story.
This thesaurus explores the various fears that might be plaguing your character. Use it to understand and utilize fears to fully develop your characters and steer them through their story arc. Please note that this isn’t a self-diagnosis tool. Fears are common in the real world, and while we may at times share similar tendencies as characters, the entry below is for fiction writing purposes only.
3. Angel Messages https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/2022/05/21/angel-messages-may-21-2022/ An inspirational site!
4. Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog https://twodropsofink.com/2022/05/20/writers-are-you-trying-too-hard/
Especially after a success or two, I become elated and, believing (finally) I really am a writer, attempt to duplicate that last glory.
I giggle to myself at the puns, murmur self-approval at the turns of phrases, and hear imagined readers’ gasps of delight at my ingenuity.
Then, a red-yellow warning flare shoots through my brain before I can heap more accolades on myself—Uh-oh, ego ascendant.
The signs are unmistakable. If I ignore that flare, I know it heralds disaster: I’m trying too hard to write.
5. This is Horror https://www.thisishorror.co.uk/news-round-up-week-ending-20-may-2022/
Out today from author Holly Rae Garcia and Easton Falls Publishing, Parachute, a horror novella
Angela Rodriguez and her friends aren’t sure what they want out of life now that they’ve graduated high school, but they think there is plenty of time to figure it all out. When a trip to an abandoned elementary school leads to a break-in, they discover an old gym parachute. Raising the fabric above their heads, the group expects it to balloon out around them like it did when they were younger. But instead, the parachute reveals alternate universes and terrifying worlds. There’s only one rule… DON’T LET GO. Available in paperback and eBook formats, you can pick up your copy here.