The Haunting Past

I’ve noticed a trend in the books/stories I write.

More often than not, my leading characters have some sort of sordid past that they are trying to escape from. A past that they are trying to claw out of in order to define themselves. More often my leading, and some supporting, characters have issues they have been working on since childhood and most of them are the cause of adults treating them unfairly in some way. Their pasts are mostly brutal and make other uncomfortable knowing about them, but I have a hard time shying away from that.

I watched a TED talk by Nadine Burke Harris about how childhood trauma can affect people even when they are adults.

You can watch the talk here: Nadine Burke Harris TED Talk

I had a pretty rough childhood. Was it as bad as many people out there? Probably not. I saw my share of family violence and withstood my share of abuse growing up. I realize a lot of the decisions I made when I was younger are shaped by the environment I grew up in. I am working on not transmitting that environment to my children and so far it is going good.

But as a writer, and I’m sure many can attest to this, I cling to those emotions. When I write and my characters go through something similar to what I went through I think I do it as some form of self-therapy. But even so remembering those emotions and those situations is hard and it’s easy to get depressed.

Our past will haunt us and while it may seem like it’s difficult to overcome them it’s important to understand that you don’t need to deny that these things happened. You don’t need to walk around pretending that you’re perfect and that your life has and always will be perfect. We are people, and we need to remember that that’s okay. It’s okay to be human.

Here's a cute frog to help you along.

Here’s a cute frog to help you along.

Posted by Sarah Jayne in Rantings, 0 comments

My Island

Welcome to my island. It’s nice and small, it’s accessible by a temperamental draw-bridge that connects it to the mainland. Sometimes the bridge just doesn’t want to come down, you know? Sometimes the island likes to be cut off from others in order to relax, reflect and rejuvenate.

The issue with this island is that it can be described as self-made. Once, long ago, this island was connected to others through a series of bridges built from family. One after one, the other islands took up their bridges or my island destroyed the access.

It’s very difficult explaining the choice to distance or disown yourself from your biological family. Not every one gets the fact that not all parents love their children. That not all families are happy. That sometimes, it’s okay to be selfish and only surround yourself with those who actually care about you and contribute to your mental health instead of taking from it.

I constantly get asked questions, especially around holiday seasons, about my family. I talk about my husband and children or my in-laws as we all get along famously. But the questions generally drift back to “No, no. I mean your family“. That is by far the most insensitive and irritating question you can ask someone who has an island. I fumble for words because I have this bad habit of opening my mouth too much and saying more than what needs to be said. As my children grow older I worry about what I will tell them if/when they ask about that phantom set of second grandparents. How do you approach that kind of topic? Oh I’m sorry, you don’t have another grandma and grandpa. Why? Um….well…..because…..reasons.

My kids are smart. My eldest always wants to know why. No matter what you tell him he follows with a why. Maybe it’s his age but maybe it’s just general curiosity. Either way, I dread that why when it comes to this topic.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of emotions lately and a lot of stress. I’m trying to handle it all well but sometimes, it just sucks. You know that feeling, right? When it just sucks and you want to be happy and really, there’s no reason for you not to be, but you want to scream to the world to just bugger off and leave you be. Maybe you want to go in a corner and cry. Maybe you are just mad about nothing. Maybe you just want peace and quiet.

Since leaving Alberta there is one thing I miss extremely. I miss the cabin in Jasper my husband and I would rent, even if it was only twice, where we would go in the fall for my birthday when the tourist season was over and the leaves were starting to turn. That solitude without being alone was just so rejuvenating.

In August my best friend is coming into the close big city for the weekend. I will happily go, without children or spouse, and spend 72 hours with her and do whatever the hell we want. Where no one will ask me about my family, where no one will demand my attention every second and where I can just forget that I have responsibilities and let my batteries recharge. I never thought or realized how much I enjoy that until I don’t have access to it any more.

In two years my husband will be finished his college course. I want to go camping with the kids and drive out to Alberta and visit Drumheller and see the dinosaurs. There’s talk about going to B.C. in a few years with my in-laws to see an airshow. Just that time to get some distance and refocus on the questions and things in life that are important.

My island appreciates the times when the bridge is up and it can recuperate. Does yours?

Posted by Sarah Jayne in Rantings, 0 comments