Skeletons in your closet

There are so many reasons folks give for not wanting to start writing a memoir. Hopefully I’ve helped lay to rest the idea that your life is too mundane or you’re not significant! Your story is a good one. Another very valid reason is that you may have something in your past that if revealed would either hurt or anger family members. That is a real concern as you want to be sensitive to secrets or betrayals, and of course don’t want to libel or slander anyone. Write down what you need to get out and you can always choose to remove paragraphs that you don’t want anyone to see. Or you can share something in a creative way that would be recognized by those who know the situation and just be a puzzle to others. This example uses humor to acknowledge Great Uncle George, the black sheep of the family.

“The Smiths were proud of their family tradition. Their ancestors had come to America on the Mayflower. They had included Senators and Wall Street wizards.

They decided to compile a family history, a legacy for their children and
grandchildren. They hired a fine author. Only one problem arose – how to
handle that great-uncle George, who was executed in the electric chair.

Rattle the skeleton of Great Uncle George!

The author said he could handle the story tactfully. The book appeared. It said, “Great-uncle George occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution, was attached to his position by the strongest of ties, and his death came as a great shock.”

Hopefully you don’t have any skeletons in your closet who died in an electric chair, but you get the picture!

Maybe you are hesitant to share your inner world with other people. Writing often brings out details and insights that would be news to your family. Talk to family members who might be impacted, get their permission, or reassure them that your thoughts won’t go beyond your private pages. Most people write a family history book that is only read by family members. If stories don’t go public that is often enough to assuage the concerns of breach of privacy.

You may feel like you can’t write a memoir until key characters die first. Write it anyway, just don’t share it! Yet. Even later after they’re gone, be sensitive to how their children or grandchildren may feel about any revelations. Or go ahead and share your truth and brace yourself for the outcry! You have every right to share your story and can also choose to conceal details that are most inflammatory. Balance your desire to write your life stories with their need for privacy. What are your thoughts on writing and sharing sensitive personal stories?