It seems that Alzheimer’s and Senile Dementia are more prevalent than ever, as I scan the daily news.
Perhaps it is just because we are all living longer and so eventually, those with the potential to develop these things, live long enough to do so. Perhaps it is a byproduct of additives, pesticides or background radiation…Who knows?
What I do know is that memory is a vital force, a fragile thing, and something that we often undervalue.
Your memory is your story and your story is your life. Are you telling your story?
I joined an Internet-based writing circle at Story Circle Network a year or so ago, and it has been such a gift. Imagine the best book club you ever joined, or that group of people at school who read all of the same books and talked about them, or that favorite teacher who praised your writing at some point and made you feel so treasured. That, my friends, is what a good writing circle does, and SCN has many of them.
SCN encourages “women with stories to tell,” to tell them!
There are multiple outlets in the group to submit your short life stories, poetry, and longer pieces and in your individual story circle, you can write anything. If you want it, the group will constructively critique your work so that you can publish it elsewhere with confidence, but that is optional. What the group really does is to appreciate and support you in your life-writing journey.
My Internet Circle has women from all over the country and is moderated by a woman who lived in Yemen when she started with the circle. They are different ages, races, religions and levels of skill and experience, but they all have one thing in common.
They realize that they have a story to tell.
Dr. James Pennebaker, Chair of the Psychology Department at University of Texas at Austin, says this in a Harvard Health Newsletter, “Expressive writing — a technique that involves writing about thoughts and feelings that arise from a traumatic or stressful life experience — may help some people cope with the emotional fallout of such events. But it’s not a cure-all, and it won’t work for everyone. Expressive writing appears to be more effective for healthy people who have sustained an emotional blow than it is for people struggling with ongoing or severe mental health challenges, such as major depression or PTSD.”
So, caveats for severe mental health challenges aside, how can life writing help you or me?
Telling your story is cathartic. It helps you to work through complicated feelings as you recount your experiences and how you felt about them. It can be public or private…You choose. Life writing is all about choices; the choices you made and the ones you are making right now. It is your own personal version of “The Notebook,” and who knows, some day it may serve to share your life with your family in a way you no longer can.
Choose to write, and there is a community of women out there who will treasure your offerings.
Welcome to the circle.