D.G. Kaye on the Power of Memoir Writing

Today I am proud to showcase memoir writer D.G. Kaye, who discusses the use of memoir writing as a vehicle for healing the self. I will give her the floor here as her guest post below such a high-quality one! Take it away, D.G.


Photo of Author D.G. Kaye

D.G. Kaye, Memoir Writer. Photo: Courtesy of D.G. Kaye

I was delighted when you opened up this blog because the issues you present here are all so relatable to other women; a place where we can come and read inspiring stories about women who have accomplished so much in various aspects of life.

I personally enjoy reading stories of people’s personal victories, of overcoming adversity, and growing from unhealthy situations. I am happy to see that in this time of the world, more and more women are recognizing, confronting and speaking out about injustices they have endured.

I’m a memoir writer. My first book Conflicted Hearts is a collaboration of years of journaling memories. My struggles stemmed from growing up as an emotionally neglected child with a narcissistic mother, learning to find my place in the world, while striving to deal with the emotional baggage that followed me.

Unfortunately, abuse is a common issue that too many women endure. We don’t have to have been raped or beaten to have suffered abuse. Abuse lives under the guise of many forms. Emotional neglect is a common form of abuse. Sadly, many women have lived with abuse for so long that they may not be able to recognize that they are being abused because it becomes so familiar. Others may recognize it and fear running away from it because of a myriad of reasons such as being financially dependent on the abuser or perhaps even having a fear of what lies ahead for them if they attempt to leave.

Emotional and verbal abuse is a common practice many women suffer and endure at some point in their lives. The residual damages are devastating to our psyches and self-esteem, and have the propensity to stay with us our whole lives. Low self-esteem cripples our ability to function properly. We tend to develop inferiority complexes, anxieties, and feelings of inadequacy down the road. Our inner damage also plays a part in how we choose our relationships and influences us with the choices of people we allow into our lives.

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What Gets You Out Of Bed in the Morning?

Under the bed covers; will you find safety there? Photo Source: John Blyberg, CC BY 4.0, via Flickr

Imagine being 18, in high school, and pregnant. That is how Lucy found herself. Lucy is one of the several young people who contributed essays to the book a picture is worth…, which is designed to be an education curriculum component complemented by photos and online media segments. A few weeks ago I wrote about my reaction to another teen in the book, Aaliyah.

In Lucy’s poignant essay, she talks about her experiences during the pregnancy as well as after giving birth. The father of the baby was tragically killed while Lucy was pregnant, which would be hard for a woman at any age to deal with. As I read that part of the essay, I thought about how my primary concern in my last year of high school was getting good grades to get into the local university. I was not concerned with rearing a child or grieving over a boyfriend passing away.

Lucy dropped out of school and got a job that she did not like very much. When her son was five months old, Lucy fell into a deep depression and could not get out of bed for several days. I thought back as I read this part to when I had my depression and how difficult it was to even brush my teeth. I recall my parents making me do it, but I had no desire to do anything related to hygiene—or anything else for that matter. The bed seemed safe to me, and I imagine Lucy likely felt that way too. As she explains:

“I couldn’t get out of bed, hardly ate and was a mess. Mom was not having it. She told me to get my butt up and to do something with my life.”

That quote in particular resonated with me, as my mom and dad were crucial to my becoming productive again in real life rather than wanting to stay in bed all day under the covers. I wondered if other people have had similar circumstances. Perhaps it was not a parent who said to get out of bed, but instead was a partner, other family member or friend.—someone who cares about the person battling depression.

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Is Looking Back Helpful?

Highway 2 from a rearview mirror

Looking back: Is it helpful?

Do you ever look back at past events in your life and ponder them, perhaps for a minute, an hour or longer? I know that I do so, and I didn’t think negatively of that activity until I read these lines on Twitter the other day:

You’re on the right track when you become uninterested in looking back.

Firstly, my apologies that I didn’t write down the name of the Twitter user who shared that line on the social network. I wrote the words on a scrap piece of paper and have been mulling over the line ever since then.

Here’s what struck me about the words. I don’t necessarily agree with them. I mean, isn’t it all about HOW you look back on your life? If you are taking a look at what has happened and are learning from past mistakes, then it is a positive thing to be looking back, in my opinion. It is self-reflection, essentially. If, however, when you look back, you do so primarily with a goal to wallow in negativity and self-loathing, it is not a healthy thing to do. Doing so can take you to a darker place than you already may be in the present day.

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